Men and women who operate in the protective detail industry do so for a handful of reasons; the biggest reason being the money. All of the reasons aside from the aforementioned can be set aside (momentarily) so long as the money remains significant. Whoever is running the project most certainly should realize, the “product” of his company is in fact those human beings escorting their clients to and from their appointed places of duty. Any true business would know that the perception of your company’s image is the product produced in and of itself.
Choosing the right product:
Choosing the right individual to man your contract is the key to a successful contract. Although many individuals could be quite charismatic and energetic, those should not be characteristics to solely base the appointment of your employees. Ideally you would want to have a say in who is allowed, “ Boots on ground.” Many corporate entities think of the selection process as a matter of a systematic procedure. In doing so they may neglect to afford the staff on the ground the right to approve or deny tentatively “in bound” personnel. The client is required to approve all inbound personnel, however considering their responsibilities in country this may fall under the more “menial” tasks in their day to days, allowing discrepancies in the process to occur.
An individual’s DD 214 should be analyzed and crosschecked with his/her résumé. You’re looking for integrity and quality. Any relevant job experience should be validated through Verification of Employment letters (VOE’s). All certificates should be investigated and verified as well. It is all too easy to forge documents in this day and age of technology.
The certification course prior to deployment should incorporate at minimum motorcade operations, weapons handling and manipulation, weapons safety, rules of use of force, escalation of use of force, communications to include proper radio etiquette and procedures, searching and detention techniques close quarters battle, battlefield medical care, and of course all the other contractually/position required courses (i.e. walking formations and actions on enemy contact procedures for mobile/personal security). Instructors should consider themselves as the gatekeepers to the company, saving it from the potential embarrassment that a less than qualified employee can cause. A “No exceptions to sub par performance” attitude is absolutely necessary. It is imperative to remember human lives are at stake and quantity should never be placed above quality. The proper screening of an individual’s pressure management skills, temperament, training and tactical sense will save the company from future headaches such as law suits, legal fees, fines, un-intended travel costs and possible loss of contract.
**Although one heinous act performed by one heinous individual probably won’t kill a contract, it may very well become “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
The individual manning the static portion of the contract i.e. compound roving security/tower security/gate and drop arm operations should at minimum come from a combat arms or security enforcement/law-enforcement background. It is imperative these individuals possess the skill and knowledge of weapon safety, operations and manipulation (no exceptions). If required to have an Emergency Response Team (ERT), Individuals should be promoted from within the security cadre. Once an individual has spent time on ERT (roughly one year) then they should be allowed to apply for mobile.
The type of individual ideal for the mobile cadre is one who has the experience and the knowledge of surviving, averting and evading dynamic situations. The training hours required for someone to be proficient in a combat situation is an unrealistic goal for any company to try to achieve from scratch. The individuals that should be considered for mobile operations will have combat experience and be distinguished from prior military service. The training time and money the government has spent on these men (and in some cases women) should not be overlooked. Mobile individuals should be pulled from Special Forces, Marine Reconnaissance, Navy Seals, Army and Marine Corps Snipers, Army Rangers, and Marine and Army Infantry (in lieu of Personal Security Detail/ Worldwide Protective Services experience). All of these units have one major thing in common, they are all used to operating in small units, economizing their impact on the battlefield and excelling in mission planning and execution. No matter how slim the contract starts getting, these are the individuals who should not be compromised or replaced with inexperienced individuals.
The mobile cadre is the meat and potatoes of any contract. The reason the security contractor is in country is because of the government’s requirement of security personnel in support of day-to-day diplomatic and infrastructure operations. Put in simple terms: no mobile security, no work. Statistically speaking, out of all of the missions run day-to-day in country, a small percent are actually confronted or engaged. Unfortunately we cannot solely look at numbers in this arena. We are dealing with human lives whether it’s 10 or one, the loss of any is completely unacceptable. When the proverbial “shit hits the fan” the individuals you want to pull you out of said “shit” will be those with the experience to “shoot, move and communicate” efficiently.
Dealing with humans:
- One of the biggest issues with security contractors on the ground is the clear delineation in living standards between the client and the security personnel. Although many contracts stipulate that the individuals will share common living conditions, this is rarely adhered to. The statement of work, also known as the SOW, should not be taken lightly or considered left to interpretation. What’s in black on those white pages is what your company rates. If there is a rift between the client and the contractor (which happens frequently) the clients will always revert to that SOW; however, the SOW is a double edged sword. For example, if in the statement of work it annotates each individual should have at least 64 ft.² of living space and the client decides to consolidate rooms to maximize their comfort, leaving two individuals in the space less than 110 ft.², that is a violation of the statement of work and should be addressed with corporate legal.
- On some contracts where there are no military forwarding addresses the Department of State will have something similar in place. However allowing their employees unrestricted unlimited weights to send and receive, the security “subcontractors” will usually be limited to an unrealistic weight amount (i.e. two pounds). This is an issue for morale and the security company should be ready to negotiate better terms. The mobile security’s mission requirements annotated in the statement of work should be analyzed by the senior member of the mobile cadre crosschecking it for feasibility. For example, in the statement of work the mobile cadre is responsible for a minimum of 400 movements a week, with a standing manpower of 20 individuals (considering days off and leave rotation). This will be an unrealistic goal forcing the company to draw from its least-experienced ranks and backfilling mobile, creating a vacuum within the static forces (which protect the compound while you sleep). Surely this will be a recipe for disaster. Other issues that may arise from over employment are human error due to fatigue; team member illness, lack of contractually required training and weapons qualification time, and with more client interaction comes more client complaints.
- The gym is the biggest tool to combat frustration and depression. Individuals take security contractor jobs because it is unlikely in the civilian sector for them to make six figures a year. One must keep in mind many of these individuals have families they have left behind for the pursuit of financial advancement. It is especially hard for those with small children. The gym is an escape for most of these employees. The gym facility should be a priority amongst the maintenance staff and all equipment should be maintained clean and functional. For this very reason the Internet and the Wi-Fi should be flawless as well.
Client contractor relationship:
The clients and the contractors should have very little to no communication whatsoever outside of the missions. All the same issues affecting contractors emotionally are affecting the clients as well. Compounds should be considered small economies with different classes. It is only through these eyes you will understand what to look for. The client should be considered the aristocratic class and the security personnel should be considered the minority/disenfranchised class. It is not uncommon for the client to chastise and address security personnel in a demeaning manner due to their own inability to manage frustrations. On some occasions the clients will have an air of arrogance brought on by a belief that they are morally and intellectually far more superior than anyone who has chosen combat arms as a way of life. It is usually best to keep the security personnel on a separate compound and have them commute to pick up the client especially if both compounds are within an international zone/green zone. This will greatly reduce the friction and tension between both elements providing for a smooth execution of the contract.
Protect your security personnel from those clients that are always “frustrated.” Clients of affluent and academic backgrounds usually misinterpret security contractors’ actions, lending them to believe an individual is abusing drugs or is mentally ill. It is simply cultural biases at play. Most men who served in the military were raised amongst a warrior culture. Being apart of this culture is as being apart a pack of wolves. The alpha male reigns supreme. Fowl language, excessive grunting, yelling in the gym and constant and intense physical exercise are perfectly normal and expected. These men have several combat deployments under their belts and are required to go from 0-100 mph at the sound of a “boom,” they’re going to have a tendency to be a bit “edgy.”
- Security personnel should have serviceable, uniformed and presentable equipment.
- Mobile personnel should have functional serviceable and relatively low profile equipment. The individual responsible for purchasing equipment should communicate or make liaison with the most senior/ experienced mobile individual for they will have the knowledge and experience as to what’s needed and what works.
- If the company is absorbing another contracts’ weapons and ammunition, ensure you conduct serviceability inspections and replace what needs to be replaced.
Other things to consider:
- Making sure your leave rotation is fair financially and time-wise.
- Make sure training is continuous and across the board. You want to be able to have ERT and mobile members shoot move and communicate with each other efficiently, especially in a situation affecting the compound.
- Dedicated training space should be allocated within the compound.
- Time for training should be worked into the schedule.
- There should be a visible path to promotion based off of merit and hard work.
- Static individuals should not share rooms with other shifts. This will lead to stress and conflict between roommates. When one is awake one is trying to sleep and vice versa. Although the individual on shift should be working, there are moments like lunch and break in which they will have nowhere to go except their room where they will most likely try to communicate with the outside world or watch a movie. Both should be on the same shift, eating, working and sleeping at the same times.
- Client morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) missions should not supersede the mission numbers annotated on the SOW.
- Clients that have drinking/behavioral issues should be identified and limited on their MWR runs. Mobile individuals will have a hard time keeping the clients free from embarrassment if they cannot control themselves. I’m sure picking up vomit in the back seat of an armored vehicle is not something they signed up for.
Keep in mind:
Any company that takes care of its employees will be a successful company. The contracting community is extremely small and tight-knit. Any discrepancies with a company or its management are spoken of industry wide. Many contracts to this very day have a hard time manning their requirements because of past acts of employee negligence. You’re looking for individuals with unique and expensive skill sets. If you’re a company looking to do right by your employees, then don’t be cheap. If you’re a company who can care less about an individual’s welfare and morale, in it for the federal dollars, you’re surely going to sink unless the money remains significant. We know what we signed on for. We’re willing to take the risk for the reward.
“SHOOT, MOVE, and COMMUNICATE.”
Featured image courtesy of Twitter