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November 1, 2007

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Repercussions From Iraq Private Security Contractor Woes Hit Afghanistan

October 12, 2007

in a clear attempt to avoid incidents a la Blackwater in Baghdad, Afghani officials have decided to regulate private security firms operating in Afghanistan. Afghani officials reported that they closed two private security firms and are reviewing the status of several others. Some of the firms reportedly targeted for closing reportedly include some better known Western firms although Afghani officials weren’t releasing names.

Compared to Iraq, the concern about private security contractors operating in Afghanistan is relatively calm but like Iraq, there is growing resentment over how private security companies operate in Afghanistan as well.

One interesting note in the Associated Press article though. The Associated Press article refers to a claim that Blackwater “raided” the Kabul offices of another U.S. security company, U.S. Protection and Investigations, following allegations of overcharging the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Huh? I’m hoping that what they mean is that Blackwater was responsible for protecting the USAID folks who did the actual raiding as opposed to Blackwater itself carrying out the so-called raid.

Read the article and see if you can figure it out for yourself.

The Associated Press: Afghans Cracking Down on Security Firms

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Security Contractors: Necessary, Evil or Neither?

October 11, 2007

Stratfor has published an article today entitled Security Contractors; A Necessary Evil. It’s an interesting read particularly the sections regarding the scope of the Diplomatic Security Service (DS) mission worldwide. Read the article yourself but the gist of the article is that, things being the way they are, security contractors are a necessary evil. An interesting way to put, but in my opinion, wrong.

It’s clear that DS is stretched thin around the world. Resources, both personnel and budget are not limitless. There’s no ready supply of DS agents available to fill the role of security contractors even if the financial means existed to replace private security contractors. All of those arguments are very valid but where I take issue is the “better the devil you know” response as justification for keeping private security contractors.

The fact that private security contractors have been used extensively by DS in other places ignores the fact that the other countries where private security contractors support DS are not war zones involving the protection of U.S. diplomats. Success in Liberia with private security contractors does not translate to success everywhere else. The Rules of Engagement, the scope of the protective mission, and the operational oversight by DS, are much different in every other country where private security contractors are performing personal security duties than in Iraq. As we have seen with virtually every aspect of the war in Iraq, the cookie cutter model simply does not apply.

Secondly, the implications as a result of misconduct by private security contractors is much more serious in Iraq than anywhere else. Unfortunately DS agents throughout the world will be left feeling like the guy responsible for cleaning up after the elephant act at the circus as a result of private security contractor misconduct. DS agents will be on the firing line when it comes to responding to violent acts around the world inspired by the perceived targeting of  unarmed Iraqi civilians by U.S. Embassy security forces. Ironically, DS agents work very hard to foster good relationships with their foreign counterparts and in foreign nations. It would be a shame if DS were perceived to be in the same category as those private security contractors who are engaging in misconduct.

I also have to take issue with the characterization that the U.S. military doesn’t have the “specialized training” required to protect diplomats. Excuse me? The U.S. military has the resources, skill, expertise and infrastructure to conduct all aspects of training required to perform such duties. In the U.S. Army for example, the Military Police Corps has trained for more than  20 years in tactical security skills that could easily be adapted to protecting U.S. diplomats. Every function now performed by private security contractors could be performed by members of the Marine Security Guard (MSG) with minimal train up time. Let’s not kid ourselves, where do you think these private security contractors got their skills? I dare say that there are relatively few former DS agents, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals etc… among the private security contractors. It’s only after someone is brought on with a private security contractor that they attend the requisite Personal Security Detail (PSD) training. When you start looking at the background of some of these private security contractors, relatively few of them had PSD backgrounds to begin with.

The stakes are so high in Iraq that the normal status quo is not the way to go. The U.S., and especially U.S. diplomats, deserve a stable protective force, that is trained, accountable, responsible and with an equity in success of the U.S. mission beyond a business contract. We can not expect the Iraqis, nor any other country in the Middle East, to develop any value for human life, when we permit the individuals responsible for protecting our most visible and active symbol of what the U.S. represents, our diplomats, to operate without impunity. We do not tolerate that of our soldiers serving anywhere in the world. Why should we permit that from private security contractors?

Defense Tech: Security Contractors: A Necessary Evil

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Is Poor Security Responsible For Princess Diana’s Death?

October 9, 2007

Tje former close protection officer for Princess Diana Ken Wharfe, said yesterday that Princess Diana’s private protective detail was responsible for her death. Wharfe, a member of Scotland Yard’s Royal and Diplomatic Protection Branch (SO-14) was Princess Diana’s government provided personal protection officer for seven years.

In a recent interview on the Today’s Show, Wharfe blames Princess Diana’s private security detail for their decision to try and evade the paparazzi who had staked out the Ritz Hotel in an attempt to get a picture of Princess Diana and her companion Dodi al-Fayed. Wharfe said “What was wrong was the bodyguards failed to communicate with the
paparazzi to strike a deal,” Wharfe said. “All they wanted was a
picture.” Wharfe said the effort to leave out the back door of the Ritz was a mistake.“These games are the sort that never work,” Wharfe said.

Wharfe knows what he is talking about. He spent seven years as Princess Diana’s personal protection officer during the most high profile period of Princess Diana’s life. Wharfe dealt with paparazzi on a daily basis. Calling the paparazzi “a nuisance,” Wharfe recognizes that public celebrities must learn to find some accommodation with the paparazzi in an effort to gain some modicum of privacy as opposed to continually trying to outwit them which is a losing proposition. A total blackout on the paparazzi, particularly for someone with public interest on the level of Princess Diana is neither possible nor realistic particularly when the protectee interacts with the public on the level that Princess Diana did.

At the time of her death, Diana had dismissed her government provided protective detail for a private detail. Hence the normal security resources which existed while she was under the protection of the government were not longer available. Had Princess Diana been under the protection of the government, her SO-14 detail could have asked the French government for assistance. There is no doubt that the French government would have taken control of the paparazzi, if asked. The French government might be a socialist government but they know how to wield security when it’s in the interest of the government. Clearly Diana’s private detail did not enjoy that sort of relationship or maybe more accurately, like Wharfe is suggesting, poor security practices are responsible for Diana’s death.

Without mentioning Trevor Rees by name, Wharfe implicates Rees for Diana’s death. Wharfe suggests that by communicating with the paparazzi prior to departing the hotel, Rees could have negotiated with the paparazzi for a photo opportunity, in exchange for privacy. Of course, all of this assumes that the paparazzi would have agreed, and abided with, the terms of the negotiation but obviously Wharfe must have had some success in negotiating with the paparazzi in situations such as the one that existed that fateful night.

Wharfe says trying to evade paparazzi “never work.” Wharfe has a point. There was far more paparazzi then protective personnel plus the paparazzi were just as mobile as the protective detail. Trying to evade the paparazzi would only guarantee the paparazzi would get more aggressive in their effort to get their picture at the next stop or next opportunity. Considering the small protective detail, there was absolutely no way Diana’s detail could have effectively controlled all potential vulnerabilities that the paparazzi could have exploited to get their picture.

Wharfe’s comments also lead to me to return to that question that has been troubling me. If, as Rees claims, and most investigations support, Paul was in fact noticeably drunk, why did Rees allow Paul behind the wheel? The other question I have is why did Rees use Paul to being with? This was not the first time Princess Diana had been to Paris. In
my experience, I use previously proven and trustworthy local personnel to support my protective details if I did not or could not, bring adequate protective personnel with me. It seems strange to me that Rees would use someone he did not know or trust with his life or his protectee’s life in such a critical function. The limo driver is the lynch pin in vehicle movements. The single most dangerous event for a protective mission is vehicle transportation. That is Executive Protection 101. At the absolutely least, using an obviously intoxicated driver as Rees claims Paul was, makes Rees negligent in that respect, never mind the question of how to best handle paparazzi. The actions of paparazzi were a large unknown but the selection of the driver was well within the control of Rees. Even assuming Rees couldn’t tell Paul was drunk, did he not “vett” Paul prior to using him? Still, why did Rees not have a relationship with a trusted local driver?

I’ve also got to question, why Rees thought his only option was to out drive the paparazzi? For example, did he not consider setting up a holding area for the media which is an accepted practice in Executive
Protection. This allows the media to get their pictures yet facilitates security. Even certain protective formations allow
for photo opportunities. Open formations such as the “box formation”
allow for pictures yet still provide 360 degree security.

In the emergency medical world there is an axiom which says, “do no harm” meaning don’t create a more serious medical situation than the one you are responding to. In this case, it seems a greater harm was created than the one the security was intending to prevent.

An interesting side note: Some media reports indicate that Trevor Rees is in Iraq these days ostensibly working a personal security detail.

Diana’s former bodyguard blames security detail – Diana: 10 Years Later – MSNBC.com

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One Handed Shooting. An Executive Protection Tactical Must

October 9, 2007

Officer.com has an article by Steve Denney entitled “One-Handed Shooting;Another critical and neglected skill” with a very valid application to Executive Protection. One of the points Denney makes in his article is that sometimes you have to play the cards you’re dealt and if that means shooting with only one hand, so be it. There’s plenty of situations in Executive Protection that shooting with one hand is a very real possibility, notably when you are trying to move your principal during an attack. In fact, you are far more likely to have to shoot with one hand in Executive Protection than most other situations. If you are responsible for providing “body cover,” then instinctively you reach for your principal and start to move, if that’s an option. However, if you are on a small detail where there isn’t the option of leaving your principal to engage the threat, shooting while engaging and moving off the “X” with your principal in tow, might be your only choice. Like Steve Denney says the time to learn to shoot with one hand is not when the shooting starts.

One-Handed Shooting: On the Street at Officer.com

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Inquiry into Princess Diana Accident Still Provides Valuable Lessons Learned For Executive Protection

October 8, 2007

The on-going inquiry into the death of Princess Diana continues to provide valuable “lessons learned” for Executive Protection specialists and not to mention, grist for the conspiracy mill. Princess Diana’s protection specialist was Trevor Rees who has continued to play a prominent role in inquiries into the life and death of Princess Diana. Trevor Rees was riding in the passenger seat when the crash occurred that killed Princess Diana and her companion, Dodi Al Fayed. During a recent interview with Good Morning America, Trevor Rees said that the accident that killed Princess Diana was the fault of the driver Henri Paul who Rees accused of being drunk when the accident occurred. Obviously Rees’ comments have been thoroughly investigated once before but his most recent comments are likely to rekindle the controversy.

Let’s assume for a moment that the driver Henri Paul was in fact drunk when he got behind the wheel of the Mercedes that Princess Diana and Al-fayed were using that evening. Obviously he would have to be noticeably drunk in order for Rees to reach that conclusion. I’ve always wanted to ask, knowing, or suspecting that the driver was drunk, why then did Rees put his protectee in a vehicle driven by someone he suspected to be drunk? There was always the option of waiting in the hotel until other arrangements could be made. This was not a life or death situation. It was a situation of avoiding or escaping paparazzi, not armed assailants. Other than a the inconvenience of time, I don’t understand what were the circumstances that warranted taking a risk with a driver who was described as drunk?

The issue of alcohol notwithstanding, you can only drive so fast for so long before the risk of an accident becomes a far greater possibility equal to, or perhaps greater than, the situation you are trying to avoid. The recent accident that nearly claimed the life of New Jersey Governor Corzine is a perfect example for Executive Protection specialists. Traffic accidents will claim the life of your principal as quickly as an attack.

The other lesson here is the need to use seatbelts, for both the protectee and the protector. The single most dangerous thing most of us will do everyday is get in a vehicle. There is no tactical advantage to be gained by not wearing a seatbelt. In fact, there is everything to be gained by wearing a seatbelt. The prospect of having to climb over the front seat to provide body cover for your principal is far less likely to occur than an accident.

Another parallel with the Governor Corzine accident is driver training. According to the news reports, Henri was not licensed to drive the Mercedes that he used that evening. As was demonstrated in the Corzine accident, executive protection training specific to evasive driving, and accident avoidance is paramount. A license to drive is merely a formal recognition of legal permission to operate a vehicle. It certainly doesn’t indicate competency. When it comes to executive protection, drivers must be skilled not only with the vehicle they are operating but also trained to executive protection standards and conditions.

No doubt the death of Princess Diana will continue to enthrall the public. In any case, following this case will provide more learning opportunities for executive protection.

Daily Express: The World’s Greatest Newspaper :: News / Showbiz :: Bodyguard: Driver was to blame for the Diana crash

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Executive Protection is moving to Executive Protection News.Com

October 7, 2007

Executive Protection is moving to Executive-Protection-News.Com. Moving to a hosted site will allow us to better serve our growing readership by allow us to expand our offerings to include free downloads, more Executive Protection specific links such as executive protection training, listings of executive protection training sites, and more links of interest.

The projected move date is October 14th. Notice I said projected. Anything can happen but we’ll keep you posted.

Make sure you bookmark our new site at http://www.executive-protection-news.com

Inquiry into Princess Diana Accident Still Provides Valuable Lessons Learned For Executive Protection

October 7, 2007

The on-going inquiry into the death of Princess Diana continues to provide valuable “lessons learned” for Executive Protection specialists and not to mention, grist for the conspiracy mill. Princess Diana’s protection specialist was Trevor Rees who has continued to play a prominent role in inquiries into the life and death of Princess Diana. Trevor Rees was riding in the passenger seat when the crash occurred that killed Princess Diana and her companion, Dodi Al Fayed. During a recent interview with Good Morning America, Trevor Rees said that the accident that killed Princess Diana was the fault of the driver Henri Paul who Rees accused of being drunk when the accident occurred. Obviously Rees’ comments have been thoroughly investigated once before but his most recent comments are likely to rekindle the controversy.

Let’s assume for a moment that the driver Henri Paul was in fact drunk when he got behind the wheel of the Mercedes that Princess Diana and Al-fayed were using that evening. Obviously he would have to be noticeably drunk in order for Rees to reach that conclusion. I’ve always wanted to ask, knowing, or suspecting that the driver was drunk, why then did Rees put his protectee in a vehicle driven by someone he suspected to be drunk? There was always the option of waiting in the hotel until other arrangements could be made. This was not a life or death situation. It was a situation of avoiding or escaping paparazzi, not armed assailants. Other than a the inconvenience of time, I don’t understand what were the circumstances that warranted taking a risk with a driver who was described as drunk?

The issue of alcohol notwithstanding, you can only drive so fast for so long before the risk of an accident becomes a far greater possibility equal to, or perhaps greater than, the situation you are trying to avoid. The recent accident that nearly claimed the life of New Jersey Governor Corzine is a perfect example for Executive Protection specialists. Traffic accidents will claim the life of your principal as quickly as an attack.

The other lesson here is the need to use seatbelts, for both the protectee and the protector. The single most dangerous thing most of us will do everyday is get in a vehicle. There is no tactical advantage to be gained by not wearing a seatbelt. In fact, there is everything to be gained by wearing a seatbelt. The prospect of having to climb over the front seat to provide body cover for your principal is far less likely to occur than an accident.

Another parallel with the Governor Corzine accident is driver training. According to the news reports, Henri was not licensed to drive the Mercedes that he used that evening. As was demonstrated in the Corzine accident, executive protection training specific to evasive driving, and accident avoidance is paramount. A license to drive is merely a formal recognition of legal permission to operate a vehicle. It certainly doesn’t indicate competency. When it comes to executive protection, drivers must be skilled not only with the vehicle they are operating but also trained to executive protection standards and conditions.

No doubt the death of Princess Diana will continue to enthrall the public. In any case, following this case will provide more learning opportunities for executive protection.

Daily Express: The World’s Greatest Newspaper :: News / Showbiz :: Bodyguard: Driver was to blame for the Diana crash

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New Security Practices For Protecting U.S. Diplomats in Iraq

October 5, 2007

The State Department announced new security practices intended to reduce incidents involving shooting incidents such as those that Blackwater (BW) was in involved a few weeks ago. According to the State Department the practices are designed to increase oversight of private security contractors responsible for protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq.
The new procedures will include using video cameras to record convoy movements as well as more Diplomatic Security Service (DS) agents riding with the convoys.

This is a step in the right direction but I still think when it comes to protecting our own diplomats, this is one service that shouldn’t be outsourced. It’s time to find a permanent solution to protecting U.S. diplomats in war zones.

The Associated Press: State Overhauls Security in Iraq

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U.S. Government To Protect FBI Agents Investigating BW Shooting in Iraq

October 4, 2007

Here’s a very interesting development in the continuing saga of BW. The FBI agents assigned to investigate the BW shooting incident will be protected by unspecified members of the U.S. Government to  “To avoid even the appearance of any conflict, the FBI team deployed
from Washington to assist the State Department in the investigation of
the events of Sept. 16th will have any additional security needs
provided by U.S. government personnel,” said FBI Spokesman John Miller.

My bet is on one of three agencies for the FBI’s protection: The FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) who have extensive PSD training (although I don’t know if they have been active in Iraq), the Diplomatic Security Service (DS), or the U.S. military.

No doubt the results of the joint FBI and State Department investigation will be both an interesting read and a key to the future of BW and private security contractors protecting U.S. diplomats.

Read more on today’s FBI developments here.

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