Spartan9 Dispatch for September 2023

This month - Taiwan contingency planning, gear updates, updates on our new crisis management application, and links to our latest articles.


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

It’s been another busy month for consulting, resulting in a continual rebalancing of priorities. This morning I arrived in Fukuoka in Japan for a short project focused on contingency planning. This is separate to the work I’m doing relating to Taiwan, which continues.

Taiwan Contingency Planning

Earlier this month, I gave a presentation to the members of the Asia Crisis and Security Group (ACSG) on Taiwan contingency planning. The session focused on the practical aspects of planning and preparation. By all accounts the session was well received, and I’ve been invited to provide another presentation at the ACSG annual conference in November.

Over the past year, I’ve developed a suite of complementary products and services relating to Taiwan:

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

You can learn more about these products and services here.

If your organisation has people in Taiwan, you’ll find these products and services to be useful. The details contained within the workspace and manual are designed to provide a head start for your planning, saving you time and money.

In the last month, we’ve had quite a few global companies sign up to the Taiwan Contingency Planning Workspace. Every time we get a new sign up, we benefit from their perspectives, improving the product in the process.

If you’d like to arrange a demo of the workspace, please get in touch.


Training workshops and customised training solutions.

Taiwan Contingency Planning Workshop

The Taiwan Contingency Planning Workshop will help your organisation develop its own contingency plans for Taiwan.

During the workshop, we’ll orientate you to the situation and introduce you to the challenges you’ll face when planning and executing different contingency options.

The workshop covers the following:

  • Policies relating to evacuation eligibility and prioritisation
  • Roles, responsibilities, and decision-making authority
  • Decision-making frameworks and triggers
  • Preparation and readiness
  • The constraints and limitations impacting evacuations
  • Viable evacuation options
  • Practical considerations for shelter-in-place options
  • Practical considerations for domestic relocation options

We’ll also share the results of our on-the-ground assessments, including details of the cross-island routes.

The standard duration of the workshop is 2 hours. We can customise the content for different client requirements. Learn more here.


Updates on our applications.

Incident Manager Application

The Incident Manager application is up and running in private beta. I’m still working on refactoring some of the code, mostly focused on error handling and logging (boring but important back end stuff).

If you work for an organisation that’s looking for a robust software solution for incident management, I’d be happy to run a demo for you.

I’ll be providing more details on Incident Manager in future newsletters. The focus for this newsletter is gear…


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

Everything is (finally) going smoothly on the gear front.

I’ve paid a deposit to the factory making the bags. We’re in the final stages of refining the Bill of Materials (BOM), and the next step is to order the materials from the various suppliers.

Provided all of the material gets to the factory within the next few weeks, I plan to head back to the factory in October to oversee the production of the final set of pre-production samples. From there, the factory will start cranking out bags. I’ll come back from that trip with a full set of production bags, which will give me the opportunity to start taking some much needed product photos.

The range

Here’s a list of the bags that will be going into production:

  • Street Pack
  • Street Tote
  • Street Satchel
  • Street Belt
  • Travel Duffel
  • Travel Folio
  • Camera bag
  • Modular Accessory Pouches, in 3 sizes

Approach to design

Bringing a new product into the world demands a certain level of responsibility.

The world is flooded with bags of all shapes and sizes. From the beginning of this project, I’ve been motivated by the desire to create something that’s different. The way I’ve approached this challenge is to…

  1. Consciously focus on function and form.
  2. Design the bags to be as discrete as possible. Nothing flashy or fancy, and nothing to catch the eye.
  3. Apply advanced materials and sound construction techniques to make the bags as durable as possible.

As a preview, here’s a few interesting details of the bags:

  • The backpack can be transformed into a tote or satchel (I tried to make it reversible as well, but I’m limited by zip functionality).
  • The tote is reversible - black and technical on one side, grey and sleek on the other. The tote can be transformed into a satchel, and could be worn as a backpack in a pinch.
  • All of the bags are extensible, using simple webbing tabs.
  • There is no fixed hardware on the bags. Instead, we place the hardware on the slings, which can be inexpensively replaced if needed.

Approach to materials

I’ve spent the last two years experimenting with different materials in my prototypes. These bags will use the most advanced fabrics currently available: Challenge’s UltraWeave and UltraStretch fabrics. Specifically, we’re using their very latest fabrics: UltraWeave 400X and 200X (for the tote). Any colour you like, so long as it’s black.

I’ve also worked with a manufacturer to customise different types of UHMWPE (Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene) webbing. UHMWPE is a type of polyethylene with a very high molecular weight. This webbing has been designed to be exceptionally strong and durable, and will perform well in different environmental conditions.

Even the thread used for the bags has been specially selected for its durability. I’ve selected a high tenacity bonded polyester thread that’s strong and long-lasting.

I’ll share more details about the key design features next month, hopefully along with some pictures.

So, while we’re not quite there yet, all signs are positive.

I’m extremely happy to be finally seeing my ideas enter the world.


Links to our latest articles.

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:

Your Habits Could Get You Killed. How your habits and routines can make you vulnerable, and the different techniques you can apply to reduce your vulnerabilities.

The Paradoxes of Mitigating Risk in Higher-Risk Locations. Exploring the inherent paradoxes involved with managing risk when travelling in complex and higher-risk locations.

Handling First Calls From Travellers in Distress. How organisations can handle emergency calls from travellers.

The Risks of High-Risk Tourism. How to navigate risk when taking part in tours of higher-risk locations.

The Business of Security

The Business of Security focuses on the practical aspects of setting up and running a company as an independent security professional.

This month, the Business of Security is focused on designing training services:

An Introduction to Training Services. Exposing the advantages and disadvantages of offering training, and determining whether you should offer training as part of your portfolio of services.

Structuring Your Training Services. Different approaches you can take when structuring your training services, focusing on selling services to organisations.

Offering Training to Individuals. Different approaches to designing and delivering training for individuals.

Integrating Training Services. Different approaches to integrating your training services to maximise potential for growth.


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 at least one prestigious university.

Taiwan Contingency Planning Manual

The Contingency Planning Manual for Taiwan provides detailed instructions for protecting your organisation’s employees and their families in Taiwan in the event of a major crisis, including hostile military action.

We initiated the development of this manual in August 2022, during Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Since then, we have continued to develop and refine the manual through research, consultation with clients, and time on the ground in Taiwan.

The manual steps you through the preparation process, guides you as to when you should make key decisions, and provides detailed operational plans for the execution of options to protect employees and their families.

The manual is designed so that it can be picked up and used with minimal modification. Alternatively, you can also use this manual as a head start for your own planning and preparation, extracting useful elements from the manual and tailoring them to your own requirements.

Learn more here.

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 orders.


Links to interesting articles worth your time. This month: Extremism in the US, China and the world order, learning from Ukraine, increasing Russian isolation, and other topics.

The New Anarchy. America faces a type of extremist violence it does not know how to stop (via The Atlantic). Read here.

The Liquid Imperialism That Engulfed Syria. How regional and global powers, internal colonialism and Salafi-jihadist subterfuge converged to short-circuit the Syrian struggle against despotism (via New Lines Magazine). Read here.

Ukraine’s Strikes Behind Enemy Lines Are Paying Off. The attacks deep into Russia are bolder and more frequent (via New Lines Magazine). Read here.

Mask Resource and Information. (via Project N95). Read here.

Navigating the regionalization of Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict. How regional and international actors can help consolidate peace (via Chatham House). Read here.

Xi Jinping Is Done With the Established World Order. Snubbing the G20 is just the beginning. China wants to replace it (via The Atlantic). Read here.

China Ponders Russia’s Logistical Challenges in the Ukraine War. Any attempt by China to use military force to seize Taiwan would be an immense logistical undertaking requiring moving large quantities of troops and materiel across the Taiwan Strait. What then, are Chinese observers learning from the logistical realm of the war in Ukraine? (via RAND). Read here.

The Atlantic’s Guide to Privacy. (Via The Atlantic).** Read here.

The Perils of a Renewed North Korea-Russia Relationship. Warming relations between the two pariah states could foster a mutually beneficial weapons and technology trade and raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula (via CFR). Read here.

Reporter’s Guide to Investigating War Crimes. (Via Global Investigative Journalism Network). Read here.

Understanding the Risk of Escalation in the War in Ukraine. (Via RAND). Read here.

Putin’s quest to disconnect Russia from the global internet. The Kremlin tested its ‘sovereign internet’ capabilities in July, aiming to operate independently from the global internet, signaling Putin’s continued push towards digital sovereignty amidst concerns of increased censorship and surveillance (via ASPI). Read here.

Somali piracy, once an unsolvable security threat, has almost completely stopped. Here’s why. The international community’s coordinated efforts, including naval operations and legal measures, successfully curbed Somali piracy, highlighting an exceptional global response to a shared threat (via The Conversation). Read here.

In the Shadow of Ukraine: Russian Concepts of Future Wars and Force Design. This report asks two main questions. How is the Russian military thinking about the future of warfare? How is the Russian military thinking about force design over the next five years? (via CSIS). Read here.

That’s it for this month, folks.

Thanks for reading and stay safe out there.

Grant Rayner


View all newsletters