The United States government is going to great lengths to keep Americans safe at the World Cup.
OutKick spoke with several people with direct knowledge of the situation in Qatar. It’s been made clear the United States military is ready to roll in the event a crisis breaks out in the Middle Eastern country over the coming weeks.
The tournament begins Sunday. With potentially thousands of Americans flooding into Qatar for all the action, the United States has taken serious security precautions to make the situation as safe as possible.
The United States is preparing for different contingencies at the World Cup.
The United States currently has members of the special operations forward-deployed in Qatar, according to a Pentagon official with direct knowledge of the situation. The size and scope of the force in Qatar, which already hosts a large air base, wasn’t divulged, and it’s not known when the forces were sent or how long they’ve been in Qatar.
How quickly would elite American military members intervene in a crisis such as a kidnapping? It might not take long at all.
A person with direct knowledge of the situation told OutKick the State Department has protocols in place to coordinate with DOD assets that might be in the region to prepare for any situations that might unfold, including QRF capabilities. QRF – Quick Reaction Force – is often a military unit responsible for intervening and providing support in the event of an unfolding crisis.
“Ideally that is what’s supposed to happen,”a source with knowledge of the situation replied when asked if Tier One assets would move in quickly in the event of the crisis. If the situation escalates, control likely would be taken away from the Qataris and handled directly by American authorities.
“The host country – the Qataris – are in charge of this. We’re always holding them up there like a puppet, and then if things go bad, we advise and then if they go really bad, we take over,” the same individual said when game planning how a crisis might unfold. The OutKick source said he hoped someone already had a conversation about staging at our military base in Qatar to use as a launching point for any potential rescue.
“We do have assets over there, and it could be used to stage, and hopefully, somebody was smart enough to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to do that,'” the individual further elaborated.
A retired General speaking to OutKick on the condition of anonymity with an understanding of the dynamics said it’s unlikely unilateral action would be taken in the event of a crisis without first speaking to the Qataris. Due to the USA’s military relationship with Qatar, communication would happen before any direct action plan was launched.
A State Department spokesperson also released the following statement to OutKick about security preparations for the World Cup:
- The U.S. Government (USG) is supporting Qatari efforts to protect the World Cup and is particularly focused on the safety of U.S. government officials, fans, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, U.S. corporate stakeholders, members of the U.S. media, and other U.S. citizens attending the World Cup.
- The USG provides this support through the International Security Event Group (ISEG), which is chaired by the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). This is an interagency effort consisting of more than 17 U.S. law enforcement, security, defense, and other federal agencies that coordinate efforts to meet the mandate of ensuring the protection of U.S. citizens overseas.
- The Department of State has no greater responsibility than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas. We offer specific advice to U.S. citizens traveling to Qatar on our website and encourage everyone to enroll in Consular STEP.
- Qatari authorities are responsible for overall security for the World Cup. The U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service is coordinating with Qatari government law enforcement and security agencies leading up to and during the World Cup.
The spokesperson didn’t share any information about military capabilities staged in Qatar.
What are the Qatari capabilities for the World Cup?
Former Green Beret and international security expert Gary Seideman spoke with OutKick and confirmed that any military assistance would “generally” be coordinated “through the State Department.”
“The regional security officer in the embassy, they’ll be informed and they might have some assets,” Seideman, who has managed security for the “Bourne” films and in international soccer before, explained. Ahead of the World Cup unfolding, Seideman added a threat assessment with a “methodology with the regional security officer in Qatar” would be conducted.
He also added that while the Qataris have some security capabilities, a lot of the responsibility will be left up to contractors to fill the void.
“[Qatar] has a lot of private security firms that they’ve hired that have come in internationally. So, it’s a big smorgasbord … It’s not just military. It’s who they can get to fill the contract,” Seideman explained. He also pointed out having so many people involved is a complete lack of centralized command and “unified control.”
Seideman also added that “vetting is a massive thing” when it comes to filling the contractor spots.
“You have a broad level of security and people trying to fill massive contracts. So, just getting people to fill these positions, vetting isn’t really the most appropriate thing in their eyes to do because they want to fill the contracts, get the money. So, you have people who might not be so qualified, might have negative intentions mixed with not a unified control because of civilians mixed with the military. It could be a real recipe for disaster but hopefully not.”
The United States military isn’t interested in tipping its cards.
While multiple people have informed OutKick that precautions and preparations are underway to ensure safety in the Middle Eastern country, nobody from the military or Department of Defense was interested in speaking on the record.
Multiple attempts to get comment on the record about what assets might be in play were disregarded. The United States Special Operations Command also made it clear it wouldn’t be divulging any details about what assets might be in the region or what they’re prepared to do. One official noted in an exchange with OutKick that security isn’t the responsibility of the United States, but simply belongs to the Qataris.
For the time being, the United States military – probably wisely – appears intent on keeping any plans secret.
Hopefully, everything at the World Cup goes off without any issues. If a problem does arise, it sounds like the United States is ready to do whatever is necessary.
As former special operations commando Bob Keller told OutKick, “You f*ck with our people, start packing because we’re coming. We sit waiting and willing to come give you the good news.”
If that doesn’t sum it up, nothing will.