Sunday, May 22, 2016

Personal Security Measures: A Guide on How to Live and Work Safely in Abroad (Part 1)

(Image courtesy of Pixabay)

     On January 2016, the US Department of State had issued seven travel alerts and warnings for the Americans who are going to Mexico, El Salvador, Haiti, Uganda, Sudan, Niger, and Burkina Faso. The USDOS advised the travelers of the risks they would encounter in these countries. Tourists are even cautioned to consider not going at all or to postpone their plans to a later date.
     Accordingly, the reasons for issuing the notification was due to “unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks.”  The announcement also mentioned of “an election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations, or disturbances; a health alert like an outbreak of H1N1; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks.” On both publications, the USDOS pointed out the possible terrorist attack. This kind of threat would intensify as the years go by notably with the expanding clout of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Middle East, and the al-Qaeda (AQ) in the African continent.
     For the American tourists, they can always forego their vacation plans and depart when the security condition in their destinations changed for good. This could also be said for those company executives who are on a planned business trip. But for those expatriates living overseas, they do not have the luxury of altering their schedules; instead, they will need to raise the level of their security awareness to protect themselves and their household from physical harm.
     Executives of multinational corporations would be the most likely targets of criminal and terroristic acts, not only for financial gains but also for political objectives because they are construed as conduits of so-called American imperialism.
     One of the critical assets of a corporation is its personnel—primarily the managers or those assigned on sensitive assignments. As such, appropriate attention must be given to the safety and protection of the executives and their families, particularly in high-risk countries where crimes are rampant and where terrorist groups operate unabated.
     The security operation is of universal application, but some techniques may need to be applied to address the threat condition. A security precaution required for a given situation would depend mostly on the nature of the threats, which could be assessed on several factors. 
     So, in this article, I am going to outline the Personal Security Measures that you--the American expatriate--could apply to mitigate your risk of becoming a victim of criminal or terrorist group. I will discuss the precautionary security measures you can take while in the field, in the office, and at home. These guidelines come in the simple Do’s and Don’ts, which are uncomplicated that you and your family members can perform daily.
     As a caveat, the security measures presented herein should serve as guides only, as no one is more concerned with the protection of your well-being than yourself. So, the greater the security awareness you put into the task, the greater the degree of your safety will be. Remember, even the professional security practitioners find it hard to stay on full-security alert on a 24-hour basis. As such, it is crucial for you to identify and recognize vulnerable situations when traveling to work, staying at home, or even doing recreational activities with your family. For instance, you might be defenseless when pumping gas in a local station, opening the door to callers, or traveling on a deserted highway. It is, therefore, important to always be on the lookout and not to lower your guard down.
     Remember, attackers operate using the element of surprise, and if you take that component away from them, the criminals or terrorists will find you operating on higher ground, if not leveling the threat to a manageable degree.
     The following are basic personal security guidelines that lay down the foundation on the Do’s and Don’ts that I am going to discuss in the succeeding chapters. These guiding principles are:
     1. Always be alert to the suspicious conduct of person/s around you, in the vicinity of your home, or near your office.
     2. Always be sensitive to the areas of threat arising from your personal dealings, as well as those resulting from your official business. Inform your immediate superior, staff (who should be aware of the situation), and family members.   Report the threat to the police at once either by phone or in person.
     3. Always remember that an attack would succeed if the perpetrator caught you unaware. If you were on guard, the attacker would stop and think twice. This brief interval is precious, as it will give you time to take evasive actions or call for assistance.
     4.  Summon for help at the first sign of danger when something is about to happen or when the act is occurring. Shout, sound the motor horn or blow the whistle to call the attention of the people around you! When you can’t do this yourself, tell your family or friends to sound the alarm.
     5. Always remember that raising the alarm is an effective means of slowing or hindering the perpetrator from pressing on his attack.
     6. If you and your family plan to go out of town in a period of days, inform your trusted neighbor or friend in the community to look after your house. Have your lookout call you and/or call the police when they see unusual activities happening in and around your house.                            
     7. While traveling to work and going back to home, make sure not to establish observable patterns that would enable a potential attacker to predict your future movements, construct an attack-plan based on it, intercept you in conditions unfavorable to you, or isolate you from summoning assistance.
     8. Only provide an interview or conduct a business transaction with a properly accredited person in the office during the business hours, or in the presence of your staff or trusted person.
     9. While on the field, you must not stay overnight in a place or in conditions that would isolate you from persons able to provide help or summon assistance.                            
   10. When attending social functions, be cautious on your conversations with the locals and with expatriates of other countries. If your position in the company is sensitive in nature, do not disclose anything about your official functions/duties, particularly to the publishers of commercial or social directories. You may not know who among the guests are working for the criminal or terrorist group.
     Please bear in mind that your family and household staff may, at any given time, also be the target of the criminal or terrorist group. So, the Personal Security Measures I am going to share on this blog apply to them as well.