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Infantry Patrols: Lessons for Close Protection Details

While on vacation, I was fortunate enough to have found some nice ‘hard-pack’ roads to run on, off the beaten path. The cool morning and sun shining through the trees made me reminisce about being a young Army officer, learning how to and conducting patrols in Fort Benning, Georgia. 

The Patrol 

Any Infantryman will tell you, after battle drill 1A, one of the keys to understanding how patrolling works is the movement of the team throughout the activity.  Everyone has their position, each knows their primary roles and (if needed or called upon) can step up to a tertiary duty, as well.  Through training and honing their collective skills, a patrol can move pretty well with limited verbal communications (hand and arm signals anyone).  One test of this is the danger area.  This, as it sounds, is an area which presents a particular risk interest to the patrol.  It could be an open area, or somewhere where enemy activity is more present.  Essentially, it can be many risk vectors that, for some reason, give the patrol a reason to pause, assess, decide and react – preferably without upsetting the rhythm of movement for the patrol, so that it can get back on point as quickly as possible.

 Now, there are multiple ways in which a group can manage a danger area, once it has been identified. Like Close Protection Operations, there is as much art that goes into conducting infantry operations as there is science and planning.  Without the later, however, the former can less synchronized and nuanced.

Danger Areas 

Once the danger area is detected the patrol stops, taking a short pause to assess the danger and decide how they will best traverse.  Mind you, for those who are trained and work together, a professional organization doesn’t need to waste a lot of time at this stage.  As they are practiced and professional, the team has worked thru the variable ways and, thus, when it comes time for the patrol leader to decide how they will move through the danger area they do so…silent and smooth.  It is a ballet of bad-assery to observe.  Silently, a stealthy team (or larger) wisps its way, with limited interruption, each person understanding what is at stake, their role in the activity, moving without hesitation and with confidence. 

 What can we learn from this, as Close Protection professionals?

 Like a patrol, the CP team (or agent) has been given the task to move forward, towards an objective.  In the patrol’s case, it could be many things (recon position, link up points, a patrol base, etc.).  A CP mission may be to go to a meeting, an event, or perhaps just getting the principal through a day of activities.  In both cases, there are probably multiple moves going on within the larger objective.

 Plan the movement

Planning is inherent in both.  While we don’t always know what the actual detail may bring us, it’s important to plan the operation for as much as we know.  If all easel fails, understanding “how” you will conduct the detail (much like a patrol) is key as you move forward and have to modify actions on-the-move.

 Understand the triggers for a danger area

Hopefully you have conducted some type of intelligence prep of your detail.  Whether it is an individual or group who conducts your assessment, getting the lay-the-land you will be working in helps identify danger areas and activities you need to formulate responses and mitigative activities or resources towards.

 Have a Contingency

In conjunction with the above, having a (at the very least) outline of possible ways to deal with each of the identified issues (think science) will allow

 Practice the important parts

I know…. You don’t have time.  But, you should make time to (at the least) chalk talk the issues so that, if it happens, you have at least walked through it.  If, however, you can take time during your advance to dry run a few of the activities with your team or support crew, it makes the world of difference.  Some teams (say a PSD) this is not an option, others may need to collectively get over the ego hump and do it, if only occasionally.  Remember, just because you know it, doesn’t mean someone else get’s it (or will admit they don’t).

 Communicate the movement plan to all agents/support operatives

You’ve got your plan and have talked about the issues.  Take time to brief and discuss with the team and/or your support team.  Ensure they know each of the issues and their play in t.  Ask for input (especially from the locals) but remember, know one understands or knows the operational plan like you.  Spend some time on the contingency and “signals” plan.  How will we communicate?  Who will you take orders from (maybe the front right is not the best place for the leader to be) and what happens if the leader is out of the loop.

Discussing the possible mitigation activities helps bring confidence to the overall team and creates a culture of professionalism within the group that will transcend beyond the detail, and into the larger organization (or group) you work in.

One more thing…

Finally, leaders need to lead. The show is your responsibility, embrace it.  Whether a solo operator dealing with contingency staff at an event or a detail lead of 15 people, it’s your ball.  Set a tone and work with what you are handed to create as much of a professional grouping as you can, with the time you have.  Like our infantry comrades, the more we be prepared, the better we can cross our danger areas and move forward.

Keep your heads down.

CHR

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How to level up….easily…

Riyadh 2010 (24)It’s 2230 hours somewhere in East Asia. The principal has finally gone to sleep and you have put her chief of staff to bed, as well as the two folks from the communications division that tagged along on the trip.  You’re in your room mulling over the schedule for the next day because the local branch of the company has made some changes to the schedule and the boss approved.  Satisfied that you have an understanding, you decide to get some sleep.  As you get ready for bed, you hear something going on outside the window, most likely down in the entryway. You think “Radio” but then realized they are not allowed in this country for foreign teams. Texting your partner, they indicate they are trying to get your local support on the phone.

Quickly running options, you say, “Get the cars around to the side checkpoint and call me back in 5 minutes.” Pulling on your polo and grabbing your small bugout bag the hotel phones rings. It’s the principal. She wants to know if your tracking all this. You calmingly state you are and that she needs to stay put, you’re coming to her. She asks about the staff. You say they should be in their rooms and she replies the last thing they told her was that they were going to the lobby bar for a nightcap. She wants you to organize everyone into her suite and hangs up the phone. As you’re moving you pick up the cell and call your #2 thinking, this detail just got a lot more complex…

What do you do? How would you plan? What contingencies are running through your mind? Are there any locals you can call? What’s my network like? Can we make it to our safe zone? Why did they go get a nightcap when you told them not to?

IPSB III

Understanding the experiences from incidents and trials others have had helps us plan our own details and future contingencies.  The aim of the International Protective Security Board (IPSB) is to spark these types of exchanges thru education and networking activities. Building a positive and deeply rich extended group of contacts is helpful. At times, I have needed everything from language support on a person of interest who popped up (long story) to suddenly having to change out an entire local provider at the last minute (more long stories).

Come meet up with other fellow practitioners and share stories, break bread, extend friendships and engage in new professional contacts. We are going to have a full range of speakers and will be covering a wide range of issues, from tactical to the strategic.  I’m personally excited to see the new tac-talks that are coming.

This is an event by practitioners, for practitioners. It doesn’t matter what school or group you came or work with… this is our industry’s time to come together. Mount up and come be part of the conversation this December 2nd and 3rd in Vegas!

 TO INCREASE ACUMEN, CLICK HERE!

 

~Chuck Randolph

July 2016

Priorities and Requirements: a Primer for Leaders

Show up. Chat with co-workers. Perform tasks. Respond to emails. Work on a Project X, Y or Z. Make Phone calls. Attend to tasks. Have a cup of coffee. Scan internet. Put it to bed…wake up, rinse and repeat.

Every day, people everywhere perform and repeat this pattern, or something similar to this.  It’s not a bad thing.  Come in, do work, socialize a bit, eat, do more things and then call it a day.  Every once-in-a-while things get taken home or the occasional early/late meeting is attended to account for an international colleague.  Generally, we know this as work…  and it is, for most. – It is a requirement.

Riyadh 2010 (24)

contemplate your team’s priorities.

 

You…you, however, are a leader.  Those tactical things I just referred to as “requirements,” they are items we are expected to perform and they make up the reason that we were brought on in the first place.  Ensuring mission planning is done, making sure we have met our weekly plans, attending meetings and reporting out on activity, etc. etc.  These are activities that, while a major motion for a lot of our team, make up one part of what we as managers (or leaders) must execute on.

Mentoring, thinking, tasking, tracking, advising, spending time and strategizing…these are activities which drive us as leaders.  They are the things we need to get done in order to move our organization forward.

They map to larger ideals like:

  • Culture Change
    • Reinforce a climate of communications, collaboration and innovation that creates a “bias-for-action”
  • Knowledge Management
    • Establish an environment to capture/refine/share organizational knowledge
  • Strategic Business Planning
    • Thoughtful, deliberate, timely and cost-effective decisions
  • Cross-Functional Alignment  
    • Improve overall efficiency through coordination and synchronization

It’s daunting.  When we were hired to be an agent or analyst it was fairly simple to show up, do the list, move on to the next item and check that block…MAKE A DOUGHNUT.  Now we have to do that and more… MANAGE AN EXPERIENCE.  It’s because we have a higher sense of responsibility to feed, manage and take care of this beast that we own. –  It is our priority.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer once said, “If you’re going to do a job… do a job.”  Simply put, he was explaining to be a part of something, you need to be all in.  You need to give of and beyond yourself by… doing the deep work.

That’s the thing, though.  What is my j-o-b?  Your job is to help conceive strategy, be thoughtful and deliberate, to understand your line of effort, listen and, above all else, take care of your people.  After all, they are the ones fulfilling the requirements as we work on our organization’s main priorities.

Intelligence Analyst – Five things your boss is thinking but may not tell you: TWO is surprising and FIVE is vital

1 – I’m also a critical thinker, I just may not use the same vocabulary as you

Hey, I may not use the same language, but I’m also analytical (I may just not realize it).  By doing operational analysis, I’m developing courses of action (COAs) and making mission assumptions based on the facts in front of me.  When on an operation or in an emergency, I’ll be using what I have gathered and developing COAs based on pre-thought scenarios and trends that are manifesting.  Just like you, I’m a critical thinker; please, remind me of that from time-to-time.

2 – I need you to help me, help you, to help me

Your request for information (RFI) process may not be the same one that I am familiar with.  I also may not fully understand how to ask for what I need or am unsure of what you can do.  Therefore, I need you to take the lead in this dance .  Show me what you’ve got and suggest we walk through the operations plan (OPLAN) together.  When we do that, listen and ask questions.  As an operator, I may not care about the form you need filled out, I do need your insight and keen eye towards pattern analysis to see something I don’t.  Honestly, I need you to be my partner and educate to develop me.

3 – Sometimes, I need you to slow down

You can get excited, I get it (and I like that about you). But, if I’m excited and your excited and we are all excited….well, I need you to be the one to slow down and make sure we are paying attention to detail and managing the little things which always come up in the form of Mr. Murphy – and his damnable law.  Offer up some advice, ensure you stuff is double-checked before you hit send and be that calming voice .  I’ve got a lot going on and sometimes I may just need to see someone being outwardly steadfast.

4 – You don’t have a crystal ball, I know that… let me know what you think anyway

I get it, you’re not 100%.  Guess what, neither am I.  I don’t need you to be all knowing (although, secretly I wish you were). I just need you to give me the best understanding you have and say the same.  If it doesn’t go down the way you describe, I may get cranky…but I don’t blame you (I’m probably blaming myself).  No one expects the black swan’s arrival, but I need you to tell me when you think conditions may be right for impending issues.

Finally, and most important…

5 – I trust you

From the mundane to the insane, you’re my go-to! I may always not say it, but you are.  I have a healthy trust in your abilities.  This is why I ask you to brief first, set the tone and put a ‘realistic’ filter on what’s happening.  The interwebs opened up a whole new meaning to the concept of ‘breaking news ‘and I can’t always be sure they affect our situation.  I know you have my back, you understand my needs, and will tell me what’s important in the din.  Because you’re intelligent, professional, curious and thoughtful… I trust you.

this is dedicated to the my favorite analysts…

A Quick Thought For Leaders Trying to Be Strategic…

Educate To Develop” and “Delegate To Develop“-  two principals to embrace in your efforts to be more strategic.

Give guidance, direction and intent.  Fight the urge to do it all.  Remember, empowering five people to do five things is just as important (if not more) as one person who tries to micro-manage everything.

 

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Take time to explain your objectives

How To L.E.A.D!

Here are four quick thoughts to help you, Oh Leader, think and set your course…after all, leaders need to L-E-A-D!

L – Light the Path

Set the course. Stop and think about where your organization is going. What does your group/team look like in 12 months, 18 months or 24 months? As much as you want and like to be in the trenches with the troops (c’mon… I know you do) your job is to set tone and expectation. Be honest with yourself, are you doing this? If not…. Right now write down…”In 12 months, my group will be [fill in your vision here]!” Make a few notes on what projects or things might be needed to get you there and you have mini strategy session going down…well done!

E – Educate to Develop

Guess what leader… people know you have what it takes. Teach someone else and watch them figure it out. Building your leaders, builds your bench and builds resiliency. Sometimes it sucks…you want to be that tactical person who is seen as “checking all those blocks.” Leaders however, should be thinking three dimensionally.   Teach your crew to cook, don’t just hand them a lunchable.

A – Accept Your Place

Being in charge…it “aint so easy.” While fulfilling, it can be lonely and tough. Not everything you do will be understood, initially accepted or liked; do it anyway. Sometimes your folks may not appreciate you; care anyway. Be the person you want them to be. As the boss, you need to know when to back away and let the team be the team. You’re needed, but your presence may not always be required. Get over yourself and get on with it. Being the leader is best judged in those moments when honor, candor and hard decisions need to happen. Be the person you envision.

D – Delegate to Develop

Once you have you have sorted some of the above, it’s time to pass out some work. Give your team some assignments. Make sure they understand the task condition, standards and intent. Encourage them to ask clarifying questions; be patient and thoughtful in this. Once you have done this “GET OUT OF THEIR WAY” and give them a chance to sort it out. Trust me….if you have picked the right folks and empowered them… they will come to you if they need some help. Guide your group in their quest. Likely, you’re finding yourself in this journey, too.

Thoughtful Leadership is what's required for today's manager

Thoughtful Leadership is what’s required

Security As A 4G Environment

For many years security operated in a 3G environment. This concept of ‘Guns, Gates and Guards’ were the three legs of the chair on which physical security sat. Perched and monitoring for nefarious activity, practitioners surveyed the landscape with a keen eye on all they could see or physically interact with. This traditional model was best suited to an operational schema that focused on managing threats that manifested themselves in “traditional” fashions; threats existing in a physical space could be comprehended and interacted with accordingly. Subsequently, Security Intelligence reporting was focused on traveler threat briefs, kidnap, crime statistics and extremist activities.

In the periphery, the concept of what we now call “cyber-security” was evolving and growing in both risk, response and relevance. Hackers and IT-based attacks, while present, were generally less prevalent and sequestered to the inside pages of the newspaper. In 2007 the world watched as Estonian financial and government sectors were ravaged by a cyber-onslaught which was deemed to be the work of Russian hackers. Subsequently, MacAfee, the computer security firm, indicates there was new malware introduced every 15 minutes in the year 2010. By 2013, new bots, bugs, rootkits, spyware, Trojan horses, etc., were being introduced every second. Growing parallel to this threat vector was an exponential increase in available data and information made possible by the spread of access to the internet and migration into the cloud. This shift has been both an intensely exciting and frightening time for individuals, corporations and nation states.

Corporate Security organizations are evolving, too. Recognizing that each threat is no longer exclusive, IT and physical security sectors are aligning, intersecting and interacting in a 4G world; ‘Guns, Gates, Guards AND Gigabytes.’ Security Intelligence monitoring and reporting has also matured in the 4G environment. Insider threats, phishing and hacktivism now share the same rail of reporting that was traditionally held by geopolitics, transnational crime and terrorism.

Companies abilities to track, monitor and mitigate threats will also continue. Efforts within information tracking continue in fusion as we open news seats at the sharing table in order to do our part to keep people, facilities and intellectual property safe within this ever growing reality.

What will the 5G environment resemble? Only William Gibson knows:

We have no future because our present is too volatile. We have only risk management. The spinning of the given moment’s scenarios. Pattern recognition.”

~ William Gibson