From Iraq and Afghanistan to American Soil

Just a few years ago, the notion that the improvised-explosive devices (IEDs) that were proving such a lethal challenge to our military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan might become a real threat to American businesses and citizens was largely a theoretical abstract.

The topic – measuring, analyzing and preparing to counter this risk – was frankly far more likely to be addressed by analysts in the basement workrooms of various U.S. Department of Homeland Security sub-agencies than in the boardrooms and management suites of U.S. corporations.

That’s no longer true.

IEDs Are Among the Newest Risks for U.S.-Based Corporations

IEDs and their various manifestations – such as vehicle-borne IEDs (VBIEDs) and person-borne IEDs (PBIEDs) – are now clearly identified risks that feature prominently in the strategic security risk management planning of U.S. businesses and government agencies of all sizes.

You could say that the use of an IED by the Tsarnaev brothers in the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013 was a watershed moment, in this regard. It certainly helped sweep away any last illusions among Directors of Security in many US-based businesses and industries that these risks would not need to become tangible drivers of security spend for assets and facilities located within the country’s boundaries. It’s also not hard to argue that the risks of an IED attack in the United States is an issue closely correlated with concerns about workplace violence prevention and radicalization within the U.S. workforce. (If this topic interests you, read my blog entitled: “Radicalization in the Workplace: A New Concern for Security Directors.”)

Which U.S. Industries, Assets and Facilities are Most at Risk?

While IEDs as an emerging risk to businesses is a new discussion for many corporate leaders, others have been quietly advancing and integrating layered and sophisticated countermeasures for IEDs and other explosive-related threats for some time.

Some of these entities are our clients – such as a major rail transit agency; a global supply chain leader in the transportation industry; one of the largest sports leagues in the nation; a US-centric business services provider specializing in information protection; and a multi-acre, iconic tourist attraction in one of the largest American cities.

Based on our clients and engagements, we find that the most forward-thinking security risk managers with respect to the threat of improvised-explosives devices are those with the people, assets and operations at greatest risk. These include, for example:

  1. Critical infrastructure owners and operators
  2. Mass transit systems and facilities
  3. Major event facilities such as concert halls and sports stadiums
  4. Mall complexes and open-air shopping center complexes
  5. Businesses with high levels of dependency on supply chain stability
  6. Businesses within or near to  iconic, high-profile landmarks in U.S. cities

If you are responsible for security business and industries like these, re-evaluate whether your team is addressing the risks of an IED attack at an appropriate level. I’ll be posting a few blogs on the IED challenges in this country over the next few weeks. In fact, next week’s is entitled: “IEDs in the United States and Corporate Security: Three Types of Attackers.” If you’d like to receive these automatically, subscribe to our blog.




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