AFTER ACTION REPORT
Operation name: Haitian Pulse
Duration: 18 Days
Dates: 6-28-12 – 7-16-12
Locations: Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Paragraph 1: Pre-Deployment
In the 4 days preceding this deployment, the assigned team leader was informed and put on stand-by to deploy to both Haiti & Sudan. As the two situations were fluid, the destination for assignment changed daily and on one day multiple times. This created not only anxiety for the individual team leader but also hindered both country study & language study efforts as well as operational planning. Further, due to the confirmation of availability of identified team candidates, the team leader had no view of who would be on the team until the team leader was already in country. This further slowed pre-planning and coordination efforts. Flight arrangements in country once the destination were identified went smoothly and navigating through customs to enter into the country was fairly simple and posed no significant issues. The team leader was met by the Host organization’s in country point of contact who also had with him a local driver and handler which aided greatly in the conduct of operations.
Paragraph 2: Deployment
Once on the ground, the Team Leader was taken to the “team house” of the host organization which turned out to be contrary to what Team Rubicon was informed of in regards to capabilities and available infrastructure. The lack of support facilities (electricity, running water, internet) greatly hindered operational efforts for the duration of the mission. A site visit to the training facility revealed the same state of affairs, there were no instructional areas developed i.e. tables, benches, pavilions etc. or areas to conduct Physical Training and or combatives. These facilities were an absolute necessity due to the extreme exposure to the elements and surrounding observers. Neither the training facility nor the “team house” were developed to support operations this was also true of the “curriculum” that Team Rubicon had been informed was already developed and in utilization. The extent of this “curriculum” was found to be a simple dry erase board with some loose topics written down.
Upon arrival of the Team Rubicon team members the following 2 day’s were spent constructing the training area which consisted of building 8 picnic style tables and 2 instructional platforms with nothing more than 2 hand saws and a few hammers with re-purposed nails. The training area was also cordoned off for privacy and security purposes by constructing a 600’ privacy fence made up of buckets of cement with aluminum poles inserted into them with a cloth mesh material affixed along the entire length of the “fence line”. During the evening hours, the team retired back to the “team house” to develop the curriculum that was to be taught. Within 3 days’ time, the team was able to construct and build out the training area, develop a curriculum and begin rehearsing for one day delivering the training.
Once the students arrived, training went extremely well, they were found to be eager and dedicated students who seemed whole heartedly committed to receiving the instruction and excelling. A lack of interpreters and proper training equipment proved to be the two biggest challenges to carrying out the mission. Through the resourcefulness and experience of the instructor cadre, work arounds and adaptations were quickly identified and utilized effectively.
Paragraph 3: Post-Deployment
Post deployment efforts were carried out with relative ease as a transition team arrived in enough time to conduct a proper turnover of operations to ensure continuity with what was found to be an outstandingly competent, qualified and motivated team of Team Rubicon volunteers.
TL: Shane ValVerde
Team Medic: Luke Williams
Team Journalist: Thomas Hudson
Team Security: Riaan Roberts (GD) / Tam Nguyen TR
Lead Medical Instructor: Brad Ratliff
Lead Combatives Instructor: Shane ValVerde
Team Member: Kyle Rosenberger
Areas of Analysis
- Mission Objectives
- Safety & Security
- Media, traditional & new
Lessons Learned & Key Actions
- Proper investigation into the host organization must be conducted prior to committing Team Rubicon resources.
- An advanced site visit should be conducted prior to conducting operations.
- Team Rubicon personnel must be provided with an E&E and alternative support plan prior to departing into a foreign country or be provided with the resources to develop one on ground.
- A Team Rubicon sourced, developed and dedicated Host Country National must be procured either prior to or once on ground to provide TR members with a host guide to ensure safety.
- Conduct a throrough background and due diligience investigation of the host organization prior to deployment.
- Define in writing clearly identified goals, objectives and roles and responsabilities between TR members and the host organization in an MOU prior to deployment.
- Conduct an advanced site visit of the host organization in country when possible.
Operational Capabilities Analysis
- TASK / CAPABILITY: In country transportation
OBSERVATION: Transportation proved to be problematic throughout the operation. The vehicles that were provided by the host organization were inadequate, inoperable and posed a serious safety risk to TR team members.
RECOMMENDATION: Source and procure local transportation through TR team leads once in country so as to have operational control over these possibly lifesaving assets, and or utilize host country common and public means, and modes of transportation.
ACTION: Provide TR Team Leaders with the funds to source and procure local transportation.
- TASK / CAPABILITY: Team Rubicon Volunteers
OBSERVATION: This area was found to be both a strength and the key to success throughout this operation. The appropriate skills sets, attitudes, experience and background were possessed by all TR members which proved invaluable throughout.
RECOMMENDATION: Continue to target recruit from within the TR membership for rostering a team that is specific to the mission, i.e. medical mission medical members, security missions, security members etc.
ACTION: Develop a database that categorizes TR members by skill sets, or functionality
- TASK / CAPABILITY: Logistics
OBSERVATION: Logistics proved to be a key limiting factor throughout this operation as many items just simply were not available to be sourced locally such as medical training aids. The team leader possessed operational funds to procure any items that could be sourced locally which proved helpful if the item was available.
RECOMMENDATION: Careful planning and identification of resource needs should be conducted prior to departing for the operation that will allow for the key and critical supplies and or resources to be carried in by TR members to ensure success of the mission.
ACTION: Adopt and utilize the ICS form 215 for operational resource planning purposes.
- TASK / CAPABILITY: Mission Objectives
OBSERVATION: The team’s mission objectives were not made clear to the team prior to deployment which caused team members to arrive in country without materials that would have been helpful and otherwise would have been brought by the individual team member. An example of this can be seen in the curriculum development. Had team members known that they were going to be writing a curriculum, they would have brought additional software and both electronic and hard copy reference materials.
RECOMMENDATION: Clearly identify operational goals and objectives in writing prior to deployment that will then be shared with Team Members during the work up phase.
ACTION: Develop a standard mission goals and objectives MOU template
- TASK / CAPABILITY: Safety and Security
OBSERVATION: Throughout the operation, Team members felt on several occasions unsafe in both their person and their property. This was due to both real and perceived threats throughout the operation.
RECOMMENDATION: Team Rubicon members when possible should be deployed as a self-contained and self-supporting unit with the training, resources and equipment to ensure their safety and security.
ACTION: Develop a safety & security billet to accompany the team on operations. This could be one individual or a small team that is formally trained, experienced and versed in OCUNUS force protection. This team or team member should also be provided with the resources and equipment necessary to carry out his or her mission.
- TASK / CAPABILITY: Medical
OBSERVATION: As this was a medical focused operation, both medical personnel along with emergency medical supplies were not an issue and were in abundance. The team also identified all local medical facilities upon arrival. Both of these factors greatly aided in preserving the life of a Team Rubicon team member who suffered from a heat induced case of epileptic seizures and had to be treated both internally by TR members and indigenous medical personnel at a local hospital before being transported out of the country.
RECOMMENDATION: Ensure that every international mission has 2 medical personnel well versed in trauma and emergency medicine along with all of the necessary equipment, and supplies to deal with all identified medical probabilities for the operational area.
ACTION: Identify and procure medical coverage bags for international and domestic operations to be signed out to operational personnel.
- TASK / CAPABILITY: Communication
OBSERVATION: Communication internally did not pose any significant problems as the mamority of the team members were collocated within the same areas. During the times that team members were separated, locally procured cell phones were issued which proved a successful and low cost strategy. Communications back to support and command and control staff proved problematic and posed a safety concern.
RECOMMENDATION: Team leaders should be instructed to procure locally sourced cell phones once on ground to utilize. Secondary intra communications devices such as low cost FRS radios should also be either carried in or sourced locally. For long range communications, both a satellite phone and a SATCOM package should be assigned to the team.
ACTION: Identify and procure both satalite phones, SATCOM man pack systems with plans and intro comm two way communication devices such as FRS radios to be assigned to teams.
- TASK / CAPABILITY: Media (traditional & new)
OBSERVATION: The team was provided with a team journalist that was to be assigned the task of media communications and photojournalism. This proved to be ineffective as the provided photographer was not willing to provide photographs due to the absence of a written agreement for work to be performed. The photographer was also not able to provide up to day social media posts as connectivity was rarely available. This proved both problematic and a point of contention between the team and the assigned photojournalist. Another point of internal strife was that of operational command and control, the photojournalist was informed although this was never confirmed that he was to only report to HQ and did not fall under the organizational structure and operational SOP’s of the team and team leader.
RECOMMENDATION: All missions should have media personnel assigned to them that possess the training and background to carry out their assigned tasks under the clear understanding of what is expected of them and who they will be reporting to which should be the responsible team leader on the ground.
ACTION: Develop a work for hire agreement and photo / media release form for all journalists accompanying Team Rubicon personnel. Further ensure that these individuals have the required equipment to carry out their assigned tasks. Identify and procure a media support package that might include a camera, laptop, hot spot or MiFi card with plan, card readers etc.