Misjudging Your Risk Overseas

Posted by Kathe Conrad
July 31, 2009
Traffic Jam at Hanoi Intersection

About the Author: Kathe Conrad serves as the Security Overseas Seminar Coordinator at the Foreign Service Institute.

People often misjudge the risks they face overseas. A case in point is a U.S. Government health care employee who attended two days of security briefings about overseas threats. She came up to me afterwards and told me she was worried about taking her family to her central Asian assignment. What she feared most was that either her husband or daughters would be kidnapped and become hostages. Two months after she arrived at post though, she died in a car accident. Tragically, she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

Getting people to think about risks they might face overseas isn’t difficult. There are always a slew of scary stories about carjacking, hostage taking, and sexual assaults that grab everyone’s attention. We all tend to be more concerned about the kind of high profile threats often seen on the front page of the Washington Post than we are about the more likely injury or death from a car crash. The truth is: driving is one of the most dangerous things you can do either in the U.S. or overseas which is why road safety will be highlighted in the upcoming Private Sector Security Overseas Seminar (PSOS) on September 21 – 22 at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, VA.

The Foreign Service Institute hosts the Private Sector Security Overseas Seminar in conjunction with the Overseas Security Advisory Council twice a year. Information and resources similar to those mandated for Department of State employees on overseas security risks are shared with American businesses, non-governmental agencies, faith-based organizations, and academic institutions. Gregory Wolfe, an Industrial Hygienist with Safety Health & Environmental Management, will talk to the group about driving overseas.

To register for the two-day PSOS, organizations must first be members of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). There is no fee for becoming a constituent, but tuition is charged for the seminar. Information on becoming an OSAC constituent along with the registration form and information can be found on OSAC's website. For further information about PSOS, please contact me at conradkd@state.gov or (703) 302-7271.



New York, USA
July 31, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

Street-risks in Bangkok....

1- Getting stuck in a cab...walking is better (and faster)

2- Spending way too much Baht at the endless street markets.

3- Getting hit by an elephant as you turn a corner.

4- Sight-seeing while jet-lagged...you really miss a lot.

August 1, 2009

Bayo in Nigeria writes:


Thanks for the information about the risk in oversea.pls i would like to be updated for more inoformation on the risk encounters in the oversea. I am authoring a book concerning this issue.I will be appreciated if your organisation can be of great help.


Tennessee, USA
August 1, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:

1. Security on a personal level is premised on the insecurities of the individual as their relationship to change.

2. When you extend the responsibility of that person to others in environments and elements which they cannot control, it is only natural for them to have doubts and extended insecurities in decision making.

3. An accident is called that for a reason and deals with happenstance or faith, no more, no less.

4. If you are weighing facts, elements such as old Covert or Para Military Operations personal from the same operations that go back to work and experience death and life threatening problems not of their making, then it may not be considered accidental. This is not the case with most DOS personal. I should think that Faith should lead their way; but, be diligent about it all.

5. Being a covered by the diplomatic umbrella of the United States of America is probably the safest capacity to work under anywhere outside the U.S. and even in certain parts of it. I would not hesitate to have any of my children work for the DOS and tell young people today to learn a langue and file an application.

New York, USA
August 5, 2009

Ole in New York writes:

the one case of truly gross misdjudgment of overseas' risk, is the two girls currently in detention in North Korea. i mean, what were they thinking, when going there? and now, President Clinton is up there trying, i'm afraid in vain, to get them released or at least tretaed humanely. honestly, i think it'd cost us much less to take the regime along with its tyrant leader out, than to try negotiate with him. by the way, Kim John Mentally Ill called Hillary vulgar; now, i think if our former President is a true man and husband, he must be horribly struggling with the temptation of beating Kim to a pulp, rather when meeting with him, instead of trying to reason with that madman


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