Bodyguard Formations: A Quick and Easy Overview

By Doc Rogers

While on bodyguard assignments there are four basic formations you will employ in the protection of your client depending on the environment, threat level, circumstances and the number of bodyguards available. The four basic formations are the wedge, box, diamond and one-on-one formations which are a structured perimeter defense formed around the client. These formations remain in close proximity to the client, are highly mobile and move with the client at all times, shielding the client from encountering any altercations.  While conducting these protective formations either as a team bodyguard effort or on a one on one effort always be alert and position yourself between the client to shield against possible threats. Fully scan the room your client is in, if you sense danger, take action and move the client to safety immediately.

Each formation should be utilized to suit the individual needs of a situation to include the protection of your client while in different functions such as public halls, open space meetings, boardrooms, crowded auditoriums or streets, etc. Actually, the shape of the formation never stays perfectly aligned to the geometric configurations described; but the most important consideration is maintaining the integrity of protection provided for the client at all times by mitigating potential threats.

Wedge Formation

The wedge formation as the name suggests in the geometric configuration of a wedge. The rule in the wedge formation is to provide the client with 360 degrees of protection at all times. The wedge is the most difficult formation in maintaining perimeter integrity around the client and is mostly utilized in moving the client through heavy low-risk crowds. The wedge should only be used in a tight protective formation and is normally conducted in an overt movement.

Box Formation

The box formation as the name suggests in the geometric configuration of a box.  The rule in the box formation is to provide the client with 360 degrees of protection at all times. The box is to be utilized in moderate to high risk crowds and is a fairly easy formation for maintaining perimeter integrity around the client. The box can be used in both loose and tight protective formations and can be conducted in a covert or overt movement.

Diamond Formation

The diamond formation as the name suggests in the geometric configuration of a diamond.  The rule in the diamond formation is to provide the client with 360 degrees of protection at all times. The diamond can be used in both loose and tight protective formations and can be conducted in a covert or overt movement.

One-On-One Formation

The one-on-one formation is normally utilized within a low threat area on a low threat client. The rule in the one-on-one formation is to provide the client with 360 degrees of protection at all times while utilizing low public profile techniques. The lone bodyguard is responsible for the flank, point, tail, and close-in protection of the client. The one-on-one can be used in both a loose and tight protective formation and should be conducted in a covert movement.

Responsibilities & Position Categories

Walking formations are set-up around the client to ensure a threat can not breach security and get close to the principal while he or she is on foot.

Protective agents should maintain 360-degree security coverage around the principal, looking for potential threats. In the event of an attack on the principal the agents should surround, shield and evacuate him or her instantly.

The Point Bodyguard

The point bodyguard guides the protective team, blocks and heads-off potential threats from the front of the protective formation.

The Flank Bodyguard

The flank bodyguard blocks and heads-off potential threats from the sides of the protective formation.

The Rear Bodyguard

The rear bodyguard blocks and heads-off potential threats from the back of the protective formation.

The Detail Leader

The Detail Leader walks immediately to the right of the principal. The Detail Leader should be no less than an arms length away from the principal. He or she is responsible for immediately shielding and removing the principal in the event of an attack.

Which ever formation you are employing (wedge, box, diamond or one-on-one) if you see signs of impending assault or aggression against your client such as the appearance of a weapon you must communicate this threat to the other bodyguards on your team.

Shout the word “gun right” or “gun left” while concurrently nullifying the assault. The other bodyguards upon hearing this communication will simultaneously encircle and shield the client with their bodies, withdrawing the client from the area to a vehicle, a safe haven, or any other location where injury can be avoided. High-level proficiencies are required.

React proactively if any threatening behavior had been detected.  Upon threatening actions (physical assault, shots fired a handgun or knife assault) shield the client from attack. This means placing your body between the client’s body; protecting him or her from harm.

Quick response time essential to the safety of the client.  Remove the client from the area and evacuating the client to safety.  The bodyguard closest to the threat may delay the attacker, while the other bodyguards surround and shield the client with their bodies, with the team leader guiding the client to safety. Continually practice your bodyguard formation drills and attack on principal (AOP) drills over-and-over until they become instinctive. Always be safe and God Speed.

Doc Rogers is the author of Corporate Executive Protection – A Manual for Inspiring Corporate Bodyguards and president and CEO of International Corporate Executive Protection Ltd. Doc has earned a Ph.D. in Security Administration from Southwest University and he is SE Asia’s leading expert on executive protection and corporate security. To learn how to make a full time living as a corporate bodyguard visit the websites below for more information.

http://www.trafford.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?Book=182707

http://www.amazon.com/Corporate-Executive-Protection-Inspiring-Bodyguards/dp/1425135927

http://international-corporate-executive-protection.com/order.asp

  • Rey Rodriguez

    and dont forget one of the most important things that clients fail to remember THE BUDGET!!!

  • Jerry Maccauley

    Good article Doc. I’ve seen many teams try to choreograph these complicated formations and look silly in the process. You explain the main objective of each in the simple terms they require. 360 degree coverage regardless of the wedge, box, diamond or thrown together on the spot

  • Frank Gallagher

    Well written. The key is to train. If you can’t do it correctly in practice, you won’t do it correctly on game day.

  • James Bednash

    Great article Doc!

    Nice job about not only the various formations, but also the duties and responsibilities each EP agent has assigned specifically to him or her.

    Your article brought back memories of practicing formations for hours in the 110 degree sun in Maryland many years ago. lol

  • Rick Colliver

    Doc–
    Great article and as Jerry already noted, the key to any type of movement is 360 degrees of coverage; not only around us, but spherically above and below as well. We have to know what’s below the surface we’re walking/driving on (ie below stages, bridges etc), and we always have to remind ourselves to look up as we enter/exit buildings. Another point I’d make is that we teach that the DL is sometimes located slightly to the right/rear, rather than immediately to the right (for a right-handed DL). His/her position would be reversed for a left handed DL. We’ve found this affords better visual coverage with less head/eye movement. It also gets you used to working when the Protectee has a guest immediately on his/her left or right.

  • http://www.pantherprotectionservices.com Six

    Doc,

    As always thanks for your contributions. When a threat is recognized I am a fan of identifying the threat by positions on the clock as it allows the team to zone in on the threat easier. Gun 2 o’clock red automobile or Gun 10 o’clock second floor window, provides enhanced focus. It also keeps the team from accidentally moving into the threat.

  • http://www.icepltd.com Doc Rogers

    Rey, Jerry, Frank, James, Rick, and Six: Thanks so much for the kind comments. You are all true professionals in the industry and I am happy to be associated with you through bodyguardcareers and Hucky Austin! Keep safe and God speed.

  • jan

    hi guys

    Mr Doc rogers thanks for the great information on the bg formations. i always wanted to know what kinda Bg formation does a president or prime minister uses. Do you have any information on that.

    again thank you and appreciated.

    regards

    jan