|07DAKAR599||2007-03-15 17:43:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Dakar|
VZCZCXRO6713 RR RUEHMA RUEHPA DE RUEHDK #0599/01 0741743 ZNR UUUUU ZZH R 151743Z MAR 07 FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR TO RUEHFSI/DIR FSINFATC INFO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7839 RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DAKAR 000599
1. Post wishes to thank FSI for a successful crisis management
exercise (CME). The timing of the exercise was excellent as Senegal
prepared for its presidential elections in late February. The
exercise enhanced post's crisis management preparedness and prepared
post for the February crisis that unfolded in neighboring Guinea
which involved the ordered departure of direct-hire employees,
eligible family members (EFMs) and private Americans to the U.S.
2. The following responses are keyed to ref email paragraph two:
A. Post found that the training format suited post's needs. Post
worked closely with the trainer before his arrival in Dakar to
customize the scenarios and to use the trainer for additional
briefings. Due to an overwhelming mission wide interest in the
training, post management decided to hold two crisis overview
sessions and opened the crisis management exercise to American
citizen community representatives who appreciated being included and
greatly benefited from the exercise. Many participants in the
overview sessions were new to crisis management and learned
important terms and concepts which enhanced the actual exercise.
The time allotted for the exercise allowed the scenario to unfold in
many unforeseen directions, but did not run so long as to cause
participants to lose focus.
Despite an overwhelming presence in the exercise, the Locally
Engaged Staff (LES) in attendance did not actively participate.
Post believes that at the next CME, the moderator or the Emergency
Action Committee (EAC) chairperson could play a more active role to
engage them in the debate, both to seek their assessment of the
theoretical situation and to underscore how they fit in the picture.
One suggestion would be to target one LES as being at the center of
a situation where one hostile group would only negotiate with a
Senegalese staff member rather than with an American official.
Another suggestion would be to hold a separate crisis management
exercise involving only LES, following the overview session. Post
believes that a session targeting LES might prime them for better
participation in the final exercise.
B. The scenarios were very well written, and it was clear that the
trainer had studied the history and current politics of Senegal.
However, some participants commented that there were too many
situations that developed very quickly and covering them in the
limited timeframe proved challenging. Post suggests that during the
next CME, instead of having seven situations that lead to one major
attack at the end, it would be better to have 4 to 5 situations.
That would make the scenario more realistic and manageable during
The last minutes of the exercise were devoted to taking care of our
own people during and after a crisis. The presentation by a Mission
member on her experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
highlighted how important it is to keep each other safe, secure, and
productive in a stressful situation. Post realizes that getting the
job done and taking care of employees under conditions of severe,
long lasting stress can be one of the most difficult challenges a
manager may face. As a result, knowing how to staff a crisis is
crucial, especially when primary officers are unavailable or
incapacitated. The recognition that crises are often of long
duration mandates that Post have a deep list of those who are ready
and may be called upon to replace those suffering from stress and
C. Mr. Michael Braxton's intervention in the exercise was
appropriate and well timed. The Ambassador participated in the
exercise and expressed her overall satisfaction with both CME and
the overview sessions. She was also happy to receive an out brief
from the trainer on the trainer's other briefings and his overall
observations during his week in Dakar. Post management was
especially pleased that the trainer held meetings with the health
unit, consular section and eligible family members.
D. The exercise highlighted the need to make EAP available to all
mission employees, especially to LES. One of post's objectives for
the exercise was to prepare the Mission for any potential violence
possibly erupting before or after the February 25 presidential
elections. In addition, given the political unrest in neighboring
Guinea, post management used this opportunity to educate mission
employees on their roles in helping a neighboring embassy in a
crisis (as demonstrated during the ordered EFM departure from
Conakry). The exercise was also useful in explaining and reviewing
tripwires and how important it is to keep them updated.
E. Recognizing that emergency planning is a mission wide priority
and shared responsibility, post will adapt its new arrival security
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briefing to include an introduction to the EAP. Post will also make
EAP available to all mission employees on the intranet and encourage
all sections chiefs to share it with American direct hire employees
F. As stated in para. A, post believes that a separate CME session
for LES as a follow up to the overview training would greatly
improve the LES's understanding of their roles and responsibilities
in the event of a crisis. A preliminary LES-only session could
build confidence in their crisis management abilities and reduce
apprehensions about voicing ideas in the presence of direct hire
supervisors. An alternative to having a CME tailored to LES would
be for post management to organize mini CMEs with scenarios
developed in house.
G. Post is satisfied with the frequency of the current CME
H. Post appreciates Mr. Braxton's excellent presentations and
willingness to work with various audiences during his stay.