By Scott M. Bernat
Effective security programs depe...
The American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS) International provides security
professionals the op...
One of the most cost effective security resources are expatriates and local citizens within...
Resource Utilization - Building An Effective Security Program Overseas - 2009
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Resource Utilization - Building An Effective Security Program Overseas - 2009


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Resource Utilization - Building An Effective Security Program Overseas - 2009

  1. 1. RESOURCE UTILIZATION - BUILDING AN EFFECTIVE SECURITY PROGRAM OVERSEAS By Scott M. Bernat Effective security programs depend on a comprehensive working knowledge of available resources, to include the identification and development of strategic security relationships. This is especially important for companies operating in foreign countries, where customs, culture and language barriers challenge even the most experienced security professional. Resources include security personnel, websites and organizations associated with diplomatic establishments, host country security services, private security companies, expatriates as well as local citizens. The safety and security of company personnel and operations depend on the knowledge and assistance gained through interaction with and utilization of these resources. DIPLOMATIC ASSISTANCE One of the first and foremost sources of security related information of importance to companies operating in a foreign country is the U.S. Department of State (DoS). Through Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) meetings, members can directly interact and network with both private sector and U.S. Government security personnel. U.S.-registered companies with an interest in security can join and attend these meetings, usually alongside representatives from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate Regional Security Office. Members have the added benefit of presenting and discussing security issues of concern, as well as sharing lessons learned and solutions. The DoS OSAC internet website can be found at Information available on this site includes safety and security issues, public announcements, travel advisories, significant anniversary dates, terrorist group profiles, country crime and safety reports, special topic and foreign press reports. Many foreign diplomatic establishments also maintain internet websites on which is posted travel advisories and safety/security related information. BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS Chamber of Commerce organizations are an excellent networking resource and often include a safety and security committee dedicated to ensuring its members receive timely and accurate threat information. The U.S., Britain and Australia are the most common Chambers of Commerce found overseas and allow associate membership for organizations not directly affiliated with the Chamber country. Many countries also have Rotary Clubs and business/organization specific associations, focusing on the in-country interests of a particular industry. An example of this is the Bangkok Ship Owners and Agents Association (BSAA), based in Thailand, wherein members join together to promote their industry and share information of mutual interest. These types of groups can also be valuable sources of safety and security information.
  2. 2. ASIS INTERNATIONAL The American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS) International provides security professionals the opportunity to network and share information of mutual security interest among its members. Regional conferences highlight key interest items through professional presentations and vendor exhibits, promoting innovative ideas in an effort to solve shared security problems. The ASIS internet website is located at Membership is open to all security professionals, as well as those interested in the security field. HOST COUNTRY SECURITY SERVICES Conducting business in a foreign country can be difficult without a well-rounded knowledge of the operating environment. Key to this is the relationship you build with your host country law enforcement and security services. It is in this arena that many company security professionals fail to establish an effective relationship. The importance of relationship building within the host country’s security services can never be underestimated, as this can enhance mutual cooperation and increase understanding of potential threats. Liaison efforts must go beyond dinner and drinks. Through the presentation of security seminars and subject matter expert exchanges, companies can establish their team as experts, gain mutual respect, heighten information sharing and focus local security services on areas of industry interest. These activities can be cost effective by drawing on staff knowledge and skills, as well as industry experts. One example is where Company A, a major maritime shipping agent, is concerned about recent thefts in and around a primary port area. Company A’s security department or designate engages port security personnel and develops a seminar/subject matter expert exchange focusing on port and supply chain security. Participants include not only port and local security/law enforcement personnel, but also Company A’s designated security personnel. End result is a sharing of information regarding safety and security concerns and relative problem solving discussions, all leading to a safer and secure port. A “win- win” situation for both the company and host nation. PRIVATE SECURITY COMPANIES Depending on your budget, private security companies can be an excellent source of information and assistance in the establishment and operation of an effective program, especially when your own security department is limited in personnel or specific skills/expertise. Security companies are usually staffed by former military, law enforcement and/or security service personnel with specific skills, country and regional expertise. Private companies can provide a wide range of services, to include personnel augmentation, consultations, security/vulnerability/threat assessments, due diligence and other investigations, instruction and the presentation of seminars or subject matter expert exchanges. Representatives of these companies can be found at the various OSAC, Chamber of Commerce or industry-specific organizational meetings.
  3. 3. EXPATRIATES AND LOCAL CITIZENS One of the most cost effective security resources are expatriates and local citizens within your country or region. Developing and maintaining social relationships with these individuals can lead to a wealth of “ground truth” information, depending on a person’s local knowledge, access and status. If your industry is port or maritime related, it would be a good idea to have friends or contacts in and around the port areas. Dependent on your industry focus, areas of interest can also include airports, other transportation hubs, factory districts, oil, gas and/or mining sites. The information you receive through casual conversation can be of value when weighed against official information obtained through private or governmental organizations. The old adage “Listen, you might hear something” certainly holds true here for the security professional. SECURITY SUCCESS The integration and utilization of the above resources, strengthened by the resultant development of mutual respect, understanding and information sharing, is the recipe for security success. A proactive security professional will ensure that all available resources are engaged, positive relationships are formed with counterparts and the company assets are protected. This is the gold standard for security overseas. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- - Scott M. Bernat is a civilian Special Agent of the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), currently assigned to the U.S. Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia Force Protection Detachment as the Resident Agent in Charge and Chief of U.S. Military Security. He is directly responsible for the organization, implementation and management of U.S. Department of Defense programs focusing on threat awareness and mitigation, physical security, risk assessments and vulnerability studies, emergency preparedness and crisis response, executive protection and investigations relative to personnel and assets deployed to and/or transiting through Indonesia. During his 21-year career, he has worked as a security professional throughout Asia, Australia/Oceania, Central America, Europe, Middle East and the United States. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- - ** This article is scheduled to be published in the upcoming edition of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Indonesia magazine – “The Executive Exchange”.