One of the best to ever do it in the Executive Protection Game
Elijah Shaw of ICON. See more at industry-icon.com
What is it? How does it work? What is it like? And why don't we use the term “bodyguards”? It is these questions and more that plague the hearts and minds of many people who are inquisitive about the world of Executive Protection. I for one can tell you that Executive Protection is nothing like the Hollywood glamour that you see on the Big Screen (The Bodyguard). So if that’s what you’re thinking about getting into then you can get that out of your mind.
Instead, find comfort in the fact that the client or in this case the "Principle" does not for the most part even care for you to be seen. The job of an Executive Protection Specialist is one that is filled with last minute changes, last minute spin ups, tiresome night’s, tiresome days and what I like to call one having “strategic patients”.
In addition, you must also think about what kind of Executive Protection you would like to engage in. Do you want to provide E.P. service for Celebrities or Politicians or Dignitaries? Are you operating in a Corporate Security capacity or are you a part of a High-Risk Protective Service Detail (P.S.D.)? Are you operating as a Counter-Terrorism Executive Protection Agent? What I'm trying to convey is the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to providing E.P. (Executive Protection).
Why? Because certain roles and certain Principles will demand certain things that only certain people who are trained for that role will be more likely to perform for the Principle in question. Think of it like this:
“You wouldn't send a car mechanic to service a plane. Yeah both are mechanics, but they both exhibit two distinct forms of mechanical inclination and ability.”
Moreover, if you're looking for some sort of special recognition the truth is you will pretty much all but be forgotten unless you're a Rock-Star within the Executive Protection Game. A very wise Mentor once told me (paraphrasing):
"When it comes to the Game of Executive Protection if they (the Principal) don't say anything about you then this is a very good thing.”
And there is 100% truth in the words in with my Mentor spoke. For those that are interested in the Executive Protection Game, I'm going to tell you that you as a provider of "coverage" for lack of better terms will not be or should not be the center of attention. The only center of attention there should ever be should be your Principle - FOCUS ON THEM, NOT YOURSELF.
TODAY Show's Interview with Elijah Shaw of ICON
So with that said there are a few things I would like to highlight when it comes to the Executive Protection Game. Those things are as follows, this is NOT an exhaustive list:
Perform a Risk/Threat Assessment
Choose the Correct Tools for the Job
Discretion is Key
Identify and Try to Anticipate the Needs of your Principal
I know you hear the word all the time, "training". But to the initiated, this is an understatement. What I mean by that is you must first train than you must train for specific things. We are not looking to run and gun here. In fact we are hoping that we don't have to use the gun at all. See it from the eyes of the Principal:
"Do you really want to hire a protection detail that is known to attract bullets?"
No one in their right mind would want to hire a team in which every time they go out there being shot at. Why? Because it defeats the purpose of having Executive Protection. Meaning, teams like this (if they even exist) not only pose a direct risk but they would in fact inflate risk of injury and embarrassment to the livelihood of the Principal themselves.
So in short yes, you do want to train on firearms and you really do want to be proficient in the use of firearms for Executive Protection. But even more than that, some questions that should come to mind are the following: "Is your driver adequately trained?" "Can your driver read the road under stress and pressure?" "What about C.P.R. training?" "Is your team prepared in the use of A.E.D. (Automated External Defibrillator), CAT Tourniquets and Celox or Quik Clot and other life saving measures?"
Another question you should be asking yourself is: "Are you well versed in the identifying of potential threats within the environment in which you operating?" "Are your guys able to come together and work as a team?" And the only way to find that out is to undergo training sessions with simulated real life events under stress that would put your team in the position to have to work together to achieve and end goal.
The next thing that I would recommend is to be ready. And when I say this, I don't mean it in the way of being ready to have to blast your way out of a situation. Remember that is the last thing that you ever want to have to do. Remember the success of your business and the returning of Principals rely on contracts.
Remember no Principal wants to hire bullet magnets. But when we speak of being ready what we're talking about is simple things like for example having various charging devices for computers and Mobile devices on hand for the Principles use.
RULE OF THUMB: Try to be ready to anticipate the needs of the Principal so that you are able to accommodate the Principal in the most timely manner.
C.R.I. Israeli Counter Terrorism Training see more at critraining.com
Another thing that you want to do is to be able to be ready for the event that the Principal may be under medication. Do you have EpiPens available and if they are available does everyone on your team versed in how to use them? Are you able to assist the Principal in the injection of insulin if they are unable to do it themselves? Is anyone (hopefully all agents) on your team well verse in C.P.R.?
You may also want to consider the event in which you may get a flat tire while in route to your destination. Do you have vehicles in place to keep the Principal in motion in the event that you get a flat tire? And if not how much operational down time do you need in order to change a flat tire to keep the Principal in motion. Remember you don't want the Principal to be a sitting duck out there.
The third pillar would be planning ahead. Remember the Executive Protection Game is like any successful person in life, we don't just haphazardly do something. Everything has a purpose, everything has its Time, and everything has its place. So plan ahead.
An example of planning ahead would be knowing multiple routes that are available to you so that as an Executive Protection Agent you may get your Principal(s) from point A to point B in the most time efficient manner possible with the lowest operational risk possible.
RULE OF THUMB: Have alternate routes within your contingency travel plans and plans in general period!
Take the time out to drive the roads in which your Executive Protection team may be taking beforehand. Get to know them as much as you can preferably at least 48 hours before the Principal is passing through those locations. Another thing you want to do when it comes to planning ahead is to establish a safe house in which your Executive Protection team can take the Principal to in case all hell decides to break loose.
Also while planning ahead, take note of any Police Stations, Hospitals, apartment complexes, convenient stores, gas stations that may be within the context of the routes being used doing the transport of the Principal. Yes, even take note of the D.O.T. (Department of Transportation) workers, and call in the D.O.T. ahead of time to see if there is going to be any roadwork going on while your passing through if necessary. These and much much more are all critical things that will play a vital role in not only the support but the success of the mission overall.
RULE OF THUMB: Always seek to have a Safe-House if possible.
A fourth pillar would be to conduct a Risk / Threat Assessment. Primarily, you want to assess the risk of the Principal(s) themselves. Why is this important? It is important because certain Principals will attract certain kind of people and attention. And depending on the status of the Principal(s) it may dictate a certain kind of threat not that the Principal(s) may or may not be aware of. That's right it's YOUR JOB to find out.
Elijah Shaw of ICON providing instruction
Such an example could possibly be, if your Principle is known for having been susceptible to multiple assassination attempts; that is something you need to know as an Executive Protection Specialist. Last thing you want to do is be caught off-guard with your pants down in this Game. Another way in which the Principle can cause an increase in the threat level in regards to the risk assessment is if the Principle has any ties to narcotics or the criminal element (we won't say any names).
Outside of the Principle, other things that could raise the threat level or the risk assessment would be the status of the Principle within context of the society. What I mean by that is if your Principle is of a Celebrity Status and obsessed fan could raise your threat level or your risk assessment. Maybe they have a stalker out there but they may not know exist. These are things that you must take into consideration.
Another variable that could raise the risk assessment or the threat level could be the geographical location. The urban environment can be a very dangerous environment as violence is just not limited to dignitaries in Middle Eastern countries in case you didn't know. When these superstars come to town, all sorts of things start to come out of the woodwork - the point being, you will never know all the variables at play.
In short, what we are looking to perform is Counter Surveillance (C.S.). It is at this point in the Game that we seek to gather Intelligence. The conducting of Counter-Surveillance often times is the most under estimated factor when servicing a Principle in the E.P. Game.
I say this because, if you don't know your area how you navigate through it. It will be the equivalent of the blind leading the blind. And that is not a position for any Executive Protection Specialist to be in. Why? Because what we are looking to do is to mitigate the likelihood or decrease the likelihood in which any given variable could unnecessarily raise the threat level or the risk level.
Another pillar would be choosing the right tools for the right job. What I mean by that is you only want to carry mission essential equipment and hardware. Something to think about: do you really need the AR-15 or the AK-47 to protect a low to no risk Principle? Did you even stop to consider that some Principles may not want to know that there are firearm around them or in some case the Principal may not want to be around any firearms at all? Remember they are the ones paying the bills so they have what is called a "Preference".
Another hidden factor would be personnel. Again, did you know that some Principal's will request one ethnicity over the other? Even more than that some Principal's may possibly request someone either specifically taller or someone either specifically shorter than them for whatever reason. It's not being racist, it's not being prejudice. It’s business. And your job as an Executive Protection Specialist is to fulfill the order.
The next pillar would be discretion. And discretion is key. It is important to know and understand operational security or op-sec. The old saying is: "Loose lips sink ships" is very true here. Some Principals wish to have a high level of anonymity. It's their dollar damn it, and it's their business and so shall they get it. Understand, that any breach in Operational Security may result in a Lawsuit, Criminal and or Civil Penalties and or you going out of business. Remember Principal's want Executive Protection Specialist in which they can count on and trust.
Even more than that, be mindful of how you look as an E.P. Specialist. Honestly, some Principals don't like the "I've been kicking down doors in jerk-a-stan" look. More often than not Principals like to see E.P. Special well dressed, properly groomed and articulate. The old saying: "Dress for success" comes into play.
Remember, as an E.P. Specialist you must be able to be extremely flexible and highly customizable to the needs of the Principal(s) seeking your service. Do not be that guy that looks like some club bouncer from some "Hood" joint. You are an E.P. Specialist and you are a professional so act to part.
You must also take the time out to get to know your Principal. Remember, Executive Protection is a luxury. Thus, the Principal should be treated as such. What I mean by that is that you as an Executive Protection Specialist should be taking the time out to study the needs of your Principal. And then not only should you be studying the needs of your Principal, you should be able to for fill those needs in a moment's notice.
For instance, let's say that you studied your Principal and you notice that she likes gummy bears for whatever reason. A silly example but it is an example none-the-less. Wouldn't it be nice to have gummy bears on hand in case she asked? I distinctly remember one Executive Protection Specialist sharing his experience of studying and knowing his Principal. Within context of the conversation he said he knew his Principal loved to be on their phone.
Not knowing exactly what kind of phone the Principal had, what he did was made sure that he had a multi mobile phone charging device on hand with different adapters to accommodate any phone just in case the Principal needed to charge their phone.
It just so happened that the Principal either lost or misplaced their phone charger somewhere; and because he did his due diligence and actually studied the Principal, he was ready to have that Principals phone charged while in vehicular motion (meaning they didn't have to stop the convoy to get a charger) at a moment’s notice. It is acts like these that make Executive Protection Specialist stand out and shine more than just some "bodyguard" or "bouncer" in most cases for lack of better terms.
And the last pillar, be ready. I simply cannot stress this enough. There is so much that goes on that you just must simply be ready for as much of it as possible. This is not to say that you're going to be really ready 100%, as no one will ever be really ready 100% because there are just way too many hidden variables and latent functions for anyone to account for when providing service as an Executive Protection Specialist in the E.P. Game.
The video and pictures provided are here to give you some idea of what’s out there in the E.P. Game. Again, this is not a god damn 3-Gun Competition or some meaningless run and gun. Again, I just want to provide a glimpse of what goes on within the Executive Protection Game. It is not a glamorous Game. If you are seeking fame you probably won't get it. It is a thankless task but only a few people can actually do it.
If you do happen to get into the E.P. Game more than likely you will be entrusted to maintain secrets about your Principal(s) and or you will be held to the highest of Standard to guard the secrets of your Principal; which means you will more than likely take those secrets to your grave. Remember the E.P. Game is based on trust, consistency, organization, being well trained and well informed, having an open mind, a willingness to adapt (quickly), professionalism and customer service.