Posts Tagged Rick Rescorla

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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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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