Wodan Security organized the first International Bodyguard Conference from the 1st to the 3rd of July, 2016, in Stod, Czech Republic.
The Anti-Terror Academy is a former military barracks and provides ideal training possibilities for all relevant skills, including shooting, abseiling, climbing, medical, tactics, and classroom briefings. Wodan Security’s aim was, using internationally experienced trainers, to create a high standard of training under realistic conditions for the participants, something that is often not possible in Germany. The emphasis was placed on the current threat situation in Europe.
Even before the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, Wodan Security had conducted an AMOK training in Germany in order to raise awareness for new tactics and equipment for close protection operators and to integrate these into their operational planning.
Taking part in the training were professional close-protection operators, military personnel, police officers, and armed security professionals from Romania, Italy, Austria, England, South Africa, and Germany.
There was also an opportunity to acquire kit and equipment at special prices and to gain information about the latest gear. Ralf K. invited the following companies, who displayed their products and provided advice to the participants:
- Recon Company
These companies also provided equipment for testing during the training, for which we are most grateful. Over the course’s two and a half days, the following topics were covered:
- Preparation and planning of operational travel in close protection
- Tactical shooting for close protection
- Tactical training, CQB and actions during an AMOK situation
- Defensive tactics for close protection
- Attack situations with dogs
- Equipment display of operational gear and clothing
After extended negotiations, Wodan Security was luckily able to win the well-known “Instructor Zero” as a trainer for the conference. Alongside him were top trainers from the Czech anti-terror unit URNA, as well as former members of German SEK, KSK, GSG9 and the Dutch KPNV (Royal Netherlands Police Dog Confederation).
Following the welcome and introductions, the course began with a theoretical group task, which is standard for Wodan courses. I found that this focuses the participants to the course after a long journey and prepares them for the coming hours of training by concentrating on security issues.
The task was given to mixed groups and consisted of planning an imaginary terrorist attack in Europe, picking a target and tactically describing the scenario. After the groups had presented their plans, we moved to the second part of the task:
“You now find yourself with your CP team and two principals in the scenario you have described. How will you act tactically and what actions could you have taken in advance?”
The discussion that followed achieved the desired result of getting to know each other and so kicking off the conference proper.
Next up was an impressive four-hour theory session on operational planning and preparation, where a former KSK operator provided valuable lessons for the participants through realistic examples from his personal experience.
The experiences from his military service, and especially his sometimes unique experiences from the private security sector, gave the participants useful insights into operating internationally with the many cultural and bureaucratic obstacles that can entail. The presentation, which was enhanced by interesting images and personal experiences, once again made it clear how important it is to be prepared for the unexpected.
To finish off the day, the participants had the opportunity to gain information, test, and purchase the products displayed by the equipment companies invited to the conference.
After a long day and a couple of beers together, everyone was tired and soon hit the sack. For a few of the participants, it was an experience to once again sleep in barracks after being away for so long.
The second day was dedicated to practical skills. After splitting the participants into two groups, Instructor Zero took his group and, along with his co-trainer, Marco, moved to the shooting range.
One participant wrote the following about the firearms training with Instructor Zero:
Even experienced close-protection operators, professional armed security personnel, or members of official agencies were surprised, believing that the basic skills of their profession were ingrained in flesh and blood. Instructor Zero showed them otherwise!
Instructor Zero not only reminded us of things that had maybe been forgotten or were thought to be routine, but he made us conscious of them. He was able to highlight these basic skills and build upon them, driving us ever further into more advanced training.
He had me convinced right from the start: With a warm-up drill, Instructor Zero was able to accurately assess the individual skill level of each shooter. Not only that, he also immediately began to provide tips and corrections for shooting errors.
Without any fuss, he highlighted individuals’ errors and demonstrated improvements that straight away produced results.
In short: an introduction to Zero!
The whole training was based on this introductory shoot. Zero took time for every participant individually, from inexperienced shooter to instructor or Special Forces operator. He took the same time for everyone, and impressed with his friendly, open, and impartial manner, a skill that has been lost by many instructors at his level. Instructor Zero took the time needed and so gave the participants the feeling that he was part of the group.
This was a great seminar for me and I will definitely come back for more.”
Another participant commented:
At the start of the training session with Instructor Zero on Sunday morning, we all lined up for the initial briefing on what the plan was for the day. We started with loosening-up exercises and basic drills. The loosening-up exercise was to hold our pistols with extended arms in front of us for five minutes; with every passing minute this became a greater challenge! It should be mentioned here that without exception, every participant had a Glock, in different configurations depending on preference (G17, 19, 26, 20), but all Glocks.
After this loosening-up exercise, we carried out basic drills. For example:
- How do I adopt a firing position
- How do I load and unload the pistol
- How do I operate the slide
- How do I check the readiness state of my pistol
- How do I holster my pistol
It became apparent to all the participants that we had maybe neglected these basic drills and that, as in almost anything in life, it comes down to attention to detail.
Now we came to the shooting, and first Instructor Zero wanted to establish the skill level of every participant. In order to do this we fired the following practice: On a blank card target were drawn 10 different geometric shapes (square, rectangle, triangle, circle, etc.). These were numbered one to 10. Instructor Zero called out a random number and we were to fire one shot at the required shape, after which we re-holstered our pistols.
After we had fired at every shape, Instructor Zero checked every target and analyzed our hits. Everyone achieved good accuracy, but Instructor Zero was able to pick up on a few small points from almost everyone in which they could improve. Little changes in the trigger operation or grip on the pistol were made and enabled everyone to enhance their dynamic shooting abilities. So far so good!
Next on the agenda was shooting while moving. The shooter was to move left and right, then, on command, fire a shot at one of the three symbols on a new target. Instructor Zero added to this drill now and again with a set of 10 push-ups. Even so, despite this, the participants still achieved very good hits. The final part of this session was dedicated to ‘controlled shooting while moving over difficult terrain.’
In this drill, every participant had to negotiate a course, moving forward and backward, feeling their way with their feet to ensure that they always kept their eyes on the target. After everyone was able to do this dry, we moved on to doing it with live fire, initially just forward and backward, but then pretty quickly adding moving around various obstacles.
The participants had to maintain constant movement while keeping their eyes on the target, then on command from Instructor Zero, fire an aimed shot. Instructor Zero continued to analyze our hits after each and every one of the multiple stages we shot. After a more-than-successful training session, every one of the participants agreed:
- It all comes down to the basics
- Instructor Zero, with his tips and method of teaching, had considerably improved our shooting in just one day.
Thanks to Ralf Kassner; you enabled this with your conference!
Team Wodan took the second group, and after a brief theoretical introduction, moved to the “Tactic House.” First off, the skills and knowledge of the participants in the area of tactics/CQB were established. How does an ad hoc team work together, for example, on a stairway, in a corridor, or in rooms?
The scenario for this was a conference room in the upper floors of a multiple-story building. The close-protection teams had escorted their principals to the conference room and were then to wait downstairs near the entrance, as is often the case in real life. The training scenario then began with a loud bang and the sound of shots.
The difficulties for the close-protection teams were clear, in comparison to official agencies and special units, especially in the following areas:
Close-protection personnel generally only have handguns and maybe a lightweight protective vest available. Ammunition is normally very limited, and in a firefight with heavily armed perpetrators would be expended quickly.
Many of the participants have rarely or never trained in such extreme scenarios. In addition, it is seldom the case that a full CP team is deployed; in a worst-case scenario, you have to rely on the people who are available at the scene.
These are distinctively different, which is understandable due to the different training backgrounds and experiences of the individual CPOs, who will act either in a military or police manner.
In order for close-protection personnel to effectively respond to an active-shooter situation, teams should be designated on arrival. It is important to decide who will take command and coordinate the response (evacuation, engaging the shooter, search, medic). A thorough recce of the building is absolutely essential in order to be able to navigate under stress or when vision is impaired (e.g. after an explosion).
As a close-protection operator, do I have to respond in such a situation? Official agencies are obliged to act due to their nature, but even a civilian CPO has an obligation through their contract. If there are police officers on location who are providing security, they should of course respond, and we can decide if we can provide support.
Most active-shooter situations in the past have not lasted longer than five minutes. It is therefore important that CPOs mentally prepare for such incidents and train for them!
An active response should be left to the authorities, however, we need to weigh up the time delay such a response requires and, if possible, find out response times in advance. Where is the closest police station? How long does it take for a patrol car to get here? And so on.
In the present time, I should re-think my personal security management, review emergency plans, and adapt my equipment and weapons to the current situation. What use is my old Class 1 protective vest against a terrorist with an AK? One option: I could purchase a plate carrier with Class 4 plates. With the right choice, I can get one that weighs only 3.5 kg and could save the lives of the principal and myself. It is also important to regularly train in different buildings with the aim of protecting myself and moving as quickly as possible in a controlled manner using the best tactics.
After we had agreed on common tactics and mastered the individual areas of stairways, long corridors, and rooms professionally, we moved on to a comprehensive exercise in which surprise elements were added for the participants (principal in a different room, multiple attackers, etc.).
Top priority was always the evacuation of the principal, providing the best possible protection and, if required, engaging the attacker. The legal aspects of this were also professionally addressed.
After a number of successful practices, the exercise was conducted with live fire in the upper floors of the Tactics House, with two-, three-, and four-man teams. Emphasis was placed on weapon control and covering the arcs. The participants would have been happy to continue until late at night, but the defensive tactics trainer from URNA was waiting for us.
After all objects and jewelry had been removed, we began with a warm-up—a hill run, where the somewhat spoiled CPOs were surprised at the speed. According to the instructor, “Self-defense without pain is gymnastics.” The training was hard. Everyone had some bruises as reminders at the end of the day. The emphasis was placed on basic techniques, aimed at CPOs on the street who don’t have the opportunity to regularly train at a club. The techniques were hard, effective but simple, and easy to learn and apply, which is exactly what is required in order to be able to recall them under stress.
All the participants then had the chance to practice various scenarios with the operational dog “Kalle,” where they had to intercept the dog and evacuate the principal safely. Despite the warning from our dog handler that “the safest place is in the suit,” many of the volunteers who put on the suit had to be “persuaded.” Definitely a memorable experience for those who had never seen an operation dog in action, as well as a few reminders on the skin to show off at home.
After the evening meal together with lively conversations, our football team beat Italy, which everyone enjoyed—apart from our Italian friends. As a gesture of goodwill, we bought them some more drinks, and after a long and intensive training day, retired to bed.
On the last day, the groups swapped. Group B trained tactical shooting and Group A took on the active-shooter scenarios. At the debriefing, all of the participants were in agreement that they had completed an excellent and intensive course, and would take away many new impulses and experiences. In addition, they found the opportunity to share experiences with fellow participants and to make such excellent contacts with the trainers and equipment suppliers most beneficial.
The conference was very well organized by Wodan Security, and in cooperation with our friends from ATAC, lacked nothing. We plan to return next year. It was also a first for Instructor Zero to have intensive contact with private close protection operators and he was positively surprised at the motivation and cooperation of all present. Zero is a fantastic instructor, highly motivated and with great tactical understanding he is far more than just a trick shooter or YouTube star.
By the way, he shoots a standard Glock 17 outstandingly, and would like to come back on next year’s Wodan course.
Wodan Security invites you to the 4th Close Protection Conference from the 8 – 9th Oct 2016 in Duisburg.
The current security situation and its effects on a global player. (Operations Centre Officer)
Surveillance and Counter-Surveillance today. (MEK)
Tactical procedures in an urban environment following a terrorist attack. (KSK)
Response to and effects of a kidnapping on the family and company. (RED 24)
Evacuation of a principal into/out of a vehicle, tactical training. (Team Wodan)