What Now Lieutenant? Training for Today’s Challenging Times

Training junior officers for combat is a challenging business. During my Reserve Officers’ Training Camp prior to commissioning and almost certain tour of duty in Vietnam, we went through a series of Leadership Reaction Tests or LRTs. These were realistic scenarios designed to test our skills and mettle.

Today’s challenging times require similar challenging exercises. Here are three potential scenarios along with learned advice from TAL Global’s security experts on the best way to deal with each of them. These are fictitious of course, and are designed to be illustrative and educational. There is no canned solution for every situation, however, you can have alternatives in mind ingrained in your mental muscle memory to move the odds in your favor.

1. You’re in The Carchallenging times

You and your family are out doing your normal errands. Suddenly the freeway goes from 70 mph to 0 and you’re stopping. Looking around you notice that there are hundreds of masked people pouring into the freeway down the on-ramp. Some of them are carrying what appear to be bats or clubs and are throwing rocks. What do you do?

Andy Davis, a veteran of of “hostile operations” put it very succinctly: “If you feel that the lives or wellbeing of your family, passengers or yourself is endangered then you need to take appropriate steps to extract yourself from the area as quickly as possible. 

This may involve some risk of hitting one or more of the people illegally on the motorway, but you get your family to safety, call the police and deal with the other consequences later.  Andy emphasized that “it is the life endangerment element which is important in these circumstances. If only damage or theft was the concern, then always hand the car over, it’s only a piece of tin that can be replaced; lives and wellbeing cannot.”

2. Mall Security – Eastridge Mall, San Jose, California

Eastridge Mall opened on May 17, 1971. With 1.4 million square feet of space the mall boasted over 100 stores including retail leaders Macy’s, Sears and JC Penney. Sears has closed and the mall remains anchored by AMC theaters, JC Penney and Macy’s. Round1 bowling offers bowling and other entertainment.

 The mall is about 6 miles from downtown San Jose which has been the scene of violent demonstrations for the past several days. There are nine retail jewelry stores in the mall. Under the current Santa Clara County Shelter in Place Order, as of Friday, June 5, “In-store shopping at retail and shopping centers” will be open. If you are responsible for the security of the mall and its tenants – what advice do you give the store owners?

 Mike Keenan, Managing Director, Retail and Loss Prevention for TAL Global advises that “You have to make a business decision that ensures the safety of your people and your property. If the focal point for demonstrations is far enough away that it is not likely, that mass demonstrations will migrate from downtown. Stores that carry high value merchandise  may still be vulnerable to robbery and/or vandalism, especially ‘grab and run’ of high value items as seen in some Apple Stores in the past.”

3. High Rise Law Office

Suppose you are on the 32nd floor of a high-profile office building in downtown San Francisco. What precautions do you take to protect your people and property? We asked Forrest “Peter” Franklin, TAL Global’s Managing Director, Physical Security/Risk Assessment and former Security Director for the world-famous Pyramid Building in San Francisco. “Keeping your people out of harm’s way is clearly the best course of action. Most people are already working from home, so that staying away from potential trouble spots is the easiest and best way to stay out of trouble,” Franklin noted.

These vignettes are intended to illustrate some common threats and challenges that people are wondering about today. There are no easy answers or school solutions for our challenging times, but we at TAL Global have the experience and global resources to help you assess and minimize the risks that you may face.

Please contact us for a complementary, no cost discussion about how we can help you protect those assets that are important to you and your organisations.


This article was written by Colonel (Retired) Lawrence D. Dietz, US Army (Retired) General Counsel


© TAL Global, 2019