Bodyguard or BodyGoon?
The biblical story of David and Goliath is a great anecdote demonstrating just how the little man (David) defeated a literal giant, a feared behemoth of a man. I often find myself drawn back to this story when I get questioned about the role or importance of size (muscles) in the field of VIP Protection. My standard response is usually something along the lines of "the only size that matters is the size of your brain".
Frustratingly, there is still a huge misconception that the "body guard" must be a hulking figure able to acquit himself in the art of street fighting or hand to hand combat. Truthfully, this perception is the product of Hollywood and street thugs, often confused with bouncers and debt collectors. Referred to most professionals as "BodyGoons"
Allow me to clarify a few of the common misconceptions that float about out there, like the stench of a dead rodent poisoning the air.
Firstly, the term "Bodyguard" is usually the term used by those with very little understanding of the profession or its importance. It is generally found spewing from the mouth of "fly by night'' players probably best suited to standing at club doors, dealing with drunks.
In our profession, the men and women who have dedicated themselves to hundreds of hours of training and skill development, should actually be referred to by the respected title of "Close Protection Officer" or CPO for short. These, are people who understand what personal risk management is all about, and more importantly know how to develop mitigating strategies to avert these risks.
Whether working as a single CPO, or as a member of a bigger team the most important component and objective of a true professional is to keep his/her principal out of harm’s way. Planning, planning and some more planning is what they do. Did I mention planning? Every day, day after day. This meticulous planning will include route selection, pre-arrival arrangements, counter surveillance, TSCM operations of meeting rooms, advanced party deployment; and so, the list goes on.
As you can see, emotional intelligence (EQ) and strategy play a far bigger role than a barrel chest or hulking biceps. This is not to say that strong, physically gifted people don't make great CPOs, not at all! I am merely pointing out that the pre-requisite for success in this field is not based on the build of the operative.
In countries such as the UK, close protection assignments are largely carried out without firearms due to country laws. So, the result is that the Close Protection Industry is staffed by individuals who have learnt firsthand that planning and risk management is the key to success. Even though their attackers may be armed, they are not.
Secondly, I should point out that the protection of an individual/s is only possible when the CPO clearly understands the array of risk facing the person/s being protected.
Remember, not all principles have life threatening "hits" out on them. In fact, for the most part the private sector CPO is hired by corporates to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their executives. Particularly when visiting or traveling to high risk areas.
These clients do not want massive hulks in poorly fitting black suits and dark glasses!
Quite the contrary, they want what I call "Blenders". Close Protection Officers who blend in and DO NOT draw attention. Think about it... The very success of protection lies in the ability to rely on stealth, steer clear of attention and operate on your terms. So why the hell would a 5.5 ft executive want a 120kg man walking around with him. Going to look a bit like Laurel and Hardy.
Thirdly, it is important that I mention image. Close Protection details very often fail or cause embarrassing reputational damage due directly to the poor judgment and actions of the CPOs themselves. Interpersonal skills and EQ again pop up here. Knowing when to usher your principal or request a guest to leave a fundraiser is not something that "BodyGoons" tend to handle too well.
My view? Steroids and black-tie events generally don't work out too well.
The career of the Close Protection Officer is not one that should be chosen simply to try and pay the bills. It requires more of a "calling" than job choice. Up-skilling and self-development in its many, many fields require a strong character. One that is self-disciplined and focused. If that's you then seize the day, make your choice, and start your training now. Who knows, you may be D&K's next top Close Protection Officer.
Call +27118240334 or visit www.bodyguardservices.co.za for course details.