IRAQ: Hostile Environment Training: Lessons Learned

Now that it’s over, what have I learned? This is hard training to summarize. Most of what we covered is common sense. But, sense is only “common” if it’s considered. It’s not so much about what I learned as about how I learned to think. For example, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to minimize my risks while staying and traveling in Baghdad. But I didn’t think about how I’d get out if something erupts and the airport is closed for a time. Do I drive out? What route and with whom? Do I hunker down? How can I build in extra money for either of those scenarios?* Same goes for Beirut, where I’ll be based for the summer. It’s so easy to go from oblivious to obvious, once it’s pointed out. As part of our “field scenario” yesterday, our team role played 3 journalists from Century Communications News based in northern Jordan. We were assigned an interview with a French doctor working in southern Syria who we’d interview about the use of chemical gasses on civilians. Then, we’d go further into does generic cialis really work the non-paved field to interview a rebel commander about chemical weapons. Our team met before we illegally crossed into Syria to discuss contingencies. One we failed to

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consider: What would be our cover story if stopped? (In the scenario, we were stopped at a flying checkpoint by 5 masked, uniformed, armed men and women. We didn’t know if they were Assad’s Army or the opposition. The 3 of us were forcibly separated and questioned about our identities and purpose. Miraculously, we each copped to being journalists but limited our viagra for sale chicago description of the interviews to the French doctor without cialis lilly price mentioning chemical weapons or the rebel commander.) I was afraid this “Hostile Environment Training” would make me

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see the world as hostile. It didn’t. Instead, it made me more confident in my instincts and in my problem-solving. More importantly, it has taught me to think

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differently — to think through my trip even more completely and to consider as many possible contingencies as my imagination allows. * Do NOT believe the common blast email hoax that claims my wallet was stolen and the hotel clerk has my passport and that I’m in desperate need of $1,000 to settle my account in order to leave the country. Trust me, if I’m in dire straights, you’ll know it’s me writing! I’ll include some code phrase that would be familiar to you, but not to an email hacker (such as my hometown, or where I live part of the online pharmacy cialis year, or where I flew in from). The training is already paying off!

4 Responses to “IRAQ: Hostile Environment Training: Lessons Learned”

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  1. No idea why I didn’t see these posts before, but I am SO glad you took that training. AWARENESS & PLANNING are your biggest allies. I know this is going to be an unbelievable experience for you!

    • Teresa, yes, that’s exactly right! My “planning” phase just got quadrupled. Glad I had the time and unstructured support in London to do this planning….In the end, it’s awareness, and Abdullah and I are taking precautions. Thanks for posting!

  2. Herbert W. Piekow says:

    Kelly, so glad you took the Hostile Environment Training and that you came away being prepared and with more confidence. You are very special, brave and to be admired for daring to report the events and affects on the lives of the citizens. Enshallah you will return safely and your words will make a difference.