The Incident, the mistake, the lesson #4

The Incident:

I had traveled to Dubai on a previous trip with comm gear unabated. Anyone that has landed in Dubai knows what I am talking about when I tell you that there is vast security mechanism at work before you breach the doors of the airport and step into the country.

I had traveled to Dubai previously unabated excepts for the short interview whether or not I was a contractor with KBR on holiday.  Apparently the vacationing KBR members had used Dubai as riotous “Spring break” hangover until it was time to report back to their duty stations.  In my bags were a week’s worth of cigars as well as VHF radios for comms that me and Minister needed for the detail.  The only concern that customs and the authorities had for me was if I was KBR.  My airport handler intervened while Minister was laughing and I was released without incident.  We put our bags in the Silver Spur that was sent for us by the Burj al Arab and started on our protective advance work easily forgetting the short, yet comedic detainment.

About a year later I was contracted by another client to perform services for them as well in Dubai.  Consistent with the last trip I packed as I did before and traveled with call-sign “Gator” to the desert land with the indoor ski resort.  This time however there was no concern for KBR.  This time the radios were the probable cause for detainment.  Apparently, between my last trip and this trip the government had put a stop to any and all comms coming into the country unless already pre-arranged and authorized by them.  I didn’t know. My radios were seized by customs and I received a receipt that would allow me to recover them at the end of my trip.  Here’s the catch, I had to pay a daily storage fee, that had to be paid in local money upon departure.

After 7 days the client left and we headed to the terminal.  I went to customs and presented my receipt.  The conversion cost was $125 US.  I went to the foreign exchange booth and converted the money to pay.  Once the money was exchanged I was to that I had to walk to their storage office in a separate terminal.  If you have ever been to this airport it is larger than Ohare.  I grabbed by luggage and started a moderate jog to receive my property.  I got the radios and ran back.  Time was running out but I made it back with a sweat through [USSS jargon for sweating through your suit].

The Mistake:

I should have not taken for granted that comms were still allowed in Dubai.  When I spoke to the RSO in UAE to let him know of our visit, I was remiss in going over any country changes since the last time.  I cannot blame him for asking, eventhough a savvy RSO would automatically brief you on any concerns consistent to the type of work you are performing.  That was my fault.  I should have not taken that for granted.  In fact, with my experience in Liberia I knew that frequencies have to be pre-registered when using radios in a country where the majority of its population does not have filtered water or electricity.

The Lesson:

I don’t take anything, big or small  for granted.  It can come across as being petty at times but there is no since taking any chances in another country.  We had no vetted resources in Dubai soecific and our closest vetted reliable source was hundreds of miles away working full-time for Good Harbor.  The silver lining in all of this is that we train without radios for this specific scenario of not having comms.

1 comment

  1. Stepfan WIlliams


    Thank you for the series of incidents and mistakes these are very helpful tutorials they actually remind me of a book written by Robert Greene the 48 laws of power which explains how leaders were successful when the followed the laws as well as there downfall when they went against the laws. WIll you get to 48.

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