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Surviving under Saddam's attack.

ON AUGUST, 2, 1990, the people in Saudi Arabia the Gulf region, in fact, the entire Middle East, had no illusions about the events that happened during the early morning hours. We listened and watched in a state of bewilderment and shock as Saddam Hussein's Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait.

Events moved fast after that day. It was clear the naked aggression of Iraq against the tiny, peaceful state of Kuwait could not be allowed. A United Nations force, unprecedented in size since World War II, began to assemble in the Gulf states as the first stage in the defense of the region. Operation Desert Shield was born.

At our company, Arabian American Oil Company, the world's largest oil and gas producing company, we realized that a major task faced us requiring massive country-wide efforts to prepare for any emergency. We needed to protect our assets and resources in a war situation and ensure that production and shipping continued without interruption.

The role of the company's industrial security program was to ensure that all corporate property and vital oil and gas installations--including refineries, tank farms, plants, ports, ships, wells, pipelines, and other facilities--had maximum protection.

Land, sea, and air security plans were formulated. Security emergency preparedness plans were put into action, and emergency contingency plans--staffed by teams of competent emergency personnel of all nationalities--were formed to take up the challenge and be ready at a moment's notice.

We also had to safeguard our huge, multinational work force and their families. Throughout Desert Shield and Desert Storm detailed evacuation plans were formulated and tested. These plans had to be updated frequently to keep pace with the evolving crisis. Massive amounts of evacuation support equipment were made ready, and some of this equipment had to be purchased and placed at the disposal of each area emergency team.

An air bridge from Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan, and other countries was established to receive urgently needed supplies in designated areas. The equipment included such items as tents, portable emergency power generators, gas masks, water tanks, and a large stockpile of food.

A professional security, fire protection, and loss prevention staff had to function in an active liaison role with all government and military agencies. Jointly we had to provide for the protection and the continued production of oil at all of our country's vital facilities and ports. This was the highest corporate and national security priority.

Initially, we hoped Iraqi forces would withdraw from Kuwait within a reasonable period in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions. This was not to be. As time went by, we redoubled our efforts to be in readiness.

In addition, we turned to security resources for good ideas to help us formulate sound plans. Security Management, Dynamics, and other publications were in the forefront of our sources for planning, decision making, and prevention measures.

During the crisis ASIS professionals and certified protection professionals (CPPs) dived in with their professional knowledge and experience and played a leading role.

Apart from the oil and gas priority, we also had to protect the vital infrastructure of the company's vast operation. This infrastructure includes our residential communities, office buildings, stores, major warehouses, schools, and hospitals, to name a few.

Next to our main facility lies a major air base from which many sorties against Iraq were flown and that was the primary arrival and departure point for US and Allied forces during the Gulf War. This air base was the target for Scud missiles, which were fired at us on a regular basis, day and night.

A TASK FORCE CONSISTING OF VARIOUS professionals in the fields of security, fire, and safety was formed for after-hours emergencies. Hours of intensive discussion helped formulate immediate protection plans, combining and updating emergency procedures. These plans covered all possible scenarios. After intensive company-wide, area-by-area consultation, our organization was ready for any event.

Here are two examples of the actions we took. First, we supplied all company employees and dependents with gas masks for protection against gas or chemical attacks. Second, a company-wide voluntary repatriation of dependent families took place. These were wise precautions given the circumstances and threat at the time.

At our headquarters and other regional administrative facilities, we set up 24-hour industrial security control centers to maintain and support our operation's communications network.

We also had our preparedness and emergency response plans at our fingertips and answered questions to keep citizens, employees, and their families informed. To this end, extraordinary protection measures were implemented. The following are some examples.

* A community program with hundreds of volunteers for enhanced security observation and patrols was established. The patrols operated on a neighborhood watch theme and dedicated communications, vehicles, lighting, and patrol zones, including chemical and medical response teams.

* Zone information centers were staffed by volunteers to relay critical readiness by neighborhoods. Industrial security and safety technical advisers trained residents to use gas masks and chemical-agent monitoring systems.

These 24-hour control centers were in close, continuous contact with other industrial security control centers during the entire war. We also provided guidance on employee safe room locations, bomb shelters, and logistics, including evacuation plans.

* Schools, medical facilities, and heavily exposed and populated buildings and community gathering places were hardened with antiterrorist concrete barriers to prevent suicide truck bombings.

* Entry-point security controls were strengthened at all vehicle, pedestrian, and vital-entry areas. This included the addition of vehicle and walking patrols that saturated critical areas, including places where employees and their families lived and congregated.

At the beginning of Desert Shield, the northern security area offshore increased its surveillance by adding boat patrols to support the company's offshore operation. This helped to supplement the emergency response element of our plan as the threat of possible offshore terrorism, sea mines, and other navigational hazards increased.

Protection and detection measures were enhanced by adding additional boat patrols, helicopters, and personnel involved in watching sea lanes and shipping areas 24 hours a day. With the help of the navy, removing or disposing of sea mines for safe shipping in and out of our terminals became a daily routine.

We anticipated a rise in sea mines, which endangered our ports, terminals, offshore facilities, and shipping lanes. Therefore, rapid deployment of explosive experts, scuba divers, patrol boats, helicopters, chemical experts, and K-9 teams were organized. (Our professional expertise in sea mine detection and subsequent destruction of these hazards was developed during the Eight Years' War between Iran and Iraq.)

Our enhanced planning and protection program, in coordination with our navy, coast guard, and the US Navy, paid enormous dividends. These dividends began paying off in December 1990 when dozens of sea mines were detected and destroyed.

During January, February, and March 1991, our offshore security detected many mines. Of these mines, offshore security eliminated mines that directly threatened major offshore and shipping facilities and foreign ships calling at the Arabian Gulf loading terminals.

Security support and liaison with local and coalition Allied forces proved to be one of the most crucial of our successes. Planning and close coordination paid off.

We were deeply concerned with terrorism throughout the region. Through years of good planning and support from senior management and government security forces, we have worked to implement a counterterrorism program that was highly visible and in place on August 2, 1990. Some of the elements of the program include the following:

* explosive detection dogs

* electronic explosive detectors

* e-scan colored X-ray equipment

* metal detectors

* computerized access control systems

* locally designed and constructed portable antiterrorist vehicle crash barriers and vehicle inspection mirrors

* an ongoing program to harden numerous vulnerable community and industrial facilities

* executive protection programs

Based on experience in counterterrorism, with the support of senior and line management, we added the following counterterrorism elements:

* At our company, community, industrial, and hydrocarbon facilities, detailed plans were developed for deploying portable antiterrorist vehicle crash barriers and vehicle inspection mirrors.

* The "mother of all planters"--weighing two tons and capable of stopping the largest suicide truck--was built. These planters were placed around facilities such as schools, offices, meeting places, mail centers, banks, dining facilities, recreation areas, and administrative work centers.

The company's industrial security organization worked closely with members of the senior and line management staff on a daily basis. Also, unlimited liaison and coordination with coalition forces were primary requirements.

Since the invasion of Kuwait and up to the postwar period, industrial security personnel were called on to advise, plan, and implement various threat-level scenarios to assist management in the decision-making process for the safety, welfare, and planned evacuation of foreign employees.

In addition to this, management assigned technical services staff to participate with selected ad hoc security management teams to work with all facets of logistical and tactical paramilitary operations. Participation was required at all local management meetings, including Allied military units assigned for support services to our operation in the event of hostile activity.

Committees were organized in all areas to oversee the protection of drinking water, power supplies, plants, food distribution, pumping facilities, and reserve water supply storage tanks. Strict access procedures were implemented at all entries for vehicles and pedestrians.

On the east and west coasts of the country, steps were taken to increase the security protection of oil storage tanks, transmission lines, and loading areas at critical sea ports. On the pipelines and shipping facilities, increased security patrols were established and close coordination with national and Allied forces was maintained throughout the Gulf War.

Visitor control procedures were revised to restrict or escort visitors and vehicles into our vital facilities. Additional security vehicle and foot patrols operated in all company areas, increasing the visibility and deterrent value of our security forces.

Strict vehicle inspection programs were implemented at community, industrial, and restricted area-entry control points. Having implemented these protection measures, we waited as the events of the Gulf War unfolded.

AS ALLIED TROOPS BEGAN TO POUR INTO the Gulf countries, our spirits were lifted and our confidence in justice began to return. We knew then, as the Allied troops gathered to help us, that Saddam Hussein had grossly miscalculated his agenda and the world reaction for freedom.

On January 17, 1991, US and coalition air forces went into action. President Bush gave the order, and phase one of the liberation of Kuwait from the Iraqi forces was put into operation.

From January 17 onward, the Allied air attacks achieved stunning superiority over Iraq with minimal losses. Iraq's air force and navy was rapidly annihilated. The only ever-present danger was from Iraqi Scud missiles. Saudi Arabia and Israel became the principal targets. Forty-six Scud missiles were fired at Saudi Arabia, on the government capital in Riyadh and on the oil facilities and populated areas on the Gulf.

Our greatest fear, expressed time and time again, was that the Iraqis would resort to using gas and other chemical agents against us and the Allied forces. From day one the Allies controlled the skies over Iraq and elsewhere. We then worried what would happen when the ground battle started.

It was not long before the end of the ground war was in sight. A brilliantly planned US-led land force rolled into Kuwait, and Saddam's "Mother of all Battles" quickly became his "Mother of all Retreats." Saddam became the master of environmental destruction as Iraqi troops destroyed Kuwait's oil refineries, pump stations, and oil wells, causing one of the world's largest environmental problems. Only now are we beginning to come to terms with this problem.

As Gulf citizens, we suffered severe psychological stress from the war--the Scud attacks, the killing of innocent people, the destruction of Kuwait and Iraq, and the destruction of the environment through the destruction of 750 oil wells.

Now we must build on a regional peace and try to keep our vitally important region at peace for the benefit of all freedom-loving people. Our experiences throughout Desert Shield and Desert Storm have shown us that with sound and practiced security plans and the assistance of other countries, this goal can be attained.

The preceding article was taken from a speech presented at the 37th Annual ASIS Seminar and Exhibits in Orlando, FL, last September. Mohammed M. Al-Subaey is general manager of the Arabian American Oil Company in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. He is the regional vice president of the Middle East Region of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:Disaster Management; Arabian American Oil Co.'s emergency management during the Gulf War
Author:Al-Subaey, Mohammed M.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Apr 1, 1992
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