Collective knowledge, common purpose, and intelligent action

Collective knowledge, common purpose, and
intelligent action are fundamental stepping
stones for global risk mitigation. To that
end, the Overseas Security Advisory Council
(OSAC) convened stakeholders in Washington,
DC, on November 18 and 19, 2009. Those gathered for
the 24th annual briefing, hosted
by co-chairs Jeffrey Culver, U.S.
State Department director of diplomatic security service, and David
Schrimp, 3M’s director of corporate
security services, took away a valuable experience.
Ironically, many of the best
and brightest global risk mitigation
leaders in attendance queued up on
the public thoroughfare outside the
U.S. Department of State for preevent security admission screening.
One could not help but wonder if
we have failed to learn the valuable
lessons of the past eight years, or if
we are unable to apply them to ourselves. How many times must we witness a gathering outside a
hardened target get hit before we get the message?
The speakers at the OSAC briefing shone a light on some
of the evolving hazards business security leaders face as well as
resources available to help track them.
The Overseas Advisory Council
OSAC ( has been described as an “enormously successful joint venture” between the U.S. public and private
sectors. In 1985, pursuant to the recognition of all-hazards
global risk from natural and manmade events, a number of
chief executive officers approached the U.S. State Department
to collaboratively mitigate security concerns. Today, OSAC
numbers more than 6,700 constituent companies, educational
institutions, religious, governmental and non-governmental
organization representatives. It provides a forum for practices
and tools to cope with global security challenges.
With assistance from the U.S. Department of Commerce,
OSAC established the Research and Information Support
Center in 1997. RISC staff interfaces and liaises with the private sector, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and other federal
agencies, as well as U.S. diplomatic missions around the world,
on matters of security involving U.S. firms and their employees.
RISC gauges threats to U.S. private-sector investment, personnel, facilities and intellectual property abroad. Brad Brekke,
Target Corporation’s vice president of assets protection and a
member of the OSAC Executive Working Group, invited both
recognition and applause for the analysts whose capable ongoing regional assessments of natural and manmade hazards and
events make a difference for at-risk organizations.
The dynamic global security interdependencies of nation
states, multinational corporations and non-governmental service organizations are increasingly served by just-in-time risk
intelligence. Fraud drove worldwide consumer confidence to
all-time lows. Resultant business failures, retrenchments, job
losses, impaired tax revenue and underfunded public safety
are accompanied by increased crime, corruption and violence.
Economic shortfalls, food shortages and safety concerns erode
government and institutional confidence, leaving insurgency,
organized crime and terror.
NGOs Play a Role
Samuel Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction:
the American Council for Voluntary International Action,
discussed the plight of the non-profit non-governmental organizations that provide material aid and assistance to approximately one billion of the planet’s most underserved. Suffering
more casualties than U.S. armed forces, these intrepid community change agents bring the means of sustaining education,
food, potable water, medical relief and hope to their clients.
Operating literally under the gun in many of the globe’s most
contested regions, NGOs and their largely indigenous staffs
and volunteers are at increasing risk for violence from adversarial forces. When they are disengaged for safety reasons,
humanity is diminished, hope is lost and chaos reigns.
Becoming More Nimble
Those who wish to exploit us are more nimble than we are
to protect ourselves. Moises Naim, author of the book Illicit
and the article “Five Wars of Globalization,” along with others,
has chronicled the trafficking of arms, drugs, human beings,
intellectual property and money. The common threads for
organized crime and terror are undeniable. More important,
their gray- and black-market activities leave trillions of untaxed
currencies on the table that might otherwise be invested in
resilient infrastructure to mitigate the consequences of natural
and manmade disasters.
We are learning. OSAC promises improvement in global
risk and mitigation intelligence dissemination. Its retooled
secure Web site promises just-in-time, situational communications capabilities. Technological developments may make what
one former government official deems “briefing cattle calls”
obsolete. The ability to virtually convene global risk mitigation leadership without risk may not be far behind. Collective
knowledge and actionable intelligence within trusted communities will be required to win the day.
About the Columnist:
Francis D’Addario is emeritus faculty of the Security Executive Council and
a Principal of Crime Prevention Associates, an all-hazards security risk
and mitigation consultancy founded in 1986. He most recently served as
the vice president of Partner and Asset Protection for the Starbucks Coffee
Company. To purchase the book Not a Moment to Lose: Influencing Global
Security One Community at a Time, by Francis D’Addario, visit https://
Confronting Global Risk
Leadership & Management
By Francis J. D’Addario, CPP, CFE

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