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  • Bodyguard or Bullet Magnet?

    I just posted a new article on the website www.personalprotectionconcepts.info
    This was influenced by the frequent questions I receive from bodyguard wannabe's who either saw the latest movie or read a good suspense novel.

    Bodyguard or Bullet Magnet?
    By Jerry MacCauley



    When you conjure up the image of a bodyguard, do you see the typical dark suited, sunglass wearing athlete with the curly wire sticking out of his ear? Or perhaps you envision the rough looking former spec ops guy wearing BDU’s and the fashionable tan equipment vest over his short sleeved shirt which was supposedly designed to “conceal” his sidearm? How about the AR-15 slung around the neck of a very stoic and dangerous looking individual? These stereotypical figures have become associated with the term “bodyguard” in the modern world. Hardly anyone would notice the well dressed “associate” who accompanies the “boss” to meetings and social gatherings. This is the guy or gal who always seem to know where they are going next, who everyone in the room is and, acts as a 21st century “Radar O’Reilly” of MASH fame. They hardly get introduced, but they are usually within arms length of the protectee or principle. With a cell phone positioned to their ear, they can often be preparing advanced routes and other arrangements. Low profile and alert. Continually checking the exits and entrances.

    Lately, the trend is to receive “certification” in personal protection or executive protection to validate the competence of the protector. This is certainly a start, since many so-called bodyguards have little or no actual training. Some may be ex-police/military/PI’s/chauffers, etc, but few have had formal education in the basic skills necessary for the job. Fewer still have a realistic idea of what the job is all about. I have seen far too many who believe that their role is to be the enforcer or muscle for their client. There are others who believe that being the wall that will provide “cover” for the boss is what they get paid for. There was a documentary on television a few years ago called the “Bullet Catchers.” It was an interesting, but incomplete, look at the bodyguard industry. Using the U.S. Secret Service and some high-end private firms as foundation, these programs paint a picture of well choreographed professionalism. The fact that they seemed to have an unlimited supply of bodies and logistical equipment certainly helps them perform their mission. However, even with the manpower and other precautions, a well focused and determined bad guy can, and have done so, penetrate these defenses. One who studies these attacks on high profile clients can often see that the bodyguards are usually targets as well. Often, they are the primary target, since they are the biggest obstacle to success. Maybe “Bullet Catcher” is less accurate than “Bullet Magnet.”

    It is not unusual, nor inappropriate, to use a show of force as a deterrant to attack. Entertainers who often wade into a crowd in order to be seen will often have a few huge men standing around them in order to discourage anyone from getting too close to them. You can be sure, however, with a professionally trained team, that an equal number of low profile protectors are within close range coordinating the movements. Next time you see a VIP or politician ( I don’t always equate the two), see if you can spot the protection team leader. Hint: Don’t look directly at the protectee.

    For those who ask me about the field of personal protection, I find that most have the same romantic view of the profession that youngsters have of being a police officer. They want to help, protect, and make money doing an exciting job. I’m usually asked about firearms training, martial arts and driving skills required for the job. If those were the biggest qualifications for the job, there would be an endless pool of candidates returning from the military. Unfortunately, the mental aspects of providing protection and safety for a client are exhausting. Imagine spending a day, a week, months or longer making sure that your protectee doesn’t trip, have an embarrassing moment in public, or appear at a meeting late. Looking out for any and all possible dangers, as well as delays caused by vehicle trouble or bad weather. Does he or she have a change of clothing if needed? How about prescription meds or even water? Takes a lot of the glamor right out of the job, doesn’t it?
    Jerry
    http://personalprotectionconcepts.info

  • #2
    Jerry I recall that tv series being show in Australia. I also recall the difference between corporate and private roles with 1 firm I worked for handing over a blank check for any equipment needed as the lost business was in the 7 figures for a day of no work with their people. Then reality hit with another firm who struggled to provide 1st aid kids, trauma packs and even proper briefs before an assignment as they were not prepared for this level of work.

    We have many flash courses advertised with many in their thousands but people do not realise that whilst you may be great in the classroom - reality hits when you cannot discuss your working life with others including family and be focussed on task for 24/7 with only minimal rest periods through your assignment. Your article was very interesting and shows the `other side of CPP`.
    "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

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    • #3
      couldn't agree more. True, my background is in police and military but my view of EP is precisely what Jerry is talking about. Intelligent, discreet, professional protection based on detailed analysis and planning... sure, hire some visible muscle if the threat assessment calls for it but I think EP is so much more. good to read I share an expert's views.
      cheers
      Drew

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      • #4
        Jerry,

        Great posting. Very informative. I don't provide EP services myself but am involved in designing physical security for the homes and offices of many of the same types of people that engage EP services.

        One thing that many people don't realize is that some of the high-profile people that are protectees often don't feel the need for the protection and some are outright resentful at the perceived invasion of privacy and inconvenience. The only reason that they have EP is that their company or business managers insist upon it. I knew of one protectee (a very well-known billionaire) who would regularly try and sneak away from his EP team. It was up to them to track him down and provide protection.

        So, in addition to the other skills that you describe, a good EP professional also often needs to have the diplomatic skills of an ambassador.
        Last edited by Silva Consultants; 12-08-2007, 01:19 AM.
        Michael A. Silva
        Silva Consultants

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        • #5
          I tell young people who desire a career in law enforcement to get a degee in English or communication such as speaking, writing and computer information. If one desires to go into E.P. I tell them Driving skills, Language skills, medical skills and computer skills. As you said this aspect is not glamorus but neither is advance work or spending hours writing reports.

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          • #6
            Having a business background I know being able to double up as the right hand man of a Principal always helped to remain close to them during meetings and a few times I came close to breaking cover as I could discuss any part of the business. Can I just add grooming helps too ?

            A man in a K-mart suit when your Principal is looking sharp is a big no-no. I attended an AGM of a known aussie company and I wore a very nice suit from o/seas. The MD was busy shaking hands and cornered me as to how many shares I had, etc and I had to tell him - sorry I am a CPP agent. He told me he had not picked me out but when my boss came over to speak to him in his $99.00 suit with the creases in the coat he stood our like dogs balls in the crowd of shareholders.
            "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

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            • #7
              It's always eye-opening to the EP wannabe's that so much of EP goes on behind the scenes and those "glamorous" moments of glaring at people from behind your sunglasses and talking into your sleeve are a much smaller proportion of the job. Add in the countless hours when the protectee is in meetings, working in his office, etc., and you can easily be bored silly doing EP if you don't find the intel, planning and coordinating aspects interesting.

              It's like the cop or the PI, though - and even professions like medicine and law. Television takes the 3 seconds of glamor or excitement per week that is actually found in these jobs and makes 60-minute television shows or 2-hour movies out of them.
              "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

              "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

              "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

              "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

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              • #8
                NRM is right on the money. Grooming is a big part of the job in my books. You have to blend in to the degree you actually do look like the principal's exec assistant. You have to look like you belong there. I invested in a $1500 suit, three expensive shirtss (not with cufflinks - I find they catch on things at the worst times ) and two pair of high quality shoes to wear when with my principals in a corporate environment. At other more 'casual' times I still wear good quality slacks (my American mates call then 'khakis'), open neck business shirt and smart shoes. The overall effect, I have found, is to put my principal at ease and help me 'disappear' into the background.

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                • #9
                  You're already there Drew. My old boys who got me into the industry used to remind me constantly:

                  1. LOOK THE PART (look professional when on duty and blend in when possible)
                  2. ACT THE PART (be on duty and follow your orders or tasks)
                  3. KNOW THE PART (know your role and that of the person next to you)
                  4. BE THE PART (be your role 150% and don't give 2nd class service)

                  A female colleague usually poses as the PA to many principals as she can type, do short-hand and be the PA, but who would suspect a `bloody sheila` as being the EP, right ? Most principals hate EP and the restrictions that are placed on their lives but for many of them it is not an option as most firms will make these arrangements due to heightened security risks.
                  "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

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                  • #10
                    Oh, so it's not like "Guarding Tess"??..........
                    K9...."Protect all who enter"

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by NRM_Oz View Post
                      Having a business background I know being able to double up as the right hand man of a Principal always helped to remain close to them during meetings and a few times I came close to breaking cover as I could discuss any part of the business. Can I just add grooming helps too ?

                      A man in a K-mart suit when your Principal is looking sharp is a big no-no. I attended an AGM of a known aussie company and I wore a very nice suit from o/seas. The MD was busy shaking hands and cornered me as to how many shares I had, etc and I had to tell him - sorry I am a CPP agent. He told me he had not picked me out but when my boss came over to speak to him in his $99.00 suit with the creases in the coat he stood our like dogs balls in the crowd of shareholders.
                      The rule of thumb that I advise people: Be close enough to help, but not so close that you need to be introduced.
                      Second rule: Don't start thinking that you are on the same social or business level as the boss, regardless of how many corporate meetings you attend.
                      Jerry
                      http://personalprotectionconcepts.info

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