Executive Protection: Past, Present And Future

For security companies worldwide, the future is a moving target.

In order to best protect our clients and their assets, we are constantly updated on the increasingly sophisticated methods and tactics being deployed by terrorist groups, rogue militias and organized crime gangs. In a world of rapidly evolving technology and global uncertainty we have to work diligently and relentlessly to stay ahead of these threats and potential dangers to our clients and close protection operatives.

It’s often difficult to predict where and when these threats might occur.

Only a couple of years ago, within the private security and intelligence communities, countries such as Ukraine, Kenya and Nigeria, were considered to be relatively safe. Not anymore. Brazil is another good case in point. Because its economy is booming, Brazil presents a myriad of opportunities for Western companies and executives and is ‘open for business’. At the same time the number of kidnappings in that country has doubled in the last four years and its murder rate is now one of the highest on earth.

It’s a common fallacy that Close Protection is something carried out by bodyguards.

In fact, the traditional image of the bodyguard as a man-mountain wearing an earpiece and a pair of shades is a thing of the past, certainly within progressive security companies such as Priavo. We assign Executive Protection Operatives who are all highly trained, experienced and dedicated professionals, drawn mostly from the ranks of the British Special Forces, Military and Intelligence Services. On any operation most of our time is spent on research and risk assessment prior to  deployment in order to mitigate any potential threats before they happen. It’s brains over brawn.

An historical example of how to get it wrong deserves a closer look.

On Monday March 30th 1981 at 2.27pm, U.S. President Ronald Reagan was shot twice, at close range, by a lone deranged gunman; John Hinckley Jr. How could this have happened? It was a catastrophic failure of intelligence. In this case the Close Protection team, charged with protecting the President, put far too much reliance on brawn and not enough emphasis on brains; strategy and operational planning.

Had a detailed Risk Assessment been prepared on the hotel Reagan was leaving (the Washington Hilton) with particular attention paid to its access and egress, Hinckley would never have gotten anywhere near his target. Yet the fact remains, the most heavily protected person on the planet was shot whilst totally surrounded by his bodyguards. Had Reagan died, and it was a miracle he didn’t, he would have become the fifth U.S. President to be assassinated. Hinckley was subsequently found not guilty by reason of insanity. He’s still alive (aged 58) housed in a secure psychiatric unit in Washington D.C.

Whether it’s protecting a Head of State, VIP, taking a wealthy couple’s children to school or any operation in between, Priavo Close Protection Operatives rely heavily on their experience and when necessary their initiative.

On a recent operation a highly controversial foreign dignitary had to be escorted across London to attend a conference. This would normally be done using a car convoy; a couple of Range Rovers and an armoured limo. However, our Risk Assessment indicated that the route would be flanked by protesting ex-pat groups, therefore posing a threat to our client. When the passenger-less cars arrived at the conference centre our client was sitting safely waiting for them. He had been whisked through London unnoticed, wearing a bomber jacket, a baseball cap and a pair of Ray Bans, by two of our operatives-on the Tube.

Both the officers in this case were former members of the Special Boat Service (SBS). The motto of the SBS is  ” By Strength and Guile.”

Although the future is a moving target it’s always in our sights and our insights.

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