By Global Security Staff
Two US State Department female employees were on a routine mission south of the Ugandan capital of Kampala when they were assaulted by a small group of criminals armed with AK 47s, sparking a dangerous and uncertain chain of events.
The criminals smashed the car windows and pulled out the passenger’s laptop computers before unarmed Torres security teams charged at the attackers, driving right at them. The show of force intimidated the criminals, scaring them back into the nearby bushes from which they had emerged.
“The passengers in the car were able to get an emergency text message to armed US Marines on duty at the US Embassy,” said Randy Baham, Project Manager of Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions that provides security to the US Embassy. “A show of force and refusal to back down saved the day. They drove right at the guys.”
Locally-based Ugandan security professionals, hired and trained by the security firm called Torres AES, routinely patrol throughout both the US Embassy community in Uganda as well as nearby neighborhoods home to US personnel.
“Our core mission is to protect government property and provide security for government employees and personnel,” Baham added.
The unarmed guards, who are equipped with pepper spray, handcuffs and batons, work closely with Ugandan police.
Torres security professionals routinely conduct safety and surveillance missions in nine different patrol zones across 75 square miles.
Security trainees are instructed to perform Department of State search procedures and methods of engaging people necessary to identify suspicious people, packages and substances.
“The biggest challenge is working in Africa and trying to apply Western thought patterns and processes on the continent,” Baham said.
The Department of state has officially classified Uganda as a high-threat for terrorism and a critical threat for crime, given the region’s depressed economy.
“When crime rates increase there is always a greater amount of mugging, breaking and entering, petty theft and car jackings,” Baham added.
Uganda and surrounding areas are known as hope and operating territory for established terrorist groups such as al Shabab.
“Our biggest problem is trying to differentiate between petty crime and a terrorist threat. One can of course evolve into the other,” he said.