The three essential components of any executive protection (EP) are threat assessments, advance procedures, and protective operations. These came alive for me recently when I spent a week in an intensive weeklong EP training course. It quickly became clear how detail-oriented the EP specialist must be.
Generally speaking, a threat (or risk) assessment examines events that could harm a principal, the likelihood of them occurring in given environments, and the damage that would ensue were they to happen. We did not have a chance to conduct a formal threat assessment. But elements of threat assessments played into many of the hands-on exercises.
Advances involve visiting everywhere the principal will go and coordinating all necessary security arrangements for a principal before, during, and after his or her arrival at a location. It’s essentially making sure there are no surprises.
Operations is the sexy part of the business—where you’re actually out in the field with your principal. Most of the classes and training on this part of the business cover countersurveillance, facilitation, defense, rescue, and the use of cars.
Putting these principles into effect can be tricky. With respect to distance, for example, I struggle during our mock details to retain the appropriate distance from my principal. As a result, sometimes I get separated from him, while other times I nearly knock him over.
Michael A. Gips, formerly a senior editor at Security Management magazine, is director of strategic operations for ASIS.