Industry Talk: FBO–RFI For 500-600 Armed Guards For Kandahar Airfield

By the end of the year US troop levels in Afghanistan will fall to 9,800, with another 3,000 – 5,000 NATO troops sticking around as well through the end of 2016. And while those remaining forces will be focused solely on training and advising the Afghan Army, Air Force, police and border patrol mostly at the leader and Ministerial level in Kabul and a few other sites, jobs like security for the major bases will have to be outsourced to private companies.-Paul Macleary of the Intercepts blog.

This just came out and it is hot off the press. A big hat tip to the blog Intercepts over at Defense News for finding this one. So let’s dig into the particulars of this FBO RFI requiring between 500 and 600 folks to guard the Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan.

The first thing that came to mind is the whole 45-60 day mobilization period? That is not a lot of time to recruit, train, and spin up such a sizable force. And if you force a company to adhere to such a thing, then they will get sloppy and they will allow bad seeds to get into the mix, just because of the sheer volume of guys they have to hire for this. Anything is possible, but the more you compress the time for this, the more the company will be rushed and will be sloppy with vetting and recruiting. The contract should emphasize the importance of spinning up a quality guard force, and the appropriate time to do so.

Also, I imagine that the standing force requirements are probably a little under half of this number, meaning maybe 200 to 300 guys actually on site protecting the facility (see the photo below)? So these guys that are standing up this contract better have some clue as to how static security works on this base and the leaders of this contract better know how to integrate well with the base QRF elements and the base defense plan. I highly recommend whatever company that stands this up, to study the Camp Bastion attack reports written by the Marines, so that they can get an idea of what their guard force needs to think about in Afghanistan. All actions by this guard force, should be focused on unity of command and unity of effort with BDOC or the military command and QRF of the base.

Another point. Base defenses these days have heavy weapons. If the Kandahar Airfield has posts with heavy weapons, and these guards will be manning those weapons, then training requirements should be specified in the contract. I would absolutely insist on some kind of deal where contractors are able to get training in a controlled environment, and then continue that training on these weapon systems while in Afghanistan. Meaning allow them to shoot the weapons, work the ranges with those weapons, and train on the TTP’s with those weapons. The base defense is highly dependent on that guard force to do it’s job. That would mean structure shifts to be smaller, so that there is more time for training. A contract could stipulate 8 hour shifts at the max, which would then give the company time to train while out in the field. The concept of 12 hour shifts does not help at all for training.

Like wise, if posts have special equipment like thermal imagers or military radios, these guards absolutely need to be spun up on this stuff. They should also be versed in a sound action plan for when the base gets attacked, and the contract should require that they do drills and maintain proficiency. With an 8 hour shift scheme, the companies would have plenty of time to do these drills and training. Like I mentioned before, the Camp Bastion attack is an excellent example of stuff a guard force needs to think about and work on.

Final point would be communications. The guard forces, be it military or contractor, need to be talking to one another and interacting. They need integrated communications, and this relationship should be geared towards creating unity of effort and unity of command. The BDOC should absolutely insist on this, and whomever is tasked with spinning up this contract for the Army, should think long and hard about how to structure the contract to meet those ends.

As for the pay and benefits, all I can say there is that if you ‘pay peanuts, you will get monkeys’. I have seen multiple complaints from contractors on how the Camp Leatherneck or Camp Dwyer contracts have materialized. If these contracts are poorly structured, poorly managed, and not given the time to properly set up, then of course things will get screwed up. And if the contract is paying an unreasonably low salary, then the guard force you hire will not have any respect for the job. They will be miserable, and this attitude will permeate throughout the contract. Guys will also jump contract at the first opportunity of a better gig. My advice is to pay a living salary that is respectable in this industry, and structure the leave and shift scheduling that will keep guys around, and not scare them away.

That last part is key. If companies are getting paid for training folks, and are not penalized for pushing contractors out with horrible policies and poor management, then what pops up is a revolving door training scam. The companies will push contractors to the edge with dumb policies so that folks eventually just leave, and then those same companies can train more people and charge the government more money for that. So my advice to the government is to incentivize the company they work with, to keep guys hanging around. The contract should use longevity bonuses, if a contractor stays an ‘x’ amount of days. The contract should also protect the salary of those contractors, so the company can’t play games with the salary. The contract should require paying a higher salary to shift leaders or other small unit leaders, to attract those who would want to do that kind of work. Reward companies for treating their people with respect and setting up excellent systems. Penalize companies that create training schemes, where they push out contractors so they can train more and grow their training business back home. And make damn sure your contracting officer that is assigned to watch this contract, knows what they are doing and actually cares what the company is doing in the field. You need to watch every step of the way, and have plenty of tools to keep that company in check so it does exactly what you want it to do.

My personal preference for a contract, is for the government to stipulate that companies form teams or platoons, where guys are assigned a unit. That way you can actually build some kind of unit cohesion within the contract. True leaders will rise to the top, because they have been forged in that furnace of a team. The current contracts on various bases, where guys are not assigned any team and are just thrown into the mix every time they come back from leave, is idiotic. It doesn’t build unit cohesion, or mutual trust, and folks are constantly having to adapt to a new group of people. It is better to build that trust between individuals through the mechanism of a team or platoon or squad or detail formations, as opposed to constantly breaking up that mutual trust that forms within a unit in a war zone. Teams are also important for mission command to be successful, and if the military is truly focused on implementing mission command within it’s operations, then they should practice what they preach with the formation of contracts that help support that type of structure and culture.

Something to think about for the companies and contracting officers that are reading this. All of this stuff can be spelled out in a contract and implemented by a company. There are other checks and balances that I am missing in this post that I could spend days talking about, but the big one to remember is that a contract should help in the creation of an environment and culture where folks are successful because of the system or contract, and not in spite of it. -Matt

 

Kandahar Airfield is a massive site, and you can see why it would require such a sizable guard force.

 

This Request for Information (RFI) is a market research survey to determine the availability and adequacy of potential sources prior to determining an acquisition and contract strategy to procure Private Security Company (PSC) services in support of U.S. Forces – Afghanistan (US FOR-A) Garrison Command, and tenant organizations at Kandahar Airfield (KAF), Afghanistan. Only  expatriates  from  the  FVEY  (Five  Eyes)   International  Intelligence  Sharing Network Nations (United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) will be permitted to perform work as permanent or temporary residents of Kandahar Airfield under any future contract – no exceptions.  There is a requirement for U.S. Secret level security clearances for supervisory and operations personnel.

This RFI does not constitute a solicitation (Request for Proposal or Request f or Quotation) or a promise to issue a solicitation in the future.   As stipulated in FAR 15.201(e), responses to this notice are not considered offers, shall not be used as a proposal, and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract.    This RFI does not commit the Government to contract for any services whatsoever.   We are not seeking proposals at this time.  Responders are advised that the Government will not pay for any information or administrative costs incurred in response to this RFI.

The information received will be utilized by RCC-South in developing an acquisition strategy and Purchase Description and Specification.   The information in this notice is based on current information available to date.   This information is subject to change and is not binding to the Government.    Responses to this RFI may or may not be returned.    Not responding to this RFI does not preclude participation in any future solicitations, if one is issued.

Any resulting procurement action will be the subject of a separate, future announcement. The proposed acquisition is for services for which the Government intends to solicit and award in conjunction with policies procedures from FAR Part 15, Contracting by Negotiation.

The proposed acquisition is expected to be a firm fixed price contract for a ten (10) month base period, which includes a sixty (45-60) day mobilization period (estimated), and no option periods.   The requirement calls for an approximate of 500-600 guards, armorers, and management  personnel;  no  less  than  30%  of  which  must  be  FVEY  Expatriates,  with  the remaining 70% from an allowable ISAF Troop Contributing Nation: http://www.nato.int/ISAF/structure/nations/index.html

The following information is provided to assist with developing your response:

1.  The government will provide all lodging and office space to meet this requirement. Contractors may have access to MILAIR, DFACs, PX, and MWR.  A contractor man- camp is not required.

2. The contractor shall provide all vehicles, weapons, ammunition, communications equipment, optics, and other equipment necessary to perform the PSC mission.  There will be some government furnished equipment, but this is not relevant to the mobilization questions.

3.   The service is to secure the entirety of Kandahar Airfield (man towers), man/operate ECPs, and conduct roving patrols 24/7 for the specified period of performance.

Interested parties shall submit a response that answers the following questions:

1.  Can you mobilize the required number of personnel, complete with medical screening, vetting and arming authorizations processed, within 45 days of contract award?

2.  If not, what is the maximum number of personnel feasible to mobilize within 45 days of contract award?

3.  Can you mobilize the required number of personnel, complete with medical screening, vetting and arming authorizations processed, within 60 days of contract award?

4.  If not, what is the maximum number of personnel feasible to mobilize within 60 days of contract award?

5.  What is the minimum timeframe feasible for full mobilization of a guard force of approximately 500-600 personnel?

6.  If a phased approach is used for mobilization, please describe the number of personnel and timelines you could reasonably expect to accomplish full operating capability?

7.  What are some of the barriers you anticipate could impact expedited mobilization?

You have the option to present evidence that you are capable of providing the services required and as such your response may contain any information that you feel is relevant.  Please provide an electronic copy of your submitted information to the point of contact theodore.m.epple@swa.army.mil NO LATER THAN 13 October 2014 by 1800 hours EST.

FBO RFI here.

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Disaster Response: Private Security Answers The Call For Dealing With Ebola

I believe this is the first incident of ebola in the US where a PMSC has been called up to guard the quarantine site? I mentioned how important security is to the response to this epidemic, that is quickly moving towards a pandemic, and I think we will see more of this. The CDC gave a worst case scenario of upwards of around 1.4 million people in Africa to be infected with ebola by January of next year.

Back to the main story, and that is the PMSC response to this outbreak. The company tasked with guarding the apartment and family quarantined in this particular incident is called Heartland Patrol, and the location is Dallas, Texas. I noticed that they have some pretty nice patrol vehicles? In the photo below, the vehicle being used is a Dodge Charger, and I know some police departments would love to have that thing.

Another point to bring up with this event is preparation for a security job that deals with infectious diseases and viruses. This kind of security work is new territory for security professionals that are involved with disaster response like this. My advice for anyone getting involved with this response is to update your insurance, and check if they will cover you if you actually work in such an environment.

Your best piece of equipment for a security gig like this is your mind. Get educated on everything to do with ebola, and increase your orientation on working in that environment so you can make good decisions. Work closely with the on site medical professionals and stay disciplined once you have a good plan for working around a quarantine site or treatment center. If you do not have access to that kind of resource, then seek it out. Go online, find local medical professionals who specialize in ebola, and become a student of this virus. Knowledge is your best weapon to counter it. And of course, your security mission is your primary reason for being there, so understand everything that it takes to do that job properly.

Another thing to brush up on is incident command. For large disaster responses, incident command is the primary tool for managing such things. So if your private security detail is a part of that kind of operation, then it behooves you to understand how that system works.

I have also seen jobs dealing with the medical response. Medical staff are in high demand in Africa and they are getting swamped. So if you have a medical background and a security contracting background, you would be perfect for these types of contracts. Especially in places like Africa, where the fear component is very high, which makes people act irrationally. Aid groups would be wise to have some kind of security professional tagging along, just so they can pick up on any of the signs of that type of thing. -Matt

 

The private security company called Heartland Patrol, on duty in front of the ebola patient’s apartment, which contains four members of the patient’s family who are in quarantine.

 

Ebola family under armed guard after trying to leave quarantine
October 3, 2014
A woman who has been confined to her Dallas apartment under armed guard after a man infected with Ebola stayed at her home said she never imagined this could happen to her so far from disease-ravaged West Africa.
Louise Troh said Thursday that she is tired of being locked up and wants health authorities to decontaminate her home.
Authorities say the circle of people in the US possibly exposed to Ebola widened after the man, who arrived from Liberia last month, was discharged from a hospital without being tested for the deadly virus.
The confinement order, which also bans visitors, was imposed after the family failed to comply with a request to stay home, according to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. Texas Health Commissioner David Lakey said the order would ensure that Troh, her 13-year-old son and two nephews can be closely monitored for signs of the disease.
The first Ebola diagnosis in the nation has raised concerns about whether the disease that has killed 3,300 people in West Africa could spread in the US. Federal health officials say they are confident they can keep it in check.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Disaster Response: Ebola And The Need For Security

I wanted to put this one out there because of the recent news about Ebola and it’s spread. According to the CDC, their worst-case scenario is that we will see over 500,000 cases of Ebola infection in Africa by January of next year. This is by far a greater projection than others have given, and this should give pause. The current death toll according the WHO is 2630 people as of  last thursday.

With that said, an increase in casualties will further push the fear and panic element of this disaster. That, and with poor education and rumors being spread, horrible consequences can happen. A specific example is the killing of Ebola response workers in Guinea. Because there was a rumor within the village that these workers were the ones infecting the village, a riot ensued and these poor folks were killed with sticks and stones by an angry and fearful mob.

A couple things that come to mind when it comes to the security side of this disaster response. When people panic, they will do what they can to survive. They will either destroy that in which is a threat, or they will run away.  Fight or flight. Most will try to escape those areas that have high numbers of Ebola cases. When they see the bodies or hear on the grape vine of what is happening, they will want to leave these areas and that is a natural response.

Why is this important to note? Because those who want to leave these areas, could very well have Ebola and not even know it. They will want to survive, and they will do what they can to bypass quarantines and borders and blocking forces, all so they don’t get stuck in these virus zones. If they are fearful of aid workers or are not educated on the causes of Ebola, then fear will absolutely cloud their thinking and rationality.

Another example of the security problem vs the spread of the virus, is what happened in a slum in Liberia back in August. Police were tasked by the government to seal off a slum that had 50,000 people in it so they could contain an outbreak. You can only imagine the kind of fear and anger that these police had to deal with in such a situation?

So how do you prevent the spread of a virus like this, with a panicked population hell bent on getting away from the thing? Or how do you prevent these people from killing aid workers? Education of course. But it takes something else, which will give the aid workers comfort to do this dangerous work.

That is where private security, and of course law enforcement and military comes in. Someone has to protect these aid workers as they fight to educate locals or sift through these local populations to find infected people. Someone has to guard the quarantine centers so infected folks do not leave, or terrorists do not come in to steal infected bodies. Someone has to help secure the refugee centers or the disaster response centers?

Which brings up another issue to think about. There are many terrorist organizations out there that would love to have a biowarfare agent like Ebola. With an infected martyr, they could literally spread their weapon called Ebola wherever they wanted to spread it. This reality alone should motivate authorities to do all they can to secure the bodies or secure quarantine areas.

So you have the fight or flight mechanism in play to spread the virus, and you have the criminal/terrorist angle that can spread the virus. The answer to prevent this spread, will require security in one form or the other. And it has to happen now! And if Ebola goes airborne, because it has genetically changed through all of these infections, then securing the infected really becomes important.

I should also note that I have been getting private messages from contractors involved with the security side of stopping this disease, and all of these concerns I am talking about are front and center. My response to these folks is that private security can certainly respond to a disaster like this,  but it needs information and incentive. The quality and quantity of that private security is also dependent upon the desire to properly screen and select individuals for the contracts, and they need assurances that if they get infected while on the job, that the will get the best treatment possible for survival.  One model of success for how fast private security can respond, was the 2005 Hurricane Katrina response.

As this disaster continues to unfold, we will see how the response goes. I imagine there will be an increase in demand for security and logistical services, and I am sure this industry will answer the call. If any jobs come up, I will post them. If you are an NGO or whomever that is in need of private security, please feel free to comment below this post and I will allow you to advertise. Or I can start a new post as a Job alert. I am also watching FBO because the US just dedicated 500 million dollars and 3,000 troops to help contain this. So there is some movement and concern here. -Matt

World Health Organization website here.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention website here.

 

Liberian security forces back in August blockade an area around the West Point slum as the government clamps down on the movement of people to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in the city of Monrovia.

 

Ebola Worst-Case Scenario Has More Than 500,000 Cases
By Caroline Chen, Brendan Greeley and Kelly Gilblom
Sep 19, 2014
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa could spread to hundreds of thousands more people by the end of January, according to an estimate under development by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that puts one worst-case scenario at 550,000 or more infections.
The report, scheduled to be released next week, was described by two people familiar with its contents, who asked to remain anonymous because it isn’t yet public.
The projection, which vastly outstrips previous estimates, is under review by researchers and may change. It assumes no additional aid or intervention by governments and relief agencies, which are mobilizing to contain the Ebola outbreak before it spirals further out of control in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
“CDC is working on a dynamic modeling tool that allows for recalculations of projected Ebola cases over time,” Barbara Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the agency, said in an e-mail. “CDC expects to release this interactive tool and a description of its use soon.”
The World Health Organization said last month that the outbreak could reach 20,000 cases before being brought under control. That projection is already outdated, WHO spokesman Dan Epstein said today in a phone interview.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Cool Stuff: Shadow Warriors Project

Now this is some cool stuff. Recently, a book came out that detailed the security contractor role during the Benghazi attack in 2012 . An incident where four Americans were killed–to include the death of a US Ambassador. The book is called 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi. The authors of this book are the actual guys involved in the battle and boy do they have a story to tell. It is a story of security contractors saving lives and dealing with a really bad situation. It is also about what happens after the battle when everyone comes home, which is the part of contracting that does not get much attention. I would not be surprised if a movie came out about this.

But what is really awesome about their story is that one of the authors of this book and participant in the battle named Mark Geist, started an association that all contractors can really get behind and support. Here is a snippet from their web site and organization called Shadow Warriors Project. I also like that his wife is involved, because she represents the sacrifice that families make in this business.

Mark and Krystal Geist, the founders of Shadow Warriors Project have committed their lives to benefitting American people. Mark served our country in the Marine Corp for 12 years and continued on to serve the American people as a Special Operative Contractor where he worked in the most dangerous places on the globe. Mark returned home wounded and broken, leaving the pieces of their lives scattered. After a full recovery, Mark and Krystal are back at what they do best, helping Americans, in their efforts with the Shadow Warriors Project.
Letter from the founders:
Our goal with the Shadow Warriors Project is to create a better everyday life for as many American contractors and their families as possible. We decided to start SWP when Mark returned home from an incredibly dangerous operation. He was hurt both mentally and physically and we wished there was a system that could have helped us repair.
After having almost lost my life and going through almost two years of surgeries and rehabilitation my family and I have found that there is limited short term and virtually no long term support system in place for the contractor.
We can do better, we must do better for those that choose to continue serving our beloved country and in doing so become injured or killed in that service. We want the contractor and his family to not have to worry, should the unthinkable occur.
We thank you for your interest and hope that you will join forces with us to give American contractors a more fruitful life.
Sincerely,
Mark & Krystal Geist

Outstanding, and I really hope this takes off, hence why I am promoting it here on the blog. This is a group started by a wounded security contractor, and focused on taking care of wounded contractors and their families. Or helping the families of those contractors killed in the war.

The other thing to mention here is that there are very few groups dedicated to helping the contractor and his family when injuries or deaths happen. TAPS is another group that will help contractors. Other groups like Wounded Warriors Project will not help contractors and their families, which is disappointing to say the least, but that is their thing. Something to think about if you are looking for a group to donate time or money too, that helps contractors and their families specifically. -Matt

Website for Shadow Warriors Project here.

Facebook Page for Shadow Warriors Project here.

Mark Geist bio here.

 

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Highly recommend watching this documentary on what these men had to say. Mark Geist discusses his injuries and the impact on his family was mentioned as well.

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Industry Talk: In Memory Of The Security Contractors Killed On 9/11

On this day, we memorialize all those that perished on September 11, 2001 at the hands of terrorists. We remember the sacrifice of those that responded to the incident and died or were wounded. Much attention in fact is given to the sacrifice of the brave fire fighters, police officers, first responders and soldiers that were killed that day. What is not really talked about is the sacrifice of private security contractors that died on that day.

Below I have found a list compiled by one website that did the work to find these names. I have also searched through the various databases that lists the deaths to find out how many died within the various companies involved. According to the statistics, Summit Security Services lost the most personnel on that day. That number was eleven. OCS Security lost five personnel that day.

In the world of security contracting, just one or two guys getting killed in an incident is huge. An IED here, a shooting incident there–these deaths send shockwaves throughout the community. This is because usually guys know the contractors killed or have one degree of separation. I look back at my time in this industry and I have met quite a few folks, and this is a very small community.

Within the company though, deaths really hit hard because these guys are a part of the ‘family’. The human resource office, the project manager, the CEO, the friends and families, and even the clients the companies serve, all grieve when one of their own is killed. They also build memorials to those killed.

So when I see that Summit Security Services lost eleven men that day, I just imagine how devastating that really was to the company. An example of other great sacrifices within a non-security company that day was Cantor Fitzgerald. They lost 658 people… A truly horrible loss and it takes real leadership to carry the company forward and heal.

In the past I have written about the sacrifice and heroism of Rick Rescorla, who is probably the most familiar security contractor to have died on 9/11. Today in my little corner of the internet and blogosphere, I wanted to not only remember the deaths and sacrifices of all persons involved on 9/11, but also give a special remembrance to those security contractors that died that day in defense of their client. Below are a list of 36 security contractors killed, and this post is dedicated to them. -Matt

 

FOB Rescorla in Afghanistan. Photo credit to the Rick Rescorla Memorial.

 

 

Patrick Adams – 60, Brooklyn, NY, Security officer, Fuji Bank

Godwin Ajala – 33, New York, NY, Security officer, Summit Security Services

Andrew J. Bailey – 29, New York, NY, Security supervisor, Marsh & McLennan

Lawrence F. Boisseau – 36, Freehold, NJ, Fire safety director, OCS Security

Francisco Bourdier – 40, New York, NY, Security guard, Deutsche Bank

Larry Bowman – 46, New York, N.Y., security officer, Summit Security Services

Edward Calderon – 43, Jersey City, NJ, Security guard, Port Authority

Mannie Leroy Clark – 54, New York, NY, Security guard

Francisco Cruz – 48, Staten Island, NY, Security officer, Summit Security Services

Denease Conley – 43, New York, N.Y., Summit Security

Samuel Fields – 36, New York, NY, Security officer, Summit Security Services

John R. Fisher – 46, Bayonne, N.J., security consultant, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Richard Fitzsimons – 57, Lynbrook, NY, Fire safety inspector, OCS Security

Ervin Gailliard – 42, New York, NY, Security officer, Summit Security Services

Jorge Luis Morron Garcia, 38, New York, N.Y., security officer, Summit Security Services

Charles Gregory John – 44, Security officer, Royston and Zamani

Philip Thomas Hayes – 67, East Northport, NY, Fire safety director, OCS Security

Ronald Hoerner – 58, Massapequa Park, NY, Security manager, Summit Security Services

Mohammed Jawara – MAS Security

Douglas G. Karpiloff – 53, Mamaroneck, NY, Security director, Port Authority

Barry Kirschbaum – 53, Staten Island, NY, Security manager, Marsh & McLennan

Leon Lebor, Security guard, Summit Security Services

Daniel Lugo – 45, New York, NY, Security officer, Summit Security Services

Anthony Luparello Jr., 63, SecurityWguard, American Building Maintenance

Sara Manley – 31, New York, N.Y., vice president and senior security analyst, Fred Alger Management

Robert Martinez – 24, Long Island City, N.Y., security officer, Summit Security Services

Robert J. Mayo – 46, Marlboro, NJ, Fire safety director, OCS Security

Stanley McCaskill – 47, New York, NY, Security guard, Advantage Security

John P. O’Neill – 50, NY, Security, Silverstein Partners

Alexander Ortiz – Security guard, Grubb & Ellis Inc

Rick Rescorla – 62, head of security for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

Esmerlin Salcedo – 36, New York, NY, Security officer, Summit Security Services

Nolbert Salomon – 33, Security guard

Francis Joseph Trombino – 68, Clifton, NJ, Security guard, Brinks

Jorge Velazquez – 47, Passaic, NJ, Security specialist, Morgan Stanley

William Wren – 61, Lynbrook, NJ, Resident manager, OCS Security

List compiled here.

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Publications: Sandia Report Draws Lessons Learned From 23 ‘Perfect Heists’

Deception, patience are common ingredients
While methods and implementation of the heists varied greatly, there were common factors. At least one form of deception was used in 21 of the heists, ranging from impersonating law enforcement to use of decoy vehicles to concealing surveillance equipment. Insiders — willing, unwitting and coerced — played a role in the majority of cases. The Antwerp Diamond Center’s building manager even provided blueprints to the heist mastermind, thinking he was just another tenant.
“I learned from this study that these thieves have a lot of patience. Most spent months and even years planning. They were very deliberate in how they defeated security measures and those methods were often very low-tech, like using hair spray to disable infrared sensors,” said Lafleur. “In most of these heists, multiple security measures were defeated.”
Another finding is that weapons aren’t needed to steal a lot of money. Four of the top five heists, in terms of value, were weaponless.

For obvious reasons, this report will have immense value for those out there that are in the business of countering this kind of crime. There is such a thing as the perfect heist, and this is an excellent study of those types of heists.  I was particularly interested in the lessons learned aspect of the report.

In it, they listed 44 items of interest for security professionals. They also described the average successful criminal. Here is a snippet.

Several key lessons are identified in each focus area, and an overview of the commonalities and bounds of criminal team characteristics and capabilities is provided. In brief, the typical criminal is a 30-39 year old man and experienced career criminal who is native to the country whose valuables he is targeting. The typical on-scene criminal team consists of 2-8 accomplices, typically perpetrating the robbery as a single team, although breaking into multiple sub-teams is not uncommon. Use of weapons is typical but in many cases not required for success. Thieves are willing to devote substantial resources to planning, spending in some cases more than two years, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and procuring transportation for thousands of pounds of loot. Thieves are frequently thorough and innovative in their planning, developing security defeat methods that are physically simple but highly targeted toward vulnerabilities the thieves have identified in advance of the heist. In the identification and exploitation of these vulnerabilities, deceptions and insiders almost always play a role. Multiple insiders, unwillingly or willingly colluding, are not uncommon; and while insiders span a variety of origins and roles, by far the most common type is the coerced insider who unwillingly assists in the crime, often upon threat of losing his own life or the lives of his family members.

That is some serious patience and ‘know your enemy, know yourself’ stuff there. The use of insiders, willing or not, is also very interesting.

Now what this report did not include was the vast group of criminals that absolutely need to be studied in Russia, South Asia, East Asia and Australia. It would also be helpful for them to go older than the 1970’s, but at least they have a good smattering of successful modern day heists. Here is a quote.

This expansion might continue to track down details of thefts that commonly make published lists of top heists, or it might take the direction of purposefully widening the scope geographically (e.g., to include heists in Russia, South Asia, East Asia, and Australia) and temporally (e.g., to include heists prior to the 1970s, perhaps as far back as the early 1900s, or farther back to the 1800s or even 1700s) to ensure the representation of a greater diversity of criminal methods and techniques in the data.

Check it out and this thing is filled with the good stuff. -Matt

Read the report here.

 

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Sandia report draws lessons learned from ‘perfect heists’ for national security
August 19, 2014
In 2003, the unthinkable happened at Belgium’s Antwerp Diamond Center. Thieves broke into its reputedly impenetrable vault and made off with hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of diamonds, gold, cash and other valuables.
Through years of meticulous planning, they got past police officers less than 200 feet away, access controls into the building, a combination-and-key-lock vault door, a magnetic seal on the vault door and motion, infrared, light and seismic detectors within the vault.
The Antwerp Diamond Center theft and other sophisticated, high-value heists show that motivated criminals can find ways to overcome every obstacle between them and their targets. Can the Energy and Defense departments, responsible for analyzing, designing and implementing complex systems to protect vital national security assets, learn from security failures in the banking, art and jewelry worlds?
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