The threat landscape in the modern world has seen its fair share of recalibration over the years. From peaks in the number of terrorist attacks to violent demonstrations and mass shootings, the world's wealthiest and most prominent companies have come under attack by malicious actors of all sorts. This article discusses how executive protection promotes peace of mind among high-profile people and families.
Simply put, executive protection (EP) is the function of safeguarding the life, privacy, and assets of governments, corporations, and high-net-worth individuals. In fact, EP firms do this by implementing a wide range of strategies, tactics, and tools, such as:
- The advance,
- Surveillance and countersurveillance,
- Reconnaissance and research, and
- Access control.
Although not an exhaustive list, these are a few that executive protection teams typically implement to provide customized services.
Note: Principals are the individuals receiving executive protection services, while the client is the legal entity paying the EP company for their assistance.
However, none of the above implies whether the persons providing executive protection should be armed or unarmed. So, let us start by learning more about this crucial matter.
Armed or Unarmed?
Firearms and weapons do not protect people. They are simply tools that, when used properly, aid in self-defense or in the defense of others. According to various security experts, EP agents will not use their firearms in 98% of all elevated risk cases. The reason is not that they are inadequately trained but because executive protection is in the planning and preparing for emergencies well in advance.
Therefore, whether anyone needs armed executive protection agents is a question of application and effectiveness, rather than security. This is because EP is all about prevention rather than reaction. In other words, proficient executive protection teams strive to predict any eventuality and devise plans to mitigate its outcomes.
Likewise, using firearms to protect an executive must be the last resort, only after all other approaches have been exhausted, including but not limited to:
- Detection, deterrence, and interruption of the threat cycle through tradecraft,
- De-escalation and interdiction techniques, i.e., talking down someone from approaching the principal, imposing your body or barriers between the threat and the principal,
- Unarmed combat skills, such as Krav Maga, Jiu-jitsu, and other martial arts, and
- Defensive, evasive, anti-terrorist driving skills.
Yes, it may be wise to have armed security in more volatile settings. In addition, specific principals may require armed guards in order to feel more secure. But even so, a thorough risk and security assessment should equip the EP team for any crisis.
Concentric Circles of Protection
There are dozens of methods and systems for going about protecting the wealthy and prominent. However, they all need to be adjusted for specific situations.
For instance, having a motorcade escort an executive to go grocery shopping would be short of a wise decision. Hence the rule of thumb: The less unwanted attention the high-profile individual attracts, the better.
And yet, some circumstances require a more robust approach. For example, gated estates and corporate buildings could benefit tremendously from using systems like concentric circles of protection that involve more overt methods.
In fact, some industry experts refer to this system as one of the most reliable ways to ensure the peace of mind of the executive and their entourage. Still, there is no such thing as a 100% risk-free environment. Even with the best executive protection agents on-site, a slight chance nonetheless persists that something could go sideways.
However, the system called the concentric circles of protection gets pretty close to the highest levels of security imaginable. It does so by implementing the following layered defenses:
- Inner ring: includes protection agents in direct communication with the executive, informing them about developments and potential evacuations.
- Middle ring: comprises on-site protective staff who form a particular physical formation around the principal.
- Outer ring: incorporates the residential security team, assigned protection for planes, hotels, yachts, or even law enforcement in distinct settings (especially for governmental affairs).
Most security providers will end their protective efforts within the three rings of protection we have described above. Yet, executive protection tradecraft must also include cybersecurity, technical surveillance countermeasures, protective intelligence, surveillance detection, and proactive threat mitigation. All EP efforts must have a basis in intelligence activity and design-based threat assessments.
How Executive Protection Works in Practice
Clearly, cyberattacks have been on the rise in the past few years, targeting the most prominent companies and individuals. Sadly, this fact somewhat lulled many high-profile executives into believing they are mostly safe in their physical environments now that malefactors apply so much effort to devise attacks via the internet.
In mistakenly assuming that cyberattacks form the most significant threat against executives, the high-ranking individuals put themselves in harm's way.
Executive protection teams comprise specialists in their respective fields. They serve as advisors and hopefully trusted advisors. Hence, it is their job to supply the soundest insight into how best to protect people, privacy, and assets through:
- Providing custom-made recommendations,
- Compiling design-based threat and vulnerability assessments (TVA),
- Creating security action plans from the TVA to mitigate risk,
- Ensuring minimum intrusion into the executive's lifestyle while
- Creating the trusted-advisor relationship with the principal.
For instance, let us assume that our principal decides to visit a nightclub with a questionable reputation security-wise. A client or principal will assume risk every day in their personal and business life. It is, hence, not the duty of the executive protection agent to advise against visiting such a venue. As a trusted advisor, it is the EPA’s responsibility to point out the risks and provide a risk mitigation plan. Most importantly, it is the principal who decides what risks he or she will accept.
Executive protection is not only about what one can see with their bare eyes, such as EP agents in black suits standing in front of an office. In fact, it also entails much beyond the eyesight of laypersons, including a security operations center and a protective advance.
Among other things, executive protection means creating layers of protection based on a detailed, living threat and vulnerability assessment. Our agents expertly utilize the gold standard for holistic design-based threat assessments: the CARVER threat and vulnerability assessment methodology.
Bedrock Special Projects provide peace of mind by implementing intelligence-driven covert and overt systems to benefit the world's wealthy, prominent individuals, their families, and corporations. Drop us a line to learn more!