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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

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APRIL 2017

45

W

hen I first got here, the OSAC Council was a

subcommittee of the American Chamber of Com-

merce, and it was kind of a secondary thought. I mean,

it didn’t get paid much attention. …So when I got here,

one of my goals was to fix that. I had started working on

it, and we had planned to have our initial council meet-

ing the first week of December [2013].We had some

interest, but not a whole lot of interest, because at the

time, Ukraine was considered safe. …

But then Maidan happened, and then all of a sudden

[the members thought],“Oh, my gosh, we really need

to talk to the U.S. embassy because it’s crisis mode.”

And so we ended up pushing our meeting back into

January [2014], but we had an emergency council

meeting to bring folks in and talk about crisis prepared-

ness: What you could do with your employees, setting

up telephone trees, radio networks, getting commu-

nications. A lot of folks didn’t even know what their

employees’ cell-phone numbers were, so if they had

to get hold of them in an emergency, they didn’t even

know how.

And then we talked about what we call go-bags. If

you have to just pick up and leave the country, you have

a suitcase prepared with emergency supplies, clothing,

maps, cell phones, things like that. And we invited …

all of our contacts throughout the American business

community, and we had about 200 people show up in

the multipurpose room. It was standing room only; we

had every single solitary chair filled, and people were

lining the walls and in the back of the room standing,

because they were so desperate for some kind of infor-

mation and for some kind of security help. …

Having this link to the RSO office …made them

feel better. You know, they finally had somebody’s ear

who actually cared about them and was giving them

information. And so that’s how our council restarted.

And now it’s one of the best councils, actually, in all of

Europe.We meet quarterly and we have at least a hun-

dred people come every time, and they’re so enthusias-

tic about sharing their practices with each other … It’s

been really neat to watch it evolve, and I was really glad

to be a part of that.

—Deputy Regional Security Officer Jennifer Babic

Overseas Security Advisory Committee:

The Official Link Between RSOs

and American Businesses Community