Route Survey and Analysis
A properly conducted route survey and analysis is a crucial element in any close protection detail’s security posture. The term route survey and analysis refers to the procedure of first planning a route to be used, then actually driving the route, looking for and noting danger areas, chokepoints, safe havens, construction sites, etc.
The first step in the route survey process is for the team to procure quality maps of the area to be driven. Primary and alternate routes should be tentatively planned, and the location of hospitals, police and fire stations marked. There are several good internet based map companies that can generate various routes based on such criteria as highway or street preferences, fewest stops, shortest time or shortest distance. Satellite imagery of a proposed route may also be obtained from the internet.
Driving the Route
The next step is to physically drive the routes. Depending on the time available, the routes should be driven on several different occasions, at different times of the day. This will familiarize the drivers with the routes, lessening the chance that they will become disoriented during the movement of the principal, as well as gaining a better understanding of traffic patterns. The detail will confirm the locations of hospitals, police and fire stations, and any other suitable locations for a safe haven where the detail could take refuge in the event of a major problem.
Danger Areas and Attack Sites
The detail is also examining the routes for likely attack sites, danger areas, and chokepoints. By identifying those sites most likely to be utilized by terrorists during an attack, the EP detail can plan their routes to avoid this area entirely. If avoidance is not possible, and it is often not, as nearly every route will contain some location that would make a favorable attack site, the detail can spend time analyzing the site. It is important for the detail to think like a terrorist. By careful analysis of a potential attack site, the detail can already have a plan of action formulated. In the event that an attack does ever take place, the agents have already spent time visualizing their response. This mental preparation can save valuable time during an attack. Examples of danger areas where attacks might occur include intersections, blind curves, one-way streets, narrow streets and alleys, construction zones, and bridges.
Another area of concern for the protective detail is chokepoints. Chokepoints are defined as those areas that a security detail must travel through, as no other route option exists. A chokepoint may be as short as the principal’s driveway, the one-way street leading to the office, or the only bridge that crosses a river between the principal’s office and home. A chokepoint may also be as long as the only highway between the office and home. The principal may insist, despite the detail’s objections to the contrary, on traveling a particular route to and from work. If the detail is forced to use one particular route, the entire route becomes a chokepoint.
The primary danger of traveling through a chokepoint is that terrorists, through careful surveillance, know that the motorcade will travel through a specific area during the movement. Two of the main concepts the protective detail must utilize during their movements is to remain time and place unpredictable. Pattern avoidance by the security detail makes it that much more difficult for the terrorists to plan their attack.