Countries Aegis operates in60
Year Aegis Foundation was established2005
Security and trust in IraqJuly 2, 2015
Graham Binns, CEO of the UK’s Aegis Defence Services, which advises companies on the many aspects of security-related matters, discusses the role security firms play in Iraq’s hydrocarbons industry and how their role will change in the years to come. Binns also touches on the importance of community relations in providing security and the necessity of adapting security to the needs of the client.
How do you envision the nature of security services in Iraq to evolve over time?
While we are licensed and permitted by the Iraqi government to operate in the country, no government condones people from other nations carrying arms in their sovereign territory.
Outsourcing the provision of armed security to international companies might be legal in Iraq, but it is not the norm. In 2015, the Iraqi government has other priorities in the country that draw security resources away from the provision of area security to oil and gas clients.
Over time, the situation might normalise, which may mean that either the security situation will stabilise or the state will develop the capability and capacity to deliver security via the police force, the army and other protection force.
This does not mean that security companies will disappear. Businesses such as Aegis would still provide services to clients in the same way that security companies in Europe and elsewhere provide this same service.
However, the nature of those services will likely change over time. They would gravitate more towards consultancy rather than the provision of point-defence or personnel security.
How do security companies manage clients’ expectations in a country such as Iraq?
Security companies do not dictate the level of security provision. They help businesses, such as oil and gas companies, assess the risks associated with their operations and then advise on a course of action to mitigate that risk.
Clients are likely to have varying tolerance to the risk. We tailor our security provision mindful of a clients’ appetite to risk and any mandatory operational standards applicable to the area in which they are operating.
For instance, the Rumaila oilfield, operated by BP and the China National Petroleum Corporation under the umbrella of the Rumaila Operating Organisation, has its own security standards.
Some operate without armed security. Once these entities have decided what level of security they are comfortable with, security companies support them with the provision of that service.
How do community relations factor into your work?
A company discharges its responsibility to the community by paying its taxes. But security is enhanced if the local population believes that a company is a force for good in the region.
If all you’re doing is driving an armoured vehicle quickly through a village, kicking up dust and never stopping or taking an interest in that community, you might create a relationship problem that has the potential to impact on security.
Security companies seek to operate in a manner that is sensitive to the culture and traditions of the local community. Operating with the grain of the culture in the country is very important to our core operations. Fostering good relationships with the local community builds consent and enhances security.
Aegis operates a foundation targeted at the relief of poverty and assisting reconstruction, which implements small but high-impact projects, such as those for water pumps or power generation facilities.
This in turn helps us to build trust and establish a continuing relationship with the local community. Such initiatives are not limited to security companies, oil and gas companies do play a much larger role in this area.
Having good relationships with local communities also means you become more aware of the local situation and develop a more sophisticated understanding of the security risk.
How would you describe the role security companies play in Iraq?
I prefer to use the term risk management, as it better describes what such companies can offer. We help mitigate the risk to clients operating in complex environments.
This is achieved through geo-political analysts that can help with market entry and assist with enhanced due diligence and local networks that provide introductions. We do all of this in compliance with Iraqi Law and local regulations.
As a part of this process, local people are trained and employed and goods and services are sourced domestically. Most importantly, protection is delivered to international companies and their personnel. Without such protection, these companies might choose not to invest in Iraq.
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