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OSAC Quarterly Bulletin Your Public-Private Partnership Security Source | 1st Quarter, 2021 | Issue 5

Attention RSOs! Our new RSO Toolkit, Country Chapter Assessment (CCA) survey, and Country Security Report (CSR) submission process will be launching soon. Stay tuned for the DS Broadcast announcement.

American Schools Now Eligible for Full-Access OSAC Membership: All American-sponsored overseas schools officially recognized by the Department of State, are now welcome to join OSAC at the Full-Access level. Applicants should enter “American-Sponsored Overseas Schools" in the Organization field at the top of their application.

Annual Briefing Going Virtual: We’ll be taking our OSAC Annual Briefing back online this November. Stay tuned for updates as we get closer to the date.

New Look for the Newsletter: After some very productive feedback from our membership and Council, we are excited to announce the upcoming release of our new OSAC newsletter, to be rolled out in the next week. All the reports, events, and news headlines you currently receive across the 2x daily newsletter will now be condensed into one daily delivery, with an option to receive on a weekly basis.

With this update, you’ll enjoy a broader collection of the daily news headlines we’ve selected as most relevant to current global security concerns; synopses telling more about our latest OSAC reports; and a cleaner layout that prioritizes quick-scan location of the information you want to get to fast.

New Look for the Quarterly Bulletin: And as you’ve probably noticed, we’re trying out a new format for this Bulletin! We’d like to know what you think of it so please take our quick survey:

By the end of March, nearly 17,000 Department of State employees overseas had received their first vaccine dose. This week, the Department received a last-minute increase to its vaccine allocation and now has enough supply to send vaccines to all overseas posts. With infection rates spiking again in many countries, the Department is moving quickly to get these doses delivered. Note: These vaccine doses are designated for personnel assigned to U.S. diplomatic missions only; they are not being distributed to the private sector.

We advise all private sector partners to continue tracking the Department’s COVID-19 Travel Advisories, where all information on international travel is posted and updated. At the current time, U.S. Citizens are advised to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.

The Department continues to operate under a phased return-to-work plan worldwide, defined as Phase 0 (maximum telework), Phase I (telework, with up to 40% on-site work), Phase II (telework, with between 40-80% on-site work to meet mission needs), and Phase III (telework, with between 80-100% on-site). All State staff based in Washington, DC have operated under Phase I guidance since the start of the year, and OSAC staff continue to work from home on a regular basis. The status of the Department at large is as follows:

Domestic Status – As of April 5, 5.5% of domestic facilities remain in Phase 0, 77% are in Phase I, 17% are in Phase II, and 0.5% are in Phase III.

Overseas Status – As of April 5, 1.5% of Posts are in Phase 0, 37% are in Phase I, 53.5% are in Phase II, and 8% are in Phase III.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken visited the Diplomatic Security Service Command Center to learn more about the vital work of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) and express his appreciation to the DSS special agents and personnel helping to secure diplomacy and make our country safer. Read the full article.

OSAC is a big organization that is intimately involved with its members. To ensure the private sector remains at the heart of our decision-making process, we’ve specialized the Council into one Executive Board and six subcommittees. Each of these subcommittees is dedicated to a specific aspect of OSAC operations: (1) Strategic Growth & Partnerships; (2) Governance & Standards; (3) Operations & Excellence; (4) Content Review & Development; (5) Council Member Recruitment & Engagement; and (6) Awards & Education. Several of these subcommittees now also include Common Interest Committee representatives. With more than 150 international and 13 U.S.-based programs, it’s more important than ever that the Council be equipped to support brand integrity, governance, and strategic growth across our entire community. Organizing into these small, focused subcommittees will go a long way toward making that possible.

On International Women's Day, DSS honored the brave, dedicated DSS women who serve throughout the world, supporting the missions of DSS and the Department of State . These women play key roles in helping to create a safe environment for the conduct of U.S. diplomacy worldwide. Click below to watch the full video.

Throughout Women's History Month, we also highlighted advice Women in Security (WiS) members shared to help leave tracks in the security industry. Click here to watch the video.

Maria Fjeldstad, Dubai Country Chapter Private Sector Co-Chair

When Maria Fjeldstad (Marsh McLennan) relocated to Dubai in 2014, she was new to the Middle East and Africa, which formed part of her portfolio as a business resilience manager. She realized the need to connect with others to share information and increase her knowledge of the region. She joined the OSAC UAE – Dubai Chapter, which provided important resources and opened a door to liaise with professionals facing the same risks, as well as risks she hadn’t considered previously. Motivated by the value that OSAC offered, Maria volunteered to serve on the Chapter Steering Committee and then was elected Private Sector Co-Chair in October 2019. The Dubai Chapter is one of OSAC's most active, with monthly meetings for more than 300 members. Its leading industries include manufacturing, information technology, commercial & retail facilities, and financial & legal services. We asked Maria a few questions about her Country Chapter leadership experience and interest in the field:

Q: What was your first exposure to the security industry and when did you realize it could become your profession?

A: From an early age, I was less interested in fairytales and more interested in becoming the next Sherlock Holmes, so I pursued a degree in Criminology and Psychology, which opened many doors. After two years with the local police force in Cambridge, UK, I followed an international path with a short-term position with INTERPOL. This led to more opportunities as I started exploring the role of corporate security in multinational organizations. It made me realize the huge importance of staying abreast of geopolitical developments that influence safety and security, locally and regionally.

Q: Why were you interested in serving as an OSAC Country Chapter Private Sector Co-Chair? What are the benefits and challenges of the position?

A: When I first got involved with OSAC, I had just moved to Dubai and was getting up to speed on the region. The connections I made through the Dubai Chapter helped me better understand not only the risk environment but also how to navigate through possible solutions. This proved incredibly beneficial in my daily work. Since OSAC was so helpful to me, I wanted to contribute by building and improving the chapter for other members and peers. I like that I can contribute to stronger engagement in the network by developing relevant and valuable topics for discussion. Sometimes navigating the political environment here can be tough, but I am tremendously grateful and excited to co-chair the Dubai Chapter with Lonny Muller, Public Sector Chair/RSO Dubai, and to work with the hundreds of members in our network.

Q: What makes the OSAC Dubai Chapter unique? What can it offer members in the local area?

A: Dubai is home to many international and multinational companies and residents of around 200 nationalities who have relocated here, far from their home countries. Dubai is also a headquarters location for many companies. Our Chapter is unique in that topics of interest are often regional in nature, going beyond the Middle East and into North Africa and other adjacent areas. Our chapter allows its members to stay abreast of regional developments while being based in Dubai.

Q: Has your involvement in OSAC had a direct impact on the trajectory of your career or any decisions you've made professionally?

A: Absolutely! The knowledge and experience gained through my local involvement in the OSAC Dubai Chapter has allowed me to better support regional colleagues and decision makers with timely and accurate information exchange. The collaborative partnership with other OSAC chapters has also allowed me to better support my company’s assets and ultimately ensure a safer and more secure environment to do business.

OSAC’s Global Threat Warning team performs Duty to Warn (DTW) notifications for U.S. private-sector organizations operating overseas. But what exactly is DTW? Although these warnings are relatively rare, security personnel should learn more so that they are prepared if one of our Global Threat Officers calls.

DTW notifications are performed when there are specific, credible, and non-counterable threats against U.S. organizations, such as threat of physical attack, intentional killing, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping.

In recent months, threats addressed by OSAC have been concentrated in the Middle East and the African continent with a focus on energy, international development, and hospitality sectors. Recent notifications provided advance warning of insider threats, persons targeted for kidnapping, and both aerial and ground attacks targeting facilities and infrastructure. These notifications resulted in changed security postures and personnel evacuations for a number of U.S. organizations.

OSAC recently published a Q&A about DTW and our Global Threat Warning team: “Duty to Warn Q&A: Making Sense of the Threat,” accessible on OSAC.gov as part of our Traveler Toolkit.

In the new year, our Research & Analysis team has closely monitored incidents of unrest and violence such as the coup d'état in Burma and continued attacks impacting aid workers in West Africa. Our most recent COVID-19 reports focus on the security ramifications tied to global vaccination efforts, including how geopolitics and crime affect global vaccine supply and distribution. We have also produced several reports on security topics relevant to continuity of operations, like travel and communications. For more on these topics and trends, we recommend the following OSAC reports:

The Tokyo Olympics will launch on July 23 with the customary Opening Ceremony. But, following the March 20 decision by Tokyo organizers, the stands will not be filled with the usual throngs of overseas spectators. U.S. athletes, coaches, and other essential personnel will still be present and supported by Diplomatic Security Service field agents and the OSAC Major Events team, operating out of a Joint Operations Center (JOC) at U.S. Embassy Tokyo.

During the Games, we’ll coordinate our real-time information exchange among OSAC members from the JOC and will share relevant reports and virtual briefings regularly. For now, all eyes remain fixed on the next edition of the Olympic Playbooks, outlining rules and countermeasures for accredited travelers, which should be released later this month. OSAC members can join our Tokyo 2020 email group to receive more frequent updates and to join the conversation with other interested members.

See a webinar that piqued your interest but couldn't attend the live event? Don’t worry... check out OSAC’s library of recorded webinars under OSAC.gov/Content/Media. You must log into OSAC.gov to access. Here are a few highlights from the past quarter:

  • Azerbaijan: Our Baku Chapter, dormant since 2013, has relaunched! Our 14-member Chapter was proud to nominate new Private Sector Co-Chair, Nadine Fernbacher (Radisson) at our inaugural meeting on March 18.
  • Eastern Caribbean: Our monthly “tea time” meetings, hosted out of Bridgetown, Barbados, are now running smoothly online. We’re happy to welcome our growing membership from all across the Eastern Caribbean to these hour-long discussions, where we’ve recently focused on the topics of vaccine distribution and Chinese economic diplomacy in the region.
  • Kazakhstan: We kicked off an initiative to produce more cybersecurity content for our chapters with a webinar on February 11, featuring OSAC Cybersecurity Analyst, Chad Harmon. Chad briefed on cyber trends and malicious actors in a compelling discussion that we intend to be the start of a webinar series, open to all OSAC Asia members.
  • Slovenia: Our Ljubljana Chapter held a meeting on cyber attacks on March 17, which included U.S. Embassy officials, Slovenian private-sector leaders, and an advisor to the Slovenian Prime Minister. OSAC Senior Advisory Group emeritus member, Stevan Bernard, joined as a guest speaker to discuss the 2014 North Korean cyber attack against Sony Pictures, where he was Executive Vice President of Global Protection Services at the time. The event was particularly relevant following new allegations of a North Korean cryptocurrency heist targeting a crypto-mining company, headquartered in Ljubljana and fraudulent wire transfers to Slovenian bank accounts.
  • South Africa: In recent weeks, our Cape Town Chapter meetings focused on the COVID-19 risk environment, with discussions on vaccination efforts, travel, employer responsibility, and duty of care. We welcomed experts in vaccinology, infectious diseases, employee relations, health and safety laws, as well as the aviation and the travel industry.
  • Taiwan: Our Taipei Chapter hosted a hybrid (combination in-person and online) meeting on April 1 where we discussed the COVID-19-vaccine rollout in Taiwan. This meeting welcomed 30 attendees in-person, practicing social distancing, at the American Institute in Taiwan, plus a livestream on WebEx. This was our first hybrid activity since the start of the COVID restrictions in the region and we hope it may serve as a potential model for other Chapters as restrictions ease.

Welcome to our new Common Interest Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs:

And farewell and thank you to our outgoing CIC leadership:

  • Shannon Mureithi (Food for the Hungry), FBSC
  • Jennifer Huebner (Conoco Phillips), ESC
  • Margaret Levine (Bridgestone), WiS
  • Ryan Wildes (Partners HealthCare), MENA RC
  • Vincent Volpi (PICA), LARC

On February 6, shortly after celebrating his 100th birthday, OSAC lost its visionary founder, George P. Shultz. We shared this tribute to his exemplary leadership and commitment to spreading peace and diplomacy throughout the world.

We also invite you to view an interview with former Secretary of State George Shultz, who spoke about the origins of OSAC several years ago.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of State or any affiliated organization(s). Nor have these opinions been approved or sanctioned by these organizations. This product is unclassified based on the definitions in E.O. 12958. OSAC’s full disclaimer and copyright policy is available on our site at OSAC.gov/About/Disclaimer.

Questions, comments, or have an idea for next quarter's news bulletin? Contact Kit Bartels, Team Lead for Programs, Partnerships, & Policy at BartelsKV2@state.gov

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