Monday, January 14, 2013

Executive Protection and High-Risk PSD

We have gotten quite a few questions recently regarding the fields of Corporate Executive Protection (EP) and High-Risk Private Security Details (PSD).  I will be attempting to answer some of those questions here over the next few weeks.

There are a lot of similarities between the two fields, but there are many differences as well, and the person that can provide quality services in both greatly expands their earning capability.  Some Independent Contractors (ICs) perform well in a more structured, suit and tie corporate environment, with (hopefully) better logistical support, but struggle in austere environments.

Others are quite at home riding in the back of an up-armored SUV covered in dust and holding a large automatic weapon.  At lot of these hard-chargers, however, lack the patience and subtlety that a corporate environment requires.  There is nothing wrong with specializing in one or the other, but as I said, if you can perform well in both environments, you drastically increase your earning potential as an IC.
I have been fortunate to work as a Detail Leader in both environments, and each has their ups and downs, pluses and minuses, annoyances and perks.  Basic training requirements for each field are about the same, with specialized training requirements needed for each environment.  In order to be considered for work, applicants must normally show that they have completed training at one or more Executive Protection Training Schools, as well as specialized training in evasive driving, firearms, unarmed self-defense, OC spray, batons, etc.

Backgrounds in military and law enforcement are always valuable, although not necessary.  Understand, however, that if you don’t have a background in one of these fields, finding work will not be impossible, but it will be more difficult, as you will be competing against people that do.  A college education in any area of study is a big plus, and if your degree is in some form of security or criminal justice, that certainly helps too.

At the end of the day, the mission of each job is the same.  Protect your client from death, harm, kidnapping, or embarrassment.  Many of the concepts of protection are the same, regardless of the environment they are performed in.  Threat assessments, intelligence gathering, advances, concentric rings of security, pattern avoidance, route surveys and analysis, are all important and need to be addressed, no matter the surroundings.
Dealing with stress, internal and external pressures, jet-lag, managing client relations, and remaining alert despite mind-dumbing boredom are also a big part of both fields.  

Generally, PSD work requires living overseas for extended periods in austere environments.  An IC may be required to spend anywhere from three to six months, and possibly longer, overseas.  I worked in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 as an IC, and we were on three month rotations.  After three months in, the IC goes on leave for three or four weeks, usually without pay, but not always, and then has the option to return overseas, depending on the contract and individual performance.

Providing corporate EP generally means that the IC is home more, although depending on the type of detail you are on, travel, both domestic and international, can be a big part of the job.  Again, depending on the type of detail you are working on, much of your time will be spent in a suit and tie, or at the least business casual.  Some details, especially those for Non Government Organizations (NGOs) require the IC to be able to move back and forth between the two quickly.  I have had days in Africa where we would be in a suit in the morning, change into field attire for an afternoon helicopter ride to a cattle village, then back to suits for a visit to the Presidential palace. 

Another reason that an IC may choose to specialize in one field or the other is personal preference.  I will certainly perform in a corporate environment, but if I have a choice I prefer the austere environments.  Maybe it’s from growing up on a farm, but I always think that when I’m done working for the day and I have been outside, getting dirty and seeing the sights, that I have truly put in a full-days work.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are two of me working in the Corporate EP and High-Risk PSD roles.  See if you can guess which is which.  The link on the bottom takes you to news footage shot in Beijing, China, where I have to remove a protestor from a press conference.

Iraqi Ministry of Electricity Compound
Baghdad, Iraq, January, 2005

This picture was taken in August of 2010, but I honestly can't remember where.
Jet-lag is super fun.


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