10 September 2011

A Decade of Risk: 9/11 Memory Endures...

Tomorrow is the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the United States. For those people who were put in harms way that day and survived, their lives have changed forever. Have you ever had a near death experience? If you have, then you know what we mean.

A near death experience is everything that you have heard people say about it. That visions of their loved ones flashed into their thoughts and other physical implications, as a result of the adrenaline that was released into their system. Regardless of the experience, many say that they realize that "life is too short" and that they now have a new outlook on life and the relationships that surround them.

When you think back to your particular near death experience, what changed in the way you have now managed "Risk" in your life? Did you become more risk-oriented or less? Were you more cautious in the way that you managed your work or personal pursuits to avoid risks? Once someone has a near death experience or is very close to someone who does, the odds are that they quickly become "Risk Aware" and more cautious in taking future risks to their well being.

When you are building a team within your particular organization to manage risks; dig deep to find out what each team members life experiences have been with past risk events. The goal is to make sure that you have a balanced portfolio of people, who are risk aware and who have a broad spectrum of risk experiences so far in their life. The more diverse your team is from a risk management perspective, the more successful you will be in your ability to persevere as new risk events confront you on a daily basis.

Over the course of the past ten years the whole planet Earth has a heightened sense of "Operational Risks" and "Asymmetric Warfare" that span the incidents from mother nature to the man-made impacts of poor decisions and judgement, from New York and Washington to Kabul, Cairo and Tripoli. At this junction of the anniversary of 9/11 and the mixed emotions of how much risk we still need to mitigate and how much risk we are willing to accept, it's important to look in the rear view mirror and to simultaneously consider what lies ahead.

The considerations underway for the United States and the Intelligence Community (IC) are going to have significant implications to the man-made set of risks that we experience in the second decade of the new millenium. It's imperative that we take stock of the last ten years looking through the lens of "Homeland Security Intelligence" in order to determine the amount of risk that we are willing to take going forward, perhaps even at the peril of our own privacy and civil liberties:

In the aftermath of the tragic events of 9/11, Americans slowly came to the realization that while the country had spent considerable national treasure on intelligence capabilities over the years to protect the nation and had prevailed in the Cold War for which the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) had largely been designed, this IC was not designed, equipped, or ever primarily intended to detect significant national security threats originating or residing within our nation’s own borders. Instead, it had been a longstanding and unique set of circumstances that had allowed Americans the good fortune of feeling safe within those borders. This sense of security was facilitated by two oceans and the Gulf of Mexico; two friendly neighbors to the north and south along relatively peaceful land borders; and a long history wherein immigrants, who are the lifeblood of this nation, came for opportunity and a hopeful future for their children, not to try to destroy the nation.

Whether it is the safety and security of your organization or of your own country, there will always be a process for risk mitigation that is subject to peril. There have been several near misses from a rising domestic threat from U.S. citizens that are inspired by others who leverage the "Information and Communication Technology" (ICT) platforms and mobile situational awareness. These ICT capabilities allow your adversaries to reach within your borders through the Internet, to disseminate their operational training to "Homegrown Violent Extremists".

Turning the lens back inside the U.S. will not be an easy path for many Americans. One only has to revisit the latest domestic incident in Oslo, Norway to see why it will be a priority:

The 2011 Norway attacks were two sequential terrorist attacks against the government, the civilian population and a summer camp in Norway on 22 July 2011.

The first was a car bomb explosion in Oslo within Regjeringskvartalet, the executive government quarter of Norway, at 15:25:22 (CEST).[8] The car bomb was placed outside the office of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and other government buildings.[9] The explosion killed eight people and wounded several others, with more than 10 people critically injured.

The second attack occurred less than two hours later at a summer camp on the island of Utøya in Tyrifjorden, Buskerud. The camp was organized by AUF, the youth division of the ruling Norwegian Labour Party (AP). A gunman dressed in an authentic looking police uniform and showing false identification[10] gained access to the island and subsequently opened fire at the participants, killing 69 attendees,[4][5] including personal friends of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and the stepbrother of Norway's crown princess Mette-Marit.[11]

The Norwegian Police Service arrested Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian[12] right-wing extremist[13] for the mass shootings on Utøya[14] and subsequently charged him with both attacks.[15]

On the eve of remembering all of those people who have sacrificed so much, we remain vigilant. We remain committed to the continuous monitoring and operational risk measures that are required, to keep our homeland safe and secure.

Read more:

The two cities that were at the heart of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are on high alert this weekend after the government received a “credible” tip that Al Qaeda plans to launch an attack on Washington or New York as the nation marks the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Extra security is clearly visible on subways in both cities as officials are taking seriously a joint FBI, Homeland Security Intelligence Bulletin, first obtained by Fox News that states the timing and method of the potential terror plot.

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