Toward that end, this page discusses and explains various protocols that, while not hard-set rules, are strongly suggested to be followed for the best chance of success.
All field operations by OTP agents should be planned to minimize risk to agents as well as to minimize the risk of multiple agents stepping on each others' toes. A plan does not have to be complicated, but it should be more than a couple of words in order to anticipate reasonable contingencies.
For example, the plan for retrieval of a dead drop should consist of:
- Basic reconnaissance, such as via online mapping tools, locale-specific web sites, and the like.
- Required personnel, beyond the field agent and their handler.
- Required equipment, beyond the standard smartphone.
- Steps to assess area security for field agent safety and preventing interference.
- Steps to address most likely contingencies, for example:
- a missing or mis-located package
- an interruption by locals or authorities
- Steps to abort the operation should serious problems occur.
Most of this can be handled through adaptation of a standard plan, rather than development of a new plan for every field operation.
Each field operation is run by a minimum of two agents: A field agent and a handler that are in constant, reliable, realtime communication. There may also be any number of support personnel with whom the handler interfaces on their field agent's behalf, via the voice bridge and IRC channels.
As the name implies, the field agent is the individual acting in the field, the person actually performing a task such as retrieving a dead drop, initiating a communication, performing surveilance, or otherwise. They are the "boots on the ground" during the operation and need maximum autonomy combined with near-instantaneous support from their handler.
Our dead drop agents are a good example of field agents.
The job of a handler is to provide logistical and decision support to a field agent before and during an operation.
Before the operation, the handler of a drop should make sure that the agent is familiar with similar drops and their contents, so as to better understand what they are looking for. It is also important for the handler to provide the field agents with any ideas or speculations the #arg community has come up with regarding what and where the package might be.
During the operation, the handler is a link between the agent out in the field and the rest of the OTP22 community. His duty is not only to provide status updates whenever possible, but also to make sure that important questions and messages from the IRC channel are communicated to the field agent in a clear and concise way.
Other personnel may be pulled into a field operation based on the needs of the operation.