Wednesday, October 17, 2007

NGO Security Scenario #1

This is the first in a series of "what-if" training scenarios that describe real world incidents and ask you to think through them.

Armed government forces enter your compound during normal office hours and place the country manager (or a program manager or some other senior staff member) under arrest. Much like what just happened in Somalia with the local WFP head, if you've been following the news.

As the on-scene security officer, how would you deal with this situation? What questions would you ask and what actions would you take? Post your thoughts on handling this incident by clicking on the COMMENTS text below (you can choose to anonymously post a reply if you'd like).



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting situation. if i were the security man on the scene, the following would be my plan of action. Firstly i would inform all my staff members to be calm even when the situation is tense. Secondly i would want to single out the leader of the armed group and introduce myself then find out what the problem or misunderstanding is all about. Based on the answers i get would i then formulate my next plan. In my experience with Security, i have learnt one thing, there is no clear cut way of handling a hostage situation without the facts on the scene. Finally i think its best to be as calm as one can be in such situation. After all they have the guns but you have the brains.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

What questions would you ask and what actions would you take?

First step would be to identify the commanding officer, introduce myself by name and get his name, rank and base location. Try to build an informal relationship on the spot, but focus on clarifying exactly what is going on and why. If that goes well, and the arrest looks a bit shaky I'd try to talk him out of taking the staff member off the premises, pointing out that they can't leave the country in any case.

If the arrest looks solid, then establish where they're being taken to, and ask to accompany the arrest party to that location. At the location, ask to talk to the senior officer, same procedure as before. Make sure that you have a deputy back at the office who can manage the situation - notifying regional or international headquarters, other senior staff members and keeping people calm.

If there's no hope of getting them out of the arrest, convene an SMT meeting to brief, while making sure that HQ, the staffer's embassy and the UN security chief are all briefed on the essentials.

That's it for now, I guess. It depends what happens from there...

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

On Scene Actions

1. Ensure safety of others.
2. Questions for o/c of soldiers
a. who I should contact for further information regarding the arrest?
b. where is the CD being taken?
c. how can I ensure he gets essential items? E.g. medicines.


1. Assemble the Crisis Response Team – perhaps ACD, Security Officer, Media Liaison, Admin rep.
2. Gather and verify multiple source information – Has there been a change of context? Have other agencies had similar events? Near misses? Has the government issued statements? Changed their rhetoric? Are there entry points we can use to start negotiations?
3. Assess the Situation – severity of impact, likely outcomes, implications for future operations etc.
4. Identify key stakeholders – family, staff, authorities etc.
5. Develop strategy/approach – including negotiation strategy, media plan, etc.
6. Communicate – with tailored messages for key stakeholders

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all it is very important to know who the armed men are. I will try to recognize them by their uniform, ID cards etc. Then I will try to negotiate with their leader and find out about the motive of the arrest. I will also accompany them to the place where the senior staff is taken. I will report the incident to HQ and know their opinion for further steps.

2:55 AM  

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