The Foundation to a Career in Executive Close Protection
There has been a ten-fold interest by individuals wanting to pursue a career in executive close protection immediately following the terrorist driven events that transpired since the 11 September 2001 tragedy in the USA. With wide spread violent crime on the increase, the world has truly become a more dangerous place, necessitating an increase in demand for professional risk management and close protection services. It is estimated that the risk management and security market could be valued at over $300 billion by 2010.
Until very recently, the close protection industry had remained unregulated by governments and or various oversight bodies such as PSIRA in South Africa or SIA in the United Kingdom. As an industry sector, the United States has currently not promulgated any national oversight over the executive protection industry and this tends to vary from State to State.
Choice of Training Company
One of the most critical decisions that an individual can make in deciding to enter the close protection profession - is the choice of which training company to attend. In our experience not all training is equal. Factors to consider in choosing a close protection training company:
2. Capacity and ability
Does the training company have a good reputation within the industry for providing good quality training courses? Poor selection decisions in this regard can be costly and get your career off to a non-start. The industry is saturated with companies and individuals exploiting people for financial gain.
Capacity and Ability
Does the training company have the capacity and ability to deliver on training course promises? Certain training companies have a high student in-take of 30-40 candidates, with a promise to find candidates employment post training course. This invariably never materialises or is exploitative, temporary or irrelevant to the field of study. Consider training with a company that has a high/low - instructor versus student ratio. This will ensure you receive a personalised, high intensity training experience which ultimately translates into a good return on investment.
Always verify that the instructor cadre have the requisite knowledge, skills and experience to be presenting the training under consideration. The fact that an instructor/facilitator was a Special Forces operator from the military and/or the police, does not necessarily qualify them to present training in executive protection. A PSD operator with experience in Iraq/Afghanistan has been operating on a completely different set of TTP’s (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures), demeanour, protocols and mindset than an Executive Protection Operator would be using and is operating with a Principal/Client who is a high net-worth individual employed with a Fortune 500 corporation and is living and working out of Dubai, London or New York.
Steer well clear of individuals who claim that their background is classified as ‘Secret/Top Secret’ and cannot reveal this information to you because of some sort of ‘black ops’ code of silence. This ‘secret squirrel’ routine is absolute nonsense and has been used by people as a smoke screen to conceal their inadequacies.
Is the proposed training course mission specific?
We recently had a candidate attend our training course, who had recently completed an executive protection course based out of the USA. A large component of this course consisted of shooting a large amount of ammunition with variety of weapons, without being taught any tactical skills – such as the use of cover, stoppage drills, fire and movement, etc – it was simply just a case of “ballistic masturbation”. The program also included evading a pursuing helicopter with students onboard, who were shooting with paintball guns at a student on a motorcycle, who tried to zigzagged through the desert and evade being shot and captured. The highlight of the program was learning to effect an escape from a ‘hostile enemy’ by driving a “stolen” motor vehicle, with their hands tied behind their backs and manoeuvring the car with their teeth clamped firmly on the steering wheel! Sounds like exciting stuff and I am sure it was!
The question is – “Is this relevant to the art of executive protection?”
The individual who attended this program in the USA felt completely inadequate when he applied for employment with our company and was put through a skills and knowledge verification assessment. Needless to say he enrolled on our next Executive Protection Training Program.
Will the qualification that you obtain at the end of your training course be recognised nationally and internationally - latter point is of significant importance if you intend to work abroad? If the answer to this question is not completely in the affirmative, then you should reconsider your decision about who you train through. Quality training is never cheap and will require a large financial investment for any individual to undertake. Make sure that you get it right first time.
Before the introduction of a formalised training curriculum in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Australia, anyone could lay claim to being a Bodyguard; Close Protection Officer or Executive Protection Agent, without having undergone any formal training whatsoever. We are aware of cases where a certain individual was working as a plumber during the week and then freelanced as a ‘bodyguard’ over the weekends. He had no formal training in close protection but was unashamedly promoting himself as the real deal. This type of behaviour tends to bring our industry into disrepute and makes it very difficult for potential principals/clients to establish whether a company is bona fide or not.
We field telephone calls almost daily from individuals who want to get involved in the close protection industry. Their sales pitch goes something along the lines of – “I am over 6-foot and can bench press 550-pounds and want to be a bodyguard!” or “I own a 9-mm pistol and I am not scared of getting into a gun fight!” or “I know the dark art of Dim Mak and can use pressure points to kill a person in under 3-seconds!” Sadly these misguided individuals have a somewhat jaded view of what executive close protection is truly all about.
Many individuals who emanate from the military or police also believe that they are qualified to operate in the close protection industry because of their backgrounds. An individual who trained as an infantry soldier in the military is just that and someone who worked in CID in the police as a detective is just that. This is not to say that these individuals cannot bring these cross-over skills to the benefit of close protection work. Individuals from the military bring discipline, chain of command, planning and orders, firearm skills and the ability work in teams. Individuals with a police background tend to have good people orientated skills, have a good informer network, have knowledge of the law and are able to conduct investigations and assemble information.
The road to becoming a professional in this industry requires a certain amount of academic study and the mastery of a number of key skills. Below is an example of a possible road map for an individual who does not necessarily come from a military or police background and who is intent on pursuing a career in close protection.
As with any career choice, there is a process whereby one has to gain knowledge, skills and experience, to progress further up the ranks. In a world abound with instant gratification; there are no quick fixes or short-cuts to becoming a professional Close Protection Operative (CPO). A career in executive protection requires individuals who are motivated, dedicated and have a certain level of tenacity in pursuing their vocation of choice.
A good balance of experience and qualifications will ensure your employability for the foreseeable future, either as a sub-contractor/employee or as a close protection business owner/employer.
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