“This is the car in which they shot my husband through the head” she said. “This is where I found him, dead. Now they are after me and my son, now they want us dead”.
These were the words of my client to me on my first day on the job, on her farm on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa.
She had taken up my services as a bodyguard on the advice of the deputy commander of the South African Urban Commando Unit, a man who trained me and under whom I worked.
She needed my protection because a court case involving the suspected murderer of her husband was about to take place. Her private investigator, an ex-South African Special Branch apartheid-era police officer, had solid intelligence that the culprit and his gang were planning to take out the only two witnesses to the killing – my principal and her son.
It was now my job to protect them.
Adding to this was another court case running concurrently regarding ownership of the farm. The previous farm manager and an ex-wife of my principal’s late husband both wanted a piece of the estimated 23-million Rand estate. Speculation was rife that both of them were willing to do anything to get their hands on a slice of that cash.
This was Threat Level Maximum. Attack Imminent.
For the record, I was able to ensure that no harm befell my clients. Perhaps in a future piece I will be able to divulge the specific details of this intriguing tasking.
Fast forward a few years and I am now in London protecting high profile celebrity clients from a different kind of shooter. The Paparazzi.
The two operating environments couldn’t be more different – in fact they are worlds apart.
In South Africa I was equipped with a 9mm Heckler and Koch USP Compact and Level III Body Armour. In London I am unarmed and soft skinned.
However in both countries my job description is the same. Protect my client from harm -- from all forms of injury whether it be physical or mental.
So what is the key to being able to successfully carry out my objectives, however different they may be? The answer is -- adaptability.
Adaptability is everything. Not only to the different kinds of dangers my clients may face but being able to adapt to an ever-changing close protection market.
An amalgamation of adaptability and sophistication is required. These two words, side by side, are the golden keys to success as an operator in the field of close protection.
Sophisticated adaptability is now demanded of you from the client and more importantly by the modern-day threats to which our principals are exposed. Gone are the days of the BG standing in the background in dark glasses and a suit – this no longer cuts it, not that it ever did. Unless of course it is part of a multi-layered protective shield being employed, if indeed you know what I mean.
Sophistication shall be found in the details.
In 2009, while I was running the security detail for the Dutch Royal Family, as one of their 50-member family held a wedding reception, attention to detail was my fundamental necessity.
I had operatives whose specific duty was to ensure that no guests came too close to the poisonous plant section of the botanical gardens. Members of my team were placed as lifeguards at the water’s edge of the two fish ponds within the beautiful gardens. I had an operative man the entrance to the bee enclosure – wouldn’t want anyone getting stung.
This total security is now expected from any reputable and indeed successful security adviser and company.
But it is not always provided -- and it is noteworthy that a member of the Dutch Royal Family congratulated my team for "the most discreet and efficient security we have ever experienced".
This complete security methodology is at the core of being able to successfully look after high net worth, high profile clients.
Coupled with an unparalleled understanding of client brand protection and the subtle nuances involved in making secure some of the world’s most famous and successful personalities.
What are the credentials needed in order to be afforded the opportunity to provide close protection to world renowned personalities and business leaders, you may ask…… Besides an appropriate forces background, years of related empirical experience and the appropriate training, qualifications and licensing?
*The confidence to be friendly while still being strong and protective.
*Discretion, intelligence and sophisticated adaptability -- the highest understanding of what modern day clients expect from their bodyguard.
This understanding is what makes clients employ the services of successful protection specialists again and again.
On that note, if there is any “advice” I feel compelled to dispense to upcoming and hopeful bodyguards it would be simply: to smile!
As a Close Protection Officer one of the greatest signals of strength and security that you can convey to your client is by smiling at them.
The truth is that the tougher you may try to appear, the weaker you look.
For more info visit http://www.concepttactical.com