I was only home from the HARD response for less than two weeks before I was off to assist with the SRMT/HEAT course in Phuket, Thailand. On November 11, 2011 I would board my first of four flights. My route took me from San Jose to Phuket via Dallas, Los Angeles and, Hong Kong. Arriving two days later on November 13, one could say I was pretty well jet lagged!
When I arrived at the airport, I was to proceed to the Fantasea counter looking for a World Vision sign. Here I would get into a car and be taken to the Grand Mercure Hotel in Phuket. This is where the first of the two courses, Security Risk Management Training, would take place. The course would start November 16, with all participants arriving on the 15.
It was interesting to see the Thailand flag for the first time. It is the exact opposite of the Costa Rica Flag in color arrangement, so it almost felt like I was at home. The first couple of days were held with meetings in preparation for the two courses. We would also discuss the upcoming special HEAT course in Cape Town for the GRRT.
This would be my first time presenting material for an SRMT course. Although I did do something similar in Afghanistan in 2010, this was much more intense. I was tasked with presenting the following topics:
- Core Security Requirements (Day 1)
- Civ-Mil-Pol Cooperation (Day 2)
- Assist during the table top exercise (Day 3)
Core Security Requirements
Having been a part of the development team of the Core Security Requirements, I was fairly confident in presenting this topic. This was something new that came out during 2010 and the Haiti office was one of the pilot locations.
World Vision’s CSR are a set of security requirements for each country or Designated Security Zone (DSZ) where WV works. The overall CSR objective allows WV operations and programs to achieve goals while intentionally managing the risk to their staff, assets and programs.
The CSR are generic standards and the expectation is that there will be context specific requirements developed for each WV operation as needed. The standards, researched by country or DSZ, become a specific WV benchmark from which security staff and others can assess and implement logical, common standards within their office, programme, or project through a context-specific security plan. CSR help staff apply consistent security measures both now and in the future.
Core Security Requirements do not comprise a ‘stand-alone’ security management tool, but are designed only to work in conjunction with the other major sections of the Security Risk Management Framework: Country Risk Ratings and Security Risk Assessments.
Civ Mil Pol Cooperation
This was something new for me. I was still learning this topic and trying to wrap my head around the entire HISS-CAM process. When Andries asked me how I was feeling about presenting this topic, I was honest. I informed Andries that I was uncomfortable and someone else should present it. Unfortunately, Andries threw me under the bus and made me present.
This was the first, and last time, I blew a presentation. I knew the concept behind Civ-Mil-Pol having practiced it in Haiti. But the HISS-CAM part was new and quite confusing. One of the participants was thankfully an advocacy officer, and threw me a lifeline. I literally drowned, but now, I know the topic like the back of my hand.
Table Top Exercise
The table top exercise was not without event. This is the same training that was given in Haiti and every other SRMT. We simulate a kidnapping where all the participants (in two groups) attempt to secure the release of the hostage. There are only two outcomes, release or execution.
It was here where I was challenged by Andries for the first time. I had one task, and it was as a role player. At a certain point during the scenario, a participant was to call me for some information. Both participants called me as they were supposed to, but one had forgotten they had called me. There are so many moving parts, I can understand this.
But as it turned out, Andries assumed the call was never made and confronted me. When I asked him if he was calling me a liar, he blatantly suggested yes, I was. As furious as I was, this was sour moment for me. It was not until after the exercise that the participant informed Andries that he had called me and I had provided the information as scripted. I was still upset that I was called a liar in front of the team, and even though Andries apologized, it was not as sincere as I had hoped.
At the end of each day and between the SRMT and HEAT, all the instructors had some free time. If you recall I keep mentioning this “Mission Love” in my other posts. Well, imagine all these alpha males in Thailand! On each corner, the girls are parading looking for “clients”! All we could hear was “massage? Massage?”. Phuket is a typical tourist trap, so I am sure one can image what happens next.
One of the funniest moments of free time was when I was walking along with Tristen, whom I had worked with in Ethiopia. As we were crossing a street, we came across a group of the above mentioned girls. One of the girls had reached out and gave Tris a “purple nurple”, to both of our surprise. I can only imagine how much that had hurt, but it was a good laugh and story to tell the team.
After the course, all of the participants were taken out for a luxurious dinner and evening of dancing and partying. Roughly 40 or so of us would take on the main district of Phuket. These were the highlight at the end of a course, since one never had to take out their wallet. Pina Coladas were the drink of the night out of a real pineapple and lots of beer, wine and, great food.
Before the HEAT course, all the instructors had a new fresh air about them! On a tourist side, Phuket was nice. On November 19, we would leave the beautiful Grand Mercure hotel for the next location. The HEAT would be held at the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach.
Next – Phuket, Thailand (Part 2)