Will ISIL Panic You into a 21st Century Bomb Shelter?


Sarah, one of our favorite spouse bloggers, wrote us a post about the recent threats from ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) calling for an attack against individual military families.

The Army Threat Integration Center (ARCTIC) published a special assessment about these threats and advised military families not to publish addresses or phone numbers. Not to announce their service affiliation. Not to allow applications to geolocate their phones. At SpouseBuzz, we heard of a few spouses who are changing their names on Facebook and taking down any pictures of a family member in uniform.

Sarah was absolutely against this panic and wrote an open letter to ISIS. “I have heard the rhetoric your propaganda arm has been putting out to our news sources calling for widespread 'slaughter' of military families. To find us, target us, come into our homes and schools and kills us all. Allow me to spell this out for you: You Will Not."

Sarah went on to elaborate why this kind of attack was highly unlikely including our military, our borders, our robust public safety infrastructure, our neighborhoods. Sarah wrote,

I am a military spouse, your so-called "target." You don't scare me. I feel quite secure in my home with my children, in this country I love that my spouse has the privilege to serve.

I wish your family had the same.

On one hand, our managing editor Amy and I loved that line. Go, Sarah, go!  It was good to see something for military spouses that is not a rehash of the OPSEC or PERSEC messages that we see so often that no one reads them anymore.

And then the doubt crept in. Was an attack “impossible?” We live in a time when a beheading was called "workplace violence." We live in a country where someone dressed up as the Joker and slaughtered moviegoers at a suburban cineplex. In our recent memory, terrorist hijacked airplanes and flew them into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. Is any act of violence “impossible?”

“But taking down your information on Facebook? Isn’t that the equivalent of putting a bomb shelter in your back yard?” Amy said. "Isn't that just panic?"

bomb shelter 482 This basement family fallout shelter includes a 14-day food supply that could be stored indefinitely, a battery-operated radio, auxiliary light sources, a two-week supply of water, and first aid, sanitary, and other miscellaneous supplies and equipment, ca.1957. -- but you might feel like you saw this on "Lost."

We don't want to be the kind of people who hear a threat on Twitter and immediately take down our Facebook pages, cowering in the online equivalent of a bomb shelter. We don't want to scare ourselves or anyone else over a tweet. Still, would ARCTIC put out a special bulletin if there was nothing worth worrying about?

We could ignore this completely. We really could. Lots of people do. Then again, we military families spend more and more of our lives online. More of our information is tracked. More of our work and our education and our government takes place online. That's why these parts of this war are conducted online, as so much of modern terrorism is.

There is probably no way for modern families  to avoid that niggling doubt.  Yes, we can make sure our addresses aren't public record. Yes, we can turn off the location posting feature on our phones and avoid making it easy for someone to track us.

But we can't let ourselves live in panic, either. We have to go about our lives without worrying about terrorists attacking us.

Sarah thinks it is time for a reminder to be bold and proud and smart -- not to be afraid. "Think of the very real threats our ancestral MilSpouses faced from Cold War, WWII, even Korea. ISIS is just the latest iteration of dangerous and deadly the US is tangling with."

So where is the balance between bomb shelter drama and flippant disregard for you? How do we find a little sense and sensibility for ourselves and our families?


Photos courtesy National Archives.

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