A close protection team is a precautionary group there to reduce the risk of danger to the person needing protection. The operatives who form the team are responsible for defusing any aggressive situation involving the individual who hired their services, i.e., the principal.
But that’s not all a CPO undertakes. In a nutshell, agents are also responsible for defending the principal’s lifestyle, reputation, property and assets, and business. In fulfilling the requirements, the team may consist of specialized operatives or agents who take on several roles. That is dependent on the budgeting restraints a CP team has.
Purpose of CP Training and Licensing
Regardless of the client’s status, all officers need to have high-level training, be licensed, experienced, and reliable. Gaining enough knowledge and understanding to fulfill the role of an EP agent is eminent to succeed in the job and maintain required operational standards.
CP training is a prerequisite for operative licensing meeting regulatory requirements. But more than that, the training helps prepare any operative to professionally and competently perform their job.
During situations when the principal is static, it becomes very apparent who the agents with inadequate training and education are. Take, for instance, when a client is in a meeting, mediocre operatives stand out like a sore thumb, an obvious sign of lack of training or limited experience.
There’s no doubt about it, but unpreparedness leads to lousy coverage of the principal and inadequate positioning during mobile or static situations, thus, opening up the outer cordon to unknown people.
On the other hand, rigorous training in patrol of grounds, control of vehicles, and access is needed to quickly respond to emergencies, move and remove properties and mitigate the escalation of hazardous situations.
Composition of a Close Protection Team
Next, when considering the composition of a close protection team, we should think of each role as being equally important. After all, each member brings particular strengths and weaknesses to the table in a way that balances the collective.
Team leader: Deputy to the team leader, they work alongside them on large operations and movements. The TL operates from a distance as much as possible and, the 2IC must step up during their absence.
Second in Command (2IC): The deputy to the team leader, working alongside them on large operations and movements. Especially since the TL operates from a distance as much as possible.
Close Protection Operatives: Within the inner cordon, the agent’s role is to protect the principal at all costs. Their number one objective is for the inner and outer cordon to remain uncompromised. As such, CPOs learn the habits of the protectee quickly, working comfortably close to them.
The Personal Escort Section (PES): Forming the outer cordon to the principal is the PES. They need to be most informed about the client’s routes and habits and what to do in an emergency.
The Residence Security Team (RST): The team maintains the integrity and day-to-day functioning of the principal’s property, residencies, place of work, and other vital locations. That happens by controlling access of people and deliveries to the premises. As such, the RST’s responsibility is to manage electronic security systems.
Security Driver: A skill that every member of the security team should have. However, a CPO driver is a dedicated role, meaning this person has built experience of defensive and evasive maneuver skills. It goes without saying to keep a clean car and a smooth drive.
Large Teams Vs. Specialized Care
The number of people in a close protection team that a protectee requires depends on the threat level, risks posed by their profile, and status. For example, a state leader necessitates more strength to guard them 24/7. Doing a threat-level risk assessment beforehand helps determine the safeguarding effort needed.
The Security Advance Party (SAP): An advance team is often part of a larger security detail but can also be utilized as a stand-alone service. The team moves ahead of the client – tactfully – ensuring routes and venues are safe and secure. The role of the squad includes liaising with local fixers, drivers, and local security assets.
Quick Response Force (QRF): Highly trained personnel implement services for high-risk assignments and incidences. The team is to be mobile and shadow the principals every movement.
Medics: A medic is there to provide immediate treatment if needed. Regardless, all competent practitioners should have detailed knowledge of the principal’s medical history, in the case they need to perform basic CPR.
Individual Bodyguards (IBG): Sole practitioners are seen in low threat situations where the client requires just one EP agent to meet their needs. However, this means the lone CPO is left with the responsibilities of SAP, RST, and personal escort teams. They must also:
- Conduct surveys;
- Perform reconnaissance;
- Attend functions and events; and
- Perform planning, liaising, and booking tasks.
Personal Security Detail (PSD): Operatives trained in extensive weapon handling skills and training necessary during hostile environments.
Professional Attributes of a Close Protection Operative
An ideal candidate would typically have strong physical fitness, astute observance, professionalism, personality, and discretion. But more than that, an operative’s best weapon is their mental strength, including emotional intelligence, and leadership skills.
This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but important attributes for a CPO include:
Hard Skills: Unarmed combat, shooting, and driving are skills mastered through training and experience. Some skills, like precision shooting, are often over-emphasized but utilized much less than you think. Regardless, physical strength and training are all incredible skills to have in your arsenal.
Soft Skills: Interpersonal attributes are important in maintaining security and confidentiality. Great communication, are all highly desirable.
Integrity: In order to perform well in this industry, you need to be fully committed. Privacy, productivity, and staying true to your word all come first and supersede the agents’ needs.
Discretion: Discretion and confidentiality are a must for the client to truly trust a CPO to perform their tasks properly. It’s part of the role of protector and confidant.
Ability to Improvise: Emergencies happen in the blink of an eye, therefore, it’s hard to be prepared for everything that is thrown your way. Nevertheless, professionals are flexible and capable of thinking on their feet.
Who is the Client? The Principal?
In the world of executive protection, the terms client and principal are used interchangeably. While a client and principal can be the same person, the client signifies the purchaser of services who deal with budgeting, invoices, and assignment objectives. On the other hand, a principal is the intended protected cover and may include the family or group of people.
Since the client can be the principal, it’s important to point out that only the hiring company can refer to the principal as the client. Close protection team members must mention them as the principal only.
There is a general increase in the demand for close protection services – worldwide – celebrities, CEOs, state leaders demanding the services of EP agents around the clock. Keeping them safe from perceived or known threats is no easy feat.
Every person of the close protection team has to be thoroughly trained, experienced, physically and mentally capable, and dependable. Successful teamwork demands all members to be reliable and dedicated to their jobs. They must follow through with their word or risk letting the squad down.
Without effective teamwork, how can you expect to protect the principal?