Four Modern Events Worth a Second Look
There are many issues and incidents which have affected the protection industry, the agent and the ability to perform the job. Here are four worth discussion and further study, both from an industry and individual view:
This tragic event which caused the death of over 3,000 people was the catalyst of multiple conflicts for the United States and her Coalition partners. Not immediately apparent was the increase in private military/security contracting (PMC). While tracing modern lineage through groups such as Executive Outcomes, Blackwater or Triple Canopy, providers found contracts rapidly increasing within several months of Coalition activities in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. With this came an increase of training companies readying people for the harsh realities of providing protective efforts in extreme environments.
Flash forward, drawdowns and sequestration activities have many of these hardworking professionals seeking the need to develop and refine new skills as they look for employment opportunities which won’t find them waking up in austere environments. Subsequently, those protectors who have not come from the PMC role have new additions to their peer group, vying for the same positions and contracts..
The economic downturn had a tremendous effect on many clients and principals. With originations back to late 2007, this world slowdown suddenly shined a light on the age old issue of “have and have not.” High net worth individuals were being called out by activists that found new legs and the ability to cascade their message via tweets and other social media outlets.
Suddenly new words began to spring up in the protection practitioner’s vocabulary. “Occupy” movements were troublesome and added new threat vectors for consideration into protective operational planning. Experts have indicated the recession is over but the second and third order of effects from it continue to be part of the protector’s new operational environment.
The tragic events which unfolded over several days during that November, 2008 is something each protection officer should study with fervor as it is a nightmare scenario for any bodyguard.
If you ask most agents, they will tell you it is the [possibility of] random acts of violence that keeps them awake at night. Any good advance tries to cover all aspects of the detail. From wheels down to wheels up, a good effort hopes to carry enough detail to sort out Mr. Murphy (and his law) should they show up. But, there are some random events which almost have a “black-swan” like element about them, wherein a detail is concerned. African taxi wars, riots and other events have popped up and while there is a certain sense of distance to them it doesn’t make them any less threatening to consider. Mumbai, however, represented something different; a hotel and an area many practitioners are familiar with and have travelled to, many times, suddenly being locked down by extremists who sought the ability to create an atmosphere to incite and conduct opportunistic terror.
Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) wasn’t looking for any one certain person, but hoping the violence they inflicted would make its own statement; A frightening scenario of random acts with horrendous outcomes.
Westgate Mall (Nairobi, Kenya)
In the same vein as Mumbai, the events perpetuated by Al Shabaab’s “External Operations Arm” at the shopping area known to be frequented by the expatriate community is another stark reminder of “wrong place…wrong time.
Both Westgate and Mumbai represent a scenario in which you need to “bug out.” Many of the entry points of the terrorists were also meet-up/rally points for protection agents. Taking time to think through the events and walking a standard protection plan side-by-side with the incident’s timeline could reveal some important and poignant ideas.
All the above represent events we can study and learn from. Recognizing gaps (either as shifts in the industry or tactical events) can help use perceive opportunities. Doing so helps us increase our acumen and refine our skillset in order to provide our designates with increasingly better circles of protection.