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.
Originally receiving the majority of my training in the military, I have been in the security and close protection industry for well over 15 years and, over the years, have taught literally hundreds of trained professionals – law enforcement, military, security professionals, intelligence agents – as well as a great many untrained personnel entering the industry for the first time.
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.
Iraq has a rich and fascinating mix of tribal and religious groups but the divides are large and often deadly. Through necessity the old divides have been placed to one side as Shia, Sunni and Kurdish forces supported by the West and Turkey work militarily alongside each other to clear Iraq of a common enemy, the Islamic State (IS).