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Anytime you have a high-profile executive or Ultra-High Net-Worth Individual (UHNWI) venturing into dangerous or foreign territory, a team of security professionals needs to scout and secure the area in advance. This security advance team precedes the principal to all the locations and venues listed on their itinerary.
Although this is done as-needed, it is not unusual for some executives to have advance operations done daily, both when they’re in and out of the country. This is especially true for those that face a higher-than-average level of risk exposure.
What exactly is an advance team, and what are their specific duties? Here’s everything you need to know.
An advance team is a group of security personnel who operate on an as-needed basis to precede the principal to all venues and locations on their itinerary. It doesn’t matter if the principal is on a multi-nation tour, going for a weekend hike in the mountains, or simply going to the office in the morning.
An advance operator is responsible for going ahead of them, making the necessary arrangements for when they arrive, and establishing all the required security cordons. The work that goes into preceding the principal while on a multi-nation tour versus what when they’re going to work every morning is worlds apart.
As a rule of thumb, advance agents should visit the sites on the itinerary at least twice before the principal’s arrival. The first time is to survey the site to determine the conditions they’ll be working in and develop plans and procedures to be used during the principal’s visit. The second visit is to set up the necessary security cordons, as well as execute any other security-related tasks that may be required.
The advance team needs to remain on-site for the duration of the principal’s visit until the Detail Leader releases them once certain predetermined conditions have been met.
This is made up of the secret service and is by far the most expensive, complex, and thorough advance team in the world. The secret service advance team takes care of all aspects of the presidential movement, including security and logistics for his motorcade, and protecting him from the 500+ death threats he receives every month.
This section explores the key duties and responsibilities of advance agents.
An advance team operator is responsible for getting in touch with all the pertinent points-of-contact (POC) listed on the itinerary or as indicated by the principal’s staff. They have to get in touch with all the required security liaisons and coordinating staff for the respective agencies.
POCs may include civilian agencies directly involved in the security function, intelligence agencies, or various law enforcement entities. They provide valuable information on specific itinerary sites.
Additionally, advance team operators also liaise with the host of the event, the staff, and other POCs that will interact directly with the principal at the location. This is important to gather all the necessary information about the visit.
Advance agents usually carry out site surveys to analyze the venue. They check for things like:
This information allows the advance team operator to come with an implementable plan.
The duration of the visit and its complexity will determine how the advance team will be constituted. A low-profile event in an environment with little to no threat can operate effectively with a two-person advance team, which happens to be the absolute minimum number of agents any advance team can have.
This allows the workload to be shared, and the overall functions of the team can be expedited. If a high-profile individual is venturing into a high-risk area, they will need a bigger team.
If the mission is a complex one, multiple two-person advance teams may need to be deployed. If a principal’s resources allow, you can never have too many advance team operators.
Advance agents thoroughly scout a location and identify potential ambush locations, chokepoints, approach routes, and any other problem areas. They also identify and execute the most appropriate countermeasures to deter those threats.
If an itinerary has several sites to cover within a short period, multiple advance teams can be deployed to conduct a site survey, risk assessment and come up with a series of countermeasures for each location. The same applies to a multi-nation trip.
Checklists ensure that advance operators don’t forget pertinent information they gathered during the advance visit. This is especially important for missions where the principal plans to stay overnight, has a public speaking engagement, needs to coordinate flight arrival and departure, or takes part in any other activity.
An advance agent also has to make sure they have all the necessary information on the principal’s preferences and any special requirements they may have. For instance, do they need to avoid microwave ovens because of their pacemaker? Do they need specialized equipment like a heart defibrillator or oxygen tank? This information would need to be on the checklist.
Operating without an advance team means leaving everything to fate, hoping that everything pans out as it should. An advance agent is the “insurance” and “assurance” you need to rest easy knowing that the location you visit will be safe, secure, and tailored to your needs long before you get there.
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Executive protection services refer to the series of security measures taken to protect executives, celebrities, politicians, and any other high-profile VIPs. More and more Fortune 500 firms are enlisting the help of executive protection companies and taking proactive steps to protect their top executives and staff from the full spectrum of vulnerabilities and threat exposure they face daily.
They do this to mitigate the potential losses and damages the corporation would suffer if these threats breached those vulnerabilities. The duties of an executive protection agent aren’t just limited to protecting those at the top of the food chain.
A pipeline technician traveling to the insurgent-riddled Middle East is just as exposed as a high-profile CEO speaking at a public event in LA. Executive protection agent duties extend to both these company employees. Here’s a breakdown of their responsibilities.
Protective surveillance is usually part of every executive protection package. It involves providing protection, continuous risk assessment, and on-going intelligence through physical and electronic means. It is preferred where normal executive protection might be seen as intrusive, sensitive, or inappropriate.
Executive protection agents offer protective surveillance to high net-worth individuals, their children, and their families, as well as in stalking cases. It allows the target to go about their daily routine without obstructive protection, but with the peace of mind that there’s a team of highly-trained security personnel watching over them, ready to provide an immediate response if anything threatens their safety.
Executive protection agents deploy military-grade satellite tracking equipment alongside covert video and audio surveillance to ensure the individual is safe at all times.
Business executives of medium to large-scale companies across several different industries now face a higher risk of becoming victims of targeted attacks. An executive protection agent is trained to purposefully detect and identify any hostile surveillance on them or their family in public places, their residence, and their business premises.
If they find that there is indeed hostile surveillance on the person, a covert surveillance team is deployed to investigate the malicious element. The purpose of this is to gather intelligence on who is watching you, find out what their motives could be, and thwart a possible attack.
Executive protection agents offer close protection services to Ultra-High Net-Worth Individuals (UHNWI) exposed to kidnapping threats. UHNWI security is ideal for both the principal and their family members.
This security detail is well-versed in the local cultures of kidnapping hotspots like the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and South America. They are also fluent in the relevant languages to guarantee fluid communication when dealing with any incident.
They don’t just know how to prevent a kidnap from happening, but also have hands-on experience with hostage rescue operations in hostile environments.
One of the biggest challenges executives face when traveling abroad is finding a reliable chauffeur and a safe vehicle. Most EP packages come with a security driver that is highly skilled in defensive driving tactics to ensure that you are safe on the road during your travels.
They are trained in surveillance detection, medical trauma, and close protection to enhance your safety on the road and keep you secure while in transit. This is especially important for employees working in high-threat areas. Some additional duties of an executive driver include meticulous planning and conducting regular risk assessments of routes they frequently use.
Fixed-Base Operators (FBOs) are the on-ground liaison for transient aircraft. They act as short-term “landlords” for planes that don’t have their own hangers to operate in.
Executive protection companies offer FBO security services to business aircraft. They ensure that the gates to the FBOs are manned at all times and that the lobbies are monitored by surveillance cameras 24/7.
An executive protection agent at an FBO is charged with enforcing a host of security measures to ensure that:
They also control access to the facility by keeping a log of people who access the hanger and ensuring that all visitors or passengers pass through the FBO terminal.
Advance work plays a major role in conducting effective executive protection. Advance team agents precede the principal to all the locations listed on their itinerary. This allows them to make the necessary arrangements and set up security cordons to safeguard their safety.
Their duties may range from preceding them on a multi-nation or international trip to getting to their business premises every morning before they do. An advance team agent is also responsible for getting in touch with all the points-of-contact listed on the itinerary, which may include various security, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies. They check for:
Although executive protection is predominantly a male-dominated profession, some individuals prefer to have female protection agents instead. For starters, they attract less attention since they very rarely match their male counterparts’ size and physique.
They also offer a different approach to the demands of the profession. A female agent may not pose an immediate physical threat to an attacker. Therefore, they are more likely to convince the assailants not to use the same level of force as they would when faced with a male agent.
There’s also the fact that certain cultures and religions prefer that women and children don’t spend time with men outside their family. Nonetheless, female agents are just as qualified and capable as their male counterparts to keep you and your family safe from malicious threats.
Although the specific duties of executive protection agents are diverse, they all share a common denominator – protecting you and your loved ones. They provide full-spectrum security both when you’re in the country and when you venture to high-threat zones outside the US borders.
All agents have a military or law enforcement background, so they know to respond to any threat or security incident that arises.
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Anytime you have senior government officials, dignitaries, foreign leaders, or any other high-profile VIP visiting a country, they require diplomatic protocol. This usually involves allocating them a motorcade complete with an executive security driver.
A private security convoy is more than just a group of black heavily tinted cars driving in synchrony. It is an intricate and well-choreographed dance that protects the high-profile individual and their entourage.
What exactly is a security convoy, and how does it work? What are the drivers’ duties? Here’s everything you need to know.
A motorcade is a procession of multiple vehicles that transport and protect a high-profile VIP. They move fast and don’t stop anywhere along their route. While a presidential motorcade may have anywhere between 40 and 50 vehicles, a non-presidential procession that doesn’t form part of a military convoy should have four to eight cars.
Its specific structure reflects the nature of the escort, as well as its unique requirements. Any non-essential vehicle should be excluded. Where possible, all vehicles should conform to the same performance standards. Depending on where they’re driving and the nature of the potential threats, all aspects of the vehicles, including the doors, door panels, windows, and undercarriage, should be ballistically-protected.
The engines of all motorcade vehicles should be kept running until the VIP is securely inside the venue once they drop off. They also need to be started plenty of time ahead of the VIP’s return to allow the engines to reach their optimal working temperature.
Below are the various types of vehicles used in a motorcade and the respective duties of the personal security driver assigned to them.
The point car driver’s role is to ensure that the route selected remains clear of any obstruction. It drives at a distance ahead of the main convoy so that if a specific route is no longer suitable, the vehicle can switch to an alternative route without having to slow down or stop. In case of any obstruction, the driver has to notify the convoy commander, who would then relay the new set of instructions to the lead car driver by radio.
The lead car driver’s role is to maintain the convoy’s speed and position while in transit and follow the instructions relayed to them by the convoy commander.
They need to watch and assess the situation ahead and judge the speed and distance they should drive while maintaining a sterile (clear) area around the motorcade for all the vehicles to move as one. They also need to be tactically alert to any vehicles that may attempt to interfere with the procession’s integrity.
This is the vehicle that’s used to ferry the protectee. The protectee driver is required to follow the instructions of the lead car, maintain an appropriate speed and distance, and ensure the area around the convoy remains sterile.
The private security driver assigned to this vehicle needs to have the highest level of defensive driving skills in the event of an incident. They also need to provide the smoothest ride possible for the VIP riding in the car with them.
There’s also an armed security driver who travels in the principal vehicle alongside the car’s other occupants. Their role is to provide cover to the protectee, prepare for the use of firearms if required, and transfer the principal to an alternate vehicle if the one they’re in becomes immobilized.
The last piece of the puzzle in the primary convoy is the protection escort car used to ferry the team of protection officers.
The driver has to be able to drive defensively and respond abruptly using blocking tactics if necessary, to prevent any vehicle coming from behind from intercepting the motorcade. The principal vehicle has to be within the visual range of the protection escort car at all times.
In addition to the primary motorcade, the following vehicles may also be deployed to provide support. They don’t necessarily have to be attached to the speed or route of the primary convoy.
For a security convoy driving through unfamiliar territory, the motorcade services company may provide a pilot car once an appropriate threat assessment has been conducted. The driver of this vehicle serves to enhance communication within the region, as well as provide detailed working information on the optimal routes to use and the area conditions.
A rear vehicle is provided in ultra-high-profile security convoy operations. The rear vehicle driver’s role is to maintain a sterile region to the back of the convoy to prevent other vehicles from encroaching in that direction. If any vehicle attempts to, the driver needs to alert the PET vehicle of the potential threat.
High threat escorts usually have a CAT vehicle in the procession as well. It is deployed to counter an active attack on the convoy, to either cover the protectee as they withdraw, or to oppose the threat entirely. The number of CAT vehicles deployed depends on the severity of the risk the protectee faces.
Although the sweep car forms part of the overall convoy, it operates as a detached unit. It shadows the main convoy from a distance and isn’t likely to get immediately caught up in an active attack on the procession.
The sweep car driver’s role is to coordinate and communicate external assistance to the main convoy in case of an ambush. The protection officers serve to provide contingent and tactical support. The sweep car also provides an immediate replacement if one of the vehicles in the convoy breaks down.
All motorcade or security drivers complete a specialized course on protective driving. They are masters at what they do and are well-versed in a wide range of tactics designed to keep the protectee safe. The VIP also gets a mandatory briefing on what to do if things go awry in a security incident.
If you need an armed or unarmed driver with specialized tactical training and in-depth knowledge of the local routes, get in touch