The Survival Guide to Kabul

Published internationally in July 2003 as Kabul: The Bradt Mini Guide.

First published in Kabul in September 2002 as a pamphlet.





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Security briefing




The Principles of protection from terrorism are:


        The Timely dissemination of information pertaining to a threat by the security staff to the project staff.


        Initiation of appropriate responses to deal with increases in the threat.


        Deterrent Measures at all times:


        Effective personal security.

        Security awareness briefing at the beginning of a project and refresher when appropriate for all the staff.

        Constant reviews and improvements of security (ie Even security can be pattern setting therefore regular changes in security postures so as not to set patterns even in security measures).


Honeymoon Period. It can be argued that the first 4 weeks of a mission is a honeymoon period. The terrorist and his sympathiser or the criminal will firstly be unaware of what is going on. After focussing on this new Project they will begin the process of information gathering. Only after they have identified a target (ie a pattern, or identification of real estate) will they begin to plan an attack or a crime.


Areas for security measures to be considered are as follows:




This part covers the security measures, which should be adopted for the movement of either groups or individuals. The greatest protection will stem from maintaining anonymity, individual vigilance and avoiding predictable patterns of activity.


        Patterns. Vary daily movement to and from work as much as possible returning at different times and using alternate routes; also park where possible in different places. In addition staff should not present an easy target by adopting other predictable patterns of activity, ie possibly wearing the same distinctive clothes, baseball hat, insignias etc.


        Avoid regular and predictable parking arrangements.

        If possible park under street lights or/and in the arc of cameras.

        During an essential en-route stop at least one member of the party should stay with the vehicles or parked in a position where they can be constantly observed.

        Ideally there should be planned stops at secure locations.

        Parked vehicles should at all times be locked and immobilised, a lockable petrol cap and bonnet should be fitted.

        Where possible vehicles should be left in locked garages.

        Bottlenecks. It is important that individuals remain alert, particularly at bottlenecks and choke points, eg entrances to places (embassies, airports, and traffic lights, also "the beginning and end of a journey" are major bottlenecks!).

        Suspicious activity. In many countries the criminal threat (opportune and unplanned) exists during a journey and a terrorist threat at the beginning and end of a journey (planned at these two predictable bottlenecks). Be alert for the unusual or out of place at the beginning or end of a journey.

        Driving. Drivers should drive with doors locked from the inside, especially in urban areas. Drivers should never allow themselves to become "boxed in" in traffic; a good gap should always be left behind the vehicle in front to facilitate pulling out and driving away if necessary.

        Reporting suspicious activity. Ensure that the staff know "how to" and "who to" report anything suspicious activity to and for the security staff to take the appropriate action.

        Hired transport. Hiring transport should hopefully be extremely rare and only in the event of an emergency however if possible:

        Search the vehicle before use.

        Check the identity of the driver.

        Check the arrangements for the carriage of baggage and equipment.

        Pre Journey procedure. Get advice from the security staff before each journey, ie be aware of areas of "Restricted Movement", know what has historically happened in that area.

        Attractive items. Check that there are no incriminating packages or clothing visible in the vehicle.

        Breakdown. This is extremely important and will be dependent upon existing best practise procedures in Afghanistan with other organisations.

        Travelling outside the Urban Areas. This is extremely important and will be dependent upon existing best practise procedures in Afghanistan with other organisations.


Action for the security staff:


        Maintain a detailed map in the office highlighting restricted movement areas, over used establishments, key points ie hospitals, embassies, evacuation points etc.

        Maintain a map in all Vehicles highlighting areas of concern.

        Know where all the vehicles are at all times.

        Procedures in place to support the staff who need to go to these areas (ie 2 vehicles with security staff and local drivers).

        Curfew times for different areas to be highlighted

        Security Staff to continually review overuse of certain vehicles in certain areas and if at all possible to rotate vehicles.

        Maintain contact numbers of dependable Law Enforcement agencies





        A member of the security staff should always meet individuals. This is especially important for first time arrivals.

        There should be a prearranged collection point. This should be ideally outside the terminal building so that the vehicles are not left unattended.

        There should be a prearranged system for failure to meet.





(Restaurants, bars, shops, civilian sports clubs, and recreational clubs); Consideration should be given to identifying "Excessive Use of Popular Facilities." Concentrations of Internationals using the same place of recreation and entertainment present attractive targets for terrorist attack. This has been clearly demonstrated in the past, even in what may have been previously assessed as a "safe" area (attacks on hotels and churches earlier this year). It is important to note that it may be other organisations that overuse a place and raise its profile and our staff may become the victims. The following measures should be adopted by all personnel frequenting places of entertainment, churches etc.


        Remain alert and vigilant for suspicious persons, packages and vehicles.

        No prior bookings of an establishment in the name of the project should be used.

        Repeated and regular use of a place should be avoided.

        Leave an area overused by internationals.

        Not to leave vehicles unattended but arrange drop off and pick up times.


Action by Security Staff:

        Responsibility of Security Staff to know where and when and at which establishment's staff could be perceived as being at risk.

        As listed in "Movement" paragraph above, a list of overused establishments is to be highlighted on a town map in the office/accommodation.

        Security Staff to monitor and update periodically with their Law Enforcement opposite numbers.





A decision will need to be made of either high or low profile and discreet security. Assessment of the security measures required providing security to offices, accommodation and vehicles. To include decisions on physical security measures, access measures and terrorist attack measures.


Physical security measures


Exteriors (depending on the profile)


Purpose Crime prevention and access control. It also provides deterrence.

Type Pan Tilt and Zoom and Person Activated for Access (COTS)

There should be a Recording facility



Perimeter detection systems


Guard Dogs

Locks and Containers

Control of entry

Secure Rooms

Hardened building for accommodation


Office: equipment and paperwork (depending on the threats capability)

Map of Restricted Movement Areas

Map of overused establishments

How is paperwork disposed of, burning, pulping shredding


Fax Machine


Telephones (useful numbers in every phone)

Discreet security room with Radio, camera monitor, keys register and secure cabinet


Accommodation (depending on if located with the office or not)

"Go Bags"

Water, Radios, spare batteries, torch, Map


Physical security measures (ie CCTV, perimeter etc)



Adequate security of vehicles to include garages streetlights and camera coverage.

Construction of "Go Bags" for each vehicle including marked maps, Medical (IV), torch, batteries, food, water, Diarlyte

Vehicle to have tool kit, towrope, spare tyre and spare fuel checked periodically.

Useful numbers and callsigns.


Sat Phone

First Aid Kit

All equipment to be checked periodically


Access Measures

Keys, Copies of keys and a register, possibly issued only against signature if necessary

Key Register maintained by Chief Security Officer

Key Muster to take place periodically.

Passes permits and recognition of official ID cards.





This term describes the bringing together and overlapping of all these security measures. Everyone has his or her part to play and the Security will only be as strong as the weakest link.



With thanks from The Survival Guide to Kabul to a former British Army Officer who served most of his career in Northern Ireland.


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The Survival Guide to Kabul