Magazine article Security Management

Countdown to Teamwork

Magazine article Security Management

Countdown to Teamwork

Article excerpt

COUNTDOWN TO TEAMWORK

TEAMWORK IS AN ESSENTIAL part of any security organization and one of the key elements in a successful systems approach to security services. Nowhere is teamwork's importance more evident than in special emergency response forces. The names applied to emergency response forces vary -- special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team, emergency response team (ERT), and tactical neutralization team (TNT), for example. The common denominator for all these groups, however, is the emphasis on the team.

These special response teams are reserved for special and demanding missions. They are the last line of defense for the organizations they protect. The men and women who comprise these teams must tackle problems that have reached the worstcase scenario. When called, these officers know they will probably face armed adversaries and will need all the skills they have acquired through training, practice, and experience. Perhaps most important, though, these offiers know they will have to rely on teamwork if they are to survive.

Often a special response team is part of a government organization--a police force, government agency, or military unit--or under contract to a government agency such as the Department of Energy. Companies that can provide such specialized security forces are the exception rather than the rule in the private security industry. One of these exceptions is EG&G Florida. As the base operations contractor for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, EG&G provides a number of security services, including a specialized SWAT team. With government oversight provided by the security operations office of NASA Protective Services, EG&G has built on the skills of highly trained individuals to form a cohesive and effective SWAT team.

The NASA security operations office is faced with one of the most complex security operations in the nation. Under its guidance, policy and programs are established for assets protection at KSC. These assets include the space shuttle orbiters (designated national resources by the President) and other unique NASA equipment.

In addition, KSC has hosted guests ranging from highly visible heads of state and royalty to 50,000 space enthusiasts on launch days to the daily bus tourists. Another factor is the terrain and environment of KSC, which is as variable as the assets to be protected. With vast areas of swamp and water, hundreds of miles of roadway, and over 150 buildings, security must be prepared to respond in many ways.

One priority is a competent, well-equipped emergency response force. To provide this service to NASA, EG&G Florida's security services began developing a small existing core of specially qualified security officers into a large, well-prepared SWAT team.

EG&G came to KSC in January 1983 after being awarded the base operations contract. The previous contractor's requirements for security had included a small contingent of camouflage-clad officers armed with M-16 rifles. Changes in NASA policy required that the emphasis on military-style training and individual skills be redirected to develop a unified team that would face threats against the space center.

NASA considered the most likely threats as stemming from an outside adversary--hard-core terrorists or less professional adversaries such as amateur political activitists or employees with a grudge against NASA or the US government. This threat assessment pointed toward a security approach that accounted for the well-armed and dedicated terrorist but also comprised a general law enforcement and industrial security program.

EG&G SECURITY SERVICES IMMEdiately began to transform the existing security force into one prepared to implement NASA's policy. The first step was to move the officers away from the military style of operation they had adopted. …

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