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Global Intelligence Analysts: Preparing Corporate Employees for International Travel

How corporate security programs are relying upon Global Intelligence Analysts to prepare their employees, logistically and culturally, for international travel and provide a 24-hour security resource for employees before, during, and after their travel.

Chief Security Officers for large enterprises and corporations have recently become wise about preparing their employees for global travel. Before those employees land in Caracas, Sao Paulo, Moscow, or Cairo, many corporate security programs now ensure their traveling employees are prepared for the worst – whether natural disasters, street crime, terrorism, or civil unrest.

As a recent Wall Street Journal article illuminates, more and more corporate security programs are including Global Security Operations Centers (GSOCs) and Global Intelligence Analysts, who operate within the GSOC, to better prepare their employees logistically and culturally for their destination countries.

Unlike executive protection teams who travel with a company’s Founder, CEO, or C‐Level executive, intelligence analysts typically do not travel with employees. Instead, they advise and pass critical safety practices and intelligence analysis to those employees before they travel, and remain a security resource while they travel and after they return.

When preparing an employee for travel, here are some of the topics we cover:

  • Cut the cord. Mobile phone networks can go down (especially during catastrophic events), so we advise traveling employees to keep a card on their person (in a shirt or pants pocket, not a pack or bag) that contains their name, names and phone numbers of their party, and their hotel address. Because of our great reliance on mobile devices, we tend not to memorize important information, particularly under stress.
  • Behavior & Attire. During their travel, we recommend wearing innocuous attire and to avoid spotlighting themselves through loud and/or animated behavior, including Social Media updates or exercising outdoors in countries where few exercise. We also recommend they avoid inebriation, which can illuminate them as vulnerable. As a recent Stratfor article states, it’s best to “travel gray.”
  • Observe. We advise employees about to travel to maintain a comfortable awareness of their surroundings, and to avoid areas where there is no easy way out. Situational awareness – i.e. being “in the moment” — facilitates one’s intuition or “gut feelings” when danger is near. Acting upon one’s intuition is something we implore to our clients’ employees.
  • If the worst happens. The most important thing you can do in the face of a terrorist (or active shooter) attack is to decide, in advance, to take an active role in your own survival. If something starts to happen, the verb that should be foremost in your mind is to MOVE. Get away from the scene of the event as quickly as possible.
  • Hotline. Whenever an employee has a question or concern, we remind them to call our Global Security Operations Center (GSOC), operating around the clock, to get a fast answer and solution.
  • Travel Reference Card. In certain situations, we prepare a SMART card for traveling employees to be viewed on their phones and as a printed trifold (similar to a brochure). SMART stands for Safety, Measures, Assessment, and Resources for Travel, and includes the following:
    • An executive summary of the most significant risks, along with safety and security recommendations.
    • Contact and location information for the U.S. Embassy and consulates, best hospitals, and local first responders (911 equivalent).
    • Direct phone number for the U.S. Department of State Regional Security Officer (RSO) for the destination city or country.
    • Health, transportation, information security, and local customs r ecommendations and best practices.

By preparing our clients’ employees for global travel, we provide them a realistic expectation of their destination, all while reducing their anxieties and adding to their confidence that they can be active participants in their own safety.

Stay tuned. In future blog posts we will discuss how Global Intelligence Operations teams also assist employees during and after travel, illuminating the full cycle of support our Intelligence Analysts provide. This includes 24/7 monitoring, real time alerts, debriefs that include suspicious activity reports, and counter intelligence briefs.

Robert Ballance is a Regional Director for Global Intelligence Operations at GDBA. He was recruited by our firm after working in the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism, where he played key roles in open source intelligence gathering on organized crime and terrorist groups.

Charlie Gilbert is an Executive Vice President for Strategic Intelligence at Gavin de Becker & Associates. He was recruited by GDBA from the Central Intelligence Agency, where he served in the Top‐10 leadership position of Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service. During his 26 years at CIA, Charlie lived and operated in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, Europe, India, and East Asia.

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