US State Department Issues Global Travel Alert
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August. This Travel Alert expires on August 31, 2013.
Issued 2 Aug 2013 Source: US Department of State
What this literally means is:
- 350 million citizens, should live in complete fear of the other 6.75 billion other citizens on the planet
- Out of the 196 countries in the world, the only “safe’ one for you is the USA
- Anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances you are at risk if not at home in the USA
- Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and location, you are at risk of attack
- Despite any other advice, statistics, odds and your personal circumstances, your government is fearful of your safety
The TRUTH about Government Travel Advisories, Warnings and Alerts
If you’re like most people and you believe that government travel advisories, warning and alerts represent the most accurate advice for business travellers then you are terribly mistaken.
Here are the key elements that all business travellers and travel managers need to know regarding the validity and application of government travel alerts and travel related advice. Knowing and understanding these few simple issues will save your company unnecessary travel delays and disruptions under almost any circumstance. The main points to always consider in the wake of a renewed or updated advisory, warning or alert is the target audience, specific government resources, commercial relevance and the avoidance of evacuation scenarios.
The primary demographic for government advisories are first time travellers, backpackers, families and anyone else with little to no prior travelling experience and preparation or the lowest possible denominator. It is this group that governments aim their advice and analysis towards with the belief that if this group is adequately informed, then all remaining demographics will be covered. Unfortunately this results in an artificially low benchmark for all travellers not within this group.These other groups depend upon travel for business productivity, management and administration and the more likely to have their travel plans altered unnecessarily due to many government alerts. This is in part due to corporate risk avoidance (in the belief the government travel advisories are adequate) and insurance companies benchmarking many of their travel policy exclusions on that of government travel advice (again, in the belief the government are catering to their needs too). Unless you are a first time traveller, significantly inexperienced or lack appropriate business support while travelling, then the majority of government travel advice does not apply to you.
Impact: False Alarms
Make no mistake about this, there is a real threat against US citizens, in some locations, under certain circumstances, for specific reasons, for a set duration and a specific group of US citizens. Just not the whole world and everyone abroad!
What this type of ‘old school’ alert does is two fold. Create unnecessary fear and confusion for a small group of genuinely concerned travellers and travel managers. Secondly, discredit the government advisory system as a result of this too broad, too vague and likely dismissed [except for news and media outlets] by the majority of travellers and risk management professionals.
If you discredit and undermine any system long enough, everyone ignores it. Like that faulty warning light on the dash that has been there forever and there is no real threat, one day it might just do it’s job but you have long since ignored it and the system it was set up to monitor your safety for.
Yes, there is an increased period of threat at this time of the year, due to issue motivated groups that target the US and their citizens. These groups are not always accurate with their targeting, so any foreigner/westerner could be the target of their attack/s.
Yes, there are very specific locations that this threat is elevated, primarily select countries in the Middle East and Africa but there are other developing groups in other locations that might use this significant religious milestone to act also.
No, it is not just travellers at risk in these locations at these times but also those that live long/short term in these locations.
No, a threat to an embassy or official, iconic state representative facility does not mean everyone else in that location is under threat too.
No, every country, every city and every citizen outside the US is not an evil person set upon harming or killing US Citizens at this time. Despite how the message has been communicated.
Yes, ensure you or your business have effectively and comprehensively evaluated the threats associated with you, your travel destination, your travel activity and other related environmental issues. Then make an assessment of the risk it poses and determine if [following modifiers, treatment solutions or counter measures] you understand the risk. Then make a decision to accept, transfer, delay, avoid or mitigate the risk if needed.