In United States security, Force Protection Condition (FPCON for short) is a terrorist threat system overseen by the Department of Defense directive, and describes the amount of measures needed to be taken by security agencies in response to various levels of terrorist threats against military facilities, as opposed to DEFCON, which assesses the amount of military forces needed to be deployed in a situation with a certain likelihood of attack against the civilian population. The decision on what level of FPCON to implement is affected by the current threat of terrorism towards military facilities and personnel, the amount of security forces available, and current relationships between the United States and the world, which may affect the chances of an attack. FPCON was previously known as THREATCON, until it was renamed in June 2001 due to confusion with United States State Department system of threat assessment.
Descriptions of FPCONs
There are five Force Protection Conditions, any one of which can be declared by the Department of the Army or the Military District of Washington:
- FPCON NORMAL describes a situation of no current terrorist activity. The only security forces needed are enough to stop the everyday criminal, most likely civilian police forces.
- FPCON ALPHA describes a situation where there is a small and general terrorist activity that is not predictable. However, agencies will inform personnel that there is a possible threat and standard security procedure review is conducted.
- FPCON BRAVO describes a situation with somewhat predictable terrorist threat. Security measures taken by agency personnel may affect the activities of local law enforcement and the general public.
- FPCON CHARLIE describes a situation when an instance occurs or when intelligence reports that there is terrorist activity imminent. Increased security by agencies are likely to cause problems for civilian law enforcement and the public, as people looking for access to agency facilities may be denied.
- FPCON DELTA describes a situation when a terrorist attack is taking place or has just occurred. When applied for long periods of time, FPCON DELTA can cause hardships for civilian police and the public, as heightened agency security can impede their everyday duties. FPCON DELTA usually occurs only in the areas that are most vulnerable to or have been attacked.
The key significant differences between FPCON Charlie, and FPCON Delta, is that FPCON Delta references a specific, known threat, whereas FPCON Charlie is used to prepare for imminent threats of a general, non-targeted nature. FPCON Charlie can also be maintained for a significant length of time, several weeks, while FPCON Delta is generally only maintainable for several days.
An FPCON level may also be designated as "+", meaning the facility shall institute extra security measures beyond those specified for the FPCON Level. Generally this is used to provide an extra layer of security for FPCON Alpha. There is a list of extra security measures that may be initiated for a "+" security level; normally the facility Force Protection NCO, will choose two or three for his installation, and switch them out randomly to prevent predictable response. Some, however, are nearly always used. For instance 100% ID checks of all incoming persons is nearly always used at FPCON Alpha+, while armed fenceline patrols may be done for two days, then stopped and replaced with anti-surveillance measures to increase randomness and decrease predictability of defense.
FPCON levels can also be raised in a non-progressive manner; for example, the FPCON level can jump from FPCON NORMAL to FPCON CHARLIE, completely skipping the ALPHA and BRAVO levels.