To be successful in most fields you have to have some type of formalized or specialized education under your belt in order to teach you both the basic and advanced skills needed to succeed in a specific job. Whether that job is an auto mechanic, a draftsmen or accountant, those entering into the field of Executive Protection are also required to have some type of formal and advanced bodyguard training.
Bodyguard training is a component of Executive Protection that has changed significantly over the past 25 years. There was a time when any large, physically-fit man with an intimidating presence was employed as a Bodyguard—or as is politically correct in 2021—Executive Protection Specialist. This simply is no longer the case. Today, men and women both are working in the field, and bodyguard training is considered key to succeeding in the field, and physical strength, endurance and agility are only part of the EPS equation.
In many cases you will have an extremely hard time finding employment, either with a team or as an individual without a formalized bodyguard training. It is also important to remember that as an Executive Protection Specialist you have to continue on your path for excellence. Just because you graduated from the ABC school of bodyguard training does not mean that your education is complete. It is imperative for you to constantly continue to learn; the old saying “knowledge is power” is true. The more bodyguard training you have the better off you will be and the more success you will have as an Executive Protection Specialist.
So what is Executive Protection
So what is Executive Protection? One instructor describes this way. Executive Protection is, 99% boredom 1% unmitigated sheer terror. We are constantly preparing for that 1%.
There are a number of activities and occupations that are sometimes confused with executive protection, but before we get too far it seems appropriate to clearly define what is and is not executive protection.
Executive protection encompasses and refers to the various measures and counter-measures that are taken to ensure the physical safety and well-being of a VIP. Some of these Protection measures include strategy development and advance work, research on clients and the specific threats, both known and perceived, as well as providing security, close protection, surveillance, counter surveillance, mail screening, background checks on employees and persons coming into contact with the VIP.
The above definition is lengthy and comprehensive; it is packed with complex meaning and a description of activities associated with this profession that we will explore in this article. Because there is so much packed into this definition we will take some time now to unpack its meaning so there is little or no doubt as to how we distinguish between executive protection and other occupations.
Executive Protection Measures and Counter Measures
Measures and counter measures are respectively offensive and defensive interventions implemented for the purpose of achieving an objective. Measures are offensive or proactive interventions initiated by the executive protection professional.
These interventions are designed to make it more difficult for someone to harm your client as they go about their business. Measures such as establishing a strong forward presence, safe entrance and exit strategies, and coordination with uniform security and law enforcement, varied travel routing, advance recon, are but a few examples of measures taken to protect the physical safety of your client. Each of these measures is proactive in that they are initiated by the executive protection professional, inspired by their experience and training in anticipation of potential threats.
Counter measures are defensive or reactive interventions taken to avoid real and perceived threats to a client. Counter measures are responses to actions, perceived actions, or circumstance that have the potential to harm your client. Counter measures can include increased security details, alternate travel routes, alternate hotel accommodations, quick evacuation and extractions, and other initiatives which result from information that a credible threat exists.
Ensuring physical safety and well being are the end goal of any executive protection professional. The important thing to note in this section of our definition is that for the executive protection professional the goal is not so much to save someone who is already in danger, it is to keep a person from a dangerous situation. The client pays an executive protection professional to keep them out of harm’s way. Therefore, ensuring physical safety is more a matter of steering a client clear of harm than it is a matter of removing a client from a dangerous situation.
An important detail of our definition is, all executive protection professionals protect VIP’s. The reason this distinction is important is because there are special needs associated with protecting VIP’s which can only be met by an executive protection professional. VIP’s live a life that is unfortunately conducive to attracting particular dangers.
Protection professionals train hard to learn the business of protecting VIP’s. Learning the often exotic and off beat habits of the world’s elite will equip you to make wise decisions that will keep your client alive and well, but because VIP’s do not operate on the same level as the rest of the world, the dangers they and their families face are unusual at best. The job of the executive protection professional is to know more about their client’s routines and the potential consequences of those routines than the client themselves know. Putting this information into actionable plans is the life work of an executive protection professional.
Having unpacked our definition gives us the constituent elements of what executive protection professionals are responsible for doing. The composite picture is however greater than the sum of the parts. Executive protection specialist give everything they have and everything they are to bringing order, safety, and security to individuals whose public personas have placed them in harm’s way. Carrying out the duties of an executive professional can be exhausting both physically and mentally.
As executive protection professional you will spend days planning a detail and hours executing the detail. There will be times when your life will be in great danger and other times when you will feel as though you will die of boredom. There are times when you will be exposed to extreme temperatures and long hours on your feet.
There will also be times when you will have to perform strange duties you would never have expected. It is impossible to say what will happen on any given day or any given assignment because each day and each assignment are different. One thing that will not change is your responsibility to create an environment that provides the optimal opportunity for your client to live their lives free of interruption to their daily activities.
There are many and varied opportunities in the protection industry, and it would be my pleasure to assist you in finding the best possible fit as you make your way into the world of executive protection service.
Founder of Bodyguard Careers
Harlan (Hucky) Austin