Spartan9 Dispatch for July 2023

This month - Field Guide to Hotel Security Assessments, Taiwan contingency planning, prototype bags, preview of a new application, and links to our latest articles.


What we’ve been doing, where we’ve been travelling to, and what’s next.

Two new books

I released two new books this month:

The Quick Reference Guide to Planning for Higher-Risk Destinations The Field Checklist for Hotel Security Assessments More details in the publications section, below.

Taiwan Contingency Planning

We’ve continued to build out a range of products and services focused on contingency planning for military conflict scenarios impacting Taiwan.

We now offer the following suite of complementary products and services:

  • Taiwan Contingency Planning Workshop
  • Taiwan Contingency Planning Manual
  • Taiwan Contingency Planning Workspace
  • Tailored Taiwan Contingency Planning Solutions

I’m applying the finishing touches to the Taiwan Contingency Planning Manual this week and should have it available on the website by Friday.

If your organisation has people in Taiwan, you’ll find these products and services to be useful. Please reach out for more details.

Incident Manager App

While in Hanoi last month, I started working on a new application called ‘Incident Manager’. Development is going well. Most of the key features are in place, and I’m hoping to have a beta version available by the end of August.

I’ve worked with multiple crisis management applications over the years. I’m aiming to do things a bit differently with Incident Manager. The application is an extension of the work I’ve been doing with my consulting practice, which is to enable crisis teams to manage complex incidents effectively.

First, I want the application to help teams make sense of complex situations. To achieve this, it’s key to avoid confusing interfaces and to ensure that the right information is available when it’s needed.

Second, I want to focus on team performance. I’m experimenting with concepts such as ‘task load’ and a few other interesting aspects to help teams attain optimum performance during an incident.

Third, I want to focus on the space between incidents. I’ve incorporated features to help teams learn from incidents. I’ve also included a feature to help guide team on what types of incidents they need to focus on during training and exercises.

The app doesn’t do ‘everything’, but I’m confident that it will be a great tool for organisations to help them improve their performance during an incident.

If you work in corporate security (i.e., someone likely to want to use the application within your organisation) and you’d like to help me kick the tires, please reach out and I’ll invite you into a team.

Twitter is dead (at least to me)

I’ve stopped using Twitter for work.

While I rarely posted on Twitter, I was constantly using the app to monitor different situations. Twitter was unique in that it provided a blend of traditional news with updates from some guy who is literally there as it happens.

I’m now on the hunt for a replacement for Twitter than enables me to maintain a high level of situational awareness. I’m on Threads, which is great, but for now it’s mostly a mix of celebrity musings, motivational quotes, and cat pics. All good ‘social media’, but not great for situational awareness and operational response. If any of you have any recommendations for apps, please let me know (I’m aware of Mastadon and Blue Sky).


Training workshops and customised training solutions.

Planning Security Evacuations

Build the skills to effectively plan and execute security evacuations in various situations with our interactive and immersive workshop. Learn the essentials of assessing resources, developing evacuation plans, and preparing for contingencies to ensure the safety of individuals during critical events.

In this hands-on workshop, you’ll discover how to:

  • Identify and evaluate evacuation infrastructure and resources
  • Understand the pros and cons of different evacuation methods
  • Design comprehensive air, maritime, and land evacuation plans
  • Create supporting plans for transportation, medical, and communication needs
  • Prepare for contingencies during various stages of an evacuation

Throughout the workshop, you’ll explore real-life case studies that underscore the significance of effective planning. The session culminates in a practical exercise where you’ll devise your own evacuation operation and present it to the group for valuable feedback.

Learn more about this workshop here.


Updates on our in-house gear, sharing a behind-the-scene look at our design and manufacturing processes.

Last week I finally received the initial prototypes of 8 different bags from the new manufacturer. Most of the bags are in good shape. Some aren’t quite the same as the designs and will need to be prototyped again before moving to production.

Overall, I’m really happy with the designs. These are bags I’d be happy to use myself, which is my primary objective.

The biggest decision right now is whether I continue with this manufacturer. While the quality of the products has been good so far, communications are a struggle. As a result, everything is taking way longer than it should. It’s extraordinarily frustrating.

There’s a lot of money at stake, so it’s important I get things right from the start.

On a more positive note, I’ve finalised all of the materials that will be used for the bags, including fabric, webbing, zips, and components. I’ve locked in all the suppliers. So, at least from the supply chain perspective, we’re good to go.


Our latest articles and updates on selected publications.

Dangerous Travels

Dangerous Travels is our weekly article series for 2023, focused on travel safety and security. Here’s the Dangerous Travels articles for this month:

A Practical Approach to Assessing Threats

Practical techniques you can apply to assess risks when travelling.

Planning for Travel to Higher-Risk Destinations

Why planning is an essential activity, even for experienced travellers.

An Introduction to Contingency Planning

Approaches to planning for contingencies when travelling to higher-risk locations.

Building Local Support Networks

The importance of building trusted local support networks, and how you can leverage these networks to support you and help reduce risk.

Building a Secure and Resilient Local Support Network

Techniques you can apply when building a secure and resilient local support network.

The Business of Security

In addition to Dangerous Travels, I’m also writing a weekly article for The Business of Security. These articles focus on the practical aspects of setting up and running a company as an independent security professional.

This month, the Business of Security continued to focus on different aspects of business design, then moved into services and service design:

Designing for Differentiation

How to differentiate yourself as an independent security professional by focusing on style and substance.

An Introduction to Services

A short definition of services, why clients might need services, and a quick introduction to some of the limitations of services.

Differentiating Services

Approaches you can apply to differentiate your services as you develop your business as an independent security professional.

Crafting The ‘Ideal’ Service

Different factors to consider as you go about designing services as an independent security professional.


We’ve published a number of books on crisis management, travel security and security evacuations. These books have been purchased by travellers, security professionals, several global companies, and one prestigeous university.

There are two new books this month:

The Quick Reference Guide to Planning for Higher-Risk Destinations

Last month, I released the ‘Quick Reference Guide to Packing for Higher-Risk Destinations’. Earlier this month, I released the companion volume, the ‘Quick Reference Guide to Planning for Higher-Risk Destinations’.

This guide includes the following:

  • The travel decision
  • Assessing the risks
  • Assessing your experience
  • General preparation
  • Booking travel
  • Transport planning
  • Medical planning
  • Communications planning
  • Planning sequence
  • Information sources

Learn more about the Quick Reference Guide to Planning for Higher-Risk Destinations here.

The Field Checklist for Hotel Security Assessments

The Field Checklist for Hotel Security Assessments is a comprehensive checklist designed to help you conduct thorough assessments of hotels in higher-risk locations.

This checklist is focused on assessing the security of hotels located in higher-risk areas where there is a potential threat of terrorism. As such, it covers aspects of security such as vehicle and personnel checks. However, most of the checklist can be applied to hotels in any location, regardless of the level of risk.

Learn more about the Field Checklist for Hotel Security Assessments here.

A huge thanks to those of you who have already purchased a copy of these books. As always, your support is most sincerely appreciated.

Bulk Orders

If your organisation or team would benefit from the knowledge and experience contained in our books, please reach out. We can provide discounts for bulk sales.


Links to interesting articles worth your time. This month: Chinese policing in Africa, missile components, Russian mercenaries, and other articles worth your time.

China’s Policing Models Make Inroads in Africa. China’s expanded police engagements in Africa could have potentially far-reaching consequences for African security governance.

Gambling dens ‘breaking the spirit of the revolution’, say Sagaing locals. Communities in Sagaing Region are speaking out against the proliferation of gambling dens run by armed resistance groups, but feel they have little recourse in the face of intimidation and an ineffective chain of command.

Terror in the Details: Western-made Components in Russia’s Shahed-136 Attacks. This report identifies several companies and governments who are believed to be involved in the manufacturing of components which have been acquired by the Russian military and used in their military hardware.

The ‘Everything App’ for China’s Journalists. In the latest effort to centralize and tighten control over the ideological education of journalists, Chinese authorities are introducing a customized training platform with more than 220 separate courses in the Marxist View of Journalism.

The Death of Secret Intelligence? Think Again. While the Ukraine war has seen an explosion in the collection and distribution of open source intelligence, the work of secret intelligence agencies remains as important as ever.

People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force Order of Battle 2023

Brief: Abu Sayyaf Moves Closer to Demise with Shortage of Recruits

A few good articles from Bellingcat:

More than Mountaineering: Using PeakVisor for Geolocation

Can AI Chatbots Be Used for Geolocation?

The GRU’s Disruptive Playbook. A Mandiant report detailing the six phases of GRU operations in Ukraine, spanning access operations, cyber espionage, waves of disruptive attacks, and information operations.

Introducing China’s Maritime Gray Zone Tactics Playbook. While China’s use of maritime gray zone tactics is well known, few resources describe the actual tactics in detail. We’ve developed a publicly available systematic examination of these concrete tactics, which we will roll out for you in the coming weeks.

In Africa, Wagner Is Not the Only Game in Town. Dozens of private military companies operate on the continent, and the shake-up in Russia over its infamous mercenary group has opened the door for others to compete.

Insight: Obscure traders ship half Russia’s oil exports to India, China after sanctions (Reuters)

That’s it for this month, folks.

Thanks for reading and stay safe out there.

Grant Rayner


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