RESPONSE ORGANIZATIONS    Following a catastrophe, designated organizations in the affected state and abroad will initiate...
with security officials in a downrange crisis response area. This is crucial, given the often large coveragearea and limit...
organizations are often on the ground. Coordinating the effort through routine interaction and, if practical,group meeting...
programs early in the process and can be a critical element to these operations. Often these conferences    include discus...
_____________________________________________________________________________________Scott M. Bernat is a civilian Special...
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Security Support for Humanitarian Operations in the Asia Pacific Region - Homeland Security Today - Best Practices


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Security Support for Humanitarian Operations in the Asia Pacific Region - Homeland Security Today - Best Practices

  1. 1. SUPPORT FOR HUMANITARIANOPERATIONS IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGIONby Scott M. BernatTuesday, 02 March 2010Security has to be a key component of emergency preparation and response in the countriesaround the Pacific Rim.A major earthquake and accompanying tsunami has just occurred, and thousands of people are missingand feared dead. Critical emergency response and associated life-sustaining support, as well ascommunications within the affected state, are severely impaired or nonexistent. International emergencyresponse organizations, both civilian and military, are gearing up and placed on standby, pendingacceptance and approval by the affected state. Once approved to deploy, numerous organizations arriveon the scene via ships and aircraft, as well as by various forms of land transportation (including foot), tocoordinate efforts with each other and the affected state to preserve life – and eventually to rebuild thearea’s infrastructure. Security is an integral part of the process, given the often chaotic, unfamiliar and, attimes, dangerous environment faced by the responders.ASIA-PACIFIC REGIONAL CHALLENGESThe Asia-Pacific region routinely experiences natural, as well as man-made, disasters. On Feb. 27 Chileexperienced a magnitude 8.8 earthquake. The last decade witnessed earthquakes, tsunamis, volcaniceruptions, hurricanes, cyclones, floods, infectious disease outbreaks, famines, structural collapses, civildisorder, and terrorism. The Pacific Ring of Fire, the area registering the highest degree of seismic andvolcanic activity, remains a constant threat, frequently triggering many of the natural disasters that requireinternational assistance. The most devastating event in the region was the December 2004 Indian Oceanearthquake and tsunami, which affected multiple countries and left more than 200,000 people dead ormissing. This event triggered one of the most complex and comprehensive humanitarianassistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) efforts ever recorded, with its combined large-scale multinational militaryand civilian response. Security challenges included nonexistent or minimal critical infrastructure,nonexistent or little affected State security support, HA/DR operation-related criminal activity (includinggraft and corruption), active separatist movements, cultural differences and sensitivities, as well as multiplelanguage barriers.Hurricanes, cyclones, and monsoons – and the accompanying devastating floods, mudslides, and heavywinds – have battered and will continue to batter Indonesia, Bangladesh, China, Japan, Papua NewGuinea, and the Philippines. Separatist movements and associated violence have displaced thousands inthe Philippines and Sri Lanka. Earthquakes continue to plague China, Indonesia, Japan, and the SouthPacific Islands, and subsequent tsunamis are an added threat. These types of events have warranted, andwill continue to warrant, international HA/DR and emergency response operations, which require theformulation and execution of comprehensive security plans designed and orchestrated specifically for eachoperating environment.
  2. 2. RESPONSE ORGANIZATIONS Following a catastrophe, designated organizations in the affected state and abroad will initiate a planned response protocol. This often includes the state’s national disaster agency, military, and civilian emergency responders; regional and international organizations; and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Key to many larger-scale relief efforts is the involvement of international militaries, which often provide emergency and critical response platforms, equipment, and skills not only to the affected state, but also to myriad other involved organizations. Some of these response organizations are directly supported by attached or embedded security personnel charged with coordinating, developing, maintaining, and at times, directing security efforts from both inside and outside the affected areas. An example of an international military response and mutual cooperation occurred in September 2009, when the West Sumatran area of Indonesia suffered a devastating earthquake. Military forces from the United States and Australia immediately offered assistance to the Indonesian government and brought much needed HA/DR capabilities, including heavy-lift aircraft, water desalinization equipment, and a mobile field hospital. Assisting the military response were security personnel, who teamed with Indonesia’s military and security organizations to ensure the safety of responding military forces. The US military was directly supported by the US Embassy Jakarta Force Protection Detachment (FPD), led by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and comprised the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) and other U.S. Army security professionals. The team’s efforts included continuous coordination with other on- site regional and international response organizations, which significantly contributed to the overall security in the affected area. PHASED APPROACH TO SECURITY SUPPORT Successful security response and actions supporting life-altering events are the result of well-organized and practiced plans. In order to ensure maximum coverage and effectiveness, the response must be implemented in a phased approach, with the various stages often codependent and overlapping due to the requirement for continuous and seamless security support. The phases are: PREPARATION PHASE ASSESSMENT PHASE RESPONSE PHASE RECOVERY PHASE RETROGRADE PREPARATION PHASE Personnel charged with security responsibilities for their organizations must prepare and plan for all contingencies within their operating area, before an actual event occurs. This begins with a basic familiarization of the environment, including an understanding of the criminal, subversive, and terrorist threats, as well as the general sentiment of the local population toward the organization and its staff. This is particularly significant for those individuals and organizations that are representative of countries and governments whose policies are not widely accepted in the response locations. In addition, understanding the capabilities and limitations of available assets, including transportation means and methods into and around each area or region, can significantly aid response activities such as medical treatment and evacuations. This type of information can be obtained and cross-referenced from open-source media (Internet), risk management or security consultant firms, and developed contacts. Government-connected response and relief teams have an advantage relative to the threat, often because of their access to and familiarity with classified, multi-source informational databases. Governments, as well as some international corporations and organizations, also tend to have analytical sections capable of collating, processing, and analyzing all source information, further facilitating a comprehensive security response and related support. The development and maintenance of a multi-level contact infrastructure, including not only government law enforcement and security officials, but also private sector individuals and businesses specializing in security, is critical to any security program. By using the “top-down” concept and getting to know the various government embassies and, if possible, the seat of government security officials, an organization’s security personnel can increase its knowledge of the environment, as well as its access to and cooperation
  3. 3. with security officials in a downrange crisis response area. This is crucial, given the often large coveragearea and limited human power of most security departments.Security personnel must also be prepared, both physically and mentally, to travel into a crisis environmentwithin their area of responsibility. This entails maintaining an appropriate level of fitness and health, as wellas updating inoculations and other preventive medical measures. Personnel must be prepared mentallybecause often they are exposed to a wide range of emotionally charged situations, catastrophic injuries,and death. Health care is often nonexistent, very limited, or over-extended in areas affected by significantevents, so responders should be in the best possible physical and mental condition.The selection and staging of necessary equipment to operate in various environments and situations is alsoan important consideration. Often, affected areas are, or will become, resource-poor and lack suitablelodging, utilities, and communications capabilities. Health concerns become a reality when infrastructuredamage causes unsanitary conditions or when an infectious disease outbreak threatens to become anepidemic. Security personnel charged with venturing into such environments and situations must beadequately equipped. Necessary equipment can include: backpacks, mosquito netting and repellent, firstaid kits, food rations and field cooking gear; tents, compact sleeping cots, sleeping bags and pads; hazmatsuits, clothing for warm, cold and wet weather; portable solar battery chargers, GPS, satellitecommunications gear, digital and video cameras; and portable computers, such as laptops. Self-sufficiencyis a must – the environment and the lack of a support infrastructure requires it. Also, carrying weapons isoften not allowed by persons other than security personnel in the affected state. Special dispensation forcarrying weapons, if granted by the affected state, is on a case-by-case basis and usually tied to specificclose protection details involving visiting dignitaries and officials. Formulating the response and actionplans – as well as exercising them through participation in HA/DR conferences, team discussions, andtable-top exercises – ensures a coordinated and thorough security response.ASSESSMENT PHASEOnce an event occurs and there is the possibility of an international response, security personnel must beincluded in the advance team that is allowed access to the affected area. Organizations that are chargedwith emergency response, relief, and assistance require up-to-date, real-time information to facilitatedeployment planning. Comprehensive group and individual security plans need to be developed.Information needs to flow continuously from the security team to the organizational planners and decisionmakers. Once on the ground, security personnel immediately engage and coordinate with local lawenforcement, military, and security officials to begin developing a picture of the response environment.Through these contacts, security personnel initially gauge the availability and level of affected state securitysupport; the current criminal, subversive, and terrorist threat; and most importantly, the local sentimenttoward responding organizations. Security personnel also begin to assess and document the safety,security, capabilities, and limitations of all possible response locations and relief sites, as well as transitroutes to and from each location. Depending on the event, these assessments can include ports, airfields,aircraft and maritime landing sites, relief distribution sites, hospitals and clinics, lodging sites, andassociated transit routes. Properly documented photographs and video speak volumes and have proven tobe valued assets to response planners. This information is then forwarded by the most expeditious meansavailable to response organizations so they can facilitate deployment and, if applicable, evacuationplanning and execution.RESPONSE PHASEThe response phase is initiated when emergency and relief personnel gain entry approval and respond tothe affected location and begin emergency, relief, and, if applicable, evacuation operations. For securitypersonnel, the assessment and response phases often overlap. Additional security members can bebrought in to assist, depending on the security department’s resources, the size and makeup of theresponse organization, the overall coverage area, and the associated threat. If the response requiresheavy-lift aviation and maritime assets, ground-moving equipment, and mobile hospitals, then theassociated landing zones, staging, and operating sites require continuous monitoring and re-assessmentsof the security environment. The relationships built early with local law enforcement and security personnelcan help facilitate upgrades to the physical security of each site, as well as help ensure investigativeassistance if the need arises. Depending on the threat environment, physical security includes not onlypolice or security guard support, but also assistance with random physical security measures.During multinational response situations, which routinely include military and civilian emergencyresponders, regional and international organizations, and NGOs, several security departments and
  4. 4. organizations are often on the ground. Coordinating the effort through routine interaction and, if practical,group meetings, expands the area knowledge exponentially, provides mutual assistance, and avoidsduplication of effort. Security information that has a potentially negative impact on one or all of theorganizations is disseminated to the affected organization(s) immediately for appropriate action.Security briefings and associated updates for all responders begin prior to their arrival in the affected areaand continue (as appropriate) throughout their time on the ground. Key elements in ensuring personnelsafety include sensitizing everyone to the threat environment and encouraging the reporting of concernsand suspicious activity. Occasionally, the threat environment may be compounded by various degrees ofcriminal activity, such as assaults, theft, graft, and corruption. These situations, whether perpetrated byindividuals, companies, or officials, need to be assessed and handled as quietly and as quickly as possibleso they don’t overshadow the relief efforts or create negative public sentiment toward relief groups ororganizations. Security personnel need to handle each situation sensitively and quickly and focus onensuring the safety and security of relief personnel. Suspicious individuals and events and suspectedcriminal activity require an immediate investigative response. When it is appropriate, the investigation canbe facilitated through contacts with the local law enforcement and security organizations. Internal criminalissues, if practical, should be handled within the affected organization.Government officials and visiting dignitaries often tour areas affected by disasters. These visits requireclose personal protection support, which should be facilitated by the affected states and their associatedsecurity personnel, depending on the threat environment. Often, on-site security personnel partner with theaffected state to ensure comprehensive and effective security coverage for the duration of thevisit.RECOVERY PHASEOnce the emergency response has stabilized the situation, it becomes paramount to rebuild the area’scritical infrastructure: the water, power, telecommunications, transportation, education, and health andwelfare sectors. During this phase, security personnel continue to monitor the threat level in coordinationwith local authorities, update or conduct site surveys and assessments of the various work and lodgingsites, as well as the routes to and from each location. This phase can overlap or run parallel with theretrograde phase depending on the situation, as organizations come and go as their primary missions arecompleted. Once this occurs, security personnel working in the affected areas usually redeploy andcoordinate security from their home offices. Long-term governmental organizations engaged in foreign aidprograms, such as AusAID and USAID, can spend years after a major event rebuilding and assisting in anarea. Security for these organizations over the long term relies on their Embassy Regional Security Offices,which are more than likely based outside of the affected areas. The positive security relationships built withthe affected state and other organizations, as well as the threat information gained during each phase ofthe operation, remain critical to the continued safety and security of the area and to those organizationsremaining in a rebuilding role (the stabilization and rebuilding phase of operations).RETROGRADE PHASEFrom a security perspective, this phase could be one of the most vulnerable. Once an organization’smission is complete, response and relief personnel may lose focus on security because packing up andassociated movement begin and thoughts of returning home persist. Security personnel concentrate on thepotential threats associated with the pack-up, movement, and transportation of personnel and equipment,ensuring that safety and security are not compromised. Particular focus is placed on aviation and maritimedeparture points, as well as ground transportation routes. Once all of the personnel and assets have safelydeparted the operational area, security personnel conduct a final assessment. They give an overallassessment of the local population’s attitude toward the operation and provide managers or appropriateauthorities with a summary of lessons learned.RESOURCESNumerous resources are available to assist security personnel to plan and execute a comprehensivesecurity program in support of HA/DR operations. Active participation in professional security organizationsand internet groups, such as ASIS International and LinkedIn, can be helpful in developing an extensivenetwork of security contacts and an expertise database, facilitating the development and execution of anHA/DR support program. Open-source publications, including books and periodicals, are a great way todevelop an understanding of and keep current on HA/DR operations and procedures. HA/DR andemergency response conferences and seminars provide security personnel an opportunity to integrate
  5. 5. programs early in the process and can be a critical element to these operations. Often these conferences include discussion groups, table-top exercises, and planning evolutions focused on real-world scenarios. Attendance at these events should be mandatory for all security personnel who have the potential or designated duty to become involved with HA/DR operations. While not all-inclusive, here are some useful Web sites to aid in the understanding, planning, and execution of focused security support: ASEAN Regional Forum, ASIS International – worldwide professional security organization, AusAID – the Australian Government’s overseas aid program, Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response Association, International (DERA), EM-DAT – the International Disaster Database, Emergency Management Australia (EMA), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), LinkedIn – professional networking site, National Disaster Coordinating Council – Republic of the Philippines, United Nations, USAID – the U.S. Government’s overseas aid program, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), SECURITY AS THE KEY COMPONENT HA/DR operations require comprehensive security support to ensure success. The following summary highlights key elements necessary to provide professional security support, as well as what an organization should expect from its security personnel. - Prepare, plan, and train for all possible contingencies. - Develop a thorough understanding of the threat environment. - Develop and maintain a multi-level contact infrastructure. - Coordinate activities with affected state military and security agencies, as appropriate and with responsible international governmental organizations (e.g. cognizant embassy security personnel). - Travel to the affected site as soon as possible to begin security assessments and coordination. - Maintain contact with the response organization and ensure a continuous flow of information. - Coordinate security requirements, make recommendations, and implement as appropriate. - Coordinate with other response organizations and associated security elements. Share information as deemed appropriate within agency protocols. - Continuously monitor the threat environment and conduct assessments as warranted. - Immediately respond to and investigate suspicious or criminal information and incidents. - Assist your organization with other requirements within your scope of authority and responsibility. Organizations must continuously plan for assistance response and action as well as ensure that an appropriate level of security is achieved and maintained. The critical nature of security, and the teamwork involved, can never be underestimated or overlooked; a single negative event involving the responders could cost lives and curtail or halt the much-needed assistance and relief.
  6. 6. _____________________________________________________________________________________Scott M. Bernat is a civilian Special Agent of the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS),currently assigned to the US Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia Force Protection Detachment as theResident Agent in Charge and Chief of US Military Security. During his 23-year-career, he hasworked as a security professional throughout Asia, Australia/Oceania, Central America, Europe,the Middle East, and the United States. He is the author of “Resource Utilization: Building anEffective Security Program Overseas,” (American Chamber of Commerce – Indonesia), TheExecutive Exchange magazine, July-September 2008). See