The Close Protection / Bodyguard Business
I tell people I would never recommend the close protection / bodyguard business to anyone as a career, but personally I would do nothing else. I have been working in the commercial security industry internationally since 1993 after I left the British Army. In this article I will talk about the close protection industry but over the years a lot of my business has also come from security and tactical training as well as corporate investigations. If close protection services are provided properly they combine a lot of different skill sets, sadly most of the supposed professionals in the industry don’t seem to understand this….
I’ve provided services to a wide variety of clientele most of whom have been excellent to work with mainly because I don’t just take any clients. Providing close protection / bodyguard services to a client is a lot different that providing regular security services, it’s a lot more of a personal service. I have seen companies in London piss off clients because they treated them, their families and homes the same as if they were providing security for an office block. This was down to bad management personnel with no commercial close protection experience.
Because close protection is a personal business in which you can end up spending a lot of time in close proximity with your clients there has to be a rapport. If the bodyguard and the client do not get along then you’re going to have problems. The client’s lifestyle needs to be taken into consideration when deciding if you or one of your people can work with them. Problems can come from let’s say clients that like the night club scene and can range from alcohol abuse, recreation drugs or sexual partners they decide to pick up. These things are part of life and you need to take them into consideration with your assessments and plans. I personally tend to stick with the clients with issues in the more edgy locations but know plenty of personnel who are at home in the nightclubs of London and Paris.
As for those providing close protection and bodyguard services the quality ranges from excellent to liabilities on legs. Sadly most fall into the latter category. The main qualities a good close protection operative / bodyguard needs is intelligence and to be able to communicate with people from all backgrounds. People put an emphasis on guns and martial arts because they want to be Hollywood tough guys right? But they forget the emphasis needs to be on avoiding the problem, violent situations mean people get hurt, killed, go to jail and in the U.S. most likely sued! Saying that you need to be street wise and be able to protect yourself and clients, if you worried about such things as a broken nose or scuffed knuckles you’re defiantly in the wrong business.
I have had students attend my course who have been through other supposed close protection schools and were far less capable than many novices because they had been miss-trained for commercial close protection. U.S./Israeli government agency style techniques don’t work when the client is traveling with 1 bodyguard… Try walking around a busy shopping mall in Dubai or anywhere for that matter in a fixed 4-man formation… PSD techniques work in Iraq and Afghanistan but you’re not going to be walking around Ibiza with and AK or M-4… Understanding budgets and international laws is also part of your planning and preparation.
One of the biggest problems with the close protection industry is bad management, many of those running security companies have no experience of actually performing close protection duties themselves. They bullshit their way into contracts and their only concern is billing the clients for the maximum they can get out of them, but this is what business is about right? It’s all good until things go wrong and in the serious world of close protection that means people get hurt or go to jail. I pity the clients that hire what they believe is a highly experience company when in fact they’ve been sold a lie. This happens a lot, so to all potential clients make sure you do your due diligence and don’t believe that sales pitches and glossy brochures!