Posts Tagged 9/11

Leadership: Team Rescorla

On 9/11, it is a somber time. You remember that day and all the death and destruction attached to it. It was a horrible day and I will never forget it. It is a memory that many of us in the security industry carry with us to our jobs both at home and abroad.

With that said, every year I try to shine a light on those stories and sacrifices that need some attention. I am a security contractor, and it seems that the private security sacrifice in this war or during 9/11 never gets the focus or respect it deserves. Most attention goes towards the civilians killed, or the military/police/firefighters killed, and other sites and news orgs out there always give attention to those sacrifices. Which is fine, but here on this blog, I feel it is equally as important to highlight the contractor sacrifices and heroism in this war.

For example, I have talked about Rick Rescorla and his heroic actions in the past, or all the private security contractors killed in the Twin Towers. This year, I would like to talk about Team Rescorla or the concept of red teaming in order to create or improve upon action plans.

Team Rescorla was an informal team that Rick Rescorla formed amongst fellow security consultants after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Rick formed this group to spit ball ideas about potential future attacks against the WTC, based on this attack. In the video below, they talk about how prophetic this team was in coming up with attack scenarios that could be devastating to the employees of Morgan Stanley.

What was interesting is Rick Rescorla reminds me of how Col. John Boyd would work with his Fighter Mafia friends to spitball ideas. Boyd was all about working with his team to bring up and refine ideas. Rick did the same thing with Team Rescorla and was constantly tapping into his human resource. One example of this was Rick and his conversations with Dan Hill, a special forces operative and fellow Vietnam Veteran who also fought with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Russians. Dan was also a muslim convert and spoke arabic, something that was quite handy when trying to get into the mind of the jihadist back then. Rick used Dan’s knowledge of guerrilla warfare and terror tactics to think of a weakness of the WTC back in 1990. Here is a quote that sums up the point of the conversation.

Rescorla’s office at Dean Witter was in the World Trade Center. The firm, which merged with Morgan Stanley in 1997, eventually occupied twenty-two floors in the south tower, and several floors in a building nearby. Rescorla’s office was on the forty-fourth floor of the south tower. Because of Hill’s training in counterterrorism, in 1990 Rescorla asked him to come up and take a look at the security situation. “He knew I could be an evil-minded bastard,” Hill recalls. At the World Trade Center, Rescorla asked him a simple question: “How would you take this out?” Hill looked around, and asked to see the basement. They walked down an entrance ramp into a parking garage; there was no visible security, and no one stopped them. “This is a soft touch,” Hill said, pointing to a load-bearing column easily accessible in the middle of the space. “I’d drive a truck full of explosives in here, walk out, and light it off.

Of course, three years later the WTC was bombed, a prediction of Team Rescorla.

Another member of Team Rescorla was Fred McBee. Rick consulted with Fred after these attacks about the possibility of flying an aircraft into one of the towers at the WTC. Fred was able to use a flight simulator on his computer and show how it was possible to fly an aircraft into a building. According to the book Heart of a Soldier, this is how Team Rescorla spitballed the flying bomb theory.

Rescorla also enlisted Fred McBee, his friend from Oklahoma. He said he assumed the terrorist’s goal had been to take down the towers. Since a truck bomb had failed, what would they try next? Rescorla mused that a small, portable nuclear weapon might do it. Another possibility, he said, which he’d drawn from Hill’s plan to start World War III, was to fly a cargo plane into the building. McBee happened to have a Microsoft flight simulator on his computer at that moment. He’d been experimenting with it using a Cessna light plane, but with a click of the mouse he changed it to a Boeing 737. Then he pulled up the image of lower Manhattan and simulated a crash in the World Trade Center. “This would be a piece of cake,” McBee said. Then he tried it on the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, with the same results. Then he switched to Washington D.C. But the White House and Capitol were blacked out. “It looks very viable,” McBee concluded.

You get the picture that Rick really tapped into his team and what they could come up with. Constantly throwing out ideas and asking for input, with no idea too crazy. After all, terrorists had already struck the WTC once with a truck bomb, it could happen again but worse. Boy did it ever…

Also, for both the 93 and 01 attacks, Team Rescorla submitted their warnings to authorities. They mostly gaffed them off. Luckily for Morgan Stanley, Rick drilled and drilled the employees for just such another instance as what happened in 93. I am sure Rick consulted with Dan Hill on all aspects of the action plan, and called others for ideas. In the video below, they talk about all the upgrades done to the stairwell and the drilling procedures they went through to make evacuation more efficient. Team Rescorla knew this was going to happen again, and they were going to make sure that things were in place. Unfortunately another attack did happen, and everyone knows of those events on 9/11.

To sum up this post, I wanted to emphasize the power of having your own team, formal or not, to red team your security site defense or action plan. Having a group of folks that you trust, who will give you honest feedback, and who will really look at all the possibilities is key. One person cannot come up with everything, and it is important as a leader to really leverage any input you can get from your team or outside sources to either create a plan of action, or improve upon the current plan. And things are constantly changing, so the plan needs to constantly be evaluated and improved upon. Lives depend upon it, and it is that process that led to Rick Rescorla with the help of Team Rescorla, in saving 2,687 lives on 9/11. That is something to never forget. –Matt

The Rick Rescorla Memorial page.

 

Dan Hill an Rick Rescorla in Vietnam together.

 

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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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Quotes: Astronaut Frank Culbertson On Being The Only American In Space During 9/11

Thanks to Paul for finding this letter and sharing. Everyone remembers where you were and what you were doing on 9/11. I was in a hotel meeting room watching the events unfold on their big screen TV’s. The fire season at the time was hot and heavy, and the smokejumper team I was assigned to was getting ready to head out to the airport to standby for fires.

But as soon as this incident happened, word came down that the FAA  shut down all aviation in the country except for vital emergency related aircraft. So fire aircraft was still able to fly and the smokejumpers were still able to respond to call outs. We had guys on the ground in the middle of some fire fighting and having aircraft to support them was essential.

But that day, as it was for everyone in the country, was a somber day, filled with questions on what was next. How would we respond and who would we attack? Shock, sadness……and anger. Resolve is what was next…. And then here I am, no longer a smokejumper, and giving my pound of flesh to the war effort as a contractor.

What is interesting about this astronaut’s perspective of this attack, is that he could physically watch the planet bleed due to this violent act. As if humans with a large spear, stabbed New York, and the smoke and debris poured out of the wound like blood from the neck of a large animal… The thoughts of what was going through that astronaut’s brain during such a time is revealed in this letter below, and I cut out the quote in the letter that really hit home. –Matt

 

….It’s difficult to describe how it feels to be the only American completely off the planet at a time such as this. The feeling that I should be there with all of you, dealing with this, helping in some way, is overwhelming. I know that we are on the threshold (or beyond) of a terrible shift in the history of the world. Many things will never be the same again after September 11, 2001. Not just for the thousands and thousands of people directly affected by these horrendous acts of terrorism, but probably for all of us. We will find ourselves feeling differently about dozens of things, including probably space exploration, unfortunately.

It’s horrible to see smoke pouring from wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point. The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the earth and watching life being destroyed by such willful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche, no matter who you are. And the knowledge that everything will be different than when we launched by the time we land is a little disconcerting. I have confidence in our country and in our leadership that we will do everything possible to better defend her and our families, and to bring justice for what has been done. I have confidence that the good people at NASA will do everything necessary to continue our mission safely and return us safely at the right time. And I miss all of you very much. I can’t be there with you in person, and we have a long way to go to complete our mission, but be certain that my heart is with you, and know you are in my prayers.

-Astronaut Frank Culbertson Letter from September 11, 2001

 

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Industry Talk: The Contractor Sacrifice And Resolve Since 9/11

You know, much will be said about the sacrifice and good work of the military during the last ten years of war. Much is being said of the loss of lives, both on that day and during the ten years of war, on this ten year anniversary of 9/11. Every bit of that loss and sacrifice deserve the attention of the nation and world…. But in the back of the room, quietly supporting the war effort, quietly being killed or wounded, and quietly serving for the last ten years is the contractor. And in my little corner of the internet, I wanted to make sure that the contractor sacrifice is counted.

So who is this contractor? They are the Sri Lanken who is building the barracks for an Iraqi brigade. He is the Ugandan standing guard at the DFAC or front gate. He is the former Navy SEAL, working in a PSD detail as a contractor for the State Department. She is a health and safety inspector for a camp in northern Afghanistan. He is an Afghan convoy guard transporting fuel to a remote camp. She is an interpreter working with the coalition to help them with their daily patrols in the villages. The contractor is everywhere in this war, and their contribution is certainly significant.

Some of these contractors are prior military, and some are former police officers. But many are civilians who wanted to make a difference. They are the plumbers, the carpenters, the teachers, the cooks, the paramedics, etc. that come from all over the US and the world to give their contribution to the war. I would speculate that well over a million civilian contractors have cycled in and out of the war over the years, but there are no statistics to back this up. Although we do know that our ratio of contractor to the military in the war zones over the years has been about 1 to 1, and sometimes higher. So whatever the military numbers, the contractor service is pretty close. And believe it or not, in Afghanistan there was a historically significant point in the war where there were more contractors than soldiers.

“As of March 2009, there were 68,197 DoD contractors in Afghanistan, compared to 52,300 uniformed personnel. Contractors made up 57% of DoD’s workforce in Afghanistan. This apparently represented the highest recorded percentage of contractors used by DoD in any conflict in the history of the United States.”CRS report

But what is the contractor sacrifice?  Well according to the Department of Labor, there have been 2,752 contractors killed and 71,662 wounded. The number of reporting companies is a staggering 1,831. (from 09/01/2001 to 06/30/2011) Think about those numbers and understand that each of those deaths and injuries are individuals that willfully came to these war zones to serve in their various capacities. Each had families and loved ones that mourned over their deaths. Or they had to deal with the struggle each day with the physical and mental fight that comes with rehabilitation and healing.

I personally think that the death and injury rates are much higher, but because there is no official commission to track all deaths and injuries of contractors, that the DoL statistics are really all we have. Of course there are individuals tracking deaths, but it has been noted that all they really care about is military deaths–with contractor deaths being a burden to count….

There is also another area of contractor sacrifice that gets little attention, and that is the POW’s and MIA’s of the industry. Just recently, James Coker was a Pentagon civilian contractor that was kidnapped, and then later beheaded in Afghanistan. It was barely a blip in the daily news cycle.  Or you have those contractors that have been wrongly detained in corrupt prison systems for years, just rotting away.

I have also touched on an area of contractor sacrifice that has not received any attention, and that is mental health. How many have taken their own lives since returning from the war?  I do not know, and it is a statistic that I think would match the military’s rates of suicide. (ProPublica touched on it a little)

But with all of this death and suffering, contractors continue to serve and in great numbers. They will continue to serve for as long as it takes, and they will do it quietly and willingly. So I give praise to the military for their sacrifice in this war, but we must also recognize and give praise to the sacrifice and resolve of our contractor force.

Lastly, the main reason why contractors and the military are fighting this war, is the cowardly act of terrorists  on 9/11, and the equally cowardly act of groups supporting those terrorists around the world. Hence why we have taken the fight into places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, and other rocks of the planet where the enemy chooses to organize and scheme under. It is our desire for justice and the urge to defend the homeland, that will keep the fires of this war lasting as long as it takes. That desire for justice is what drives all of us, both contractor and soldier, and we will not stop until justice is served and the enemy is no more. –Matt

From left to right, Tim Newman working as a DynCorp contractor in Iraq; the aftermath of the IED explosion that took Newman's leg; Newman after his recovery. (Photos courtesy of Tim Newman)

In April 2004, Reggie Lane was driving a fuel truck in Iraq for a defense contractor when insurgents attacked his convoy with rocket-propelled grenades, causing him numerous injuries. For most of the five years since, Lane, now 60, has spent his days in silence, cared for at the Country Gardens Adult Foster Care in Central Point, Ore. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Malek Hadi was working with the U.S. military police when a homemade bomb detonated beneath his Humvee in September 2006. (Allison V. Smith/For The Los Angeles Times.)

On the one-year anniversary of her husband's suicide, Barb Dill breaks down at her husband's tombstone. Wade Dill, a Marine Corps veteran, took a contractor job in Iraq. Three weeks after he returned home for good, he committed suicide (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times / Redding, CA / July 16, 2007).

 

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Call To Action: On 9/11, Remember The Fighting Spirit And Courage Of Civilians On Flight 93

I am a civilian and on September 11th 2001, my fellow civilians (and citizens) of the US were attacked by terrorists. They were killed at the World Trade Center, they were killed at the Pentagon, and they were killed on Flight 93. My fellow civilians were also maimed in these attacks, and they live with those mental and physical scars every day.

On September 11th 2001, we lost many. This may have been an attack on US soil, but this was not just an attack on the US. Civilians were the main target, and the victims held nationalities from all over the world. On that day, a war was declared on civilians.

We also lost soldiers, policemen, firemen, contractors and federal employees. These men and women gave all in the defense of civilians that day. They did their job and paid an incredible sacrifice, and we will never forget what they did for us.

But my fellow civilians did not go quietly either. On Flight 93, after recognizing what the intent of the terrorists were, they decided to fight. On that flight, civilians came together to stop the evil that hijacked their plane. They charged the cockpit, wrestled control of the plane from the terrorist, and were able to prevent that plane from crashing into the capital of the United States. During that struggle, the plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania and terrorists and civilians alike all perished.

This is something to ponder. A group of civilians on a random flight, coming together for one cause to stop evil and survive. No one trained them to do what they did, no one briefed them on what to expect, no one told them to sacrifice for this country…..but they did. They decided to fight for their lives, and they were intent on stopping this evil from achieving it’s goal.

I think it is still important to pay tribute to all that died.  It is a significant world wide memory that is forever seared into all of our brains. But what is even more important to me is to remember this event as a day where civilians were empowered to fight back, and make a difference.

It is human to be sad about such loss, but we should also celebrate the fighting spirit of these civilians. It is that fighting spirit, courage, and resolve that we can all use in our daily lives, and in our world wide war against this enemy. Every flight, every subway, every public gathering should be looked at as an opportunity for civilians to stand up to our enemy. We physically ‘stand up’ by having the courage to fight this enemy where ever they may be, and we mentally ‘stand up’ by not living in fear. And of course morally, we maintain the high ground when the enemy intentionally targets our civilian populations.

We are stronger. We are more determined. We will never forget, and this ends when the enemy is reduced to a pitiful memory. It also ends when the enemy is not able to count on the fear of civilians, or that the enemy fears the very population that it targets. Not only must we never forget the loss on this terrible day, but we must also celebrate the fighting spirit and courage of these civilians on Flight 93. –Matt

Flight 93 National Memorial Campaign here.

 

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Call To Action: Sign The Petition To Award 9/11 Hero And Security Contractor Rick Rescorla The Presidential Medal Of Freedom

I want to give a hat tip to Blackfive for putting this one out there, and I think this is a great Call To Action post. Rick Rescorla is certainly deserving of this award, and as a security contractor working for Morgan Stanley during the 9/11 incident he saved thousands of lives at the cost of his own.

Rick is also a veteran of the Vietnam and Rhodesian Wars, and he certainly get’s my respect as a warrior and as a human. Below is a quick summary of the petition, and as we get closer to the anniversary of 9/11, signing this petition is a great way to recognize one of many heroes of that day. Til Valhall. –Matt

Sign the petition here.

The interview below was filmed in 1998, at his WTC office.

 

 

To:  United States
A PETITION TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH TO AWARD THE PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM TO C.R.”RICK” RESCORLA FOR HEROISM AND GALLANTRY BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY ON SEPTEMBER 11,2001. ??MR. RESCORLA CAME TO THIS COUNTRY AS AN IMMIGRANT TO BECOME AN OFFICER IN THE ARMY. MR RESCORLA SERVED WITH SUCH DISTINCTION AS AN OFFICER IN VIET NAM THAT ALL WHO SERVED WITH HIM CONSIDER HIM THE BRAVEST MAN WE HAVE EVER KNOWN. HE WAS HIGHLY DECORATED FOR HIS BRAVERY AND LEADERSHIP IN COMBAT. HE BECAME A US CITIZEN AND SOUGHT A HIGHER EDUCATION OBTAINING A BACHELOR AND MASTERS DEGREE AT UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA AND FURTHER OBTAINING A LAW DEGREE BEFORE SERVING A AS TEACHER AT USC LAW SCHOOL BEFORE BEING LURED TO THE WORLD OF COMMERCIAL BANKING. MR. RESCORLA’S SPECIALTY WAS SECURITY AND SECURITY LAW. IN 1993 HE WAS THE LAST MAN OUT OF THE TRADE TOWERS AFTER EVACUATING EVERYONE. ON SEPT.11TH IN SPITE OF BEING TOLD HIS BUILDING WAS NOT IN DANGER, HE IMPLEMENTED THE EVACUATION PLAN HE HAD DEVELOPED FOR HIS FIRM, MORGAN STANLEY. AS A DIRECT RESULT OF HIS EFFORTS THAT DAY AND HIS QUICK ACTION, OVER 2600 EMPLOYEES WERE SAVED. MR RESCORLA WAS LAST SEEN GOING UP TO RESCUE PEOPLE WHO WERE UNABLE TO GET DOWN. HIS ACTIONS REFLECT THE VERY BEST ABOUT AMERICA, ITS CITIZENS AND ITS DREAMS. ?THE UNDERSIGNED URGE YOU TO RECOGNIZE MR RESCORLA BY BESTOWING THIS HIGHEST HONOR TO THIS MOST DESERVING MAN.

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