Posts Tagged situational awareness

A Situational Primer For Traveling Abroad

From The Loadout Room:

Do you know where the evacuation place is and the area surrounding it? What should you have with you when you leave your room? What should you do prior to going to sleep to reduce potential threats that might be lurking once you leave your room? Why is it consequential regarding your skin color and why is a religious understanding of the area important? An alarm or occurrences that forced you to leave your hotel room under duress put your mind into an animalistic survival activity, and unless you have a plan, practice, and test it, you could be putting yourself at risk.

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Massad Ayoob on Gas Station Awareness

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Massad Ayoob on Answering the Door

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Pedestrian Intelligence

From SOFREP.com:

The hardest part of staying informed as citizens of the U.S. or wherever your home happens to be is whether you can rely on the validity of the information that you’re given. And that’s the first rule of what I call “Pedestrian Intelligence”, or in other words, intelligence for the rest of us.

Rule 1: Only infants are spoon-fed

Go out and get your information. Don’t rely on others to give it to you. This applies to all sources, regardless of your political affiliation. Do not rely on Fox, CNN, NPR, CBS or any other outfit. They all must make editing decisions to fit a number of parameters (scheduling, editorial, etc.), none of which support your need for reliable information (aka intelligence) that you need in order to make sound judgments.

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When Things Go Bad

When Things Go Bad is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By Scott Stewart

Over the past several weeks, we have discussed a number of different situations that can present a common problem to people caught up in them. First, we discussed how domestic terrorism remains a persistent threat in the United States, and that despite improvements in security measures since 2001, soft targets still remain vulnerable to attack by terrorist actors driven by a variety of motivations. Due to the devolution of the jihadist threat toward the grassroots, there is also a growing trend of jihadist actors using armed assaults instead of bombing attacks. We also discussed the continuing problem of workplace violence, and finally, we discussed last week evacuation plans for expatriates due to natural disaster, civil unrest or war.

People caught in any of these situations could find themselves either confronted by an armed assailant or actually coming under fire in an active shooter scenario. Of course, there are other situations where people can find themselves confronted by armed assailants, from street muggings and carjackings to bank robberies. Because of this, we thought it might be useful to our readers to discuss such situations and how to react when caught in one. Read the rest of this entry »

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Evacuations and Contingency Planning

Evacuations and Contingency Planning is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By Scott Stewart

When the London 2012 Paralympic Games conclude the week of Sept. 9, the British navy reportedly will send a task force to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, where it will participate in amphibious exercises off the coasts of Albania, Sardinia and Turkey before lingering off the coast of Cyprus.

Ostensibly, the upcoming exercises are meant to prepare the navy for evacuating Syria of British citizens. Indeed, the ongoing civil war in Syria has prompted several Western countries to consider evacuation plans for their citizens who remain in the war-torn country. Some countries already have issued travel warnings against Syria, while others have advised their citizens to vacate the country. The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Germany have closed their embassies in Syria and are less able to assist their citizens there.

Foreign nationals should take full advantage of their governments’ evacuation assistance regardless of the country in which they temporarily reside; British citizens in Syria are no exception. However, government planning is no substitute for personal evacuation plans, which are vital for any citizen in a foreign country. Read the rest of this entry »

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Situational Awareness

From SOFREP.com:

Good Situation Awareness is a learned SKILL, which means you must be trained and practice this skill continually. Our own ego must be dropped and we have to realize that these skills are competitive, which means we might be fighting for our lives with these skills. I know and have worked with Clinton (Emerson), he’s one of the Nation’s best.

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A Practical Guide to Situational Awareness

From STRATFOR:

By Scott Stewart

For the past three weeks we have been running a series in the Security Weekly that focuses on some of the fundamentals of terrorism. First, we noted that terrorism is a tactic not exclusive to any one group and that the tactic would not end even if the jihadist threat were to disappear. We then discussed how actors planning terrorist attacks have to follow a planning process and noted that there are times during that process when such plots are vulnerable to detection.

Last week we discussed how one of the most important vulnerabilities during the terrorism planning process is surveillance, and we outlined what bad surveillance looks like and described some basic tools to help identify those conducting it. At the end of last week’s Security Weekly we also discussed how living in a state of paranoia and looking for a terrorist behind every bush not only is dangerous to one’s physical and mental health but also results in poor security. This brings us to this week, where we want to discuss the fundamentals of situational awareness and explain how people can practice the technique in a relaxed and sustainable way.

Situational awareness is very important, not just for personal security but as a fundamental building block in collective security. Because of this importance, Stratfor has written about situational awareness many times in the past. However, we believe it merits repeating again in order to share these concepts with our new readers as well as serve as a reminder for our longtime readers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Situational Awareness: How Everyday Citizens Can Help Make a Nation Safe

Situational Awareness: How Everyday Citizens Can Help Make a Nation Safe is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

By Scott Stewart

Last week’s Security Weekly discussed the important role that grassroots defenders practicing situational awareness play in defending against terrorist attacks by individuals and small cells, what we refer to as grassroots militants. Anyone who reads STRATFOR’s security and terrorism material for any length of time will notice that we frequently mention the importance of situational awareness. The reason we do so, quite simply, is that it works. Situational awareness is effective in allowing people to see potential threats before — and as — they develop. This allows potential victims to take proactive measures to avoid a perceived threat, and it enables them or other observers to alert authorities.

While threats can emanate from a number of very different sources, it is important to recognize that terrorist attacks — and other criminal acts, for that matter — do not materialize out of thin air. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Terrorists and other criminals follow a process when planning their actions, and this process has several distinct steps. The process has traditionally been referred to as the “terrorist attack cycle,” but if you look at the issue thoughtfully, it becomes apparent that the same steps apply to nearly all crimes. Of course, the steps in a complex crime like a kidnapping or car bombing are far more involved than the steps in a simple crime such as purse-snatching or shoplifting, where the steps can be completed quite rapidly. Nevertheless, the same general steps are usually followed.

People planning attacks are vulnerable to detection during various phases of this process, and observant people can often spot such attacks developing. Therefore, situational awareness serves as one of the key building blocks of effective personal security, and when practiced collectively, national security. Since situational awareness is so important, we thought it would be helpful to once again discuss the subject in detail and provide a guide that can help describe what situational awareness is and explain how it can be practiced at a relaxed, sustainable level. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fighting Grassroots Terrorism: How Local Vigilance Can Help

This report is republished with the permission of STRATFOR.

By Scott Stewart

In the wake of the July 22 Oslo attacks, as I have talked with people in the United States and Europe, I have noticed two themes in the conversations. The first is the claim that the attacks came from an unexpected source and were therefore impossible to stop. The second theme is that detecting such attacks is the sole province of dedicated counterterrorism authorities.

As discussed in last week’s Security Weekly, even in so-called unexpected attacks there are specific operational tasks that must be executed in order to conduct an operation. Such tasks can be detected, and unexpected attacks emanating from lone wolf actors can indeed be thwarted if such indicators are being looked for. Alleged Oslo attack perpetrator Anders Breivik reportedly conducted several actions that would have made him vulnerable to detection had the authorities been vigilant and focused on those possible actions.

This is why it is critical to look at the mechanics of attacks in order to identify the steps that must be undertaken to complete them and then focus on identifying people taking such steps. Focusing on the “how” rather than the “who” is an effective way for authorities to get on the proactive side of the action/reaction continuum.

Considering this concept of focusing on the how, one quickly reaches a convergence with the second theme, which involves the role and capabilities of dedicated counterterrorism resources. The primary agency tasked with counterterrorism in most countries tends to have limited resources that are stretched thin trying to cover known or suspected threats. These agencies simply do not have the manpower to look for attack-planning indicators — especially in a world where militant actors are increasingly adopting the leaderless-resistance model, which is designed to avoid detection by counterterrorism forces. Read the rest of this entry »

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How to Respond to Terrorism Threats and Warnings

How to Respond to Terrorism Threats and Warnings is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

By Scott Stewart

In this week’s Geopolitical Weekly, George Friedman wrote that recent warnings by the U.S. government of possible terrorist attacks in Europe illustrate the fact that jihadist terrorism is a threat the world will have to live with for the foreseeable future. Certainly, every effort should be made to disrupt terrorist groups and independent cells, or lone wolves, and to prevent attacks. In practical terms, however, it is impossible to destroy the phenomenon of terrorism. At this very moment, jihadists in various parts of the world are seeking ways to carry out attacks against targets in the United States and Europe and, inevitably, some of these plots will succeed. George also noted that, all too often, governments raise the alert level regarding a potential terrorist attack without giving the public any actionable intelligence, which leaves people without any sense of what to do about the threat.

The world is a dangerous place, and violence and threats of violence have always been a part of the human condition. Hadrian’s Wall was built for a reason, and there is a reason we all have to take our shoes off at the airport today. While there is danger in the world, that does not mean people have to hide under their beds and wait for something tragic to happen. Nor should people count on the government to save them from every potential threat. Even very effective military, counterterrorism, law enforcement and homeland security efforts (and their synthesis — no small challenge itself) cannot succeed in eliminating the threat because the universe of potential actors is simply too large and dispersed. There are, however, common-sense security measures that people should take regardless of the threat level. Read the rest of this entry »

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Watching for Watchers

This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR

By Scott Stewart

In last week’s Security Weekly we discussed how situational awareness is a mindset that can — and should — be practiced by everyone. We also described the different levels of situational awareness and discussed which level is appropriate for different sorts of situations. And we noted how all criminals and terrorists follow a process when planning their acts and that this process is visible at certain times to people who are watching for such behavior.

When one considers these facts, it inevitably leads to the question: “What in the world am I looking for?” The brief answer is: “warning signs of criminal or terrorist behavior.” Since this brief answer is very vague, it becomes necessary to describe the behavior in more detail.

Surveillance

It is important to make one fundamental point clear up front. The operational behavior that most commonly exposes a person planning a criminal or terrorist act to scrutiny by the intended target is surveillance. Other portions of the planning process can be conducted elsewhere, especially in the age of the Internet, when so much information is available online. From an operational standpoint, however, there simply is no substitute for having eyes on the potential target. In military terms, surveillance is often called reconnaissance, and in a criminal context it is often referred to as casing or scoping out. Environmental activist and animal rights groups trained by the Ruckus Society refer to it as “scouting.” No matter what terminology is being used for the activity, it is meant to accomplish the same objective: assessing a potential target for value, vulnerabilities and potential security measures. Surveillance is required so that criminals can conduct a cost-benefit analysis. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Primer on Situational Awareness

This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR

By Scott Stewart

The world is a wonderful place, but it can also be a dangerous one. In almost every corner of the globe militants of some political persuasion are plotting terror attacks — and these attacks can happen in London or New York, not just in Peshawar or Baghdad. Meanwhile, criminals operate wherever there are people, seeking to steal, rape, kidnap or kill.

Regardless of the threat, it is very important to recognize that criminal and terrorist attacks do not materialize out of thin air. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Criminals and terrorists follow a process when planning their actions, and this process has several distinct steps. This process has traditionally been referred to as the “terrorist attack cycle,” but if one looks at the issue thoughtfully, it becomes apparent that the same steps apply to nearly all crimes. Of course, there will be more time between steps in a complex crime like a kidnapping or car bombing than there will be between steps in a simple crime such as purse-snatching or shoplifting, where the steps can be completed quite rapidly. Nevertheless, the same steps are usually followed.

People who practice situational awareness can often spot this planning process as it unfolds and then take appropriate steps to avoid the dangerous situation or prevent it from happening altogether. Because of this, situational awareness is one of the key building blocks of effective personal security — and when exercised by large numbers of people, it can also be an important facet of national security. Since situational awareness is so important, and because we discuss situational awareness so frequently in our analyses, we thought it would be helpful to discuss the subject in detail and provide a primer that can be used by people in all sorts of situations. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Look at Kidnapping through the Lens of Protective Intelligence

This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR

By Scott Stewart

Looking at the world from a protective-intelligence perspective, the theme for the past week has not been improvised explosive devices or potential mass-casualty attacks. While there have been suicide bombings in Afghanistan, alleged threats to the World Cup and seemingly endless post-mortem discussions of the failed May 1 Times Square attack, one recurring and under-reported theme in a number of regions around the world has been kidnapping.

For example, in Heidenheim, Germany, Maria Boegerl, the wife of German banker Thomas Boegerl, was reportedly kidnapped from her home May 12. The kidnappers issued a ransom demand to the family and an amount was agreed upon. Mr. Boegerl placed the ransom payment at the arranged location, but the kidnappers never picked up the money (perhaps suspecting or detecting police involvement). The family has lost contact with the kidnappers, and fear for Mrs. Boegerl’s fate has caused German authorities to launch a massive search operation, which has included hundreds of searchers along with dogs, helicopters and divers. Read the rest of this entry »

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