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Essential Considerations for Deployment to Hostile Regions

Pre-deployment planning

Being well prepared for your deployment is essential for a successful mission and will prevent you from encountering unexpected situations. 

Deployments to hostile regions can be challenging and dangerous for individuals and organizations alike. Hostile environments may include area´s with high levels of violence, political instability, natural disasters, and other threats. It´s important to be well-prepared before venturing into such regions to minimize risks and maximize safety. 

In this article, we´ll explore some key considerations for deployment to hostile regions. 


Conducting thorough research is a crucial first step when preparing to deploy to a hostile region or a conflict zone. By gathering as much information as possible about the target region, individuals and organizations can better understand the risks and challenges they´ll face and develop effective strategies for mitigating those risks. The research should consider factors such as the political and security situation in the region, the availability of medical and emergency services and the potential for natural disasters or other unforeseen events.

Here are some key areas to consider when conducting research for a deployment to a hostile region: 

Security Situation: The first step in any deployment is to assess the security situation in the mission area. This includes gathering intelligence on the political landscape, identifying potential threats, crime level, terrorism, infrastructure and road safety, medical emergency services and capabilities of local security forces.

Geography and Climate: Understanding the geography and climate of the target region is also essential. This includes assessing the terrain, weather patterns, and potential natural hazard that may affect operations.

Health: In many countries, malaria, diarrhea and other health concerns present a great risk. Many health risks can be prevented by taking simple precautions to avoid illness or injury. 

Cultural and Social Norms: Deploying personnel to a hostile and unfamiliar region requires deep understanding of the cultural and social norms as well as sensitivities of the local population. This includes researching local customs, language, religion and traditions as well as understanding any historical tensions or conflicts that may exist. Respecting and adhering to these local customs and cultural norms fosters greater acceptance and decreases safety and security related incidents

Legal and Regulatory Requirements: Understanding the legal and regulatory requirements of the region is also essential. This includes researching local laws, custom regulations and other legal requirements that may impact daily business and operations.

Relationships: Finally, it´s important to research any existing relationships that the deploying organization may have in the mission area. This includes identifying local partners, contractors and other stakeholders who may be able to provide support during an emergency situation.

Travel Checklist

Deployment to hostile environments can be extremely stressful and challenging, but with proper planning and preparation, it can be a rewarding experience. Here are some essential items to include in your travel checklist:

Travel Documents: Ensure you have a valid passport, visa and other required travel documents, such as travel insurance, health certificates, driver´s license, and extra photos. Make sure you make copies of all your documents.

Transportation: Make sure you have all necessary transportation arrangements made, such as booking flights, public transportation or pick-up at destination.

Money and Banking: Bring sufficient cash taking into account the length of your deployment and credit cards. Research the currency exchange rate and ensure that you can access your bank account.

Medical: Ensure that you have received the country specific vaccinations and that you are in the possession of the vaccination booklet. Purchase the most basic medications such as diarrhoea antibiotic, medicines to prevent malaria, insulin, inhaler, glasses, pain and fever medicine, motion sickness medicine, hand sanitizers, face masks, individual first aid kit, etc…

Insurance: In most cases your organization will make sure you are properly insured before your deployment to the field. Make sure you have a hard copy of your insurance certificates and essential phone numbers of the insurance company in case of emergency evacuation.

Clothing: Pack appropriate clothing for the environment, including durable, protective clothing such as hiking boots, gloves, hat,…

Emergency Contacts: Make sure you have the contact information of emergency services, your accommodation, and any necessary contacts such as your security focal point, embassy,… make sure you have a printout of your contacts in case of loss or damage.

Communication and Navigation Tools: Bring communication devices such as a satellite phone (if any), two-way radio or personal locator beacon. Ensure you have a means of contacting emergency services and staying in touch with your colleagues and family. It is also essential to have accurate navigation tools such as maps, compass, GPS or other advanced navigation devices.

Communication with family and friends during your deployment is vital for your mental well-being. Make arrangements with them about the method and frequency of contact. When using social media, avoid posting information about your deployment, your whereabouts and your missions in the region.

Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) and Emergency Rations: Pack a comprehensive IFAK, including tourniquets, bandages, gauzes, antiseptic, pain relievers and any other necessary medical supplies. Also bring along enough food and water to sustain you in case of an emergency or if you are unable to access supplies.

Grab bag: An emergency grab bag is a small backpack of essential items to grab if you have to quickly evacuate your mission area or workplace with little or no warning. Do not include so many items that your bag becomes heavy. Only essential items will suffice; water and water purification tablets, food (cans and bars), cash, copies of your travel documents, essential medication, light torch, toiletries, emergency blanket, notebook and pen, batteries, rain jacket.

Who should attend HEAT course?

Professionals in high-risk environments, like journalists and aid workers, should do HEAT training for personal safety. This training is also valuable for anyone seeking to increase their knowledge of personal safety in challenging situations.

Ensure adequate training and preparation 

Deploying to a hostile region requires specialized training and preparation. Personnel must be trained in a variety of areas, including situational awareness, radio communications, weapons and explosives awareness, orientation and navigation, medical training, mobile security, kidnapping and surviving captivity, stress management, etc…

Investing in a Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT) can be valuable for individuals and organizations deploying to hostile regions since it covers a wide range of topics to enhance the participants’ knowledge and comprehension of common threats and risks and prepares them for any eventuality.

Investing in HEAT training is an investment in your safety and well-being when being deployed to hostile environments. It´s an essential tool that can help you prepare for the risks and challenges of working and traveling in these environments.


Departing on mission with a positive mind-set is crucial to survive your tour of duty. Before and during your deployment you will fall in different emotions. In the period leading to your deployment, the tension at your home will increase undeniably. There is a real chance that your partner will close down emotionally and feel anger and resentment towards your deployment. Speak openly about fears and frustrations, which will avoid hurting each other. Make sure that financial and other arrangements to make your partner’s life easier are in place.

If you have children, keep them in the loop about your deployment. Depending on the age of your children explain them what you are going to do and give them the time to process. Make arrangements with them about activities when you are back for your leave.

It is highly likely that you will be confronted with new routines when you are on home leave, do not interfere or try to change them to avoid additional stress for your family members.

In conclusion, pre-deployment planning is critical when traveling to hostile environments and requires careful attention. It can help you stay safe, minimize risks and achieve your goals. By conducting a thorough research, being culturally aware, investing in training and developing the right mind-set, you can prepare yourself for the challenges of working in hostile environments. 

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