Force Protection Condition Levels, or FPCON for short, are part of a threat awareness system implemented by the Department of Defense. This system, formerly referred to as THREATCON, defines levels of terrorism threats against military bases and operations.
FPCON is not the same as the DEFCON system; it focuses specifically against threats against installations/operations rather than threats to the nation overall. The current level of FPCON varies depending on the base, operation, and other variables. FPCON levels may be adjusted for individual bases, and can change quickly depending on circumstances.
Authority For FPCON
The current FPCON is found in DoD Instruction 2000.16, Department of Defense Antiterrorism Standards. Some Department of Defense operations have other instructions that also affect how FPCON is implemented, but in general, local command authorities are responsible for establishing FPCON levels based on the local threat conditions in the area.
What FPCONs Do
FPCONs are, at most levels, designed to indicate threats that are “non-targeted” and general in nature. The highest level of readiness under the system is Delta, and it is unique compared to the other levels in that Delta is the only level that may refer to a specific known threat.
Posted threat levels under this system are not linear in nature. You don’t progress up the levels in sequential order from lowest threat to highest. Instead, the appropriate FPCON is designated and implemented as conditions warrant.
The lowest FPCON level out of the five is FPCON Normal. Army.mil describes this as, “when a general global threat of possible terrorist activity is possible”. It’s the lowest possible level of threat and the DoD typically operates in peacetime under FPCON Normal unless circumstances warrant otherwise.
This indicates minor but unpredictable terrorism threats. Military security efforts may include random ID checks, vehicle searches, and other measures. There may be an overall threat of violence in the area but nothing which indicates that a specific operation or installation is targeted.
Some describe FPCON BRAVO as a more “predictable” threat of terrorist activity. Under this FPCON, security checks will increase and normal operations may be slowed slightly due to more searches, inspections, ID card challenges, etc. Additional security forces and more patrols may also be evident under FPCON BRAVO.
This FPCON represents a dramatically increased threat–this may be implemented after a terrorist attack (not necessarily in the local area) or when there are indications that local terrorist activity is increasing. Heightened force protection measures in this case may include the requirement to show two forms of official ID when entering or exiting the installation.
Traffic flow on base may be altered or restricted with barricades or other measures. Under CHARLIE, normal mission requirements are still carried out but under much closer scrutiny by military law enforcement and force protection troops. There may be more patrols, added security forces, and calls for troops to fill in on patrols and security checkpoints.
This is the FPCON reserved specifically for a situation involving an ongoing terrorist attack or one that has just happened in the local area. This FPCON is assigned to sites which are deemed vulnerable to attack and those that have already been attacked.
On September 11, 2001, all military installations were put on FPCON DELTA, restricted only to troops and authorized personnel, and had mandatory security measures implemented. DELTA may interrupt the day-to-day operations of a unit, command, or theatre of operations depending on circumstances. Day-to-day operations will definitely be interrupted in this FPCON.
An FPCON level may be enhanced with a plus sign designator (“+”) that indicates that further measures are required above and beyond the basic precautions required with the level. FPCON + requires additional security including added patrols, installation of monitoring equipment to enhance fenceline protection, increased ID checks, added troops for force protection, etc.
|FPCON NORMAL||Applies when a general global threat of possible terrorist activity exists and warrants a routine security posture. As a minimum, access control will be conducted at all DOD installations and facilities.|
|FPCON ALPHA||Applies when there is an increased general threat of possible terrorist activity against personnel or facilities, and the nature and extent of the threat are unpredictable.|
|FPCON BRAVO||Applies when an increased or more predictable threat of terrorist activity exists.|
|FPCON CHARLIE||Applies when an incident occurs or intelligence is received indicating some form of terrorist action or targeting against personnel or facilities is likely.|
|FPCON DELTA||Applies in the immediate area where a terrorist attack has occurred or when intelligence has been received that terrorist action against a specific location or person is imminent. This FPCON is usually declared as a localized condition.|