Why I think you should keep a low profile

I really felt the need to write this post especially after the horrific incident this week.  Drummer Lee Rigby, a British soldier, was killed by two men in London on 22 May 2013.

I was informing people that I felt that in general,  people should not walk around in uniforms, something which was backed by others. The week before this murder, I even took to writing an email to the local bases asking them why they allowed people to wear uniforms offbase and that I felt it could make them targets.

This is the response I received:

RAF Lakenheath

Hello Kimberly,
According to our regulations, our uniform can be worn off base for short convenience stops and when eating at restaurants where people wear comparable civilian attire. Additionally, we do take the risks into consideration and brief our service members on current force protection measures. At this time we have no indications of elevated risks created by the wear of our uniforms. We consider the local community valuable partners and we continue to build U.S. and U.K. relations to ensure that our partnership provides for mutual trust and security.
Thank you for your concern.

I am a proud American and have lived here for seven years, four of which are outside of the military. Because I am no longer associated with the base, I think in a sense I am doing what it takes to survive over here and that also means having to take on new ideals that are not necessarily aligned with American ideals and are quite new to me.

My husband is English so we both have to compromise otherwise living together will never work. I love my country but I also think we do not have everything perfect, who can say that we do? I also think that compared to other countries we are relatively young and have room to grow and there is so much potential!

When living in the UK, I recommend that people do not hang their American flags outside of their homes, it is a bit offensive to do it in another country, and puts a target on your home for thieves.   I also suggest that people purchase cars over here as they allow you to fly under the radar. It is very obvious when I look in my rear view mirror and all I can see the grill and license plate of an F-150 the origin of the driver.   At US bases in other countries such as Turkey and Japan, the service members cannot import their own cars, so have to drive local cars.

Many of these tips are also found in the U.S. Department of State’s Security Guidelines for American Families Living Abroad.[1]  My and their recommendations do not mean that you cannot be a proud American, but you need to keep safe. They advise you to keep a low profile and not to draw attention to yourself.

I personally recommend that people do not wear their uniforms offbase. Initially I used to wear mine, but when I was waiting in line at the bank or shopping in the local Tesco, I could feel all eyes were on me. I decided that I did not want to draw attention to myself. So I would leave my uniform in the office and change into jeans and jacket or whatever else. I personally feel that it makes US military personnel a target. There is active terrorism in the United Kingdom, and my intentions are only for the protection of my fellow Americans who might not realise it is a constant threat. The farther you go from the bases, you will find Americans who are here through school (e.g. Cambridge University) or business (which always surprises me and I always ask!) so you will fit in that way, of course you will not be British, but then again neither will I and I have lived here for many years.

I am just afraid of an incident like the attack on the USAF at the German airport in Frankfurt, where the two airmen were killed and another two were wounded.[2]  The latest attack on the British soldier in London on May 22, 2013.[3] I know that he was not wearing his uniform but they were targeting soldiers as the incident happened just a few hundred yards from his army barracks.

Other recent examples of things like this was the foiled plot of beheading a British soldier in 2007,[4] the 7/7 bombings that took place in London,[5] and more recently, the plot that was foiled to bomb the Territorial Army base in Luton (which is 60 miles from Mildenhall).[6]  I just do not want you to become complacent by living over here; we should always remain vigilant no matter where we are.

Update: it was not until the exposure of the plot of to kill an American stationed in the Tribase area which lead to the cancellation of the 4th of July celebrations in 2015 when the Base leadership decided that the wearing of uniforms offbase was no longer allowed. This was long overdue but thankfully it was taken seriously. The plot was to ram into an American servicemember's car and then kill them in the same fashion as Lee Rigby. My other points of keeping a low profile still apply.

Please be safe


[1] U.S. Department of State, “Security Guidelines for American Families Living Abroad,“ accessed May 24, 2013, http://photos.state.gov/libraries/angola/209911/RSO/Security_Guidelines%20for%20Families.pdf
[2] Air Force Times, “Gunman Kills 2 Airmen at German Airport,” accessed May 24, 2013http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20110302/NEWS/103020302/Gunman-kills-2-airmen-at-German-airport
[3] BBC, “Woolwich Attack: Suspects Known to Security Services,” accessed May 23, 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22634468.
[4] CNN, “London attack mirrors plot to behead Muslim soldier,” accessed May 23, 2013,http://edition.cnn.com/2013/05/22/world/europe/uk-attack-2007-plot/index.html
[5] The Guardian, “7 July London Attacks,” accessed May 23, 2013,http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/july7
[6] BBC, “Four 'planned to bomb Territorial Army base' with toy car,” accessed May 23, 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22156243.

All the Best!

American to Britain