Effective One-Man Security Details

I did a lot of protection when I was with Diplomatic Security (DS).  I had two assignments to the Secretary of State’s detail, and managed many protective details at various U.S. Embassies.  The U.S. Secret Service (USSS) protects the President, Vice President and Heads of State.  Diplomatic Security protects just about every other type of foreign visitors: kings, princes, foreign ministers, foreign ambassadors, and many others.  Unlike the USSS, DS during my time did not have the budget or manpower to provide full protective details.  Many times, it was just me, or perhaps myself and one other agent, providing protection to a VIP.

In the private sector, I have often had clients that want me to accompany them overseas.  Many clients task me with identifying and managing a local security vendor to provide security.  Often though, I become what we used to call when assigned a one-man detail, a “hand-holder.”  I am on my own.

Image credit: 1000 Words / Shutterstock.com
Image credit: 1000 Words / Shutterstock.com

There are ways to maximize your effectiveness if you are the lone protection provider.  The first thing you should do, if the budget allows, is hire a local national with good connections to the security and/or government apparatus in the country visited.  If you do not speak the language, they can assist with translation, too.  Two-man details allow one of you to always jump ahead and act as an advance agent for the next location on the itinerary.  Unlike the old days, cell phones are everywhere so communications will not be a problem in most instances.  Sometimes you are even lucky enough to hire someone who has a local weapon’s permit.  It may be better to skip the armed requirement though.  Personally, I am not comfortable with relying on someone with whom I have never worked that is armed.  I cannot vouch for their training and experience levels.  They may do more harm than good in a firefight.  In addition, local liability laws and the local judicial system might make the consequences of any gunplay worse than the cure it may provide.

But if you’re the only one on the detail, you can still do a lot to help ensure a client’s security.  I arrive in advance of the client whenever I can, even if it means missing a comfortable ride on a corporate or private jet!  This is not always possible, but usually the client agrees.  Familiarizing yourself with all locations listed in the itinerary is a basic requirement of any protective security detail.  You want to, at the very least, identify potential trouble spots in advance.  Since most trips are strictly business, 48 hours is usually more than enough time.

The first priority is hotel security.  This is where you are likely most vulnerable and your actions most predictable.

  • Identify yourself and your purpose to the hotel manager.
  • Do your best to ensure your accommodations are as close to your principal as possible. This is not because you are going to run to his defense if someone tries to rob him or assault him in his room.  It’s because you need to be as close as possible in case of a natural disaster or medical issue.
  • You should introduce yourself to the hotel security directors also.
  • Familiarize yourself with all exits and entrances.
  • See if you can get a tour of their security room. Most hotels have cameras and alarms.  You will be surprised at how much a usually very bored security director will tell you regarding his and his men’s training, hotel policies, emergency response plans, etc.

And of course, do not forget the basics.

  • Review local police, fire, and medical standards. Try to ascertain the levels and types of security and emergency services response you can expect.
  • Identify the closest health care facility. You should have already asked the client if he suffers from any medical issues.  If he or she has, for example, heart issues, make note of the closest cardiac facility that can best treat their condition.
  • Find out the location of the U.S. Embassy.
  • Ensure you know the 911 number equivalent for the country.

One-man protective details, while not ideal, can be effective.  Your job is to minimize the risk, to the maximum extent possible, to your client.  It can be done if you pay attention to the tips outlined above.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Bill Gaskill

Mr. Gaskill has over 20 years of extensive international experience with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State, followed by 10+ years in the corporate sector.During his career at State, he developed and led comprehensive security programs in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Latin America.He was Chief of Security at five U.S. Embassies:Tel Aviv, Athens, Lima, Nicosia and Lome.He has worked in more than 144 countries and has an extensive network of global contacts.His areas of professional expertise include risk assessments, physical security, access control, guard force operations and management, counter terrorism, investigations, foreign security liaison, personal protection and Emergency Plans and Preparations.

As Vice President of a Security Fusion Center, Bill has provided risk management advice and direction to major Fortune 100 defense industry, ultra high net worth and other clients.

As Global Director for Security, Alem International, Bill planned and directed all facets of the security and risk mitigation strategies for the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay that took place in over 34 countries.

Bill was commissioned as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer in the US Army immediately after college.

Mr. Gaskill has a Bachelor of Science degree in Ancient History with a math minor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.He has a current Top Secret/SCI clearance.He has professional fluency ratings in Spanish, Greek, Hebrew and French, and has a working knowledge of Russian.
Bill Gaskill
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