• Mindset Securities

Forward is the Only Way Out

A lot of people starting out in the Executive Protection (EP) industry, especially those without a background in the military or policing, seem overly fixated on or concerned with “not being a good fighter”. Some cite this as an insurmountable barrier to continuing with their training or even starting their career - certainly the recreational media doesn’t help by portraying EP jobs as all adrenaline and close-calls... but two hours of our heroes patiently waiting in an anteroom and careful driving probably wouldn’t sell many tickets.

Sean Penn in body armour with radio and sub-machine gun and Jasmine Trinca in The Gunman
Sean Penn Runs and Guns in "The Gunman" - StudioCanal

Realistically, the chances of you having to fight off threat actors from your client are almost negligible in Australia - if you are good at the important parts of the job. The real work of an EPO comes in understanding and applying four key concepts:

1. Accurately assessing the threats to the client, and thoroughly assessing the risk faced by them in their routine;

2. Being practical and sensible in applying resources, equipment, and staff to meet the task requirements;;

3. Live, breathe, and love the role. You and your team’s determination to “do the 1%ers” - the background work everyday, and to constantly seize opportunities for professional development; and

4. Establishing your client’s expectations, and developing a rapport to enhance their trust of your advice and tactics.

Of these concepts, numbers one and two may not seem important to the individual EPO - on face value, they may seem like “management problems”. In the realm of executive protection, though, the individual EPO may (will) be confronted with the need to make snap decisions that will directly impact the operating budget, and trigger changes of the risk or threat profiles and responses. Quality training provided by organisations like Mindset can help prepare the individual for these challenges, and are happy to help with ongoing skills enhancement beyond the courses.

Speaking of skills enhancement, the third concept - built around the skills, knowledge, and determination of the EPO or team can’t be stressed highly enough for quality protection. Honestly, this is where the desirable attributes of ex-military or police personnel come to the fore: the discipline inculcated in them to do every job to the best of their ability, from correctly hanging their towel on Day 1 of training through to coordinating a night-time helicopter-borne raid on a terrorist camp 10,000 kilometres from home is built on it.

This conscientiousness isn’t the exclusive domain of the military, though. An EPO and the team should constantly strive to find the “next job” that needs doing:

Have all the routes for the next day been driven/walked?

Is your dress for the next day beyond reproach?

Have you trained? (Even a few pushups and a couple of flights of the hotel fire exit are better than nothing)

Are the vehicles cleaned/detailed?

Have you checked the news/police updates for any new or continuing threats?

Finally, ensuring there is a clear understanding of what the client expects from your service, and what you can legally and contractually deliver will help in developing a healthy client/security relationship.

The list goes on - every job, and every client will broaden your experience and efficiency in delivering a quality service: make sure you keep taking notes of any new lessons, ideas, or “hacks” you come across.

His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove poses on a lawn at the Australian and New Zealand Embassy in Baghdad Iraq with a personal protection detail
A private security detail with Australia’s Govenor-General in Iraq - Private Collection

But what about your development? What about if I can’t fight?

Thomas Pulleine, founder and managing director of Mindset Securities spent almost 20 years in the Australian Army, and the last decade in the private security industry. He identifies the challenge of constant readiness by comparing an executive protection operative to a professional athlete: “While you’re training at an intense level, and hitting the field every week… eventually you get a break. Training tapers, you have an off-season. As an EPO, you have to be ready anytime. You may have a month to get a job ready, you may have a few days." Well researched, planned, and structured training and learning a little bit at a time is better than suddenly trying to cram a whole suite of qualifying courses or preparation into the week before a job.

This is something that military experience doesn’t do a great deal of help in developing. For most of a soldier’s, or police officer’s, or similar role’s career, professional development and learning are “force fed” to them - the organisation needs a skill set, a candidate is selected, and sent on a training course. Removed from that world, it is unlikely many employers will actively direct staff to any training outside of legislative or contract requirements. It is up to the individual to be proactive in their professional development. It is up to the individual to assess what skills, knowledge, or practice they need, then go and get it. Some great organisations in Australia regularly provide training well in advance of the current minimum requirements for licensing – There are excellent first aid and emergency response courses conducted in most major cities. Kinetic Fighting have a training continuum in parallel with the Australian Defence Force’s Army Combatives Program, that will certainly instil the drive and confidence in any EPO to deal with a threat actor. Numerous providers offer defensive, advanced, and security driving courses in all major cities.

A group of four United States Marine Corps Special Operators with rifles firing on a range practicing from a SUV
A MARSOC security team practice low-profile ambush drills - Courtesy Marine Corps Times

Even study outside of what is immediately apparent can benefit you - gaining a Cert IV in training, for instance, not only “ticks the box” to be a trainer - the outcomes and requirements can help develop your interpersonal skills, communication techniques, and cultural understanding... all of which may sound familiar to anyone who has recently completed their Certificate III in Security Operations.

Any study of business or commerce will not only help an EPO understand the commercial aspect of their clients’ and employer’s motivations, but also builds on different approaches to risk assessment, written communication, and IT skills.

Can you change a car tyre? You’re not going to make a great impression on the client if they have to help you. What about servicing an engine?

Does your client have children they want looked after? Do you have an in-date Working With Children Check?

The great artist Michelangelo was once asked, at the height of his Renaissance fame, why he was attending the studio exhibition of a “lesser” artist by a flabbergasted nobleman: “Ancora imparo” he replied - “Because still, I learn”. If you’re serious about your career, you need to keep learning – professional mastery is really just looking for the next way to learn.

Are you ready to move forward on the next stage of your security career? Consider joining us as an Executive Protection Officer. Visit our website for contact details.

Mindset Securities (NSW M/L 000101961)

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