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Soak Up Six

Soak Up Six

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Published by tom_taylor_17
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Published by: tom_taylor_17 on Jan 03, 2013
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01/13/2014

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Executive Protection:"Soak Up Six For The Boss"
 
 By Lt. Thomas A. Taylor, Missouri State Highway Patrol 
A dashing terrorist, armed with a state-of-the-art weapon, watches from a distant perch asa dignitary, riding in an armored Mercedes. arrives for an important meeting.The dignitary, surrounded by several bodyguards, enters the building. The terrorist knowsthat he will exit the same door and return to the same car. He prepares for the attack.Later, the dignitary emerges and strides toward the limo. His bodyguards accompany himin a loose diamond formation, their eyes scanning the surrounding area for signs of danger. The terrorist takes careful aim with his silenced weapon, fires a muffled shot, andthe dignitary falls to the sidewalk, fatally injured. In the ensuing confusion, the terroristcalmly escapes. This, statistically speaking, describes a typical assault on a public figure,right? Not really. Perhaps this type of assault is common on prime time TV, but it isextremely rare in the real world.Public figures within the United States are typically assaulted by a lone gunman, usuallya male, armed with a handgun. Like the given example, the attack often happens during adeparture situation, when the event has ended and the dignitary is leaving the functionsite. Of the 13 assassination attempts made against U.S. presidents, 51 percent of theattacks occurred during the departure. Unlike the example, however, the attack usuallyoccurs close-in, rather than from a distance.Public figures outside the United States are usually assaulted by a criminal or terroristgroup, armed with automatic weapons or explosives. The majority of attacks occur duringmotorcade situations, in and around cars. The use of remote-controlled car bombs,planted along motorcade routes, has become a favorite terrorist technique.Another is for two assassins on a motorcycle -- the passenger armed with an automaticweapon-to pull alongside the protectee's car and open fire. Both techniques are oftensuccessful.Assassins are not clumsy, predictable, slobbering idiots. A group intent on assassinatingCharles IX of France in 1574 attached a gelatinous substance to the pages of his favoritebook, knowing of his habit of wetting his fingers with his tongue while reading. Bypoisoning the book, they poisoned him.In 1925, the head of Bulgaria was the target of an innovative group. Unable to penetratehis extensive security directly, they first assassinated a prominent government officialwhose death would require a state funeral. The church to be used was then wired with
 
explosives. When the target made his entrance during the funeral service, the explosiveswere detonated, collapsing the roof. In order to assassinate one man, more than 200people were killed.Several hundred law enforcement officers nationwide are assigned the sometimesexciting, more often mundane, task of providing protection to governors, mayors andother dignitaries. Most security details are small and unable to provide the massiveamount of protection given to presidents, kings and premiers. They depend instead onproviding a more low-key level of protection. Since the bad guys need to know where theprotectee will be, and when he will be there, in order to carry out an assault, the amountof protection provided can vary greatly for the same dignitary.During high-profile visits where there has been extensive publicity on the activity,security should be much tighter than during low-profile situations. History has showntime and again that assassins are obsessed with prior assassinations. Many assassins clipand keep articles on other attacks.Bodyguards for the mayor of a large Midwestern city arrested a lone gunman carrying abriefcase, which contained a .32 revolver, 18 extra rounds and a newspaper clippingabout Anwar Sadat's assassination.Publicity not only provides the assassin with valuable information on the protectee'sactivities, it can also be the catalyst for an attack by creating an atmosphere of excitement. Officers assigned to a protective mission should be extra alert during high-publicity situations.A highly trained police officer or soldier doesn't necessarily make a good bodyguard. Thebodyguard must never forget that his job is to protect the dignitary at all costs. It islargely a defensive posture. The street officer, sworn to stop crime and protect the public,would instinctively react in an offensive manner, confronting and apprehendingcriminals. This would leave the dignitary unguarded and open to assault from anotherdirection, While a street officer is trained to dive for cover when under attack, thebodyguard must cover and evacuate his protectee.Tony Geraghty, in his book, The Bullet Catchers, describes the role of the security personthis way: "The bodyguard, prepared-in the trade's own jargon-to be 'a bullet-catcher forother people,' is also, for a few brief seconds, the only defense left to the open society. Heis expressing, as a hard-nosed professional, a Christian precept that runs,
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." 
 A veteran Secret Service agent, when asked what to do when your protective assignmentfalls apart, answered with a smile, "You soak up six for the boss!"
 
The secret to the longevity of life for a bodyguard (and his protectee), therefore, is toavoid getting into a shooting situation. The most fundamental concept in protection is thatof conflict avoidance.In order to accomplish this, the bodyguard must undergo strict training with an emphasison proactive skills, rather than reactive skills. Reactive skills include firearms training,evasive driving, martial arts and emergency medical training-those skills needed afterthings have gone wrong. Proactive skills include intelligence gathering, threatassessment, life-style risk reduction, site hardening, movement planning, advancepreparations, vehicle or body armor, and an alert stance -- those things done before thingsgo wrong, which will hopefully foil an attack.It is the responsibility of the officer to establish a safe environment in which the protecteecan function, to preclude the opportunity for an attack.This is not to say that training in reactive skills is unimportant; however, officers areoften assigned to protect a dignitary or witness with little or no training in the proactiveskills necessary to successfully carry out that assignment. Reliance on reactive skillsalone is a sure route to disaster, no matter how good the officer may be.All too often the bodyguard feels in control by merely strolling along behind hisprotectee, content that he has the reactive skills necessary to counter any threat that theywill encounter. This is a fool's mentality, which will probably prove inadequate whenfaced with a life-threatening situation.Studies of assaults on public figures around the world reveal the following to be true:
The vast majority of attacks are successful.
Bodyguards rarely fire their guns effectively, if they fire at all.
Bodyguard's gunfire almost never affects the outcome.
The bodyguards usually all die.Geraghty states it this way: "To be truly effective, the bodyguard requires more thanstrong nerves and skill at arms. Special air service veterans tell an apocryphal tale about aMiddle Eastern ruler who sought absolute safety in a walled garden surrounded bysoldiers. Each day he walked around the garden accompanied by a bodyguard whocarried every conceivable type of weapon, a fearsome man with so many black belts theycaused indigestion. So the ruler thought he was safe until a poisonous snake bit his ankle.The bodyguard had no medical training, not even a first-aid kit.The moral, as they say, is that "the fatal threat is usually what the target and hisbodyguard had not considered."Nearly a hundred law enforcement officers are killed every year. Factors that play a rolein their deaths include fatigue, lack of proper training, tombstone courage (the John

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