Managing Security Overseas: Contact and Coordination with Local, Regional, and International Authorities

Employees overseas are under your protection but not under your direct watch. In this book excerpt, Scott Alan Ast provides advice and examples for protecting employees by making and maintaining important security contacts abroad.

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Another occasion arose with an individual who was a retired local national military officer placed in charge of security at a large public-private infrastructure project. The area was prone to protests by local residents, fueled by nationwide antigovernment sentiments and demonstrations. Influential religious leaders near the facility worked all of these groups into frenzies that typically resulted in angry protests and demonstrations. The government posted battle-honed military personnel, just back from duties on the front lines with separatist groups, at the work site. The facility was well fortified, and it certainly had the attention of many who wanted the project to succeed. The ex-officer in charge of security understandably wanted himself and the project to go forward with as little trouble as possible. He sat down with the visiting American security manager, who was in charge of security for those U.S. employees assigned to the project, for a chat in his elaborately appointed office. The tea was served on fine china, and silver tongs and spoons provided the sugar and stirring implements, all served by a staff of immaculately attired local nationals. Men like this are very busy, or so they would like to think, and the talk was quickly directed to the matter at hand. The local national security manager, retired military officer, and apparently part-time dabbler in counterintelligence indicated that in order for him to gather the information necessary to successfully protect the facility and all of the expats and employees coming and going, he would require US$30,000 per month. Many informants, including police officials, had to be paid in order to ensure a steady flow of information and a tamping down of too radical thoughts and tendencies. The proud ex-officer stated he was already paying out a princely sum each month for the same services, but desperate times called for desperate measures. It was a blow to his ego, but a satisfying experience for the American, when the ex-officer was told that the jungle would turn to ice before one cent would be paid to him.

One final case study consists of a situation in Iraq where U.S. expat employees were working on an infrastructure project. The project was surrounded by daily fighting with coalition forces and insurgents. When the insurgents ran out of coalition targets, they would frequently pepper the job site with small arms fire, an occasional mortar, rocket-propelled grenade, or rocket, and would continuously fire upon any supply vehicles entering or leaving the facility. The situation became increasingly tense with the facility security personnel fearing an all-out attack, or that the bad guys would stop the randomness and put forth a concentrated effort to kill Westerners. The security personnel, who had some experience in the region and in the country, devised a plan. They arranged a meeting with local tribal leaders. The sympathetic tribal elders, who wanted the project to continue as well, strategized that the security personnel should meet with the local imam, or spiritual leader, who had a great following. A meeting was set up, and after some tense initial first minutes, the event turned productive. The religious leader was in fact interested in improving the city for his followers, and the project would certainly do this. But, he had been promised some things in the past by other private sector groups that had failed to deliver. When asked what these things were, the imam indicated they did not have reliable transportation for their own supplies and provisions, and something to assist their logistical dilemma was envisioned. The project had a surplus of vehicles, including small pickups ideal for hauling rice, water, and other foodstuffs. It was agreed by the project personnel that one of these pickups would be lent to the religious organization in order to be used for these supplies and community programs. The imam was so pleased he arrived at the facility one day with a round carton under one of his arms. He presented to the security personnel a stack of vehicle decals, each bearing a photograph and blessing of the imam. He instructed the security personnel to paste the decals on the sides of their vehicles and advised them that due to their generosity to the community, no harm would come to them. The attacks upon the facility and the vehicles ceased. ##

Security professional Scott Alan Ast is holds Certified Protection Professional and Certified Fraud Examiner credentials.

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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