South Sudan is the globe’s newest nation and with so much infrastructure to build in such a short space of time, foreign contractors are on hand to offer expertise and advice to the new government. The Global Herald spoke to security specialists SolutionPoint International to find out about their newest office in the world’s youngest capital, Juba.
Speaking first to Joe Rosetti, Vice Chairman of SolutionPoint International, Linda Haywood asked about the scope of the company’s work in the country.
Tell us a bit about the work of SolutionPoint and how the three parts of the business work in tandem.
I am the Vice Chairman and co-Founder of SolutionPoint International. This was a consolidation of three existing companies – Guidepost Solutions, NSM Surveillance, and Bode Technology. It also includes SafirRosetti, as part of Guidepost, which does security engineering for major public and private facilities.
Bode provides us with a worldwide DNA forensics capability and is headquartered outside of Washington, D.C. It has done work throughout the world. NSM develops and manufactures extraordinary surveillance equipment with the principal clients being the U.S. Army, the F.B.I. and also certain large city governments. Guidepost is a leading security, compliance, monitoring and investigations company involved in a wide variety of matters, many in the news headlines every week.
We also have a Sport and Entertainment security practice within Guidepost that advises on protecting spectators, teams, and athletes at major events such as the Olympics, the Super Bowl, and music concerts. Our work can be best defined as a business that prevents improprieties and pursues improprieties when they exist. This includes both physical, business and other intellectual properties.
You have been to Juba and have a background in security consulting – can you give us your assessment of the current security situation in South Sudan? What are the challenges faced by the new government?
Many years of strife and war cannot be resolved overnight. The U.N. is frequently criticized for not getting involved in some situations and too involved in others. But in this case, for the good of the country of Sudan and its people, accolades are in order. The boundary line alone is clearly not the only answer, nor is it expected to be.
The Republic of South Sudan needs to protect its people and its property as any other country is required to do. What is impressive, based on my visits and conversations with the respective ministerial officials in the Republic of South Sudan that I met, is that they understand the challenges they are facing to make democracy work and know, as a new government, they need credibility in order to attract capital investment and foster worldwide business relationships. SolutionPoint International is prepared to make the commitment to help them achieve their goals of creating a free, secure and safe democracy.
You have worked with the US Department of Justice and Intelligence Division of the US Treasury Department. What can the new government in South Sudan learn from the example of the United States and just how far does it have to come in terms of setting up a new government infrastructure?
A major challenge that they have, amongst many other challenges, is to put in place a sound tax collection system and gain the confidence and respect of their citizens and those throughout the world that want to do business in and with their country. That is why the Government of South Sudan and its ministries are putting in place a program to contain corruption and to ensure enforcement in complying with their anti-corruption programs. We can assist them in this regard and based on our experience we know they can achieve their goals here.
In providing surveillance capacity to governments, what are the criteria that the authorities in a given country must satisfy? What good governance practices do state authorities have to prove before SolutionPoint will do business there?
Surveillance, like all of our programs, is a prevention tool that will record security breaches and help apprehend those who want to penetrate illegally, for whatever reasons, the government facilities in Juba and the borders of the Republic of South Sudan.
What are the challenges of opening a new office so quickly in such a young state?
The main challenge of opening an office in Juba is simply having the people committed to the cause of our client and to be responsive to their needs. We have those people and they have the experience to help the government achieve its goals.
What is your assessment of the current capabilities of the police and judiciary in South Sudan at this time?
Based on my meetings with the ministries, a lot of thought has been given to these subjects by the leadership. They’re a young country with a lot of challenges, and they know they have a lot of work to do. They’re doing what they can with the resources they have and reaching out to SolutionPoint for some of the expertise sets they need. The capabilities of the police and judiciary will grow over time, and I’m sure they’ll succeed at their respective missions.
Where do you anticipate the next SolutionPoint office will open?
Presently we expect to expand our European presence to assist our growing worldwide client base. This growth is occurring across the enterprise, in investigations and security consulting and also in the development of DNA laboratories that include the Middle East and South America. In addition, I would expect that we will have additional offices, whether through acquisition or organic growth, in the Middle East and China. It’s an exciting time to be in our businesses, all of them, and we’re looking forward to helping our clients achieve the confidence that they can operate in a secure and trusted environment wherever they are in the world, whatever challenges they face.
Ed Huffine, Vice President at SolutionPoint International, will be heading up the new office in South Sudan. He took the time to explain to The Global Herald how helping governments’ work in forensics and DNA can aid the process of nation building.
Where will you be flying out to Juba from? How will your living arrangements change?
I am currently residing in the state of Oklahoma in the United States. Over the past 24-years I have moved a total of 19 times, including six international moves and relocated to Bosnia when it was still a relatively new nation. For this move, my family will remain in the United States during the time I am in Juba.
How many staff will be working at the office in Juba?
We’ll grow the staff as the work requires and with the evolution of our various programs. In addition, we anticipate frequent trips to the Juba office by subject matter experts from SolutionPoint’s other offices and operations.
You have worked in states affected by warfare and new-found independence in the past – how does the situation in South Sudan compare with your work in Bosnia and Croatia?
Both Bosnia and Croatia were relatively new nations when I arrived there in the 1990s. Even though both of these nations had recently experienced severe conflict, they still had a significant amount of infrastructure in place, though they were lacking large quantities of exportable natural resources. In the case of Bosnia, it was de facto occupied by NATO forces, which helped to secure the peace. In the case of South Sudan, a great deal of that infrastructure has yet to be built.
You have worked on the testing of cases of special interest such as the bullet that allegedly killed John F. Kennedy. How does real-life forensic work compare to the glamorous processes shown on TV dramas such as NCIS and CSI? What advice would you give to those considering a career in forensics?
There is something called the CSI effect, which is the result of TV shows elevating the expectations of what forensics can deliver and the amount of time required for results. Real life forensic investigations and work differs in many respects to what is seen on television. There is a considerable amount of background work consisting of quality control and assurance, of proficiency testing, and of validations of equipment and procedures that is often not shown on TV. While forensic work is quite rewarding, it does differ from what is shown on TV and in films. There is a considerable amount of hard and, what some would call, mundane work required before the “real” testing of samples can even take place.
What first attracted you to forensics?
Forensics is a neutral science that helps to uncover the truth. This truth can be used to help solve crimes and convict the guilty, as well as to help exonerate the innocent. By helping to show who actually committed a crime, society is made safer and a nation improves its own governance.