Tight defence budgets keep slashing headcounts for active duty personnel, leaving the military no alternative other than to outsource tasks when troops are stretched.
To clarify, the commercial close protection industry is challenging for most people to enter, mainly because it is a very small and ‘cliquey’ world where doors usually open for people if they know the right people. So, to start with, networking is a valuable key to opening the doors.
By now many of you have seen the photos and videos of the protestors turned rioters storming the US Capitol on the day of the Congressional Certification.
Now, here me out. If you’re managing security projects it’s only a matter of time before you’ll have to deal and work with security personnel, bodyguards, and drivers that are not part of your team or company. Dealing with unknown personnel can be very problematic due to their potential lack of professionalism and egos.
What were some takeaways you obtained from your past line of work? And how have they helped you in the private sector realm?
When I look at the totality of what we do in this industry there are quite a few takeaways. From having dealt with the irate couples during a domestic dispute to negotiating a business deal the importance of not only verbal judo but communicative and interpersonal skills tops the list, followed by the skills I learned from collecting evidence at a crime scene where attention to detail was key.
I believe everyone should spend at least a year working the clubs on the weekends. You will develop your self-awareness, situational awareness, verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and overall confidence. It’s controlled chaos. The perfect training ground.
We cast our eye over the main stories impacting the security industry. Here’s what’s appeared on the radar since the last issue.
In the past, I viewed Executive Protection (EP) as persons who provided corporate level protection. This was the guy who only walked with the CEO, politician, or other important corporate executives and dignitaries. With my limited understanding, I didn’t think of those who drive these same individuals as being considered Executive Protection agents as well. As an EP specialist, I now understand and have experienced some of the vast role’s EP work will encompass.
According to Paine, if twenty persons, all strangers to each other, found themselves in a previously uninhabited country, each individual’s will was his natural right. He had the freedom and liberty to do as he pleased, even invading the sovereignty of his neighbors. It would then occur to each sovereign individual that if he united with his neighbor for mutual protection he would increase his personal security. But to do that he would have to sacrifice certain degrees of his natural rights. The compromising of individual rights resulted in rights of “compact” or as our legislative laws were defined as “civil rights”.
If you find yourself in a scenario where you need to evacuate a building with a real threat or danger posed to your safety, then you need to do so tactically. We are not interested in conventional SWAT tactics as it is not our job to apprehend, or even nullify, the threat; your job is to look after yourself, your family, or your client. follow these basic, lifesaving, procedures.
Did you know: Historically, street crime increases, proportionately, with population growth? Crime in England is accelerating, and according to police figures, the London murder rate has now surpassed that of New York for the first time in modern history. Not only does this place the general public at risk but arguably, it exposes the front-line security operator to even greater danger.
Due Diligence and Why It Is Required. The biggest blocks that prevent people from carrying due-diligence is their egos as they feel they are wise enough to spot a scammer, also they don’t want to offend those they are dealing with by seeming not to trust them. These are things that scammers and manipulators exploit to the maximum. I forget how many times I have heard people who have been scammed or victimized say they thought the perpetrator was a decent person because they were introduced to them by a friend, my reply to this usually is “define a friend”.
Having dug around in the last year to see what’s going on with security training courses at home and overseas, it would appear that there is a gap between what’s acceptable, to what’s a complete rip off, and that gap is as wide as the Grand Canyon.
There is an age-old adage, which states that in this world ‘you get what you pay for’ and nowhere is this truer than in the Protection Industry.
As someone who runs their own security company, I know this only too well. However, this lesson was firmly reinforced after I rashly agreed to take on a job that my gut had warned me to avoid.
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.
We now see companies capitalizing on this idea, by making different lines of equipment and bags that tout themselves as being “covert” or “discrete”. I am of the belief that if you are wearing clothing that advertises itself as either of these things, it’s anything but.
Truly experienced law enforcement, military and security professionals can spot each other a mile away. Often the giveaways are in the clothing and personal accessories that we choose. Watches, shoes and belts are accessories that are often over looked by those attempting to be “Gray”. Wearing Soloman’s or Merrel’s, a Suunto/Garmin/Pathfinder watch and an Ares Gear/511, or another tactical belt is not being gray. Each of those accessories, gives up information about you, that you say you are trying to conceal.
First, I prefer placing female CPO’s with female clients or their children for the client’s comfort or peace of mind. Some males are easily suited to this task but the client may simply think that a male does not belong in constant close proximity and occasionally in isolated private settings with the kids or a client’s wife. This can be equally true with female CPO’s and male clients but the concern of inappropriate behavior with the children dissolves when a female is placed with them. Remember, it’s always up to the client.
One thing I find amusing and annoying is that whenever there is a terrorist attack with an attacker using a long gun the media tends to immediately label the shooter as a sniper. There is a very big difference between a trained sniper and some idiot with a rifle and just because someone served in the military to some extent it does not make them a sniper. But, with modern weapons and a little knowledge the wannabe jihadist or anarchist are still a serious threat.
Are we as protectors, just giving lip service to the physical nature of the craft? Yes, this is a thinking man’s game and the best muscle to work out is the mind, however, are we really preparing for that “Moment of Truth,” the one we hope never happens on our watch, but that we nonetheless have to plan for?