APD AAR Example:
Fred Schmidt at APD had conducted a tabletop training exercise with his trained security personnel, contract security guards and department heads to familiarize them with the contingency plan for reacting to a hostile intrusion that you saw in Chapter 4. He decided the next step was to conduct a full-scale drill. As this was the first full walk through, he notified all key personnel in advance, and personally checked his armed security personnel to confirm that their primary weapons were unloaded, and that sidearms would remain holstered and concealed during the drill. He felt this was a reasonable level of control for safety, since the real world threat environment could not be suspended for his convenience and he was unwilling to disarm his key people entirely for the duration of the drill.
He ran the drill at 2:00 on a Friday afternoon. Upon its completion, he had his department heads debrief their employees for observations and lessons learned, and then release everyone for the weekend. The AAR commenced at 3:30 in the APD conference room, with his five armed operators, the rest of his managers, the contract security guard supervisor, with Fred as facilitator. It went like this:
FRED: Thanks everyone for making this drill a success. No one got hurt, and I think we’ve learned a lot. You are my key people – we’re going discuss what went right, what we can improve upon, and how we can refine the plan. Feel free to speak up whenever you have something to say, but let me start by laying down a structure for the discussion.
Our intent was to walk through our contingency plan for reacting to hostile intruders during the work day, in real time, to identify weak points in our planning, and determine if our expectations for key personnel are reasonable. The ‘crawl’ phase was our tabletop exercise in this room on Monday; this was the ‘walk’ phase. We’ll repeat this if we need to, and then we’ll move on to a full-speed ‘run’ when we all agree that we’re ready.
Today’s drill also had some training value for the entire workforce, because for them it was another rehearsal of our plan for responding to an active shooter.
We started the drill after securing all our external doors – which we did for safety and security so that visitors would not walk in on the drill in progress. Of course this wouldn’t have been done in advance, if this had happened for real. I then initiated the drill from my office with the agreed signal – the three-tone klaxon alarm over the PA system; if this happens for real, any of you may be the one that initiates the alarm.
Ten minutes later, the ‘musical chairs’ game was over – the music stopped, all movement was complete, and we ended the exercise. From my perspective, it appeared that everyone was pretty much where we expected them to be, and that’s the key issue – that, and whether they got there as quickly and efficiently as we hoped.
Let’s go around the table and hear from each of you in turn. Tell us what you did, what you saw, and where you think we can improve. I asked you in advance to keep one eye on the clock, so give us time hacks for key events when you can – for instance, operators, when you were fully kitted up, and when you reached your assigned position; department heads, when your last worker reached a designated lock-down area and when your head count was complete. I’ll take notes on the white board as we go, so we can build the picture; it’s important that each of you hear what was going on in areas that you couldn’t see or control during the drill.
Let’s start with the managers and supervisors and talk about how we got our people into lockdown; Tom, you were in charge in Marketing – you’re first:
TOM BECK (Marketing Manager): Well, Fred, it was pretty simple for us. I had 9 people in Marketing when we heard the alarm; that is, all 9 who were present today were in the room. Life might not have been so simple for me if any of them had been down the hall or in the restroom. Our room is a lockdown location, so all we had to do was stay put, keep the doors open long enough for the receptionist and foyer security guard to reach us, and then button up. I positioned myself at the northern door on the long hallway as I knew those people were coming my way. As soon they were in the room (that only took about one minute), I locked that door and moved to the center hallway door, which I kept open so I could communicate with you and your armed folks and have an idea of what was going on. I guess that’s not exactly ‘lockdown,’ but you talk a lot about situational awareness, and it seemed safe enough with you guys guns-up in both directions. That’s all I’ve got.
GEORGE PEIROT (Controller, Oscar-2): Fred, can I comment? When I moved down the center hall toward my position at the hallway double doors, I saw Bob’s door open and stopped for a quick visual check – I saw Bob standing at the other, open door, and it was pretty clear what he was doing. Still, I thought, what if the threat were coming down the long hall toward him and he didn’t get the door shut in time? So I stopped across the hall from Marketing and tried to split my attention between Bob and my primary AOR, the shop area, until I saw Bob secure that first door. I didn’t feel too good about that.
FRED: OK, George; noted. We’ll come back to that. Thanks, Tom. Terry, you were in Customer Support; how did it go there?
TERENCE O’NEIL (Sales Manager, Oscar-5): Well, as Tom said, it was simple enough for my people in the room, just shelter in place. There was quite a rush through both doors as half the production floor came pouring in. I know we struggled with the problem of assigning a lockdown room to individuals in production and inventory, because they all move around so much, but as it is we ended up with a lot of them heading to Customer Support and – I assume – the rest to Tech Support or wherever else they ended up, and it would have taken a long time and a lot of communication to sort out who was where and get an accurate head count. Do you want me to cover my own actions as well, at this point, Fred?
FRED: No, hold that, Terry, until we get through the workforce piece. Dudley?
DUDLEY SAGER (Production Manager): Fred, I was on the floor in Order Fulfillment. Folks moved out smartly when the alarm sounded, so I thought I’d see how long it might take me to secure the accordion doors in shipping. Of course they were already secured for this drill, but I moved to each door and stayed about as long as I thought it would take me to close and latch it. About halfway through, Richard showed up to help. When we were ‘done’ it was about two and a half minutes from the alarm and the production floor was deserted. I ran back, thinking I’d dive into Customer Support, but both doors were closed and I figured if they were following instructions they wouldn’t let me in no matter how much I noise I made; so I ran across to Tech Support, where I saw Bill Harris standing in the open door. Worked for me, but I didn’t like ending up separated from half of my own people. I guess they organized themselves OK in Customer Support – somebody always steps up – but maybe we need to develop a chain of command in each department, or something.
FRED: Good observation on chain of command; noted. Thanks for taking the initiative on the outer doors, Dudley, that’s good information, too. Richard?
RICHARD CLARKE (Inventory Manager): I was at the near (NE) end of the inventory area when the alarm sounded, so I spent the first minute or so hustling my people (and some of Dudley’s) along toward Tech Support. That room filled up fast, and there was a bottleneck at the doors, so I sent a bunch of them up the hall toward the break room. As the crowd thinned, I saw Dudley going through the motions over by the big doors and remembered that was partly my responsibility too, so I joined him. As he said, we probably could have gotten all those doors closed in 2-3 minutes – which would work as long as the Mongols are not already at the gate. I ended up in Tech Support myself – the first open door into a secure area that I could find. We may need to think more about traffic flow – we’ve got 120 people out on the production floor, and they’ll pile up fast at a few points if we don’t manage their movement a little more. I know that’s like herding cats, and it won’t work out perfectly, but I think we end up with more people exposed for longer by letting them decide for themselves where to go, and then piling up in knots at a few doors. Just my opinion.
FRED: Yeah, I’m seeing a pattern here. Regarding the doors – do you see a better solution?
RICHARD: Well, the obvious one is that you have a security guard posted in Shipping and Receiving – maybe the doors should become his primary responsibility. With the doors already secured for this exercise, maybe he didn’t think of that as his task, but it seems reasonable. Another approach may be for me – or Dudley, or each of us – to designate a couple of our people as door monitors; we can’t be sure that any one person will be down at that end at any particular moment, but redundancy is a good thing, right?
FRED: OK. We’ll come back to that; I think you’re on the right track. Let’s move on though for now. Bill, anything to add about Tech Support as a lockdown area? We’ll get to your security role in a minute.
BILL HARRIS (Technical Support, Oscar-4): No, Mr. Schmidt. Richard’s points are all good from my point of view.
FRED: All right then. Floyd, do you want to cover the rest of the folks that started in the front end of the building?
FLOYD STANDING (VP Operations): First, Fred, I think Richard is on to something, too. The break room is a good secure location, and could take a lot more people than were there this afternoon. With the outside door secure, the only way in is from the central hall, so those doors can stay open as long as you’ve got armed people holding the. Make that the primary destination for half of Dudley’s Production crew, and you’ll take the pressure off of Tech Support. It’s a little farther for them to move, but it will relieve some of the congestion. Anyway, up front, we only had myself, Mike Einheit, the receptionist, the front security guard, and a couple of admin folks, and that they split between Marketing and the break room; everybody was in one place or the other within a minute or so.
FRED: OK, we’ve got a pretty good picture of how the employees responded. I’ve got some ideas on how to improve that piece, but let’s hear the security perspective. In particular, you’ve got me wondering whether our positions really are the best, and if you can get to your posts and be effective while we’ve got all that foot traffic running through and past you. First, though, I’d like to hear from the security guards. Derek, you had your usual crew of three, one man in the reception area, one in Shipping and Receiving, and yourself roaming. How did things go for you?
DEREK HUNTER (Contract security guard supervisor): Mr. Schmitt, you didn’t assign us much responsibility here, and I think we can do more for you. I understand that you are depending on your own folks now, if something serious breaks loose, and you know I’m limited by my standing orders, and by what my guys are trained and equipped for, but we don’t want to lose your business, and I think there’s got to be more that we can do for you. Don’t count us out. Here’s what we did – and could have done.
Gil Baca, up front, moved to the lobby entrance, kind of like Mr. Sager did in back, figuring that if trouble wasn’t already through those front doors, he’d secure them before he did anything else. Then he checked the front restrooms and the office storage room, made sure everyone was out of that area, checked the board room on his way down the hall, and then – because by then he saw your men in position at the intersection, he popped across into Marketing as he’d been instructed, and stayed there ‘til you called the EndEx.
Robert was in Shipping and Receiving when the alarm sounded, and Mr. Clarke called that right. I think that if any of the doors had been open, he would have closed them ASAP; but you know these drills are a little artificial sometimes, and since you already had us close all the doors prior to the exercise, he just played it as he saw it. He tried to help with the traffic jam over at Tech Support, but nobody paid much attention to him, so he popped across to Customer Support and went to ground there. He said your guys were getting organized in there pretty good.
I was in the central restroom when it started – when you gotta go, you gotta go, right? As quick as I could get buckled up, I headed out, colliding with Mr. Terry on his way to post in that doorway. I figured he had that covered, so I moved into the central hallway, and that’s where I was when you showed up, Mr. Schmitt. I guess that was sort of your command post, and it seemed as good a place as any for me to be. If we’d taken the exercise any further – if we had any actual bad guys – I was thinking that Gil and I could have provided some backup to your folks if you had to take people down. We carry ASP batons, flex cuffs and handcuffs, and we train with them; we could move behind you and secure suspects if or when you move out to sweep the building – kind of what we used to call a ‘follow-on’ role when I trained for MOUT with the MPs a few years ago. I wish I could do more, but that seems like a pretty useful supporting role.
FRED: OK, Derek, that’s a good idea, and we’ll see what we can do with it. I’d need to be confident that other supervisors – if you’re not here – and all the guards you guys might send to us are on board with the concept, so at the least they need to be in your post instructions. We’ll talk more about this later. Let Gil know I appreciate his initiative and thoroughness in the front of the building; that’s exactly what we need from him.
Now we’re down to our actions as armed operators. Let’s review it by the numbers: George Patton, you are Oscar-1.
GEORGE PATTON (HR Manager, Oscar-1): Fred, my task is simple. I grabbed my rifle and my kit from the locker in about 30 seconds – great idea to use those vaults with the touchpads, they’re fast and I’ve got the key for a backup. The go-bag is great too, you can just throw the strap over your neck and move. I ducked across the hall and was in place at the hallway intersection 40 seconds after the alarm. I watched Gil coming down the hall from the foyer; that was well done, and it got me thinking whether I should post farther up that hall myself – I wouldn’t have been able to intervene if there were trouble up there, except by shooting, and that’s not always the answer.
FRED: Noted, George, but until our numbers grow, I don’t want one guy forward without support – too many things can go wrong. From the hallway intersection, you have visual control of the north hall, your back is covered, and we have good comms. When we have more personnel, we’ll take a hard second look, but for now, I think this is the best we can do. “George 2” – Oscar-2 – what about you?
GEORGE PEIROT (Controller, Oscar-2): Fred, initially things were as smooth for me as for “George 1” – sorry – Oscar-1. I got my kit and moved down the center hall toward the double fire doors. As I said earlier, the situation in Marketing was a bit of a distraction for a minute, and with the scene out on the production floor, I didn’t feel like I had much control over anything. I know there was some order to it, but 120 people hopping and popping to get off the production floor all at the same time was a bit of a spectacle. Even before Richard diverted a bunch of them toward me, it was practically impossible for me to figure out what was going on. If there had been intruders in the production area, I wouldn’t have been able to pick them out of the crowd for the first minute or two, and they could have been on me, intermingled with our folks, before I could do much. Bill Harris showed up in his door in front of me – and from his thumbs up I concluded that Terry was in position too, though I couldn’t see him myself – and at that point the pressure was off. I guess that happened within a minute or two, but it seemed like longer. I let the rest of the folks off the floor flow past me and tried to keep visual contact with both Harris and the guys in the intersection until you – and Derek – showed up behind me.
HANNAH SCHMITT (VP Sales and Marketing, Oscar-3): I guess I’m next. I was two doors down the hall in Mike Einheit’s office when the alarm sounded. I figured I was close enough to get to my office for my kit, so that’s what I did. I suppose I would have gone farther even than that, as long as the outside door next to your office, Fred, was secure; I really don’t want to go into a situation like this without my primary weapon and the rest of my kit. After that, I moved to the intersection where Patton – Oscar 1 - was, and covered the SW hallway per instructions; got there maybe half a minute after George and George. I had a thought similar to his – assuming that you were still in your office, Fred, I hated retreating down the hall away from you. Should we consider linking up and moving together? It would mean I’d probably be slower reaching my position, but you’d have a bit of security if still think it makes sense to make the 911 call from your office before moving. That’s all I’ve got.
FRED (CEO, Oscar-6): OK, good so far. At least no one ad libbed too much on this run. It’s good that you stuck to the plan and brought your second thoughts to the AAR.
I’ll jump in here since my story relates to what Hannah just said. I grabbed my own kit, then simulated a 90 second emergency call. When I came out into the hall, I realized I was stepping into Hannah’s field of fire and while I trust her and think she still like me well enough, it was a little unnerving to be staring down her muzzle. I realized I should probably have signaled “Coming Out” before running out into the hall. I also realized, by time I turned the corner and put all of you between me and the unknown, that there’s no good reason for me to linger in my office to make an emergency call. Once we’re consolidated, we can use a phone in Marketing or the break room, or a cell phone, for any and all calls. That much I’m changing for sure.
OK, continuing – Oscar-4, that’s you, Mr. Harris.
BILL HARRIS (Technical Support, Oscar-4): Mr. Schmitt, everybody’s noted how much of a cluster it was for the first couple of minutes, while the production floor emptied. Like Oscar-2, I didn’t feel like I had much control over what was going on out there, and in my final position, at the south door from Tech Support, I had good comms – eye contact with Terry and Oscar-2 – but I couldn’t see two-thirds of the production floor. Anything could have been going on out there, but until a bad guy came around my near corner ten yards away, I wouldn’t know he was there. I guess the mutual support argument really does make sense, but I’ll be a lot happier when we have a few more people and set up to maintain a field of view over the entire production floor. Here’s thought – would it make sense to post Terry – Oscar-5 at the west end of the divider wall, instead of at the restroom door? He and I would still have visual contact with each other, he’d have a good field of view over most of the production floor, and his rear would be covered IF the east door into that hall were secured. Just a thought.
FRED: That’s worth thinking about, Bill – we’ll have to do a walk through and check the angles. I sure don’t want to do anything at this point that puts any one of us in a position that doesn’t have his six covered by at least one other operator; but if we were sure that east door could be secured, maybe it could work. Terry?
TERENCE O’NEILL (Sales Manager, Oscar-5): Fred, I was thinking about that. It could work, if my first move out of Customer Support were directly to that east door. If we could limit the number of floor workers coming through that door, I could secure it myself and then move to the west end of the hall, where Bill’s talking about. Between Bill and Oscar-2 at the fire doors, I’d have my rear covered until I made that move. Maybe. Depending on how fast the crowd clears. I don’t have much else to report – I had my kit in hand in about half a minute, like everyone else, and except for colliding with Derek in the restroom door, I was on station pretty fast, less than a minute. The traffic didn’t slow me down much, because the restroom wasn’t anybody’s destination at that point. On this whole topic of securing the production floor, I think what we have now is a pretty good plan for protecting our people, but we’re giving up control of our inventory, and I’m not happy about that. We don’t want to get over-extended, but if we can tweak the plan to hold on to more of our ground, I’ll be happier.
FRED: All right then, that’s a pretty complete picture of what happened today. Overall, it seems like everybody stuck to the plan, with some improvisations that point to areas we can improve. And you’ve raised some good points. Let me see if I can capture the main points that we want to address, moving forward:
We need to incorporate the security guards more effectively into the plan. I will talk to Derek and his management to see what we can do. This is no reflection on you Derek, or your guards – but OPSEC (operational security) is a concern. I will not share APD’s contingency plans with anyone outside this company, so we’ll have to see what we can accomplish working with the security contractor short of sharing the full plan. Derek’s ideas are solid and we’ll start from there.
Safety and common sense required that we secure the external doors before starting the drill today, so we didn’t really simulate the time and effort of doing so under threat, except through Dudley and Mr. Baca’s initiative. Maybe we can do some limited performance tests before or after hours next week to get a better idea of what’s possible; Floyd, take the lead on that, will you? Keep me informed.
We need to do more of a ‘traffic analysis’and come up with a better scheme of getting the workforce into lockdown, avoiding choke points and distributing the numbers better. The main question is how and where to guide the 120 folks off the production floor. Floyd, I think this is your area too, but you need to work closely with Peirot, Harris and O’Neill, who are your operators. While you’re at it, give some thought to how we can maintain better coverage and control over the inventory and production floor without sacrificing mutual support and comms. Whatever ideas you come up with, tabletop them; I don’t want to do another full-scale exercise until we’ve got something we’re confident of.
Also – and this is for everyone to think about – we need to come up with some way to get a head count once the movement has stopped. Clearly we had work groups separated among several lockdown rooms, and that will make it hard to know that we’ve got all our people safe. And although people improvised well, we probably need to have a plan and prior designation of who’s going to be in charge in each room.
Hannah, as I said earlier, your comment is well-taken. I will not linger in my office; I’ll link up with you if you’re in yours, and move with you, rather than follow you, up the hall to the intersection without delay. I can make my calls – and assume command of the situation – from there.
We talked about pushing our security farther up or down the long hall, but I am not prepared to scatter our thin resources at this time.
I want to be able to secure the core of building; I want 6-9 capable armed operators who can communicate with and support one another; and I want protection for the workforce once they’re relocated into lockdown; those are our objectives; that’s my “commander’s intent” if you will. If we can’t get advance warning before the threat is through the door or on the skin of the building, trying for more at this point is dangerous overreach.
That said, it’s clear to me that we need more trained personnel, quickly. For that matter, it would be a bad day, if we had to execute this plan under threat on a day that any two of you were out sick or on vacation. I’ll want prioritized recommendations from each department head of your best candidates, as soon as possible, and we’ll get the courses scheduled.
Folks, unless anyone has anything else right now, I think we’re done. Good effort on everyone’s part; I feel a lot more confident now than I did this morning, that we can handle the trouble that may be coming. There’s plenty of work ahead but this was a good start. Have a great weekend.