Wrapped up a great day at the 2014 International Executive Protection & Secure Transportation Conference. While I got there a bit late due to an ongoing assignment, I had a chance to hear the majority of today’s presenters, catch up with professional colleagues that I had not seen in awhile, host an Alumni Only meeting with the many ICON Graduates in attendance, and finally go out for a huge dinner (and some great laughs) with a group of the Alumni. Considering I worked all night, went right from the assignment, to the plane, to the conference, saying it’s been a long day is a bit of an understatement. Whew.
Travel plays a big part in the duties of the Executive Protection Agent, and those that make a career out of the profession quickly earn the title of “Road Warrior” –-Bagspacked, will travel. Taking that travel international adds a whole new dimension to protecting the client, so here are a few helpful things to keep in mind.
Make yourself familiar with the travel advisories. – The US State Department is an excellent resource as is the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). Also read international newspapers, you may find that news developments vital to the area that you will be in are reported differently outside the United States.
Remember what’s lawful in the US could get you into some serious hot water in another country. – Make sure you particularly remember this one as it relates to the possession and use of firearms and other weapons. This should also extend to your client, as even some over the counter medicines are prohibited in some countries.
Keep in mind you are in someone else’s playground. – Use local resources when possible to aid your journey. Think about it, who knows an area better than a person that lives there? At a minimum, try not to come in with a holier-than-thou attitude and piss off the other security/law enforcement teams you may encounter. Allies are better than adversaries, and that is never truer than when operating in a foreign land.
Plan for delays. – While there is a universal constant of 24 yours in a day, time can sometimes move different depending on what part of the world you are in. Just ask anyone who’s spent a significant amount of time in Mexico, Nigeria or India, things just take longer, so work that into your logistics.
Keep cultural nuances in mind to avoid embarrassment. – Making yourself familiar with the customs and traditions of a foreign country outside of just the security concerns could pay benefits in the long run. Don’t let a slip of the tongue or a wrong hand gesture draw attention to you or your client. Bodyguard Blog did a whole article on just this topic, find it HERE.
You are at home getting some rest, and your cell phone rings. It’s the call you have been waiting for. The Team Leader on a Protective Security Detail is telling you they need last minute assistance to provide security for a well known recording artist who is in town during the weekend of a major sporting event. What do you do? Well let me tell you what I did. I immediately asked where and when I was needed. His answer to me was “now,” and then proceeded to give me the location where the client will be at a few short hours from then. I quickly got dressed and proceeded to the location, getting more specific instructions while in transit. I arrived at the site and met with the head of security for the venue to see where the client would enter and where his cordoned off VIP area was located. I then contacted the Detail Leader and let him know contact was made with the venue security and all are awaiting his arrival.
A few hours later, and just prior to the Client’s arrival we hit another obstacle – due to the massive crowds, the police officers on site had now blocked off the adjacent streets and would not let vehicles closer to the venue. –No exceptions. The frustration of the officers was very evident, likely because of the amount of people that voiced their displeasure at them once they learned the routes were blocked off. I tried a variety of approaches with the officers but they did not intend to change their mind regardless of the VIP. Of course the Detail leader did not want to hear that, and even in the heavy traffic, I knew they would be arriving shortly and there was no way the client was making the quarter mile walk on foot. I enlisted the aid of the venue security and after putting our heads together, got access to a vehicle from the interior side of the street closure.
Once the Principal’s vehicle arrived, we quickly moved the client and the travel party into the new vehicle and whisked it down the street. I, however, watched that last part happen curbside, as I was now tasked with parking and securing the client’s vehicle in a location where parking spaces were a valuable but rapidly shrinking commodity. After finding one, I then knew I had almost a half mile jog to get back to the security detail, all the while keeping in the back of my mind that I am going to have to do this again when it’s time to leave…
…Continued in the Spring 2012 Issue of The Circuit Magazine. To subscribe to The Circuit – The Magazine for Bodyguards and the Official Magazine of the North American Bodyguard Association, click HERE.
“When I consider what the primary difference was which made my ICON experience a greater value and overall experience to my previous training, I believe it is due to the fact the ICON course was student-centric. In other words, the course was designed to create and support an environment in which the students actively contributed to their own learning. To create a course such as this, ICON put in significant time and effort to design and implement experiences which were designed to rapidly transition from the classroom to the real world”.
ICON CPC, AEP Course Graduate, January 2012
“I think that reality based training with stress is the best way to learn. Sitting in a classroom can only teach somebody so much. Putting people under stress and forcing them to think then act, then reviewing their actions is a much more effective way to learn and you and your staff taught me a lot. Each member of your staff is a true professional and an effective teacher.”
ICON CPC, AEP Course Graduate, January 2012
“In my 15 day journey, a total mental and physical transformation took place. During training, I was introduced to hand-to-hand combat, defensive tactics, and firearm training that was in addition to other tactical and dynamic instruction. One advantage that ICON has over other Executive Protection courses is the top notch instructors who present up-to-date real life experience in the EP industry. ICON has given me a great head start into the Executive Protection industry”.
A Canadian who led a fact-finding mission to Libya last summer has been arrested in Mexico, and two partners of the U.S. private security contractor who supplied her plane are also in custody. The Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa confirmed the arrest of Cynthia Vanier and said consular officials at the Canadian embassy in Mexico City were gathering information from local authorities. Also arrested were two partners of Gregory Gillispie, an ex-Marine who heads Veritas Worldwide Security, a San Diego-based company that offers, among other services, “clandestine operations,” “armed combat” and provision of weapons.
Mr. Gillispie said in an interview his partners were supposed to meet Ms. Vanier and her financier in Mexico City so she could hand over the roughly US$40,000 she owed for a small private jet Veritas had provided for her Libyan trip in July.
“Probably I guess about 10 days to two weeks ago she called and said that the person that has the authority to write the cheques, in other words the person that would pay her, is going to be in Mexico City, if we could come down there, we’ll get paid,” he said.
“So two of my other partners went down there to meet Cindy and this financier, is what you’d call him. And now I’m being told that my two partners have been incarcerated,” he said. “I don’t understand what this is all about.”
He said he found out about the arrests on Sunday but isn’t sure when they occurred. He said the detained men are his business partners in an aviation brokerage company. He doesn’t know why they are being held. “They’re basically victims of circumstance.”
Ms. Vanier runs Vanier Consulting Ltd., incorporated in 2009 in Mount Forest, Ont. The company website describes her as a negotiator, mediator, fact-finder and consultant who works mostly with First Nations. During the anti-Gaddafi revolution in Libya, she got a contract from an undisclosed financier to travel to Tripoli on a fact-finding expedition and began assembling a team. Mr. Gillispie said his company was contracted to supply a private plane for the trip.
Mexican prosecutors did not respond by deadline to questions about why the three were held, however sources suspect it may be because Security for the trip was provided by Gary Peters, CEO of Can/Aust Security and Investigations International in Cambridge, Ont. A former Australian soldier, Mr. Peters has gone on public recording declaring to be a member of the Gaddafi family’s security team. Mr. Peters returned to Canada on the jet but said he went back to Libya in August and helped Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saadi escape Tripoli to Niger in a convoy. He said he was caught in an ambush after crossing back into Libya and was shot in the shoulder.
Take a moment to check out a visual diary of students and instructors of the ICON Executive Protection Training Academy. With courses specializing in Executive Protection, Celebrity Protection & Weapons Tactics. ICON offers real world training by instructors who do the job every day, not just teach “theory” from a text book. For more information about the training courses, including the special finance and scholarship opportunities, click HERE.
In short, everything and nothing. Security Driving Guru, Tony Scotti recently said to me upon reviewing first hand the ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Course , “Why don’t you just call it the “Executive Protection Course”, as all of the fundamentals are here”. Mr. Scotti, had a great point, and my response was that I wanted to make sure those that attended knew that in addition to those fundamentals they were also getting something at the class that had a clear distinction from what they could find anywhere else. –An emphasis on working with Celebrities and the challenges and rewards that come with that segment of the marketplace from people that still do the work on a daily basis. As we like to describe it; additional tools for the toolbox.
Along those lines, when we made the decision to introduce an Advanced 10 day course, I wanted to again have a distinction in the market. This time it came in the form of not just teaching how to do everything the “right way” but also how to act (and react) when things go wrong. the ICON Advanced Executive Protection Course puts an emphasis on operating in a hostile environment with a client and covers a multitude of disciplines including Risk Assessments, Threat Planning, Surveillance Detection, Counteraction Drills and medical life saving techniques, with several curve balls thrown in. Having recently wrapped a course to positive reviews, I think we are again practicing our philosophy of giving great value and respect to the time and resources expended by the attending student. Now looking forward to Tony stopping by the next one and letting me know what he thinks.
Learn more about ICON’s Advance Executive Protection Course by clicking HERE.
ICON is proud to announce the successful completion of our October 5-day ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Course! Thank you to the 17 students that attended, making the commitment of both time and resources to achieve their individual goals of succeeding in the Executive Protection Industry.
Like past courses, we packed the schedule with as much information, tactics, scenarios and drills as we are able to in an effort to maximize the students limited time spent with us. In addition,this session, we were happy to have two “thought leaders” in the industry as guest instructors, namely Security Driving Guru, Tony Scotti of Tony Scotti’s Vehicle Dynamic’s Institute and Mark “Six” James of Panther Protection Services. Both Tony and Mark brought decades of hands-on experience from their perspective fields and everyone, from the instructors on down, were very happy to have them at the Academy. As one previous Alumni put it, having the opportunity to hear Mr. Scotti speak on the role Armored Cars play in VIP Protection, or “6”discuss the anatomy of the shooting of Former President Reagan from both the attacker and the protectors viewpoint, was worth the price of attendance alone.
Next course, January 11-15, 2012.
To sign up for future classes, which now feature scholarship and special finance options, click HERE.
“I recognized the enormous benefits in training internationally with like minded professionals in our field. Having instructors and presenters that actively work within the industry and who are willing to share their wealth of practical information, transposed to world class training that was both interesting & informative, with a focus on the real aspects of the work. I will not hesitate to recommend the course to my friends and colleagues in the industry.” ~ Chris Feretopoulos from Melbourne, Australia on why he choose to attend the course.
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**Check out previous edition of Caption This by clicking HERE
A couple years ago, I commented to the instructors of ICON Services Corporation how during the live-fire drills of our training courses I would like to use a paper target that spoke more to our industry as Executive Protection Agents. Prior to this, we had been using some of the fairly common full-color situational targets that law-enforcement and the military shoot for practice (some of which had to have been photographed during the Reagan-Era). While some were pretty good, none of them seemed to give me exactly what I was looking for — the scenario where I, as an Executive Protection Agent, has to suddenly pull my firearm to defend my client (as opposed to disarming a masked robber or shooting Bin Laden as many of the targets on the market portray). As mentioned, we tried a few… then tried a few more, but I still didn’t “love ’em”.
Then inspiration struck. If I couldn’t find what I was looking for, then I might as well create it. Long story short, ICON was able to partner with North America’s largest distributor of paper targets to create the ICON VIP Protection Target Line. Shot by the wonderful photographer Kiki Koralesky of Contact Front Photography, our initial series of 6 has been well received and have been met with brisk enough sales for the manufacturer to request additional targets in the future. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.
Fast forward to July of 2011 where I got a note from a good friend of mine working in Afghanistan that referenced the “World being a small place“. Turns out that while setting up some training with some other VERYdistinguished Operators in that area of the world, he took a look at the paper targets they are using and guess what? –Yep, ICON. While I do keep track though the distributor of the volume of sales, and realize that it’s not just the Close Protection community using them as orders have been place with Law Enforcement and Government Institutions, it was still nice to learn that the targets were serving their purpose in such a hostile area of the world. The intent was to give the shooter a realistic situational target and in a region of the world where the stakes are as high as it gets, taking the time to train with the line speaks volumes.