News: Thinking like the enemy: A look in the mirror
Story by Sgt. Alfred Tripolone III
DOHA, Qatar - The devil, as they say, is in the details. Those details can be all the difference between effective prevention and outright catastrophe. Details, after careful analysis, can enable an organization to not only view their operation objectively, but can give them all the information they need to implement improvements.
For more than a week during the month of August, the units and individuals of Area Support Group Qatar came together in an effort to better train on issues of threat assessment and prevention. From leadership to supporting units, it was a comprehensive exercise designed to improve the full spectrum of installation operations.
“The Joint Service Installation Vulnerability Assessment is a very broad exercise. We talk about things on a large scale, and then we break into smaller groups to discuss what we’ve learned and what they’ve seen in their experience,” said Tony Boyce, the primary security operations instructor with the JSIVA team.
Members of the class came from many backgrounds, services, and job fields, all with the common purpose of installation security. And, while some were required to attend, others requested the opportunity to participate.
“I requested to go to the JSIVA seminar. I had never heard of it before,” said Staff Sgt. Kyle J. Slania, the Kennel Master for Camp As Sayliyah. “It turned out to be a much more in-depth class than I expected.”
Going into the exercise with an open and willing mind, ready to learn something new, was important to getting the most from the training. It allowed students to pick up on details and ideas they wouldn’t otherwise, Slania remarked.
The training was conducted in several phases, of which lectures and group discussions on installation safety were some of the first.
According to Boyce, throughout the weeklong training, periodic assessments are conducted to ensure everyone is tracking the material. If they are not, the assessments allow them to circle back and re-address topics that were not fully grasped. In doing so, it opens the group to more detailed discussions later.
“Once we’ve discussed and gone over a number of situations and procedures, we take them out into the field to see firsthand how things are done,” Boyce continued. “There we allow them to ask questions and assess vulnerabilities on their own.”
The array of backgrounds brought into the discussions make every breakout group unique.
“I found it interesting, because when we go out and assess ‘vulnerabilities’ everyone brings their skills to the table,” said Slania. “When I went out, as a working dog expert, I focused on how we could use working dogs to fill the gaps, if any were found.”
By placing class members in the field with the Soldiers actively conducting the security mission, a better understanding and larger scope of the mission was revealed, Slania explained. By identifying and breaking down the parts that make the whole of installation security, Soldiers were able to reevaluate their understanding on perimeter defense and view it in a new light.
“Backwards planning is another factor I learned more about,” Slania said. “Our instructor, Tony, would say, ‘you have to think like the bad guys.’ So, we would go through all of the steps it would take a person to get access to something, and then ensure that we were taking proper security steps. I had never thought of it like that, and it was very interesting.”
Keeping class members on their toes, and actively showing how the mission changes from one instance to another, was also beneficial to growth.
“It’s an important learning experience to go from the classroom to the field, and see how procedures vary from classroom to the real world,” Boyce said.
The goal of the JSIVA is to have students leave the class with a fresh perspective and new-found respect for identifying and adjusting to any vulnerabilities they find.
“Now, I can go to any installation and help the commanders assess their installations for vulnerabilities,” Slania said. “So, when I go back to my home station, I’ll be able to identify and inform my commander about any vulnerabilities I see, and how we could use different measures to correct them.”