Tag Archives: osama bin laden

Teamwork Lessons From Navy SEALs

Navy SEALS are the ultimate team. Through precision teamwork, they accomplish almost-impossible feats, such as safely hunting down Osama bin Laden at night in a foreign country. While each SEAL is a formidable fighting machine, it’s the team that does amazing things.

Working in the insurance industry isn’t hazardous to life and limb, but it’s also a team endeavor. Success requires well-honed teams of underwriters, actuaries, agents, marketers, IT experts and others. No one succeeds without good teammates — something I was taught during team-building activities and something I was reminded of recently.

After attending a Blue Cross Blue Shield conference in San Diego, 32 of us attended a Navy SEAL boot camp on Coronado Island. This “light” boot camp was a great experience, giving us a small insight into what our servicemen and -women go through during initiation and the importance of teamwork in the military and business.

We were put into two teams of 16 that were then broken up into four boat crews with people of similar heights.

There was the usual physical training, during which we were told we were too hot (so we had to cool off and get into ocean) and then too clean (so we had to roll in the sand) and then too dirty (so we had to get back into the ocean). There were team obstacle races, memory games, log drills, runs, cold ocean work and more — all starting at 5:30 a.m.

So why wasn’t I in my comfortable hotel bed at that early hour? Because it was fun, and, once I started, I didn’t want to let my team — or myself — down.

Finishing the boot camp was something I couldn’t have done on my own, but having teammates meant I didn’t get an automatic pass. I still had to learn to work with those teammates in the same way mountain climbers must work with theirs — and you must work with yours.

See also: The Keys to Forming Effective Teams

Here are some lessons I learned while at the boot camp:

Help, encourage and trust your teammates 

While racing and carrying a log overhead, the first thing our four-man boat crew did was try and assess how we could best help each other carry the weight. We knew we needed to step in-time so that we would not trip on each other. Walter, an ex-Marine, called out the steps from the rear. During the race, another teammate’s shoulder became very sore due to a recent operation. I moved forward to take his weight. We stayed positive, encouraged each other — and we ended up beating the young guys.

Communicate and establish a shared vision

At first, it was a little hard to communicate (as none of us knew each other), but we knew that the sooner we could communicate the sooner we’d have an advantage. Together, we decided what the core mission and everyone’s role was. This might seem obvious, but it’s easy to lose sight of goals when faced with challenges. Whether you support your team by linking arms and sitting in the ocean while being pounded by waves or implement software or work to win market share, a shared vision will keep the team focused and on-track.

Be flexible, keep it fun and stay warm

You might have a plan, but be ready to make adjustments at any time. Just when we thought we understood a drill, our instructors would make it a little more interesting. Todd, my teammate with the sore shoulder, got our boat crew singing during our runs. I encouraged our crew to hug to stay warm when many began to shiver from the cold-water drills. Together, as a team, we finished the boot camp. There were some who gave up or got hurt; they grabbed a doughnut and a coffee and left. But we hung in there, breaking the boot camp activities down into one task at a time — and we got through each of those tasks together.

All of us will inevitably have our own mountains to climb and oceans to cross. Yet, regardless of the landscape, we will require the help of others to reach our destination. Through the power of positive teamwork, we can harness skills beyond our own and achieve success we might not otherwise see.

Terrorism Risk: A Constant Reminder

With just months to go until the year-end 2014 expiration of the government-backed Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIPRA), the debate between industry and government over terrorism risk is intensifying.

The discussion comes in a year that marks the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing—the first successful terrorist attack on U.S. soil in more than a decade. The April 15, 2013, attack left three dead and 264 injured.

Industry data shows that the proportion of businesses buying property terrorism insurance (the take-up rate for terrorism coverage) has increased since the enactment of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) in 2002, and for the last five years has held steady at around 60% as businesses across the U.S. have had the opportunity to purchase terrorism coverage, usually at a reasonable cost.

However, should TRIPRA not be extended, brokers have warned that the availability of terrorism insurance would be greatly reduced in areas of the U.S. that have the most need for coverage, such as central business districts. Uncertainty around TRIPRA’s future is already creating capacity and pricing issues for insurance buyers in early 2014, reports suggest.

New Aon data show that retail and transportation sectors face the highest risk of terrorist attack in 2014. Both sectors were significantly affected in 2013, as highlighted by the Sept. 21, 2013, attack by gunmen on the upscale Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, as well as the Boston bombing.

The vulnerability of the energy sector to a potential terrorist attack has also been highlighted following an April 2013 assault on a California power station when snipers took down 17 transformers at the Silicon Valley plant.

The Boston Marathon attack—twin explosions of pressure cooker bombs occurring within 12 seconds of each other in the Back Bay downtown area—adds to a growing list of international terrorism incidents that have occurred since the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, and highlights the continuing terrorism threat in the U.S. and abroad.

Following 9/11, the 2002 Bali bombings, the 2004 Russian aircraft and Madrid train bombings, the London transportation bombings of 2005 and the Mumbai attacks of 2008 all had a profound influence on the 2001 to 2010 decade. Then came 2011, a landmark year, which simultaneously saw the death of al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden and the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

While the loss of bin Laden and other key al-Qaida figures put the network on a path of decline that is difficult to reverse, the State Department warned that al-Qaida, its affiliates and adherents remained adaptable and resilient and constitute “an enduring and serious threat to our national security.”

A recently published RAND study finds that terrorism remains a real—albeit uncertain—national security threat, with the most likely scenarios involving arson or explosives being used to damage property or conventional explosives or firearms used to kill and injure civilians.

The Boston bombing serves as an important reminder that countries also face homegrown terrorist threats from radical individuals who may be inspired by al-Qaida and others, but have little or no actual connection to known militant groups.

In a recent briefing, catastrophe modeler RMS assesses that the U.S. terrorist threat will increasingly come predominantly from such homegrown extremists, who because of the highly decentralized structure of such “groups,” are difficult to identify and apprehend.

Until the Boston bombing, many of these potential attacks had been thwarted, such as the 2010 attempted car bomb attack in New York City’s Times Square and the attempt by Najibullah Zazi to bomb the New York subway system.

Other thwarted attacks against passenger and cargo aircraft indicate the continuing risk to aviation infrastructure. The investigation into the March 7, 2014, disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 over the South China Sea aircraft with 239 passengers has raised many concerns over the vulnerability of aircraft to terrorism.

RECENTLY THWARTED TERRORIST ATTACK ATTEMPTS IN THE U.S.
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); various news reports; Insurance Information Institute

Counterterrorism success in 2011 came as a number of countries across the Middle East and North Africa saw political demonstrations and social unrest. The movement known as the Arab Spring was triggered initially by an uprising in Tunisia that began back in December 2010. Unrest and instability in this region continues in 2014 and has spread to other parts of the world with violent protests seen most recently in Ukraine, Venezuela and Thailand.

Another evolving threat is cyber terrorism. The threat both to national security and the economy posed by cyber terrorism is a growing concern for governments and businesses around the world, with critical infrastructure, such as nuclear power plants, transportation and utilities, at risk.

All these factors suggest that terrorism risk will be a constant, evolving and potentially expanding threat for the foreseeable future.

For the full report on which this article is based, click here.