Being an instructor for Tony Scotti’s Vehicle Dynamics Institute has forwarded the opportunity to observe how a large section of professionals interact and function from different niches of the industry. Military, transnational EP teams, US based teams, Federal LEO’s or with civilians this theme shows through. Even in the larger training arena the change can be seen as more of the schools are starting to focus on classes or blocks of instruction such as client management and behavioral analysis. The discussion forms are flooded with conversations relating to how to work in a team dynamic. It doesn’t matter if its a 28 day school or a three day school, they will be touching on and teaching these topics.
On the morning of April 30th, 2019 Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó seemed to attempt a coup d’état against the communist government of Nicolás Maduro.
I use the word ‘seemed’ as what occurred can be best described as a publicity stunt more than an actual coup d’état. For the remainder of the day, even those that thought they knew what was going on in Venezuela, really, had no idea what was going on. While social media and the news channels were touting a revolution in Caracas, life went on as normal on the military bases and for the rest of Venezuela. Guaidó’s attempted overthrow was mostly just another demonstration that is all too common in Caracas.
Some readers may have guessed at the participants in the above scenario or even been a part of such a detail in the past. No matter what, it’s plain to see that helicopters are an amazing tool to have at your disposal for your motorcade movements. They can advance the route in real time from a bird’s eye view, which is a great way to go from the known to the known with a good idea of the terrain you will be encountering.
However, the truth is, the simulated communications you just read were not with a helicopter, but instead were between an Executive Protection team, and it’s FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Licensed and experienced UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) Pilot. Executive Protection is evolving every day, and one of the areas out front is technology. Developing are new forms of detection, tactical hearing and visual aids, vehicle security and transport, radio systems, and now UAV’S.
Consider this, when broken down to its most basic components, the vast majority of traditional self-defence courses only teach defensive responses to an attack once it has begun.
I am of the opinion that’s not only a bit late, it’s also certainly not enough to survive a Mass Casualty Event in these days and times. In light of that, I have found that Reality-Based Self Defence (RBSD) systems take things a bit further by teaching pre-fight tactics such as: creating safe distance; using non-aggressive body language; reading pre-fight indicators; and applying verbal de-escalation techniques. Yet all of that is still not enough to effectively survive a terrorist attack in a public space, especially if you’re with family or friends.
Handguns are meant for close-quarter shooting. Think about it; if someone is going to attack, kidnap or rob you on the street, they are going to be close, within conversational range. Now, look around your home or business and see what the maximum distance is that you would have a clear shot at a criminal or terrorist, for most this will be less than 10 yards/meters. This places emphasis on close quarter instinctive shooting over precision target shooting. As part of your training practice for long distance shoots (for handguns, this means over 25 yards), you should try hitting targets out to and over 100 yards. This will improve your handgun skills and show you your capabilities and limitations, but the emphasis should be on close quarter instinctive shooting.
If you take the four areas that are part of the traditional military model: gymnastics/calisthenics (bodyweight exercise), outdoor obstacle courses (moving efficiently through a range of environments), combat sports (boxing, grappling etc), speed marching (bipedal locomotion); these intrinsically include the main focus physical qualities: mobility, strength, reaction speed, coordination, balance and cardiorespiratory function. If these areas are incorporated into a physical fitness programme, treated as a skill and kept in the majority at a low/medium intensity with bouts of high intensity, the result will be a well-rounded human capable of thriving in the diversities of the modern life.
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!”
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!
Since I am often employed as the agent in charge (AIC), you generally are assigned to the principal and the duties don’t lend themselves to be the K9 handler. You have a choice, either work the principal of work the K9, but rarely can you do both. However, that doesn’t mean there is not considerable opportunities for K9s and handlers in protective services.
Typically, these dogs fall into one or two categories. There are dogs that are single-purpose dogs, meaning they have one task they perform. While others are dual-purpose, meaning they are trained to perform a variety of tasks. The three biggest categories that they fall into are Apprehension, Detection and Search & Rescue.
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.
In May 2003, the UK Government changed the rules on the supply of military kit, and many operators and companies now became arms brokers. These new laws were officially known as the ‘Trade controls’ or more commonly ‘Trafficking and brokering’.
I was a seventeen-year old military recruit when I was issued my first rifle. That marked the beginning of what would amount to nearly forty years of carrying firearms professionally. Twenty-three of those were in the military, including nearly twenty years with the SAS, followed by almost seventeen years of commercial security work.
I left school at the age of sixteen with just three, very poor, O levels. Following that I floundered around doing various blue collar jobs: I’ve been a postman, a railway guard and a warehouseman, just to name three of the 20-odd occupations I have had.
I went to college and became a qualified secretary at the age of 30(ish) and after a prosperous career as a sports journalist, I went to University to get a degree in psychology at the ripe old age of 50.
For long-term assignments, it is very important to build up a rapport with your client / VIP and anyone else associated with the operation. Effective and good communications will not only assist you with having an easier and less stressful assignment but also keeps you up-to-date on the client’s day to day activities
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.
Physical violence is a fact of life. Those of us involved in the security industry are in the front of the queue when it comes to people wishing to cause us harm. It is right that we are held to account and it is right that we are taught and encouraged to use de-escalation techniques, but at the moment we and those we are dealing with are in greater danger than need be because the training is inadequate.
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?
Over the years, with the added involvement of oil and gas companies, alongside government contracts, the role of the medic has evolved from working as a ‘team medic’ into a ‘Tier 2’ medic who carries a comprehensive medical kit & medications, and is able to function as a lone medic often in remote locations. These changes have caused multiple shifts in the industry standard and requirements to become a Tier 2 Medic. This should be a good thing but it also comes with pitfalls.
When it comes to surviving sudden violence whether as the result of an active shooter or other civilian mass casualty incident, I always tell people it is more important to not get shot than it is to shoot, shooting is extra credit.
It seems like a mad idea: an adventure where people willing sign up to break out of a prisoner of war camp and then go on a gruelling obstacle course run behind enemy lines.