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FPCON (formerly THREATCON, or “terrorist threat condition”) is an abbreviation for “force protection condition.” The U.S. Department of Defense uses FPCON levels to determine which security measures to use when threatened by a terrorist attack. The Pentagon declared FPCON Delta, the strongest possible level, for U.S. forces around the world during the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C. Different locations usually have different levels, which are assigned taking into consideration the assets and infrastructures that may appeal to a terrorist group, how vulnerable the place may be to an attack, and the ability to recover and respond.

The first two of five terrorist threat conditions are general. The first level, FPCON Normal, means that a general threat exists but that security should be routine. FPCON Alpha—a slightly stronger, but unpredictable, ...

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