Security Newswire

Personal/Executive Protection in the Era of Mumbai

January 5, 2009
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Many companies support the notion that employees are their most valuable assets, but few have actually had to calculate the actual costs associated with protection failures. Recent focus regarding the protection of executives has shifted from protection to risk management, including access to alerts and real-time information resources, threat assessments, contingency planning, travel tracking and evacuation programs and insurance to minimize financial loss and corporate exposure. The threats facing executives vary widely depending on individual and corporate wealth, company size, industry and business practices, operational environments, and culture and business partners. The most frequently targeted executives are financial/banking services, pharmaceuticals and energy, especially executives based overseas. The risks range from kidnapping for ransom or extortion, carjacking, explosives and eco-terrorism, according to experts at Andrews International..

The range of threats and the associated risks pertaining to mobility, health and family safety result in very different challenges than protecting a facility. Providing adequate protection that serves the company’s business interests, yet respects individual freedoms is often a major challenge to corporations. Four principles to guide successful protective operations and help mitigate these challenges are:

  • threat assessment
  • advance planning
  • logistics, and
  • emergency response

Threat assessment – Conduct a thorough threat assessment including research and operational activities to identify, assess, and manage environmental and specific risks, such as those associated with business practices, affiliations and partners, countries of operation, corporate and individual media exposure, controversial products or services, political or social unrest, cultural issues and individual or corporate wealth or perceived wealth.

In addition to these threats, also consider specific threat patterns of potential attackers. A recent U.S. Secret Service study on the behavior of known assailants revealed an interesting contradiction; those issuing threats typically do not attack, while attackers often do not issue threats. While you cannot ignore specific threats, the most serious threats are unlikely to be announced.

Today, special attention must be placed on kidnapping and terrorism. In many instances, these attacks may have little to do with the individual and more to do with what the victim represents, i.e., money, attention or access.

Advance planning - Advance planning requires research and travel to identify variables and contingencies to develop protective solutions. Begin with a comprehensive advance-planning process that addresses itinerary, location and transportation, including "what-where-when". The advance planning should be divided into three phases:

Phase 1 - Pre-advance - initial planning to identify the scope and objectives of the project, dates and timing, locations, key personnel and special requirements.

Phase 2 - Trip advance - finalize arrangements including contacting key participants such as hotel managers and transportation while prioritizing key aspects of the project.

Phase 3 - Site advance - physically visit each scheduled destination to finalize logistics and contingencies for each element of the itinerary. Identify specific risks and challenges associated with routes, entrances, exits and other factors, as well as surveying each location, including hotels, airports, meeting rooms, corporate offices, and outdoor venues.

Logistics - Solid logistical planning dictates that you thoroughly understand requirements, where and when you need them, and the most efficient process to maximize the use of personnel, vehicles, and equipment. You should incorporate logistics that cover:

Information infrastructure – the ability and flow of effective communications relies heavily on technology and protocols established for transmission, receipt, processing and exchange of information with the protection team, executives, corporate contacts, vendors, suppliers, and third-party practitioners.

Strong integration – success requires complete operational integration with agents, vendors, suppliers, and others to support protection by identifying roles and responsibilities and ensuring the resources, authority and accountability necessary for success.

Emergency response – Despite thorough threat assessments and advance planning, security must be prepared to respond. This requires consistent, realistic training focused on the most common occurrences, such as medical emergencies, as well as rare attacks.

Effective risk management and protection requires balancing business and security objectives, personal freedoms and threats, and planning and response. Professionals should be prepared to protect and react in normal and emergency situations by ensuring that proactive threat assessments, planning, and logistics have been properly handled, and by identifying and planning for every possible contingency to avoid threats and reduce risk.

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