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It was the height of British military and government involvement in the ill-fated NATO-led effort to crush the Taliban, and Kabul was inundated with people needing close protection services. From diplomats attempting to build infrastructure and civil institutions to corporate honchos sniffing out potential business opportunities, there was no shortage of clients for security firms to pitch. As my conversation with the in-country manager progressed, I broached the subject of IBGs – individual bodyguards. I told him in no uncertain terms that the idea of having an individual effectively carry out the functions of a close protection team was utter and absolute flannel. His response: “Maybe, Bob. But it brings in the dollars!”
Not because there is less work out there, in fact, the opposite is probably true. With global threat levels at an all-time high, there is more work in the security industry now than there ever has been and the security industry is booming, but it’s harder to find work because there are now thousands more so-called ‘qualified’ CPOs chasing after every position. It is a fact that most licensed operators have never actually done a day’s close protection work in their lives. At the time of writing this article, there are over 14,000 valid, UK, CP licences. Yes, over fourteen thousand people in the UK currently have a license to operate as a Close Protection Officer.
By far the best method to accomplish this goal is to adopt a predictive, preventative strategy for protecting clients based on the tenets of Detect, Deter, and Defend. To effectively employ these tenets, we need some very specific soft and hard skills. In the protective operations world, the “soft” skills are sometimes referred to as Protective Intelligence (PI) while in other security disciplines they are referred to as situational and tactical awareness skills. If we are unable to prevent or avoid an attack, we need to have some expertise in specific “hard” skills such as use of firearms and security driving so that we can survive an ambush.
The ‘tactical culture’ had flourished over the last few years, mainly due to the proliferation of video cameras and increasing engagement with social media platforms, which I believe is causing the lines between reality and the ‘tacticool’ entertainment world to become very, very blurred…
It takes very little these days to be a part of the tactical sub-culture that is trending, here’s how to do it. Simply, purchase a gun, where legal, get your hands on some tactical clothing, buy a bunch of ‘black op’ accessories, plug into ‘Soldier of Fortune’ social-media channels and perhaps even take some no-fail tactical training courses, then after a few months, hey presto, you’re an expert! Whereas, in the good old days, the only option, if you wanted this lifestyle, was to join the military – preferably the Infantry!
Who, when initially looking for a close protection course, tried to find the cheapest course and quickest route possible to your badge? Who researched their training provider and checked out all the credentials and qualifications of their instructors?
Who doesn’t intend to do any other training until they find at least some work to pay back their initial training costs? Who, reading this, has attended an ‘accredited’ training course but has actually never yet done a day’s work as a designated protection officer? I could go on, but well… you get the picture!
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