THE MAGAZINE

The Lost Principles of Security

By Col. Thomas Bovet
 
 Progression Through Unlearning
 
The government’s major law enforcement agencies as well as the military’s counterterrorist commandos have immense resources in manpower and materiel to potentially win the war against terrorism. The reasons why those organizations are frequently being defeated by their nemeses lie in their inability to deviate from the textbooks and the confines of political conformity. The predictable formats they employ have always been the Achilles-heel of all disciplined services who had to fight scattered groups of armed rebels since the existence of organized governments.
 
But private organizations have the freedom and independence to develop their own security programs against terrorist threats. Businesses should do their own research and analyzes of existing dogmas from available security manuals and privately published textbooks and then write their own in-house SOPs, instructions, and training manuals. Businesses could have these materials developed with the participation of independent counterterrorist specialists.
 
Another point is that the agencies’ teaching and training methods breed rank-consciousness and blind faith in orders from above. The primary security agencies grew from small nimble departments made-up of highly talented and select elite officers into large, complex juggernauts. Over the last few years most of them have been further fattened to increase their capacities. Unfortunately, their bureaucracies increased over-proportionally and made them prone to becoming political pawns. The large size of an agency also means lower personnel standards. Quantity won out over quality in order to fill planned positions. In my own opinion, today’s foremost counterterrorist agencies—Britain’s SAS, Germany’s GSG9, and France’s GIGN—are now shadows of their former selves, hamstrung by their new complexity, political management, changing policies, inter-agency rivalries and competency struggles. These problems translated into performance lapses, which even plague the gold-standard commandos of the Israelis. Their VIP protection unit did not come off too well during the 1995 assassination of Yitzhak Rabin
 
Finally, private organizations need to take care when choosing their security staff. Most private organizations tend to source their security staff from retired law-enforcement officers or former military personnel. A security department put together from these sources may create the same dysfunctional organizational culture I’ve warned against. Applicants with those backgrounds need to be screened under consideration of my above observations. If they pass your basic selection criteria, they still need additional training.
 
In most cases, more than you may think.

 Col. Thomas Bovet is an active counterterrorism specialist with over 25 years of experience. He is the author of the blog, Alphachamber.

 

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