Living Outside the U.S.
The following guidelines cannot guarantee your safety, but they will lower the risk that you or a member of your family will become a victim of either terrorists or criminals during your foreign assignment. Although spouses and children are seldom targeted by terrorists, they should follow the same procedures you do. Security is a family concern, not just your concern. Many of these procedures are intended for use in areas where the terrorist threat level is moderate to high, but they can be useful no matter where your duties take you. The goal is for you to be less visible to terrorists and criminals and less vulnerable to their attack.The entire family should maintain a low profile by dressing and behaving in a manner that blends in with the local environment. Don't look like a "rich American." Avoid clothing or behavior that make you stand out as an American or that is offensive to the local culture. For example wearing shorts is offensive in some countries. In some cultures, a public display of affection is highly offensive.
Don't share personal information about yourself, your family, or your work with anyone you do not know well. Be careful of what local nationals can overhear as you talk in a restaurant, hotel, or airport. Do not assume that the local national sitting nearby can't understand English.
The harder it is for a terrorist or criminal to predict your schedule, the more difficult it will be for a terrorist to take action against you. Vary the time of your departure and your route to and from work. If you have an exercise routine involving walking or jogging, change times and routes frequently to frustrate attempts to discover a predictable schedule. Write down license numbers of suspicious vehicles and note descriptions of occupants.
Be aware of small but potentially significant changes in your surroundings. Study the normal pattern of activity near your home and office. Note and report anyone who does not appear to belong there or who acts suspiciously. Are any local national employees in your household or office suddenly acting differently toward you, or toward all Americans? Is an area of town that is normally busy suspiciously empty? It may be a clue that the local population knows, or senses, that something bad is going to happen there.
The following standard operations security (OPSEC) procedures can make it harder for terrorists to obtain the information they need to plan an operation against you.
Family and Home Security Practices
You and all family members residing abroad should become familiar with the customs, culture, history, and geography of the area to which you are assigned. This should include learning at least a few phrases in the country's language for emergency use. Know how to ask for the police and for medical care. Anyone who can't speak the local language should considering carrying small cards with emergency phrases printed on them, such as "I need a policeman, or a doctor."
The entire family should practice these basic security precautions:
Whenever it is possible and appropriate to do so, domestic employees should be checked with local authorities to ensure they do not have criminal backgrounds or suspected associations with terrorist groups. Do not discuss travel plans or sensitive topics within hearing range of domestic employees, even if you do not think they understand English. Do discuss with employees what you expect them to do to protect the security of the residence and the safety of all family members. Tell them how to contact you, the installation where you work, the American Embassy, or local authorities in case of emergency.
If you treat your domestic employees fairly and give them presents or gratuities according to local customs, they will generally be loyal to you.
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