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Executive Protection and the Use of Firearms - A Study of a Representative Sample

There has been much discussion about the effectiveness of firearms in Executive Protection. For many protectors, as well as for the protected, firearms mean protection and, moreover, an indispensable requirement to be able to exercise it. That is why we set ourselves the difficult task of determining, with data and facts, how effective firearms really are in executive security in real situations.

However, this purpose is almost impossible to determine with absolute scientific rigor, since, in Mexico alone, it would be practically unfeasible to count how many people are involved in this activity, including private security elements, complementary police, police commissioned to guard people, military personnel who perform these tasks on official orders, retired military personnel who do it on their own, individuals with or without carrying a weapon who provide services without having a security company, escorts for large corporations and those who call themselves "private security guards". "driver escorts". That is to say, on principle, we do not have the precise number of the protectors; we do not know how many of them have a weapon or not, nor the number of total events in which they could have used it successfully or unsuccessfully.

We know, according to INEGI, that in the last three decades we have had a total of 2,877 executives and officials murdered, but we do not know how many of them had protectors and how many of them carried a firearm. If we extrapolate this to a worldwide scale, then it becomes impossible to make a completely accurate study.

This is the reason why we decided to take a representative sample that would allow us to obtain a result, although approximate, significant enough to determine the performance of firearms in Executive Protection. For this purpose, we analyzed 133 attacks against prominent public figures that took place during the 20th century and so far in the 21st century in 60 different countries.

What were the criteria for considering these 133 cases?  In order for the sample to be meaningful, the following aspects were taken into account:

  • Universal in nature, since the cases are worldwide.
  • Historically verifiable and widely disseminated facts.
  • The number must be sufficiently representative.
  • Covering a significant period of time.
  • It must be verifiable that the victims had an armed security team.
  • Victims who are persons of the highest or very high rank in their respective countries, or persons with official protection assigned by the authorities (In this way, it can be presumed that the elements that provided them with protection were duly selected and trained. Thus, the failures in the reaction cannot be attributed to a lack of training or aptitude, a characteristic of utmost relevance for the present analysis).

Only attacks have been taken into account, since kidnapping cases, likewise, would be impossible to quantify. Moreover, it would be extremely difficult to have historically verifiable facts about the performance of armed personnel in each case. The same applies to the use of firearms against random assaults and other similar problems, since they are even less documented.

The sample of 133 universal and verifiable cases is sufficiently broad and representative to show us what the best armed security groups, in their respective countries, managed to do in the cases of real attacks that took place over more than a century and what relevance firearms had to protect people in all these events.
In order to consider that in an attack the use of firearms was successful, the criterion is that they must have been used in a timely manner; that is to say, that their intervention was decisive for the unharmful outcome of the protected person, otherwise his survival could be attributed to chance and not to the effectiveness of the firearms.

The cases are divided into two parts: in the first, there are those in which the attack was not consummated for various reasons, and, in the other, there are those that had a fatal outcome.

The study shows that in only 3.76 % of the cases were firearms decisive in saving the protected persons, so that this particular study shows the very little relevance that this tool has in the protection of executives and high dignitaries.

Of course, as we could also see, the 3.76 % also means saving the life of the protected person, so it should not be a disregarded percentage; however, firearms should not be considered as main tools in Executive Protection, nor should the security system of a VIP be centered on their use.

It is important to emphasize once again that only those attacks against certain types of people and with a very specific type of protectors were taken into account, without taking into account the enormous number of kidnappings that plague Latin America in particular.

Of course, this is not intended to be a definitive study, but it can give a general idea of the scope that firearms have in Executive Protection. It is also important to note that, for decades, their preponderance in this industry was based on myth, or action movies, and not on facts and hard data.

Surprisingly, in 10.53 % of the cases studied, the attacks were either foiled or the attackers were subsequently immobilized with "empty hands", either by protectors or by the people themselves. These techniques were used against lone individuals who attacked public figures from the crowd (attacks against Reagan, Yitzhak Rabin, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, etc.).

This does not necessarily mean that hand-to-hand combat techniques are more effective than weapons; they simply showed their effectiveness for a specific threat that was prevalent in the study.

The attack against the Colombian presidential candidate, Luis Carlos Galán, who was assassinated despite having 18 bodyguards armed to the teeth, is also noteworthy. This fact shows that a strong operation is not necessarily an effective operation.

In conclusion, the present representative sample analysis gives an approximate value of 3.76 % for firearm effectiveness in real situations.

This means that in Executive Protection the firearm is a tool of minor importance and of little reliability, however, it should not be underestimated, since, as we have seen, in some conditions, even if they are few, it can save our lives. The important thing is to focus our operations on preventive activities that allow us to deactivate attacks before they happen and not to focus our operations on methods that historically have not yielded results.

Attempts

  1. Eduard, Prince of Wales - 1900
  2. Leopold II, King of Belgium - 1902
  3. Alfonso XIII, King of Spain - 1906
  4. Theodore Roosevelt, US Presidential Candidate - 1912
  5. Lenin - 1918 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
  6. Georges Clemenceau Prime Minister of France - 1919
  7. Benito Mussolini, Leader of Fascist Italy - April 1926 (attacker subdued with empty hands)
  8. Benito Mussolini, Leader of Fascist Italy - May 1926 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
  9. Herbert Hoover, President USA - 1928
  10. Franklin D. Roosevelt, U.S. President - 1933 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
  11. Keisuke Okada, Prime Minister of Japan - 1936
  12. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran - 1949
  13. Harry Truman, President United States - 1950 (firearms were decisive)
  14. Prince Hussein, Prince of Jordan - 1960
  15. Konrad Adenauer, German Chancellor - 1952
  16. Hendrik Verwoerd, Prime Minister of South Africa - 1960 (attacker subdued empty-handed)
  17. Charles De Gaulle, President of France - 1961 (driving was decisive)
  18. Charles De Gaulle, President of France - 1962 (driving was decisive)
  19. Georgios Papadopoulos, President of Greece - 1968
  20. Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Soviet Union - 1969
  21. George Wallace, US Presidential Candidate - 1972
  22. Anne, Princess of England - 1974.
  23. Sukarno, President of Indonesia - 1962
  24. Gerald Ford, President of the United States - 1975 (attacker subdued with empty hands)
  25. Elizabeth II, Queen of England - 1981
  26. Pope John Paul II - 1981 (attacker subdued empty-handed)
  27. Reagan, President of the United States - 1981 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
  28. Chun Doo Hwan, President South Korea - 1983
  29. Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister - 1984
  30. Augusto Pinochet, President of Chile - 1986 (firearms were decisive)
  31. Wonfgang Schäuble, German Minister of the Interior - 1990 (subdued attacker using empty hands)
  32. John Major, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom - 1991 (armored windows were decisive)
  33. Eduard Shevarnadze, President of Georgia - 1992
  34. Eduard Shevarnadze, President of Georgia - 1995
  35. Hosni Mubarak, President of Egypt - 1995 (firearms were decisive)
  36. Kiro Gligorov, President of Macedonia - 1995
  37. José María Aznar, Spanish politician and former Prime Minister - 1995 (armored vehicle and the failures of the attackers were decisive)
  38. Prince Charles of Wales 1995
  39. Eduard Shevarnadze, President of Georgia - 1998 (Armored vehicle was decisive)
  40. Jacques Chirac, President of France, 2002 (attacker subdued empty-handed)
  41. Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan - 2002 (firearms were decisive)
  42. Pervez Musharaf, President of Pakistan - 2003
  43. Murat Zyazikov, President of Ingushetia - 2004
  44. Shaukat Aziz, Prime Minister of Pakistan - 2004
  45. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister Bangladesh - 2004
  46. Ibrahim Rugova, President of Kosovo - 2005
  47. Pervez Musharaf, President of Pakistan - 2007
  48. George W. Bush, President of the United States and Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia - 2005
  49. Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, President of Somalia - 2006
  50. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Secretary of Defense of Sri Lanka - 2006
  51. Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States - 2007
  52. Guillaume Soro, Premier of Ivory Coast - 2007
  53. Abdul Gayoom, President Maldives - 2008 (attacker subdued using empty hands)
  54. Jose Ramos Horta, President of East Timor - 2008
  55. Queen Beatrix, Queen of Netherlands - 2009
  56. Yunus- Bek Yevkurov, Leader of Ingushetia - 2009
  57. Stephen Timms, British Labor MP - 2010
  58. Ali Abdulah Saleh, President of Yemen - 2011
  59. Apha Condé, President of Guinea, (firearms were decisive)
  60. Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Leader of the Pakistani Senate - 2017.
  61. Nicolas Maduro, President of Venezuela - 2018
  62. Omar Garcia Harfuch Chief of Mexico City Police 2020
  63. Ivan Duque, President of Colombia- 2021
  64. Assimi Goita, President of Mali - 2021 (attacker subdued empty-handed)
  65. Aleksandar Vučić President of Serbia 2022.
  66. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner vice-president of Argentina
  67. Manuel Macron, President of France 2023 (attacker subdued with empty hands)
  68. Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan (attacker subdued empty-handed)
  69.  Lee Jea Myung, South Korea's opposition leader 

Consummated facts:

      1. William McKinley, President of the United States - 1901
      2. Franz Ferdinand (Franz Ferdinand), Archduke of Austria - 1914
      3. Sidonio Pais, President Portugal - 1918
      4. Michael Collins, Irish revolutionary leader - 1922.
      5. Ahmet Muhtar Zogolli -1924
      6. Alexander I, King of Yugoslavia - 1939
      7. Walter Edward Guinness, Lord Moyne, UK Minister to the Middle East - 1944
      8. Ahmad Mahar Pasha, Prime Minister of Egypt - 1945
      9. Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi, Prime Minister of Egypt - 1948
      10. Abdullah I, King of Jordan - 1951
      11. José Antonio Remón Cantera, President of Panama - 1955
      12. Hendrik Verwoerd, Prime Minister of South Africa - 1960
      13. Hazza al Majali, Prime Minister of Jordan 1960
      14. Louis Rwagasore,Prime Minister of Burundi, 1961
      15. John F. Kennedy, President of the United States - 1963
      16. Jospeh Bamina, Prime Minister of Burundi, 1965
      17. Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, President South Africa, 1966
      18. Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General of the United States -1968
      19. Marthin Luther King, African-American activist-1968
      20. Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, President of Somalia, 1969
      21. Wasfi al-Tal, Prime Minister of Jordan - 1971
      22. Abdul Rahman, Inspector General of Police Malaysia - 1974
      23. Francois Tombalbaye, President of Chad,1975
      24. Shaik Mujibur Rajman, President of Bangladesh,1975
      25. Muetala Muhammed, Head of State of Nigeria,1976
      26. Hans Martin Schleyer, German business leader - 1977
      27. MarkenNgouabi, President of Congo,1977
      28. Ahmad bin Hussein al-Ghashmi, President of the Republic of Yemen - 1978
      29. Aldo Moro former Prime Minister of Italy -1978
      30. Park Chung Hee, President of South Korea - 1979
      31. Lord Louis Mountbatten, diplomat, officer of the British Royal Navy - 1979
      32. William Richard Tolbert, President of Liberia, 1980
      33. Anwar el Sadat, Prime Minister of Egypt - 1981.
      34. Ziaur Rahman, President of Bangladesh ,1981
      35. Bachir Gemayel, President Elect of Lebanon, 1982
      36. Mohammad Ali Rajai, President of Iran, 1981
      37. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India - 1984
      38. Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, Minister of Justice of Colombia - 1984
      39. Thimas Sankara, President of Burkina Faso, 1987
      40. Carlos Mauro Hoyos, Attorney General of Colombia - 1988
      41. Luis Carlos Galan, Colombian Presidential Candidate - 1989
      42. James N Rowe, US Military Advisor - 1989
      43. Waldemar Franklin Quintero, Antioquia Police Commander, Colombia - 1989
      44. Alfred Herrhausen, CEO Deuche Bank - 1989
      45. Samuel Doe, President Liberia - 1990
      46. Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa, Presidential candidate, leader of the Patriotic Union party - 1990
      47. Rajiv Gandhi, Hindu politician - 1991
      48. Giovanni Falcone, Anti-Mafia Judge - 1992
      49. Melchoir Ndadaye, President of Burundi 1993
      50. Luis Donaldo Colosio, Presidential Candidate Mexico -1994.
      51. Juvénal Habyarimana, President of Rwanda - 1994
      52. Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel - 1995
      53. Vazgen Sargsyan, Prime Minister of Armenia - 1999
      54. Luis María Argaña, vice president of Paraguay - 1999
      55. Zoran Djindjic, Prime Minister of Serbia - 2003
      56. João Bernardo Vieira, President of Guinea 2009
      57. Benazir Bhutto former Prime Minister of Pakistan
      58. Ali Abdulah Saleh, President of Yemen - 2017.
      59. Alexander Zakharchenko, President Republic of Donetsk - 2018
      60. Aristóteles Sandoval, former Governor of the State of Jalisco - 2020
      61. Jovenel Moise, President of Haiti- 2021
      62. Shinzo Abe former Prime Minister of Japan 2022
      63. Atiq Ahmed former Prime Minister of India- 2023
      64. Fernando Villavicencio Presidential Candidate Ecuador 2023

Executive Protection and the Use of Firearms - A Study of a Representative Sample Read More »

Armed escorts at public events

I consider myself skeptical about the use of weapons in the executive protectionnot because I think they are useless, but because their limited effectiveness is overstated and they often generate more problems than solutions.

An example of this are two cases that occurred in less than a month: one in Argentina and the other in Mexico. The first occurred on November 14, in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, during a political event of economist Javier Milei, when a security agent threatened to pull his gun on the audience. The other took place on December 5 of the same year, during the concert of Grupo Codiciado, in Mexicali, Baja California, where a security guard fired his weapon after arguing with a fan and hitting him, when he was trying to take a picture with Erick Aragón, lead singer of the group.

Fortunately, in both cases, no tragedy occurred; however, a bad image has been generated, not only for the personalities that these agents protected, but for all professionals who work in this noble activity. An image that, on the other hand, had already been hit by several scandals in social networks in recent years.

Many colleagues tell me that it is better to carry a weapon to be used "when needed", but the big problem is how we can see and how we can know when it is really needed, because, for this, a solid professional training is required. Unfortunately, many of the protectors are trained with courses that are based more on action movies than on reality, "trainings" where the gun is presented as the only solution to all the problems that may arise. The sad results of this training are evident in these two cases.

Training in executive protection should be governed by the 45-45-10 rule; that is, 45 % of the training time should be focused on mastering the knowledge and skills that are used in the daily work of a protector; another 45 % should be focused on mastering those strategies and practices that allow us to avoid risk situations, while the remaining 10 % should be spent on emergency management.

Protectees, particularly those who are public figures, should consider what kind of training their protectors have, whether they really value their image, their legal status, as well as their physical integrity.

Armed escorts at public events Read More »

Executive protection, officials and celebrities... Evolving to the concept of CIRM

The protégé as chief bodyguard, a major risk in executive security.

One of the most frequent and difficult problems for all of us who work in executive protection is undoubtedly the fact that most of the protégés assume two different roles at the same time: one that corresponds naturally to them as protégés, and another, which does not correspond to them, as heads of their own escort.

 

It is important to point out that the executive, in most cases, is not qualified for either of the two roles; neither for the role of protégé, much less for the role of chief bodyguard, which he often tries to usurp. Needless to say, the fact of exercising an activity, but without having the relevant skills in a dangerous profession, implies a latent and constant risk that has already cost the lives of many bodyguards and protégés.

Executives usually occupy a very high hierarchical position within their organizations; they are used to giving orders and it is easy for them to start directing their protection agents without having the knowledge to do so, they even think that no knowledge is needed to do so. On the other hand, most of the time, escorts and protection service managers do not dare to contradict executives for the justified fear of losing their jobs or losing the client, if it is a security company that provides the protection service. So they let the user "play" with their security equipment, endangering their lives and the lives of their escorts.

 

The users often tell the escorts how far away they consider the protectors should be in different situations; they send the escorts with everything and vehicle to perform different tasks while they are in a restaurant; they divide the protection team by ordering the driver to perform some activities while ordering the escort to do others; they send the protectors to rest and leave them "free" before they finish their activities, or they send them to take care of their friends or relatives. All these impertinences have been the cause of several attacks and kidnappings.

The most recent example is the kidnapping of the candidate for mayor of Uruapan, Michoacán, Omar Plancarte Hernández, in May of this year, who was deprived of his freedom by a commando of criminals. Although he had a large group of bodyguards, they were not accompanying him, as he had ordered them to leave to attend to his wife. This is just one example of many where executives put themselves in grave danger and even lose their lives by "playing" at being the boss of their own bodyguards.

 

Imagine that the protégé is the owner of an airline and just because he is the owner, he gets on a plane and, without being trained, enters the cockpit and assumes the role of captain. Fortunately this does not happen, and neither would the pilots allow it, as it is a risk to everyone's life.

However, if in the executive protection In the same way, the lives of all those involved are in danger, why do executives take these attitudes, which would not occur to them if we take the example of the airplane or even if we take another type of profession as an example?

First of all, the executive is generally influenced by two fallacies:

 

The first: In executive protection no specialized knowledge is required other than knowing how to hit and shoot. So the executive can send his escort as he pleases.

 

The second: To have protection it is enough to have a couple of armed agents without any structure or protocol.

 

On the other hand, the escorts, security administrators, as well as the protection businessmen, do not oppose (as a pilot would) to the whims of the executive, sometimes out of ignorance, but, in most cases, out of fear of being left without a job (or without their profit, in the case of a security businessman). The result of all this chaos is dead or wounded bodyguards and kidnapped or murdered executives, sometimes even by their own protectors, as happened in the case of Mexican businessman Adolfo Lagos.

The first step out of this crisis must be taken by corporate security administrators, as well as by security entrepreneurs protecting individual clients.

 

In my experience, executives are usually intelligent and capable people who understand reason. Others are not worth working with. After a well-done security study, and with the necessary and well-presented fundamentals where the scope of the service and its place within it are clearly explained, they will be willing to collaborate. This process is explained in detail in the book Executive Protection in the 21st Century: The New Doctrine.

 

Just as a person needs training to become an escort, an executive also needs training to become a protégé. Just as an untrained person working as a protector is a risk, an untrained executive receiving protection is a danger to himself and his entire security team, as well as his family.

 

This is why a well-developed operational structure, well-trained escorts and security managers, and an aware executive are key to a successful security system. executive protection successful.

The protégé as chief bodyguard, a major risk in executive security. Read More »

Chance can no longer be the foundation of Executive Protection.

Executive Protection is a profession that has been undergoing an unreasonable development. Over the decades, this activity has focused on increasing its capacity to respond to an attack, which, according to the facts, is totally illogical. When analyzing the assassinations, attacks and kidnappings committed in the 20th century and so far in the 21st century, for example, the attackers were successful in almost all cases. As a consequence, the protected persons were killed, wounded or deprived of their freedom. We even have some examples where a single person with only one weapon managed to defeat the world's most famous security services: the U.S. Secret Service and Israeli security, in the attacks against Ronald Reagan and Yitzhak Rabin, respectively. Needless to mention the attacks and kidnappings that occur in Latin America with large commandoes of hired assassins and high-powered weapons.

Faced with such a phenomenon, it is worth asking why it exists. Apart from the surprise factor that criminals have, as well as the numerical and strategic advantage they seek, the protectors, due to the psychological and physiological impact they suffer in those moments, can hardly achieve an organized and forceful thinking that leads to accurate actions, regardless of how trained they are. Although it is not impossible for security forces to perform adequately in high-impact situations, their performance cannot be left to chance. Therefore, chance cannot be the foundation of a profession as important as Executive Protection.

For someone caught under fire, the chances of survival range from slim to none. So why continue to invest time and money in sustaining a dangerous working model that historically has not worked well? When studying attacks, at least three phases of operation executed by criminals are always recognized:

  • Gathering information about the victim.
  • Monitoring and follow-up (may last several months).
  • Installation of the aggressors in the waiting point before the attack (as we saw in the case of the attack against Omar Garcia, it can be several hours in advance).

 

Faced with this type of eventuality, anticipation will always be the best strategy: instead of waiting for aggression, a passive stage where our chances are minimal, it is much easier and safer to intercept the attack in its preparation phase. It is relatively "simple" to detect hostile surveillance lasting several months, and thus disrupt the attack before it happens. If successful, the aggressors can easily be surprised where they are waiting before the attack, thus nullifying their actions in advance. It is important to note that this requires changes in strategy and specialized counter-surveillance and early warning groups.

Criminals act with cunning and intelligence: they try to attack us where we are most vulnerable and when we are most vulnerable. So why play their game by betting on reaction, when we can surprise them much earlier, when they are unprotected?

 

A radical change in the way we operate is necessary so that, with simple, effective and discreet measures, we can protect the lives of executives, escorts and citizens. In the face of today's threats, we do not need a stronger operation, but a smarter one.

Chance can no longer be the foundation of Executive Protection. Read More »

Drones: emerging threat in Executive Protection.

In early November of this year, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi escaped unharmed from an attack when a drone loaded with explosives struck his residence in a high security zone in Baghdad, Iraq, injuring six of his bodyguards.

 

If we take into account that organized crime groups in our country are already using drones in their confrontations, it is only a matter of time before these devices are used against any executive in Mexico.

 

For this reason, specialists in executive protectionIn accordance with the risk study for each case, they should consider drones as a serious threat and seek the best methods to counteract it.

These measures range from anti-drone nets, lasers to shoot down drones, the use of trained eagles and even sophisticated jamming systems for the exclusive use of federal forces, which are extremely expensive.

 

It is important to note that, in many legislations, shooting down a drone is a crime, and also in different countries some devices are legally restricted, so it is very important to be clear about the legal and regulatory conditions in our area of operations. However, it is clear that, in the face of a threat against the life of the executive and our own, we must act decisively.

Currently, Axis Communications and Dedrone are jointly developing anti-drone solutions with an integrated multi-sensor platform that aggregates data from advanced video detection and analytics sensors, which are fed with sequences generated by video cameras in combination with radars. This combined information establishes detection over a fairly large area of up to 5 km and sends an early warning, even before the drone takes off, allowing visual location of the device and its timely mitigation. This, in turn, allows tracking the drone's flight path and revealing the pilot's location, generating records that are automatically cataloged and provide evidence to the authorities.

Regardless of the method we want to use, according to the levels of risk, legal conditions and economic resources available, it is very important that we begin to seriously consider this emerging threat in our operational planning. Many of the threats that were previously considered unlikely came to cause a lot of damage because they were underestimated by specialists. We must be one step ahead and always ready to prevent a first drone attack and not wait until a second one occurs.

Drones: emerging threat in Executive Protection. Read More »

A strong slap in the face for French presidential security.

Last June 8, 2021, during a visit to the town of Tain-l'Hermitage, located in southeastern France, a man slapped French President Emmanuel Macron.

We don't know how much the blow hurt the French president, but it certainly stung the French security agencies, particularly the Security Group of the Presidency of the Republic of France (GSPR), in charge of presidential protection. Beyond the fact that this attack could have resulted in something much more dangerous (even deadly, using a Swiss knife), it is quite shameful that the president of one of the leading nations in Europe and the Western world should be attacked in such a way. This event puts all Gallic security institutions into question, as the inability to effectively protect the president of their nation can be a very bad sign in the face of various hostile groups and organizations.

This event demonstrates once again how vulnerable the security of high-ranking dignitaries and celebrities can be to the threat posed by crowds. Unfortunately, we have many examples of attacks and attacks from the crowd, such as those committed against Pope John Paul II or the assassination of former presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio, just to mention a few.

To mitigate this and other threats, it is essential to understand that the protection of executives, dignitaries and celebrities is not a single person or a group of armed individuals, but a system that includes several factors and measures. Those of us who have worked in this profession on the other side of the Iron Curtain know that during official visits of presidents and senior Communist Party officials to cities, extensive intelligence and counterintelligence work was carried out long beforehand. The intelligence services had well located dissidents and opponents of the regime, who would be isolated or monitored during the visit to avoid situations that could have attempted against the life or image of the protégé.

 

Also, the security services were very careful to ensure that the shadow agents, the unconventional ones discussed in this video, were placed in the front rows where the president would have contact with the crowd, so that, frequently, where the official was seen interacting with the public, in reality, he only had contact with his protection agents. When this was not possible at all times, for operational and logistical reasons, the security services saw to it that the front lines of interaction were mostly covered by people and family members who were demonstrably sympathetic to the Communist Party or its ideology. This explains why the leaders of the Eastern European countries during the Cold War had virtually no incidents despite frequent contact with the crowds.

Of course, this is something that cannot be employed as is in today's democratic countries; however, there are many principles of this system that can be applied and implemented in both the public and private spheres.

 

Although many people are shocked when we talk about the spying on citizens in totalitarian regimes, thanks to the revelations of Edward Snowden, we now know that the government agencies of several Western countries, through our cell phones and other electronic means, are able to obtain the information they need from citizens, something that not even the Committee for State Security (the KGB, for its acronym in Russian) could have dreamed of. The information obtained from people includes their psychological profile, political opinions, geolocation, network links, private conversations, among other data.

 

So, whether one accepts it or not, the French security agencies, in order to take the corresponding preventive measures, had a lot of resources to determine who were the people who could put the president in any kind of danger in the area of operation. Clearly, if this fails, the deployment of infiltrated shadow agents on the front lines is essential, not only to thwart an attack or reduce the accessibility of the potential aggressor to the protégé, but to gather intelligence, learn the general trend of the crowd, and profile and detect individuals who could pose a threat well before the protégé arrives on the scene. Examples of this in actual operatives have been described in the book. Executive Protection in the 21st Century: The New Doctrine.

Such a strategy, in coordination and communication with close protection agents, is a very effective way to prevent the attack before it happens. Of course, this requires a team of specially trained protectors, which the French president evidently lacked. All he was left with were close protection agents, which, statistically, fail most of the time they have to react to a surprise attack. When working in the crowd, the agent should generally be even closer to the protected person; however, in this case, there was no one to protect the president's left flank, as the agent arrived too late to avoid the aggression that would have been easy to detect and thwart, if the agent had been in place, covering the flank properly.

 

Finally, the president himself makes the mistake of getting too close to the public, compromising his personal space and, consequently, leading to humiliating results. Even as president, the protégé himself must follow the security rules previously outlined by his protection team. By ignoring these rules, coupled with poor planning and strategy, the result was worldwide embarrassment.

A strong slap in the face for French presidential security. Read More »

Executive protection, between knowing how to shoot or knowing how to sell?

When we think of the skills that a protector must have, the first thing that comes to mind are the spectacular courses of executive protection in which the participants use weapons of all calibers; perform all kinds of physical and motorized acrobatics; carry the executive in a "tie" while running and shooting at the same time; shoot from a moving vehicle and perform all this repertoire of practices that are highly entertaining but which bear no resemblance to their real work activities. We are facing the famous "95 Fallacy", in which escorts spend 95 % of their time training in techniques that 95 % of them will not use in their working life, and, if they do, they will fail in 95 % of the cases.

On the other hand, the essential knowledge and skills that protectors use on a daily basis are not taught or are taught very little. One of these skills is the "selling skill". At this point many will be surprised or even annoyed, as the "common" image of the escort is that of a warrior and not a merchant. However, if we do not understand that every human activity involves selling, to a greater or lesser extent, we are lost. We all sell our work to our clients, to our bosses, and, in this case, to our protégés, so how we will be valued depends on it. Communication, persuasion and convincing skills are essential in our work.

We have heard our colleagues complain countless times about how little they earn, the unwillingness of the executive to invest in their safety or the lack of the necessary equipment to do the job, for example. The users of the executive protection are, in general, people with resources; we are witnesses of the investments they make, by the millions, in different projects. However, their refusal to invest even a fraction for their own safety and that of their loved ones is surprising. Something is definitely not right here. But the answer is simple: yes, there are resources, but we do not know how to sell.

This probably bothers many of us, since we like to give our responsibilities to others and not assume them ourselves, but this is exactly what we should not do if we want our profession to be more respected and better paid. Poor "selling" skills are one of the biggest problems of the executive protection current.

Of course, in order to sell something you need at least two things: a good product and sales skills. Executives, for the most part, are intelligent, practical and skillful people, who understand and accept well-founded reasons and concepts.

The major problem, on the other hand, is that the executive protection traditional is a difficult product to sell when offered to an intelligent person. That is, traditional, reactive protection is generally not based on logic or hard data, as I explained in this article:

Therefore, it is very difficult to sell something illogical to someone rational.

Many executives with whom we have spoken have even pointed out that they do not want to invest in more salaries or in more weapons or patrols, because they say that if they "go after them" they will do it with their bodyguards, and they also cite several examples where executives have been murdered or kidnapped despite their security team, which either failed to react or did not react adequately. We must accept, however, that this is a difficult argument to refute both historically and statistically.

In the same vein, some of them told us that they mainly use their protectors to deter the most common and "benign" crimes, so they do not consider it prudent to make a more serious investment. Others, in turn, prefer not to use escorts and opt for a "low profile", a fallacy we explain in this video:

Of course, the attitudes of these executives are dangerous for both them and their protectors; therefore, we need a new "product", a new concept of protection that is clear, logical, effective and supported by hard data, while being easy to understand and with a clear cost/benefit concept acceptable to the executive. This is explained in detail in the book Executive Protection in the 21st Century: The New Doctrine.

Once we master this concept we have to train ourselves in different techniques of persuasion, convincing and other methods related to our abilities to sell and negotiate with our client who, being capable and reasonable people, after a good negotiation, always end up accepting the well founded concepts.

Of course, there are always foolish and irrational users who, many times, are even rude; however, in our experience, they represent a minority with whom it is better not to work, if we wish to preserve our reputation.

Our training should be increasingly focused on the knowledge and skills that we actually use on a daily basis and that are fundamental to effectively provide a more professional service, always with the objective of making the company a more professional company. executive protection into a more respected and better paid profession.

Executive protection, between knowing how to shoot or knowing how to sell? Read More »

Counter-surveillance in Executive Protection: most important but least used.

Several months ago, I wrote an article about the non-existent prevention structure in the executive protectionI was particularly emphasizing the absence of counter-surveillance in daily operations, to which some colleagues commented to me that counter-surveillance is a method that has been known in Mexico for many years. Of course, I never said that I "invented" counter-surveillance, nor that it is something unknown to professionals; but, I insist, it is a method almost totally out of use in the vast majority of security groups currently operating.

The recent unfortunate attacks in Mexico City are proving me right. In the attacks on Norberto Rivera's house in 2018, on the Secretary of Citizen Security, Omar García Harfuch, in 2020 and in the most recent attack against the restaurant businessman Eduardo Beaven, in the vicinity of the capital's airport, subsequent investigations have shown that the victims were objects of hostile surveillance by criminals months before the aggression, without being detected in a timely manner.

As we well know, the attack on an executive lasts only a few moments, but the preparation for this attack involves prolonged observation and monitoring against the victim by the criminals, a process that, as we have seen, can last for months. Counter-surveillance detects and defuses the attack in this early observation phase without exposing the protégé to the risks and uncertainty involved in the reaction.

If a structured counter-surveillance system had been in place in the cases mentioned above, specialists in this technique would have detected the presence of the criminals and defused the attack months before it was executed, thus avoiding human losses. These techniques are explained with real-life examples in the book Executive Protection in the 21st Century, The New Doctrine.

What else has to happen for us to give up dangerous fantasies of guns and reaction and shift the operational weight in the executive protection Did the company develop counter-surveillance and early warning methods to prevent the loss of life of both protectees and their protectors?

Counter-surveillance in Executive Protection: most important but least used. Read More »

Executive protection training; an amusement park.

Training in executive protection could certainly be considered a postmodern activity, since in it fantasy and imagination prevail over reality. This profession is also probably the only one in which protectors are trained in something they may never employ in their working life, while the things that are, or should be, performed on a daily basis are not part of a curriculum in most training institutions.

We say that escort training is dominated by the "95 Fallacy," where 95 % of training time is devoted to activities that 95 % of operators will never perform in their lifetime, and, if they ever do, they will fail 95 % of the time, regardless of their level of preparedness.

The training market for this discipline has become an amusement park. The training courses for escorts are, in general, spectacular: all kinds of weapons are fired, sometimes from moving vehicles or charging the main one; all kinds of body and motor maneuvers are performed; there are crashes and, sometimes, even vehicles are burned; "karatazos" are given, or rescues and scenes that not even Hollywood has managed to recreate are simulated. The rule is simple: the more spectacle, the more sales.

Of course, we all enjoy these events very much; however, the executive protection is not Disneyland for security agents, but a very serious profession where the lives of executives, escorts and citizens in general are at stake at all times.

This type of training is not only not very helpful in the operation, since the measures taught therein have an effectiveness in real conditions of only 5 %, but also partially harmful, since in many occasions it leads to failure. This, first of all, because it favors a reactive approach by reducing the strategy to only waiting for an ambush to react, where the chances of the protectors are minimal or null.

On the other hand, the "amusement park" becomes the only response to all kinds of situations, which has generated great damage and has also claimed lives. The famous escort of the singer Lucero pulled out his gun against journalists, generating a great scandal. He was "crucified" in the media, but not all the blame was his. If he was taught that his only tool is the gun, without teaching him other methods, the only thing he will use in any kind of adverse situation is the gun.

Adolfo Lagos' armed driver unintentionally killed his protégé while defending him from an assault by shooting while driving. This action looks great in the "amusement park", but, in real life, it turned out to be tragic. Something similar happened during the assault on Sergio "Checo" Perez's bodyguard, where a protector was seriously wounded.

With this training, making a show in real life becomes something aspirational for the protector, who sometimes seeks out and even provokes this type of event to bring about the situation he fantasizes about during the training, only that, in reality, the genre of the film changes from a successful thriller to a great tragedy.

Of course I do not mean to say that this type of training is useless, or that it should not be implemented. It is clear that the protector must know the reactive measures in the same way that a pilot practices how to deal with various emergencies in a simulator. The big problem is that the executive protection are not and should not be emergencies, but rather how to avoid them.

This is why training in executive protection should be mastered by the 45-45-10 rule; that is, 45 % of the training time should be focused on mastering the knowledge and skills that are used in the daily work of a protector, another 45 % should be focused on mastering the strategies and practices that allow us to avoid risky situations, while the remaining 10 % should be focused on handling emergencies. Only in this way can we achieve a safer profession for both executives and protectors.

Executive protection training; an amusement park. Read More »

The three major problems of deterrence in Executive Protection.

Deterrence, undoubtedly, was one of the pillars of the executive protection traditional. Guns, patrols and numerous intimidating agents were intended to discourage any hostile individuals or groups that might pose a threat to the protégé. However, like most of the measures previously used in our profession, this too was overestimated. It should be made clear that no one questions that deterrence has its advantages, but, in our work today, it has at least three major problems:

1. Limited, questionable and difficult to quantify. In the words of Olivera Ćirković, ex-member of the famous international band the Pink PanthersIn Colombia, deterrence may discourage petty criminals, but not organized and well-structured groups, if they consider the target worth the risk. Eighteen armed bodyguards failed to deter the gunmen and prevent the assassination of Luis Carlos Galán, Colombia's presidential candidate. Similarly, the entire U.S. Secret Service failed to deter John Hinckley from making an attempt on Ronald Reagan's life, just as Israeli security did not deter Yigal Amir from assassinating Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. So not only organized groups; determined individuals are not always deterred by the spectacle of deterrence.

2. The image of the executive in the digital era. The digital revolution and the growing influence of social networks made today's executives begin to reject the classic paraphernalia of agents in suits with dark glasses and threatening attitude to protect their image in an increasingly horizontal society. What was once a status symbol has now become one of bad taste.

3. It is not a financially smart concept. To deter more than the "common" pedestrian assailant, a robust system of at least two or more people, weapons, patrols and specific equipment is required, which implies a high cost, but, as we have already said, its scope is very limited and difficult to quantify. If to this we add the fact that the weapons and the reaction in the executive protection have a range of only 5 % in real conditions, using this type of measure has a disadvantage when considering its cost/benefit, so more and more executives are rejecting its implementation.

Of course, whether to use deterrence or not, and to what extent, depends on a case-specific risk study. Here, in general terms, we want to point out the advantages and disadvantages of such a concept to help practitioners design their operations. However, techniques such as intelligence, counter-surveillance and early warning will always be much more effective, more discreet and, of course, more economical solutions.

The three major problems of deterrence in Executive Protection. Read More »

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