Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the Deep End, the (Dynamic Evolution Of Executive Protection) can you swim? Since the beginning of time, everything from man to nature has or is evolving; the protection theater is no different.
Gone are the days of the typical over zealous fans, the quiet introvert that longs for menial recognition from their beloved star, or the harmless groupies. Advantages are swinging in a not so palatable way, away from the protector and towards our adversaries. With the rise of the internet, tracking apps, real time broadcasts, the increase of firearms in the public domain, the mentally Ill, ideological beliefs, and terror incidents the re-set button has to be pushed by today’s specialist(s).
There’s a quote that I keep with me, it’s a quote that I refer to prior to a detail, and it states the following;
“The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.” Sun Tzu
In my opinion, no statement could be articulated better to form the mindset needed to conduct our jobs as protectors. ‘The likelihood of the enemy’s not coming?” they will come. “Our readiness to receive them” is Paramount to the protection of our client(s) everyday. Don’t chance of his not attacking, but harden your position(s) unassailable. The reality today is nothing is sacred, no one, or nothing is free from a potential threat or attack. A school, a house of worship, a restaurant, a sporting venue, a dance club, and your place of employment to name a few. The threats have become compounded by the attacker’s ability to hide and remain anonymous.
■ 9/11 – 2,977 people killed
■ Sandy hook elementary – 20 children 6 adults killed
■ Boston Marathon – 3 killed 260 wounded
■ AME church – 9 killed in bible study
■ Paris France – 130 people killed
■ Christina Grimmie 22yr. old up and coming singer shot dead signing autographs
■ Pulse nightclub – 49 dead 53 wounded
All of these recent attacks had multiple things in common, and the worst one of all is, they never saw the attacks coming even by protectors! This is not a judgment of fault, rather a conformation that the dynamics of protection and the ability to protect has changed. Lets take a look from the inside out, rather then armchair quarterback these events, and see what makes up the anatomy of an attack. Let’s see if we can take a comprehensive approach to the biggest question there is,
“How do you protect someone or something from an enemy you can’t see”?
Unlike our notable, yet thankfully small, percentage of super ninja’s and tough guys, I like to take an approach of digesting the situation with as many facts as I can obtain, to create a time line of precursors to an event. Through those facts, obtain and study the indicators, things missed, and reasons the attack took place. I oppose racing onto social media to proclaim what should have, could have, been done by me (if I was there) to end an attack and be a hero like some of the before mentioned. As with any day, there comes night. With every ending, there is a beginning. It’s the beginning that is important, while in everyone of the tragic events listed above is sad and at times, incomprehensible they all have a beginning, a launch of attack if you will. In my opinion, the attack starts long before the actual physical attack.
Deception is a part of human nature, especially when no strong opposing morals are found.
While I don’t affirm being a psychologist, every one of the individuals that perpetrated these attacks, surely lacked a normal moral compass. They are almost all deceitful to there selves, family, friends, and co-workers at times to further their agenda. Let’s take a couple of these attacks and dissect them a little further to understand the best we can with the facts since I/we are not professional psychologists.
1. The death of Christina Grimmie: Her attacker listen carefully, “met” her online, which was all in his mind, he “followed” her on YouTube. He decided again in his mind, that she was interested in him. He then decided that if they were to be together, he would have to improve his appearance. So, he did that by getting hair plugs/implants even though he was a young man, and lost weight by becoming a vegan (as she was). He continued to follow her on social media and longed for the day that they would be together. Again, in his mind he had done the things necessary to win her affection and in someway unknown to me, let her know. When his affection for her was not answered, he waited till she was close enough to him (at a concert she was giving 2hrs. away from his home) he went to the show armed with two handguns and as she did her normal meet and greet and signing autographs, he approached her and shot her killing her instantly, before killing himself. Security was scarce at best and she didn’t have close protection assigned to her, which we will get into later.
2. The Pulse nightclub attack: The attacker had identity issues; he had interactions with the LBGT community both online and in person. He had limited friendships with his co-workers, at times causing alarm to some of them at the SECURITY firm to which he worked for. These alarms went as far as the FBI to launch an investigation of his statements (which were of terrorist sympathies). He was a bit of a recluse, staying to himself most of the time and having little interaction(s) with his peers. Although married and having a child, he battled with his identity issues and continued (as we are aware now) with his terrorist sympathizing. He frequented the establishment he would later attack. And with his advanced knowledge of the establishment, layout, security, hours of operation, crowd capacity, ownership, and knowledge that he wouldn’t be suspicious, he launched his attack. At 2am armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun he killed 49 and injured 53 before being killed himself.
I firmly believe that in both instances if not all, there were warning signs hell, in the Pulse attack the FBI investigated him and cleared him, and his wife drove him to case the nightclub a day(s) before the attack. Here is the problem we face as protectors; we are not always privy to all of this information or pre-cursers ahead of time. This fact is what leads us back to the question, “ how do you fight an enemy you can’t see?” Here is the answer, you must force the enemy to do the things you want them to do, not what they want to do!
In my opinion, a fatal blow you can deliver to the enemy is to show them you understand their intentions, which some of us lack. As we all know or are aware of, there is no one right way but if I can make a few suggestions, they would be these.
Know your client, it’s imperative to be aware of your client’s habits, likes and dis-likes, who follows your client, what their fan base consists of, the business affairs of your client, friends, family, inner circle, outer circle, what they eat, drink, where they live, allergies, medical issues, how they interact with the public at large etc.
Create a security bubble for your client(s), I don’t mean hiring 10 specialists and placing them on your client. I mean create a bubble of your own by monitoring constantly, their movements, their public social media, adversaries in business, adversaries in their personal dealings (if any) the competition and their public social media, stay in lined with their management, always have an open door policy when it comes to concerns others may have, secure their residences, be cognizant of any staff members and their movements when around your client, augment the clients movements and monitor the social media of persons close to your client. Sound like a lot? Not yet.
Learn, understand, and execute a proper advance, in my opinion, in order to fight the unknown, you must force the unknown to become known. You must force the enemy to reveal themselves to you, how? Harden the target. In order to monitor or make a potential enemy/attacker reveal themselves you must know which way they’re coming to start. One of the first lines of defense is access, providing or limiting access is key. An adversary acting behind the veil of anonymity whether on the phone, computer, or written correspondences must WALK through your access point at some point. Here, you or additional staff can monitor an individual even if they are unknown to you. You can look for attitude, firearms, bladed instruments, powders, backpacks, type of dress, anxiety, distress, could be familiar to you from social media alerts you may have, is this person at EVERY show and why? You can watch people’s movements or lack there of, wheel chairs, canes, and most of all announce to the potential attacker by show that this will not be easy for him or her. Additionally if you have a publicly known client, that all shows or appearances are NEVER the same which forces them to re-evaluate there plan(s). Have bag checks; pat downs, and metal detectors where available and a specialist monitoring those checks as well, when circumstances provide for them. Additionally, know your environment, your hardened area’s, soft areas, seating, stage (if applicable), dressing or meeting rooms, arrival and departure points, alternative points of arrival and departure, medical facilities and some type of first aid/first responder knowledge. In the case of Christina Grimmie, had any one of the before mentioned precautions had taken place, she may still be with us today. First, she had no security, secondly, she ALWAYS did a meet and greet instead of alternating with some shows having no meet and greets, and having them with no semblance of order, just a horseshoe shaped line of fan’s who ALL loved her, just one supposedly more than all the others who ended her life.
“ A man surprised, needs a instant to collect his thoughts and defend himself; during this instant he is killed, if he does not run away” Ardant du Picq
There is no time to be surprised; surprise is for the attacker to deal with and for him to understand that you the protector, are aware and prepared. Finally let me say this, violence has no color, terrorism has no religion, bullets have no sympathy, and morality is sometimes a fleeting thought. Anytime, any place, by any hand, it can happen unlike law enforcement and their 3-7 minute response time, when the attack happens you’ll be there, the question is are you prepared? The days of a 3,5,28, day course, suit, a pigtail in your ear, sunglasses on your face, and your prepared, are over ladies and gentlemen. The dynamics of protection are vastly changing to meet the new threats of today, and should you disregard them you will come up short. Nobody cares about your social media pages that show, your semi automatic pistols, how many pics you have with your client or celebrities, how many pics with your client’s private jet, or the hotel your staying at. This industry is bigger than that, more importantly, our clients deserve the best. It has never been about you/us it’s about the safety of those we are entrusted to protect. This is chess not checkers friends, I implore you all to study this CRAFT, immerse yourself in it’s principals and devote yourself to be as smart, physically and mentally prepared as you can be to do the very serious work we have ahead of us.
Welcome to the deep end…. Sink or swim? It’s all up to you!
The DEEP End
By: Mark Roche EPS