Successful companies keep running – and running well – even when the going gets tough. One of the ways they do this is forward thinking concerning threats and risks: What could go wrong in our core supply chain, or in those of our critical suppliers? How do we prevent this from happening? What do we do if it happens anyway?
Some companies operate in high-risk environments in developing countries where the need for proactive planning is even greater than at home. State institutions and infrastructure are weak; social inequality and crime are prevalent. The range of things that can go wrong is simply wider than it is in developed countries. And the importance of understanding and mitigating risk is even more critical.
Our client, an international security company, was contracted by a foreign government to provide security for a massive mining project that the government co-owned.
Following a string of worrying security breaches, the government asked our client to assess the mining complex’s entire security system. Beginning with a review of all current and potential security threats, our client was asked to provide a report on all security gaps, recommend how to plug them and then implement the recommendations once approved. The problem was that the security company, our client, did not have the know-how to perform a comprehensive risk assessment on such a scale. So they turned to us to conduct the assessment, write the report and help implement the recommendations.
AS Solution’s senior consultants traveled to the site to conduct the extensive Risk, Threat and Vulnerability Assessment (RTVA). In addition to the site and its periphery, our assessment included areas adjacent to the site, and the entire region. We then mapped all identified threats and risks, both the probable and the potential, against the existing security master plan.
It soon became blatantly clear that the existing security master plan, which had been written by a local military unit, was insufficient to prevent or limit hostile acts against the site and it personnel. Our consultants identified three main areas of concern: the site’s physical security measures were unsuitable; there were no effective procedures to prevent and react to threats; and the security personnel provided by the local military were neither trained nor trustworthy. Our recommendations were clear: All three problem areas must be addressed in a comprehensive manner. Improving the physical security was relatively straightforward. Rewriting and adjusting procedures was less so, but it was certainly within our control. The thorniest problems proved to be those involving manpower.
A recent attack on personnel inside the site perimeter had used an improvised explosive device. Upon investigation, we discovered that a soldier tasked with securing the site had planted the device. Our RTVA identified underlying issues of conflicting tribal loyalties and local groups hostile to each other and to the government’s mine – all working at odds with each other within the very same internal/perimeter unit. The morale, motivation and professionalism of the unit were dangerously low.
Our recommendations disentangled these complicated webs of allegiances and distrust and tackled the core social and organizational issues affecting the internal/perimeter unit. We wanted to turn the internal/perimeter unit into an elite force that soldiers were proud to serve in. Among other things, we proposed improving the soldiers’ status, pay and uniforms, as well as providing education for their children. Combined with a much more stringent selection process, we believed these changes would effectively resolve the main manpower problems that reduced the effectiveness of the security force.
Beginning with a greatly improved security master plan, it was then possible to implement corrective measures that addressed all three security gaps, and to initiate relevant training and quality control measures.
Since these measures were implemented, the mine has operated without disruptions caused by security breaches, and it has increased its output significantly. Tangible risks to the business and to the lives of its employees have been greatly reduced.
Ultimately this security turnaround positioned our client, the security company, as the champion of the business and its employees, many of whom come from the surrounding areas and depend on the mine for their livelihood. What had been a negative spiral of mistrust and mismanagement turned into a safer, more productive working environment for everyone involved.
Importantly, we have been able to develop trusted relationships between the EP team, the client’s principals and their immediate staff, and the client’s corporate security management and other related departments.
We continue to provide full-time, senior level, strategic advising and consulting to the company’s EP manager, global security manager, principals and their support staff.