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House of Commons

Just back from another interesting trip - House of Commons this time and although I've dropped off and picked up a number of times outside, this was my first trip inside.

We arrived in plenty of time so he insisted we grab some 'fresh air?!' and exercise while killing some time on the Embankment; we took a nice 'Spooks Stroll' down past MI6, over Vauxhall bridge and back up Millbank past Thames House towards Parliament before settling in Victoria Tower Gardens to watch the boats pass.

After fighting through all the Japanese tourists outside the Cromwell Green entrance and getting photographed by them as we walked down the long stainless ramp I was surprised by how many security guys they could squeeze into such a small security station. After getting our mugshots badged and passing through security, we settled in the 'coffee shop', an impressive space under a beautiful old vaulted ceiling.

We then killed some time looking over the Westminster Hall, St Stephen's Hall and Central Lobby before making our way to the Committee Rooms (and it was nice to see them supporting British Industry, Dyson Airblade dryers in the Gents :) )

I caught up with a few guys I've not seen in a while, while the meeting was underway, and was introduced to a few new guys too – networking is an essential skill in CP, it's never what you know but who you know and our bosses have a tendency to want things done, access arranged or needs met in an instant, the best way to achieve this is through local contacts and favours.

The meeting went well by the look on everyone’s faces and we stopped off for a 'House of Commons' Scarf for Mrs Boss at the massively overpriced gift stand of St Stephen's Hall (he can afford it though I guess)

And then we were off home again – quick visit but glad I went, it's a hugely impressive building in the flesh.


Most of us know one, a great big lump of a guy, looks to the outside world like they're something to be reckoned with but once you get to know them, you realise they aren't really capable of anything. Sometimes, just sometimes they start out like they're going to come up with the goods and surprise you, then they pluck defeat from the jaws of victory and return to type.

In the security world, that useless lump is G4$

We've known they were essentially useless for years, a curious collection of successful companies swallowed up over the years that promises much as a whole yet each time they seem to systematically destroy all that was good about them and take the party line of profit first at the expense of capability.

The Olympic fiasco was predicted on CPWorld months ago, in fact we had doubts years ago but only more recently did the guys start to accurately predict the failings that are hitting the news now.

We knew they paid peanuts and have long seemed to take the view that they were happy to employ monkeys, just as long as positions were filled.

At this years Wimbledon I witnessed many 'security' positions filled by young guys and girls who obviously didn't want to be there (Job centre provision?) in ill-fitting uniform, hands in pockets, chatting to mates on their phones or huddled in groups filling each other in on exactly how drunk they got last night...

Now we have Olympic recruits failing to even turn up in droves, obviously recruited from the same pool of wasters they normally like to find their staff.

“Just four of the 58 staff expected to report for duty at the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, showed up, one of whom later disappeared”

And there are plenty more examples of this, and no doubt there will be plenty more in the coming week or two.

It's not like they don't have plenty of really well qualified guys willing to do the work, I know a number of really good guys who applied, happy to ignore the poor pay in exchange for being able to be part of 'the event' – you should hear the stories about their interviews and recruitment process.

One guy has just been notified that he's passed vetting and is cleared to work for them, despite withdrawing his application to work for the muppets 3 times!

Other allegations in the news about their inability to vet properly, using staff who haven't yet been cleared themselves to vet others' applications, while the CEO is busy on his holidays in the sun – at least you can see where his priorities lie.

And that's the problem – the guys at the top are only interested in the money, at any cost.

They think they have the capability to deliver, after all they're composed of some (former) great companies, but just like the big lump we know, they're now too big and uncoordinated to do what's required of them.

They guarantee they get the work by bidding 25% lower than anyone else, then fail to deliver what they said they would, knowing full well that even after the claw-back happens they still make a massive profit (perhaps because they've not done anything so their costs to date are nice and low) and can rely of the likes of the Police and Military to bail them out, because there's no way the Government can allow the games to not be properly secured.

It would be nice if G4$ were broken up after this, returning to some of their constituent parts, like Armorgroup, RONCO and The Cotswold Group to name but a few of the great companies swallowed up recently, who were the best at what they did because they were agile, responsive to customer needs and were headed by people who spent a huge amount of time at the sharp end, not swanning about in sharp suits.


Elite armed bodyguards are being trained at a secret location in Northern Ireland in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics to keep athletes safe.

Civilian mercenaries are travelling from across Europe to the countryside camp to hone their skills in close protection, the prevention of terrorism and major incident control.

With the official qualifications earned during a gruelling three-week course in Co Down, they will be ready to guard VIPs and groups around the world – and command lucrative contracts.

The Games' official organising committee in London is under fire from the US who claim the safety of their top athletes is at risk after the English experts admitted they had underestimated the number of security staff needed.

And we can reveal today that officials working on the Olympic programme have already been in contact with the specialist security trainers in Northern Ireland.

A Washington source told the Daily Mirror: "We believe al-Qaeda, or one of its affiliates, is likely to try to disrupt the Olympics, with the US team an obvious target.

"Our sportsmen and women and their coaches and staff need proper security. We mean to insure that happens at all costs, whether we use our own people or trusted contractors.

"The men and women taking up these new posts from Northern Ireland will be leading the way. They have the training and experience and they have that sixth sense that only comes from having been in challenging security situations.

"We know about the Northern Ireland training camp. It's run by people with excellent credentials, vast experience and knowledge. We've been in contact and we like what we see."

The contact came after bosses in Washington revealed they now plan to send 500 FBI and 500 other security agents to London to protect their citizens next year, and the Metropolitan police announced live on TV that most of its officers will not be armed during the Olympics.

The Daily Mirror was given exclusive access this week to two groups planning to sell their knowledge and experience to the world's top names, as they were put through paces.

The men and women taking up the training pay thousands for the privilege and many of the more recent applicants are PSNI Reserve officers who are facing the sack next month.

Training included dealing with:

- kidnappings,

- sniper fire,

- surveillance

- ambushes,

- conflict management

- medic awareness

- handgun training

- hostile environment training

- physical intervention, and

- security guarding

A source said: "The training offered at this camp is the best in the world. It is also recognised that the people being trained are some of the best in the world and are in huge demand.

"But there are rules and regulations. People who want the big jobs need current qualifications. The Co Down course gives them that as long as they're good enough. For some of the men and women who come here the courses are simply a matter of a refresher as they've been working in the same area for the police and Army.

"We have SAS specialists coming through who have left the job but just need certification before they can apply for the civilian contracts.

"We have elite security trainers going through their paces for paperwork. And then we have people coming from all walks of life who believe they have what it takes to make it in the tough world of high-end, full-on security.

"This week we have one young man who has turned out to be an absolute natural and he's a 24-year-old carpenter. But it looks like he has chosen the right career path now.

"If he was on my security team I'd be more than happy. He's a good lad. He listens, watches and learns and I'd predict he'll do very well."


Only one woman, 40-year-old Marion, from Donaghadee, Co Down, completed the most recent course alongside 13 men.

She said: "I'm a police officer at heart and this area of policing is what really interests me. It gets the adrenaline pumping and you've got to be on your game. I don't want to leave the police but I'm being forced to because of the cuts to the Reserve Force." Marion – not her real name – applied for the specialist security training and took leave from her job knowing the PSNI would pay up to £5,000 towards the fees to assist with the imminent redundancies.

She said: "The course was fantastic. The medical training alone is superior to anything I've ever experienced. I feel confident now that if you had your leg blown off I'd be able to handle the situation and save your life."

Marion is already well-versed in riot control and anti-terror training as a member of the PSNI's Tactical Support Group. But she has learned other skills on the civvie street course.

She said: "This training will help me find good work after the job I've been in for 14 years comes to an end. I could travel the world but there are enough close protection specialists needed in Northern Ireland.

"Women are at an advantage with these qualification as there are fewer of us about." Many of those trained in Northern Ireland will be contracted to security work at the 32 Olympic sites.

The London Organising Committee originally claimed it only needed 10,000 guards at the Games. But after a review the number is now 21,000.

Venue safety will not be the responsibility of the police, so security firm G4S has been awarded the contract to find and train the initial group.

It has set up an advertising campaign to meet that target and applicants from the Northern Ireland training camp are of special interest.

One of the three men behind the Co Down training camp is Andrew Mawhinney, a retired police officer. Their company Minerva was partly funded by Invest NI.

Mr Mawhinney said: "We are training men and women to a level three close protection qualification.

"They can work for almost anyone and almost every company. The training is arduous, gruelling and repetitive but that's what it takes. This is not a TV show, these people are going into real situations where the enemy's intention is to kill and maim. There are many ways of doing that and our trained specialists need to now how to act in any given situation. This can be life and death.

"Yes we have former members of the RUC, RIR, PSNI and SAS and we expect to have increased numbers of redundant prison officers soon. But we also have many civilians who have a natural leaning towards security work.

"For some people our courses will be life- changing and will lead them to an amazing and well-paid career. For others who don't cut it, they've enjoyed an exciting course, learned some essential skills and made some very good friends. This training is not for everyone. But then we only want the best for the job."

Anyone can apply for an elite Minerva security course and each applicant must pass security vetting before they are accepted. They must also be accepted as a gun club member to be allowed legal access to live weapons and ammunition

And each course graduate receives certificates from City&Guilds and the Security Industry Authority. They must agree to attend monthly refresher firearms courses to keep their qualifications valid.


I love the "Civilian mercenaries" spin

These are the guys http://minervani.com/index.php, really bad website but Andy, Dickie, Esler and the rest aren't really webdesigners, they shine in other areas :)


"A typical day would start with meeting the bodyguards, getting into the armoured car, and zooming off to one of the ministries. A place with so much violence - but with such hospitable people - is intriguing."

Not the sort of working environment you would associate with a chartered accountant, but Adam Bates specialises in forensic accounting for KPMG, and was on the trail of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's missing oil-for-food millions in Baghdad.

Adam says: "You sit in the armoured car in your pinstriped suit with your briefcase on your knee with the bodyguards around you - a big grin on your face."

Accountancy would not be the profession that sprang to mind if you were asked to name a dangerous job.

How about Jesse James' profession: "I spent 16 years as a bomb disposal expert in the army before joining MAG (Mines Advisory Group) International in 2004 in mine clearance. Since then I've worked on the Iraq programme, as well as in Lebanon and South Sudan."

Another might be close protection work, of the kind that kept Adam Bates safe. Formerly a soldier with the Parachute Regiment and SAS, Stuart Gilks did this in Baghdad and Afghanistan in 2004 to 2006."Baghdad was without a doubt the most dangerous area you could end up working in, particularly the route between the airport and the [safer] Green Zone. Every day you would see debris along the road - and some of our colleagues were caught up in that."

But as Adam Bates exemplifies, even the most sedate-sounding jobs can get tricky if being carried out in a certain country, and that does not have to be a war zone.

International SOS employs about 10,000 people in 70 countries, helping organisations manage the medical and security risks faced by their employees.

Arnaud Vaissie, its co-founder and head, says there is a surprisingly long list of dangerous countries: "Our clients listed 89 - almost half of the 195 or so countries - that they thought could be dangerous."

At face value, he says, some hardly appear to be so: "Take the Maldives - a wonderful country but from a health point you need to plan for it.

"There are also the countries that are reasonably well organised, but where the transportation accident ratio is a multiple of 10 of the accident rate you have in the UK."

Richard Fenning, the chief executive of Control Risks, a global risk consultancy that helps organisations that work in complex and hostile environments, agrees that transport is the major threat: "The reality is - even in the most dangerous countries in the world - the biggest danger comes to you from a road traffic accident.

"Even if you are visiting countries with high-profile security risks, such as Afghanistan or Iraq, this should still be a significant focus."

There can be heavy financial costs when things go wrong.

In 2008, the US Department of Labor reported the cost of accidents in the US to be $1bn (£0.64bn) a week in both direct and indirect costs.

More recently, BP with its billions set aside to cover the Mexico gulf installation explosion, is an outstanding example of this.

Evaluating the cost of accidents is one thing - trying to stop them happening is another matter.

International SOS provides an online system that can be accessed via PC or a mobile phone called Travel Tracker which enables employers to keep track of their employees.

Arnaud Vaissie says this gives them a very detailed picture: "You can triage your employees in all situations live and you can then identify which employee needs help.

"We have analysts 24 hours a day looking at health and security risks around the world. They would identify, for example, whether there was a terrorist threat in Jakarta. We would then see who was at risk from that and we would push information at them."

SHL is a talent measurement company that helps companies to recruit and develop talent to support their organisational objectives. One of its areas of expertise is to help organisations find the right sort of people to employ in high risk jobs and environments by providing scientific assessments of people in the workplace.

One of the greatest risks is not necessarily the job - or even the environment in which people have to work - but the person doing it.

Its chief science officer, Eugene Burke, says 60-80% of workplace accidents are attributed by various industry surveys to operator error: "We've been looking at this since 2004. There is quite a lot of research into types of people associated with accidents. "

He says the ones that are less likely to be a risk to themselves or others have certain qualities: "Attention to detail, the ability to think forward and follow the procedures, and be aware of the impact of what they do.

"The right sort of person will keep others informed. They will also show more responsibility - if they see something wrong they will be more likely to point it out."

The oil company Shell says safety is its top priority - an attitude that is imbued in Peter Reilly. As a former Offshore Installation Manager for Shell in the North Sea, he says everyone working on an oil platform operates according to a set of rules.

In his view this means people are less at risk than those working on solid ground: "A pipefitter working onshore may be less safe than one working with us offshore because we are all trained to be aware of each other.

"We also get feedback from new people coming off the rig who may have seen things that we have got used to."

Stuart Gilks now works as lead trainer for security giant G4S, whose 600,000-plus employees make it one of the world's largest private employers.

Its activities include training people for work in hostile environments.

His own experience as a close protection officer has not only helped him professionally, but even helped on holiday in Tanzania: "I was looking for somewhere to eat in Dar es Salaam and became aware that four people were following me.

"It was quite obvious to me - although maybe not to others - that they were planning to rob me, and I had a couple of thousands dollars. There was no safe area to move to, so I walked back to them. It was the only route I knew.

"I looked them in the face and they were so shocked at my reaction it switched the initiative in my favour and I was able to move away safely."

Eugene Burke says the sort of person who is more likely to have an accident is also more likely to be on the receiving end of something dangerous.

"Look at security guards - for one company we found that the odds against an accident were are 19-1. But those who lacked the right approach were six times more likely to have an accident. They were also six times more likely to be involved in some form of attack.

"Why? Well criminals target the less diligent crews and the more accident-prone members are also more likely to be involved in an accident too."

Control Risks' Richard Fenning says it is important to maintain a sense of vulnerability: "You get people who start to collect dangerous locations and who become addicted to the risk and become gung-ho.

"You need people who are not trying to win any medals or make a hero out of themselves and it is incumbent on companies to get this right."

Why would someone who met the careful and observant personality type that most companies see as the safest for undertaking a dangerous job, enter in to such a risky environment?

Matthew Harding, G4S's managing director of risk consulting says some people simply find the stable working environment dull: "People get very keen on the atmosphere of such jobs - if you look at those who work in these environments they tend to work in them for many many years.

"I have a lot of ex-soldiers who are doing very challenging jobs in difficult circumstances."

Forensic accountant Adam Bates still goes out on short-term foraging jobs in dangerous places: "It is a stereotype to say that everyone who joins a firm of chartered accountants is boring and grey and doesn't look for excitement in life.

"You could definitely get addicted to working in a dangerous environment."

Most people engaged in dangerous occupations have very cool heads.

Jesse James says mine clearance "is pretty mundane and complacency is a worry. It is the same job month after month."

Peter Reilly says the most difficult part of his job is not flying over the North Sea in a helicopter to a piece of iron on legs for work, it is being away from home: "One of the first people I worked with was a Royal Navy officer. We though he would be OK as he had been used to being at sea for five months at a time.

"In fact he lasted only a few months and then looked for an office job - he simply found it too hard to have to say goodbye to his family every other week."

MAG's Jesse James picked an incident involving an unlikely detonator when asked to single out his most scary experience mine clearing: "I was working with a colleague who uncovered what looked like a mine. He came back down the clearance path for me to take a look.

"But before I could, a herd of cattle came out of the bush and walked right over the mine that I was walking towards. Luckily none of them stood on it."

G4S's Stuart Gill is now living in Hereforshire as the company's director of training, teaching others about keeping safe where he "now cycles to work, rather than bumping along in an armoured vehicle".

He says there are not many adrenaline-chasers in his line of work: "It's not about thrill-seeking. I don't know anyone that does what we do seriously for thrills or kicks. You might get some at the low end of the industry that like hiking around with guns and bullets but I'd be very cautious of anyone with that attitude."

He says: "Some people say you need to be of unsound mind to do this job. I would say it is completely the opposite - a job for the mature, thoughtful type."



It comes as no surprise that armed security will be the name of the game when the Olympics come to the UK, but it appears that current and former SAS will be on the streets in great numbers.

The main stories seem to surround all the armed Police that are going to be deployed around the 34 venues of the UK games, with all leave cancelled and highly visible teams not only patrolling the streets, but securing hotels near Hampden Park in Glasgow to Weymouth in Dorset and everywhere VIPs and competitors are likely to be found in between.

Two previous Games - Munich in 1972 and Atlanta in 1996 - have been disrupted by terrorist organisations and the UK Government want to ensure things go smoothly.

Every force wants to ensure nothing happens on their patch and with locations for certain competitions not yet fixed, such as where Football teams from "high-profile" nations such as the US, Israel or China might play their games, everyone is planning for maximum security requirements.

Look a little deeper though and you'll find Special Forces, Spooks and a huge army of covert operatives with 'special backgrounds' will be swelling the numbers of Police and Uniformed Security from the likes of G4S.

With all planned CT roles allocated in Afghanistan and all ops assigned to the SBS and SFSG, leaving nothing for the SAS beyond 6 months from now, you don't have to be a genius to work out the Regiment will return to the UK to cover the games - the venues too numerous and too geographically spread for the Sqn on CRW duty to deliver anything other than an after-action response, it appears the government are fielding every available man they can get their hands on in a bid to pre-empt trouble.

Members of SAS CRW have already been involved in a 2-day hostage rescue Op with several Police teams at Loughborough University which Team GB are going to use as a training base.

Word is out from a number of major hotel chains for former SAS members who are now working in the private sector to get in touch with a view to bolstering their in-house provision, worried that they might find themselves the venue for a terrorist attack; several Private Security Companies now have a "Special Projects" division providing only former Special Forces personnel to clients who insist on ex SAS and they are already booked up for next July-August.

Those of us with 'less special' backgrounds are getting booked up too, I'll be there, but those with the magic three letters on their CV are calling the shots at the moment, other positions backfilled as there are more positions than there are ex balaclava display team members to fill them.

So when you're at the games and get barged by a serious look guy with a weathered complexion and an intent stare at something up ahead, don't make a big thing of it, take a deep breath, let it drop and move on...


BRITAIN is preparing to give firm legal backing to the deployment of armed

guards on UK-flag ships.

Legislation is being drawn up that will formally accept the use of private

security personnel on ships sailing through waters where pirates are active.

Although many ships are known to have armed protection, including a

considerable number operated by UK-based companies, the legal position

remains uncertain. Both the shipowners who employ armed personnel and the guards themselves could, technically, be in breach of the law.

The UK is now poised to remedy that situation, changing the law where

necessary to ensure shipowners whose vessels have firearms on board are not

at risk of prosecution. The British government is thought to be one of the

first to promise statutory changes.




Yes they're Xe now, not Blackwater but I prefered this title :p

Interesting and lengthy article about Eric Prince's latest exploits, snippet below, follow the link for more.

A mate out in the Sandpit has been talking about various happenings out there for a while now, I guess this explains it


ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Late one night last November, a plane carrying dozens of Colombian men touched down in this glittering seaside capital. Whisked through customs by an Emirati intelligence officer, the group boarded an unmarked bus and drove roughly 20 miles to a windswept military complex in the desert sand.

The Colombians had entered the United Arab Emirates posing as construction workers. In fact, they were soldiers for a secret American-led mercenary army being built by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom.

Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times.

The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show. Such troops could be deployed if the Emirates faced unrest in their crowded labor camps or were challenged by pro-democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year.

The U.A.E.'s rulers, viewing their own military as inadequate, also hope that the troops could blunt the regional aggression of Iran, the country's biggest foe, the former employees said. The training camp, located on a sprawling Emirati base called Zayed Military City, is hidden behind concrete walls laced with barbed wire. Photographs show rows of identical yellow temporary buildings, used for barracks and mess halls, and a motor pool, which houses Humvees and fuel trucks. The Colombians, along with South African and other foreign troops, are trained by retired American soldiers and veterans of the German and British special operations units and the French Foreign Legion, according to the former employees and American officials.


Interesting BG article from the Telegraph below; no it's not about me :-)

Part of me thinks that realistically his services are not going to be needed - nobody is going to try and snatch someone from the slopes as you've next to no chance of successful escape (unlike bundling them into a car in town) but knowing how neurotic lots of Principals are, I'm sure he'll make lots of money, good luck to the guy


You normally know what you can expect to find in a ski school brochure. Group courses, private lessons, children's club, perhaps a special cool school for teenagers. But a bodyguard service..?

The Swiss Ski School of Verbier has just published its new brochure, and believes it may have come up with a first – by offering skiers the services of a Swiss-qualified instructor who is also a trained bodyguard.

You may wonder why you might need one. Have manners really become that bad on the slopes? Are the rosbifs really so boorish and unpopular that they risk being lynched on the piste? Or have the lifts become so crowded that you need a bodyguard to defend your place in the queue?

Not according to the man in question, Michael Mason from Brighton. He expects his services to be of interest to visiting celebrities, and to super-wealthy skiers worried about the risk of kidnapping.

"People like Russian billionaires," says Mason, "they know that criminals are going to think seriously about kidnapping their kids. They probably have their own highly trained security, and are protected in resort, and when they are driving – but can their bodyguards ski?"

So what, you wonder, would a ski instructor/bodyguard actually do when things get ugly? Unclip his skis for a round of fisticuffs? Bundle his celebrity client onto a waiting skidoo to whisk them away from irritating fans? Smuggle them down the slope incognito in a blood wagon?

"It's all about eyes," says Mason. "It's seeing a problem before it gets too close. It's about planning, and being prepared. Close protection isn't about being a roughty-toughty, it's being able to think clearly and spot trouble before it happens. That's all part of your training."

It's not so different from the awareness you need as a ski instructor, says Mason. "The whole time you are thinking about the safety of your students, watching out at crossings, keeping an eye out for skiers or snowboarders who might be out of control."

Mason's protection extends to breaks, as well – for example, avoiding exposure in visible locations by making reservations for lunch, using a false name that has been agreed with the restaurant.

When he is not in Verbier, Mason is based in Brighton. Outside the ski season, he teaches martial arts and self-defence around Britain, works as a freelance bodyguard, and runs courses in close protection – mostly for former soldiers who want to work as bodyguards.

A long way, you might think, from the world of the ski resort. "I always wanted to be in the mountains," says Mason. "When I was growing up, it very rarely snowed – but when it did, I loved that mystical, magical feeling when everything went white. I loved the snow, I loved being cold, and I just had this dream of living in the mountains."

He discovered skiing on a school trip, aged 16, and fell in love with the sport immediately. For many years he skied for pleasure, before training as an instructor in Verbier – where he has worked for the local Swiss Ski School every winter since.

His passion for martial arts, meanwhile, began at the age of ten: "It was at the height of the Bruce Lee era. There was a programme on TV called Kung Fu with David Carradine, and the first time I saw that I was hooked." Mason took up karate while he was still at school, and went on to train in the Japanese martial art of aikido, before qualifying as in instructor in Krav Maga, a combat system developed in Israel. Soon after, he discovered what was to become his calling – the Japanese martial art of Ninjutsu. For the past 20-odd years, he has been travelling to Japan for a month every year to train with a grand master.

Ninjas are known in popular culture, both in Japan and in the West, as masters in sabotage, espionage and assassination. Over the centuries, they have gained a reputation for possessing supernatural skills – such as being able to control the elements, and become invisible.

For Mason, it is not just the oldest of Japanese martial arts, but also a highly spiritual discipline. "It's not about how well you can kick, or punch, or throw someone, it's about how well you can recover from being punched, kicked or thrown. It's about developing the spirit of survival.

"If you are thrown 1,000 times, you get up 1,001 times. In training, I may be thrown six feet up in the air, slammed onto the ground, and choked – and yet afterwards I bow, and say: thank you very much. But that's not part of English culture – saying thank you for nearly breaking my bones."

Much of the discipline, according to Mason, is about controlling your ego. "You don't get into a fight just because you think you're tough. Sometimes it means avoiding trouble. It's about picking your fight at the right time, when the odds are in your favour." Which fits in with the image of Ninja as the stealthy, quick-witted fighter of folklore.

"Like any martial art, it's about using your body in the most efficient and effective way," says Mason. "And that's not so different to skiing – it's about being able to survive whatever the mountain throws at you."



Slightly down-played story below, I understand Eduardo stepped infront of what looked like a punch thrown at Mourinho, who was then rapidly removed from the scene, it wasn't until he boarded the bus that he saw the blood he realised it had been a knife.

Unfortunate about the injury but well done Eduardo for 'stepping in' and getting the job done.

This is the latest in a long line of security problems for Mourinho, death threats ahead of the 2004 Champions League final, a plot to kidnap Mourinho and/or his family when he was the coach of Inter Milan, another plot to raid his home...


A bodyguard for football manager Jose Mourinho is believed to have been stabbed protecting the Real Madrid and former Chelsea boss as he signed autographs. The minder was injured by a sharp object during an incident at A Coruna airport in northwest Spain.

A security detail for Mourinho rushed him away as the injured guard, identified as Eduardo, discovered blood pouring from a wound.

The security staff believe the assailant's intended target was 48-year-old Mourinho, according to Spanish reports.

The injured bodyguard was treated for a 4cm wound.

Jose Mourinho found out about the stab scare after the event The football boss, initially unaware, was later told of the attack which occurred last week.

Newspaper El Periodico said: "Mourinho stopped to sign autographs in arrivals, where a large number of Madrid fans were waiting for the team.

"The bodyguard was near the manager and noticed he had been stabbed in the armpit.

"Mourinho was very worried by the incident."

Investigators have scoured CCTV footage and subsequently identified a tall man wanted in connection with the attack.



As you know, Piracy is becoming an ever increasing problem, costing the global economy an estimated $12 Billion last year, not just in Ransom payments, but the cost of buying in Private security, increased insurance premiums and additional costs for time and fuel at sea as the ships take longer routes to try and stay out of danger.

Unfortunately, the subject is the proverbial hot potato for many of the foreign governments in the affected waters and most have made it almost impossible for ships to carry armed private security contractors, so other 'less-lethal' products keep finding their way to market.

BAE Systems have a system that can concentrate a three foot wide beam of bright green Laser light at a target which can temporarily blind anyone who looks at the ship and there are various 'Sound pressure wave' systems available for closer encounters, but the latest one takes the good old Pepper Spray and scales it up to another level for times when the pirates are already alongside.

"The Shipboard defence System is designed with 300 gallon pressurized tanks that include loop piping installed around a vessel allowing for 100 feet of defensive zones. When activated, the system disperses a "RAINSTORM" of Mace® pepper spray that is formulated with 10% non-flammable OC pepper effective even against those with decreased sensitivity to pain. This specific Mace® formulation is also environmentally friendly as it is non-ozone depleting."

Interesting idea, not sure how effective it'll be as it doesn't start working until the pirates are within RPG range, pi$$ing them off with a shower of Mace might just get your boat filled with holes before they head off to try another vessel.

Read more about SDS here


A long one, but an interesting read -Stratfor again


Following the Jan. 8 shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Federal District Judge John McCarthy Roll and 17 others in Tucson, Arizona, discussion has focused on the motivations and ideology of the accused shooter, Jared Loughner. While it was important to make a quick assessment of Loughner’s profile in order to evaluate the possibility of an organized threat, all the available evidence (though not conclusive) indicates that he acted alone.

For the most part, discussion of the event has not touched on a re-evaluation of security for members of Congress. STRATFOR has previously analyzed the issues surrounding presidential security, and while there are common concerns in protecting all branches of government, Congress and the judiciary involve much larger numbers of people — 535 representatives and senators and more than 3,000 federal judges. And members of Congress put a high priority on public accessibility, which makes them more vulnerable.

A common mindset of politicians and their staffers is that better security will limit their accessibility and thus hinder their ability to do their job (and win elections). In fact, there are a number of measures that members of Congress and other public officials can institute for better security without limiting accessibility. While staying in a secure facility would be the safest, it isn’t a realistic option. What is realistic — and effective — is the prudent employment of protective intelligence as well as some measure of physical protection on the move.

A Look at the Threat

While there have been approximately 20 assassination attempts against U.S. presidents, four of which were successful, attacks on members of Congress and local judges are much more rare. There have been only five recorded attempts against members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including the attack on Gabrielle Giffords. And two of those five attacks resulted from disputes between representatives (one of which was a duel in 1838). But there are also many more threats voiced against public officials, which should never be ignored. The majority are issued by what we call lone wolves — individuals acting on their own rather than with a group.

Communication and preparation among a group of people increases the chance of security services discovering and even infiltrating a terrorist plot, but the one-man wolf pack is much less penetrable. Their plans are made alone, they train themselves and they provide their own resources, all of which means they carry out the phases of the terrorist attack cycle with very minimal exposure to outsiders — including authorities trying to prevent such plots from maturing.

The other side to lone wolves is that they often have more intent than capability. Loughner did not have the proper training or experience, for example, to carry out a major bombing or to breach a well-defended perimeter (what we call a hard target). Instead, he relied on a tactic that STRATFOR believes U.S. targets are most vulnerable to: the armed assault. Guns, and the training to use them, are readily available in the United States. The last successful armed attack carried out with political motivations occurred at Fort Hood, proving the devastating effect one man armed with a pistol can have, particularly when armed first responders are not at the scene. Many VIPs will travel in armored cars, avoid or carefully control public appearances and hire security in order to minimize the risk posed by gunmen. Members of Congress, on the other hand, are readily recognizable and often publicly available. No public official can be completely guaranteed personal security, but a great deal can be done to manage and mitigate threats, whether they are posed by lone wolves or organized groups.

Protecting Public Officials

While individual attackers may be able to do much of their preparation in private, their attacks — like all attacks — are most vulnerable during pre-operational surveillance. This makes countersurveillance the first step in a protective intelligence program. Most victims of a street crime, whether it’s pick-pocketing or attempted murder, report that they notice their attackers before the attack occurs. Indeed, individual situational awareness can do a lot to identify threats before they become immediately dangerous.

In the case of the Giffords attack, Jared Loughner was already known by the congresswoman’s campaign staff. He had come to a previous “Congress on Your Corner†event in 2007 and asked an odd question about semantics. Loughner’s presence at one of Giffords’ public appearances before, and possibly others, left him vulnerable to identification by anyone practicing protective intelligence. The problem here was that Loughner, as far as we know, was not acting illegally, only suspiciously. However, trained countersurveillance personnel can recognize suspicious behavior that may become a direct and immediate threat. They can also disguise themselves within a crowd rather than appear as overt security, which can bring them much closer to potential perpetrators.

Analysis is the second part of protective intelligence, and anyone analyzing Giffords’ security would note that serious threats were present over the last two years. In August 2009, an unknown person dropped a gun that had been concealed in his pants pocket during a town hall meeting Giffords was holding with constituents. It is unclear who the man was and whether he represented a real threat or just accidentally dropped a gun he was legally carrying, but the incident raised concern about her security. Then on March 22, her congressional office in Tucson was vandalized after a heated debate over the U.S. health care bill, which Giffords voted to support. Giffords was not the only member of Congress to confront violence last year. At least nine other lawmakers faced death threats or vandalism the week after the health care bill passed, including Rep. Tom Perriello of Virginia. An unknown individual cut a gas line for a propane tank, presumably to cause an explosion, at Perriello’s brother’s house believing it was the congressman’s residence. All 10 of the lawmakers were offered increased protection by U.S. Capitol Police, but it was not maintained. The multitude of these threats in the 2010 campaign warranted a re-evaluation of Congressional security, specifically for Giffords and the nine others who experienced violence or faced potential violence.

While the vandalism and dropped gun have not been attributed to Loughner, and the Jan. 8 shooting appears to have been his first violent action, further investigation of his past could have provided clues to his intentions. After the shooting, his friends said they had noticed his hatred for Giffords, his classmates said they had observed his increasingly odd behavior and police and campus security said they had been called to deal with him on numerous occasions (for reasons that are currently unclear). Prior to the shooting, disparate bits of information from different people would not likely have been analyzed as a whole, but any one of these observed activities could have warranted further investigation by law enforcement and security agencies. Indeed, some were brought to their attention. On Dec. 13, Loughner wrote on his MySpace page “I’m ready to kill a police officer!†Tucson police or the Pima County Sheriff’s office may have investigated this threat as well as others. Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said there had already been law enforcement contacts with Loughner in which “he made threats to kill.â€

Protection Responsibilities

The underlying story here is that threats to public officials are often apparent before an attack is made, and proactive protective intelligence can identify and address these threats. But what agency is currently responsible for protecting U.S. public officials?

A little known fact is that the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) is the agency in charge of safeguarding congressional officials not only inside the perimeter of the Capitol grounds, which includes the House and Senate office buildings and the Library of Congress, but also when those officials are traveling. The USCP has its own protection division to do just what we describe above — analyze and investigate threats against members of Congress. Based on threat assessments, this division can assign teams for countersurveillance and security whenever and wherever a representative or senator travels. The USCP is also responsible for liaison with local law enforcement in order to ensure some level of security even when there is no identifiable threat.

In the case of any scheduled public appearance, protocol should require congressional staff members to notify the USCP, whose liaison unit will then alert local law enforcement, including city, county and state police, depending on the event. At this point, we don’t know why there was no police presence at Giffords’ event on Jan. 8. It appears that the event was announced the day before, according to a press release on her website. The Pima County Sheriff’s office has said it was not given prior notification of the event.

In the case of federal judges like John McCarthy Roll, the U.S. Marshals Service has responsibilities similar to those of the USCP. In fact, federal marshals were assigned to Judge Roll for a month in 2010 after he received death threats. It appears that his presence at the Congress on Your Corner was not scheduled, and thus we assume he was not targeted by Loughner. Had both Giffords and Roll planned to be at the same event, the participation of two recently threatened public officials would also have warranted a security presence at the event.

Security and Democracy

While the U.S. president has a large, well-resourced and highly capable security service and private sector VIPs have the option of limiting contact with the public, members of Congress are somewhere in the middle. Like a presidential candidate, they want to have as much public contact as possible in order to garner support. They are also representing small, and thus very personal, districts where a local presence is seen as a cornerstone of representative democracy. Historically, in fact, the U.S. president actually received very little protection until the threat became evident in successful assassinations. Those traumatic events led the public to accept that the president should be less accessible to the public, protected by the U.S. Secret Service (which was created in 1865 originally to deal with counterfeit currency).

Still, American democratic tradition dictates that members of Congress must maintain a sincere trust in the people they represent. Thus the current reaction of many in the U.S. Congress who say they will not change their activities, not add protective details and not reassess their security precautions.

The concerns of becoming less accessible to the public are not unreasonable, but accessibility is not incompatible with security. We need not think of a security detail being a scrum of uniformed police officers surrounding a public official. Instead, plainclothes protective intelligence teams assigned to countersurveillance as well as physical protection can be interspersed within crowds and positioned at key vantage points, looking for threatening individuals. They are invisible to the untrained eye and do not hinder a politician’s contact with the public. Moreover, a minimal police presence can deter attackers or make them more identifiable as they become nervous and they can stop individual attackers after the first shots are fired.

The assumed tradeoff between accessibility and security is in some ways a false dichotomy. There will always be inherent dangers for public officials in an uncontrolled environment, but instituting a protective intelligence program, with the aid of the USCP or other law enforcement agencies, can seriously mitigate those dangers.

Read more: Congressional Security and the Tucson Shooting | STRATFOR


The influential governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, Salman Taseer, has died after being shot by one of his bodyguards in the capital, Islamabad.

Mr Taseer, a senior member of the Pakistan People's Party, was shot when getting into his car at a market.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the guard had told police that he killed Mr Taseer because of the governor's opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy law.

Many were angered by his defence of a Christian woman sentenced to death.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani declared three days of national mourning and ordered flags lowered to half-mast. He also ordered an immediate inquiry into Mr Taseer's killing and appealed for calm.

PPP supporters wept and shouted in anger as the governor's coffin was put into an ambulance and driven away from a hospital in Islamabad.

Dozens took to the streets in Punjab's capital, Lahore, burning tyres and blocking traffic. There were also protests in the central city of Multan.

It is the most high profile assassination in Pakistan since the killing of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the PPP's leader, in 2007.

Mr Taseer, 66, was shot repeatedly at close range by his Elite Force guard as he got into his car at the Kohsar Market, a shopping centre in Islamabad popular with Westerners and wealthy Pakistanis, Mr Malik said. "The governor fell down and the man who fired at him threw down his gun and raised both hands," Ali Imran, a witness, told the Reuters news agency.

One doctor told the Associated Press that Mr Taseer was shot 26 times. The suspect was carrying a sub-machine gun.

Unconfirmed reports say up to five other people were also wounded when Mr Taseer's other bodyguards opened fire following the attack.

It is believed Mr Taseer had been returning to his car after meeting a friend for lunch at a nearby restaurant. He had previously been to the presidential palace, the Senate and the interior ministry.



CP Rule #1 - Don't shoot your own Principal

CP Rule #2 - Don't forget rule number 1

This is one of the few situations that you really can't plan for or mitigate against, no matter how good you or the rest of the team are...


Jenson Button escaped unharmed following an armed attack on the car carrying the reigning Formula One world champion and his father John away from the Interlagos circuit in São Paulo.

Button's manager, Richard Goddard, and trainer, Mike Collier, were also in the vehicle when the incident occurred after qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The 30-year-old, being chauffeured in an armoured vehicle with a police driver at the helm, managed to escape the assailants.

A statement issued by Button's McLaren team read: "On Saturday evening on the way back from the Interlagos circuit armed would-be assailants made an attempt to approach the car that was carrying Jenson Button.

"Neither Jenson nor the other occupants of the car were hurt. The other occupants were John Button [Jenson's father], Mike Collier [Jenson's physio] and Richard Goddard [Jenson's manager].

"McLaren Mercedes had provided both Jenson and team-mate Lewis Hamilton with reinforced armoured vehicles driven by police drivers, who had been trained in avoidance techniques and were armed.

"The police driver of Jenson's vehicle reacted swiftly and, using avoidance techniques, rapidly forced his way through the traffic, taking Jenson and the other occupants of the car immediately away from any danger and back to their hotel.

"The São Paulo authorities have also acted efficiently and will be providing additional security to transfer Jenson and other senior McLaren personnel to the Interlagos circuit for the race."



Well done to the Security Driver, great reaction and skills.

It's not just a case of floor it and get out of there though, the driver will have positioned the car on the road to give him room to react and get the car out if anything did happen.

Staying observant to potential threats, keeping an escape route/plan always in your head and keeping constant look-out for where you can go in a hurry, leaving room to the car in front so you can maneuver all make a massive difference, then using enough force to push through cars in your way without disabling your vehicle are also major considerations, although having an armoured Mercedes obviously helps a little too


Further to my "What is Karzai up to?" blog post, he's started to back down already - I wonder if this involved large deposits into Swiss Bank accounts or people pointing out the implications of a mass exodus of westerners...

KABUL — The Afghan government Sunday rolled back its plan to disband all private security firms, declaring that those protecting embassies and military bases could maintain those operations in the country.

President Hamid Karzai's office said firms "providing security for embassies, transport of diplomats, diplomatic residences, international forces' bases and depots can continue operation within these limits".

Karzai in August ordered that all private security contractors operating in the country, both Afghan and international, must cease operations by January 1, 2011.

The decree led to widespread concern that the deadline was too tight to find alternatives amid a deteriorating security situation, and fears that some diplomats and private companies would be forced to leave Afghanistan.

While the measure received widespread support in principle, diplomats, military officials and private security contractors have said Karzai's government has been under intense pressure to reconsider the blanket ban.

In a brief statement Sunday, Karzai's office said that "concerns expressed by NATO commanders and foreign embassies about the dissolution of private security companies" had been considered.

Firms not involved in military or diplomatic security would be dissolved as planned, it said.

"Other private security companies pose a serious threat to internal security and national sovereignty, and the dissolution process will continue with no exception," the statement said.

Afghan officials have said that more than 50 private security firms, about half of them Afghan, employ tens of thousands of armed personnel across the country.

Following the collapse of the Taliban regime in a 2001 US-led invasion, private security firms rushed in to fill a vacuum created by a lack of adequately trained police and army forces.

In 2006 the Afghan authorities began registering, regulating and licensing the firms but there have been questions about the activities of some.

The firms provide security to the international forces, the Pentagon, the UN mission, aid and non-governmental organizations, embassies and Western media companies in Afghanistan.

But Afghans criticize the private security forces as overbearing and abusive, notably on the country's roads.


Day out with the Boss

Last week saw me on a 'day trip' with the boss to Glasgow.

Interestingly, there was another 'VIP' on the train on the way there and I have to say I don't know where his protection learnt their trade but I suspect Bozo the Clown was team leader.

It was a pretty simple, low-key trip up north for us; a short hop from Manchester to Preston before picking up the Virgin Express out of London to complete the journey to Glasgow.

Not much planning required for the travel and not too many variables to worry about, we'd be stuck on the train for the duration so just two guys in suits on a business trip, low profile all the way.

Usual stuff like a lift to Manchester Piccadilly sorted; no walk across town and avoids needing to leave a car parked unattended while we're away, tickets booked in advance and seats reserved etc and we'd be collected at the other end to go to the meeting.

The short hop went nicely but I knew something odd was going on as soon as we boarded the Virgin train at Preston - aggressive looking chaps with curly wires behind their ears staring menacingly at everyone who boarded and making dicks of themselves when people wanted to walk past the principal, who had taken up position at a table right in the middle of the carriage (so there would be traffic past him throughout the journey, not a good choice with security that edgy)

My boss smiled at me, both thinking this would be fun to watch but it also took the pressure off me - they would be acting as extra eyes for me because anyone dodgy-looking heading in our direction had to get past them first…

The circus continued for a couple hours, lots of attention from people on them, nothing on us, lots of testosterone floating about and uncomfortable moments although to be fair the other team lightened up a bit towards the end, I guess they were finally happy nobody from AQ was on the train.

They stayed where they were when we pulled in to Glasgow, wanting to leave last with a clear carriage I guess but I couldn't help flashing my SIA CP card to the TL as we passed and thanked him for the entertainment ;)

Didn't really figure out the need for the comms, although I don't know where they were going later (but they could have kitted up just before the train arrived in station) but they kept exchanging short phrases with each other throughout the journey, even though they were within 15 feet of each other most of the time - I wouldn't have been surprised if they had other guys throughout the rest of the train too, God knows why

I'd have liked to have watched them convey the Principal across the station but we were pushed for time so we headed out like businessman and PA and got on with the day.

They were not on the return journey and the train was pretty empty so I got to relax a bit while the boss hammered his Blackberry keyboard to death.


Prince Charles was involved in a mid-air medical emergency when his security chief suffered a heart attack on the royal plane to India.

Superintendent Tim Nash collapsed during the private flight from London to Delhi last Saturday, just yards from where Charles and his brother Prince Edward were sitting.

It meant the heir to the throne was left to carry out a high-risk four-day tour of India without his most senior protection officer

Charles's personal doctor treated the senior Scotland Yard officer as the royals were kept abreast of the 'traumatic' situation.His condition was deemed so serious that aides feared the plane – part of the Queen's Flight – would have to make an emergency landing.

But the chartered aircraft, which is believed to have been nearing the end of its eight-hour journey, was able to touch down in Delhi at 1.35pm, where it was met by paramedics.

Mr Nash is still recovering in hospital, leaving the rest of his team to protect Charles during the Commonwealth Games.

A source said: ‘Tim had a massive heart attack and it was very touch and go – they thought he was at death’s door.

‘His career may be effectively finished – he may not be able ever to go back to work.’

Clarence House declined to comment.


Chief Superintendent Ian Boyes was cleaning his loaded gun when it went off inside Holyroodhouse, the monarch’s official residence in Edinburgh.

The accident occurred on September 16, just hours before the Pope arrived to meet the Queen. It is not known if Her Majesty was inside the palace when the shot was fired.

Chief Supt Boyes, who is SAS-trained and vastly experienced in Royal protection, was not harmed in the accident, which occurred when he was alone and off-duty at the time.

But he was promptly removed from firearms duty while an internal investigation was carried out.

It is the first time so senior an officer has been suspended over such an incident.

Chief Supt Boyes has been the Queen’s last line of defence for a decade and guarded her throughout the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002.

He was made a Member of the Royal Victorian Order in 2005 for his services to the Royal and Diplomatic Protection Department.

The chief protection officer has since been reinstated after undergoing retraining in the safe handling of firearms.

Buckingham Palace and Scotland Yard last night sought to play down the incident as a "non-issue."

A spokeswoman for the Palace said: "He was only suspended from the firearms part of his duty and he retook the firearms test and is now back on duty. That’s just standard procedure. It was an accident. There’s no issue with it really."

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "As is routine in this type of incident, the officer was removed from firearms duty and an internal inquiry undertaken. The officer has completed the re-accreditation process and has resumed firearms duty."

In 2000, PC Michael Slade, 59, accidentally fired two shots on the Royal train as the Queen slept nearby.

Six years earlier, royal bodyguard Des Stout had accidentally shot himself in the leg during a routine practice.

Royal bodyguards favour the Austrian Glock 19, calibre 9 mm, which is relatively easy to use but has limited safety features



Ooops, can't imagine how he missed the round still in the chamber but there you go...


This is doing the rounds and is pretty much as factual as it is funny

Contractors Creed (Iraq etc)

I am a UK contractor.

I look out for myself, the operators to my left and right, and no one else.

I will always take advantage of the fact that I can finally tell military officers to kiss my behind, and will do so at every opportunity.

I am my country's scapegoat, the "plausible deniability" warrior, and I love it.

Less than £250 a day is unacceptable.

I am trained to eat things that would make a goat puke

I care not for medals and awards for valour.

I do this job for the opportunity to kill the enemies of my country, and to finally get that car I've always wanted.

I will be in better shape than 99% of the active duty personnel, although this is not hard.

I will equip myself with the latest high speed gear, and will trick out my M4 until it weighs more than 24 lbs, not because it works better, but because it looks cool in the photographs.

I will carry more weapons, ammunition, and implements of death on my person than an entire infantry fire team,

and when engaged I will lay waste to everything around me.

In any combat zone, I will always locate the swimming pool, beer, and women first, because I can.

I will deploy on my terms, and if it ever gets too stupid, I will simply find another company that pays me more



Jaguar XJ Sentinel

Anyone notice how low the Pope had to duck down, to get in the back of the new Jag?

This is the first time I've seen the new XJ "Sentinel" on a job and I have to say it looks very nice. You can read a bit about it on Jaguar's Armoured Page linked below

XJ Sentinel

The protection level is B7 (the highest currently available without compromising the vehicle's looks and turning it into a 'tank'), which is the next one up from the usual Hard Range Rover that follows various official VIPs and Royalty about and extends protection to cover 7.62 'armour piercing' rounds fired from long-barrel sniper rifles and provide a higher level of blast protection too.

Notice the pale coloured 'protrusion' that extends down below the door seal below the roof? That's the ballistic steel liner that overlaps with an extended door frame and window surround (notice the extensive black section covering the top third of the window).

The weakest points of any armour are where two protective panels meet, and if one of those hinges open too, you have the potential for a bullet or shrapnel to pass through to the inside, either directly or via ricochet. To combat this you overlap one with the other, in such a way that you don't have a direct route inside, regardless of which direction the round is travelling in.



· The ADPM announced today that the DoS has finalized their decision to remove TCNs from PSD positions due to the requirement for secret clearances.

· There will be a transition plan to replace TCN personnel with US as they arrive starting with the next PSS course graduation in November.

· He will be talking with PMO to see if there are other positions elsewhere within the company.

· If personnel have other opportunities and want to depart sooner, he will look into pro-rating bonuses.

John O’Ryan, PMP

Deputy PSD Commander

DynCorp International CIVPOL-Iraq


Another interesting development out in the Sandpit. The current TWISS II contract only requires the contractor to have "Secret Facilities Clearance at time of proposal submission" [for a contract].

The only real reason I can think of for this, as they already have the contract and already have Team Leaders with SC clearance is that they are being leaned on to provide work for Americans.

It's not like the current TCNs (Third Country Nationals - operatives who are not from the contracted country and not local Iraqis) are lacking in skills, they are mostly Europeans with plenty of experience out there, lots have NATO clearance and the only thing stopping them getting US SC is the fact they don't hold a US passport.

Although there are quite a few US contractors who'd be available for this, I can't see them doing it for TCN wages, which raises the question 'are they going to bring over inexperienced guys to make up the numbers (aka cannon fodder) or cut the number of guys on each rotation so they can be paid more' (with the associated risks of reduced eyes and bodies on the ground)


Quite interesting to watch. I have to say I'm continually amazed at how badly controlled crowds are when the President of Iran/Afghanistan/India/Pakistan etc ventures out.

Perhaps is a cultural thing, that they have to be up-close-and-personal with their 'fans' but there have been so many attempts, near-misses and successes (Benazir Bhutto for one) that I'd have thought they'd have learnt by now



What is Karzai up to?

August 16, Afghanistan's president issued an ultimatum to thousands of private security contractors he says are undermining his nation's army and police force: Cease operations in four months.

"The security companies have to go," presidential spokesman Waheed Omar said as he announced the deadline. With complaints that they are poorly regulated, reckless and effectively operate outside local law, western security operatives have become a point of contention between the Afghan government and U.S. and NATO coalition forces and the international community.

So what is Karzai up to?

There are plenty of stories relating to how bad the local Afghan security forces are, their Police force is universally dismissed as 'having a long way to go' and their military isn't much better.


Add to that the fact that the 'home-grown' security doesn't on the whole have a clue, with 30 being killed in one Taliban attack on a roads construction group in Sangin just last week.

Almost all western interests are protected by almost 40,000 western security operatives, from supply convoys to embassies to business interests there at the invitation of the Afghan government with the hope to help rebuild their country. Without PMCs, it's going to be VERY difficult to stay in-country ; on one hand there's a lot of money to be made, but on the other you can't do that if you're getting shot at, blown-up and kidnapped all the time.

So why risk a western exodus back to safer climes?

Power and Money (sound familiar?)

Personally I think Karzai is a pretty smart cookie, and some might say a greedy one too. He needs to be seen to be doing something to take charge of his country and keep the 'western cowboys' in check with elections due again in September.

There are probably only two or three Afghan groups who could even begin to fill the void left by a western pull-out, however they'll still need a lot of help.

The Asia Security Group (think of an Afghan Blackwater) is one of the largest of the home-grown companies. They are rumoured to be involved in both Opium farming on one hand and the CIA-directed Kandahar Strike Force on the other, with general security operations somewhere in the middle.

There is also Watan Risk Management, who provides a range of services including security for NATO convoys.

Did I mention that both of these companies are run by the Karzai family?

Strange that, don't you think?

I wouldn't be surprised if an 'Approved Contractor Scheme' appeared, whereby licences to operate are granted to existing western security, providing someone like ASG have a certain level of strategic control, and no doubt a certain level of funding, or am I being cynical?


In my last blog post, I mentioned Surveillance Detection and was going to put together a post about that, then I found the following on STRATFOR which is not only pretty good, but it saves me doing it all :-)


In last week’s Security Weekly we discussed how situational awareness is a mindset that can — and should — be practiced by everyone. We also described the different levels of situational awareness and discussed which level is appropriate for different sorts of situations. And we noted how all criminals and terrorists follow a process when planning their acts and that this process is visible at certain times to people who are watching for such behavior.

When one considers these facts, it inevitably leads to the question: “What in the world am I looking for?†The brief answer is: “warning signs of criminal or terrorist behavior.†Since this brief answer is very vague, it becomes necessary to describe the behavior in more detail.


It is important to make one fundamental point clear up front. The operational behavior that most commonly exposes a person planning a criminal or terrorist act to scrutiny by the intended target is surveillance. Other portions of the planning process can be conducted elsewhere, especially in the age of the Internet, when so much information is available online. From an operational standpoint, however, there simply is no substitute for having eyes on the potential target. In military terms, surveillance is often called reconnaissance, and in a criminal context it is often referred to as casing or scoping out. Environmental activist and animal rights groups trained by the Ruckus Society refer to it as “scouting.†No matter what terminology is being used for the activity, it is meant to accomplish the same objective: assessing a potential target for value, vulnerabilities and potential security measures. Surveillance is required so that criminals can conduct a cost-benefit analysis.

The amount of time devoted to the criminal surveillance process will vary, depending on the type of crime and the type of criminal involved. A criminal who operates like an ambush predator, such as a purse-snatcher, may lie in wait for a suitable target to come within striking distance. This is akin to a crocodile lying in a watering hole waiting for an animal to come and get a drink. The criminal will have only a few seconds to size up the potential target and conduct the cost-benefit calculation before formulating his plan, getting ready and striking.

On the other extreme are the criminals who behave more like stalking predators. Such a criminal is like a lion on the savannah that carefully looks over the herd and selects a vulnerable animal believed to be the easiest to take down. A criminal who operates like a stalking predator, such as a kidnapper or terrorist, may select a suitable target and then take days or even weeks to follow the target, assess its vulnerabilities and determine if the potential take is worth the risk. Normally, stalking criminals will prey only on targets they feel are vulnerable and can be successfully hit, although they will occasionally take bigger risks on high-value targets.

Of course, there are many other criminals who fall somewhere in the middle, and they may take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours to watch a potential target. Regardless of the time spent observing the target, all criminals will conduct this surveillance and they are vulnerable to detection during this time.

Given that surveillance is so widely practiced, it is quite amazing to consider that, in general, criminals and terrorists are terrible at conducting surveillance. There are some exceptions, such as the relatively sophisticated surveillance performed by Greenpeace and some of the other groups trained by the Ruckus Society, or the low-key and highly detailed surveillance performed by some high-end art and jewelry thieves, but such surveillance is the exception rather than the rule.

The term “tradecraft†is an espionage term that refers to techniques and procedures used in the field, but term also implies quite a bit of finesse in the practice of these techniques. Tradecraft, then, is really more of an art rather than a science, and surveillance tradecraft is no exception. Like playing the violin or fencing with a foil, it takes time and practice to become a skilled surveillance practitioner. Most individuals involved in criminal and terrorist activity simply do not devote the time necessary to master this skill. Because of this, they have terrible technique, use sloppy procedures and lack finesse when they are watching people.

Although everybody planning a criminal or terrorist attack conducts preoperational surveillance, that does not necessarily mean they are good at it. The simple truth is that these individuals are able to get by with such a poor level of surveillance tradecraft because most victims simply are not looking for them. And this is where we tie the discussion back into last week’s Security Weekly. Most people do not practice situational awareness. For those who do, the poor surveillance tradecraft exhibited by criminals is good news. It gives them time to avoid an immediate threat and contact the authorities.

Demeanor Is the Key

The behavior a person needs to outwardly display in order to master the art of surveillance tradecraft is called good demeanor. Good demeanor is not intuitive. In fact, the things one has to do to maintain good demeanor frequently run counter to human nature. Because of this, intelligence and security professionals who work surveillance operations receive extensive training that includes many hours of heavily critiqued practical exercises, often followed by field training with a team of experienced surveillance professionals. This training teaches and reinforces good demeanor. Criminals and terrorists do not receive this type of training and, as a result, bad surveillance tradecraft has long proved to be an Achilles’ heel for terrorist and criminal organizations.

Surveillance is an unnatural activity, and a person doing it must deal with strong feelings of self-consciousness and of being out of place. People conducting surveillance frequently suffer from what is called “burn syndrome,†the erroneous belief that the people they are watching have spotted them. Feeling “burned†will cause surveillants to do unnatural things, such as suddenly ducking back into a doorway or turning around abruptly when they unexpectedly come face to face with the target. People inexperienced in the art of surveillance find it difficult to control this natural reaction. Even experienced surveillance operatives occasionally have the feeling of being burned; the difference is they have received a lot of training and they are better able to control their reaction and work through it. They are able to maintain a normal looking demeanor while their insides are screaming that the person they are surveilling has seen them.

In addition to doing something unnatural or stupid when feeling burned, another very common mistake made by amateurs when conducting surveillance is the failure to get into proper “character†for the job or, when in character, appearing in places or carrying out activities that are incongruent with the character’s “costume.†The terms used to describe these role-playing aspects of surveillance are “cover for status†and “cover for action.†Cover for status is a person’s purported identity — his costume. A person can pretend to be a student, a businessman, a repairman, etc. Cover for action explains why the person is doing what he or she is doing — why that guy has been standing on that street corner for half an hour.

The purpose of using good cover for action and cover for status is to make the presence of the person conducting the surveillance look routine and normal. When done right, the surveillance operative fits in with the mental snapshot subconsciously taken by the target as the target goes about his or her business. Inexperienced people who conduct surveillance frequently do not use good cover for action or cover for status, and they can be easily detected.

An example of bad cover for status would be someone dressed as “a businessman†walking in the woods or at the beach. An example of bad cover for action is someone pretending to be sitting at a bus stop who remains at that bus stop even when several buses have passed. But mostly, malefactors conducting surveillance practice little or no cover for action or cover for status. They just lurk and look totally out of place. There is no apparent reason for them to be where they are and doing what they are doing.

In addition to “plain old lurking,†other giveaways include a person moving when the target moves, communicating when the target moves, avoiding eye contact with the target, making sudden turns or stops, or even using hand signals to communicate with other members of a surveillance team or criminal gang. Surveillants also can tip off the person they are watching by entering or leaving a building immediately after the person they are watching or simply by running in street clothes. Sometimes, people who are experiencing the burn syndrome exhibit almost imperceptible behaviors that the target can sense more than observe. It may not be something that can be articulated, but the target just gets the gut feeling that there is something wrong or odd about the way a certain person behaves. Innocent bystanders who are not watching someone usually do not exhibit this behavior or trigger these feelings.

The U.S. government often uses the acronym “TEDD†to illustrate the principles that can be used to identify surveillance conducted by counterintelligence agencies, but these same principles also can be used to identify criminal and terrorist surveillance. TEDD stands for time, environment, distance and demeanor. In other words, if a person sees someone repeatedly over time, in different environments and over distance, or someone who displays poor surveillance demeanor, then that person can assume he or she is under surveillance. If a person is being specifically targeted for a planned attack, he or she might be exposed to the time, environment and distance elements of TEDD, but if the subway car the person is riding in or the building where the person works is the target, he or she might only have the demeanor of the attacker to key on because the attacker will not be seen by the observer over time and distance or in different environments. Time, environment and distance are also not applicable in cases involving criminals who behave like ambush predators. Therefore, when we are talking about criminal surveillance, demeanor is the most critical of the four elements. Demeanor will also often work in tandem with the other elements, and poor demeanor will often help the target spot the surveillant at different times and places.

In a situation where a building or subway car is targeted for an attack rather than a specific person, there are still a number of demeanor indicators that can be observed just prior to the attack. Such indicators include people wearing unseasonable clothing in warm weather (such as trench coats); people with odd bulges under their clothing or wires sticking out from their clothing; people who are sweating profusely, mumbling or fidgeting; people who appear to be attempting to avoid security personnel; and people who simply appear to be out of place. According to many reports, suicide attackers will often exhibit an intense stare as they approach the final stage of their attack plan. While not every person exhibiting such behavior is a suicide bomber or shooter, avoiding such a person rarely has much of a downside.

One technique that can be helpful in looking for people conducting long-term surveillance is to identify places that provide optimal visibility of a critical place the surveillant would want to watch (for example, the front door of a potential target’s residence or office). These optimal observation points are often referred to as “perches†in surveillance jargon. Perches can then be watched for signs of hostile surveillance like people who don’t belong there, people making demeanor mistakes, etc.

This principle can also be extended to critical points along frequently and predictably traveled routes. Potential targets can conduct simple pattern and route analyses to determine where along the route they are most predictable and vulnerable. Route analysis looks for vulnerabilities, or choke points, on a particular route of travel. Choke points have two main characteristics: They are places where the potential target must travel and where rapid forward motion is difficult (such as sharp, blind curves). When a choke point provides a place where hostiles can wait with impunity for their victims and have access to a rapid escape route, the choke point becomes a potential attack site. These characteristics are found in attack sites used by highly professional kidnap/assassination teams and by criminal “ambush predators†such as carjackers. While the ideal tactic is to vary routes and times to avoid predictable locations, this is also difficult and disruptive and is warranted only when the threat is high. A more practical alternative is for potential targets to raise their situational awareness a notch as they travel through such areas at predictable times in order to be on the alert for potential hostile surveillance or signs of an impending attack.

The fact that operatives conducting surveillance over an extended period of time can change their clothing and wear hats, wigs or other light disguises — and use different vehicles or licence plates — also demonstrates why watching for mistakes in demeanor is critical. Of course, the use of disguises is also an indicator that the surveillants are more advanced and therefore potentially more dangerous. Because of a surveillant’s ability to make superficial changes in appearance, it is important to focus on the things that cannot be changed as easily as clothing or hair, such as a person’s facial features, build, mannerisms and gait. Additionally, while a surveillant can change the licence plate on a car, it is not as easy to alter other aspects of the vehicle such as body damage (scratches and dents). Paying attention to small details can produce significant results over time.

As we noted last week — and it is worth repeating here — paying attention to details and practicing situational awareness does not mean being paranoid or obsessively concerned about security. When people live in a state of paranoia, looking for a criminal behind every bush, they become mentally and physically exhausted. Not only is this dangerous to one’s physical and mental health, but security also suffers because it is very hard to be aware of your surroundings when you are exhausted. Therefore, while it is important to watch for the watchers, watching should not involve feelings of fear or paranoia. Knowing what is occurring in the world around them empowers people and gives them a sense of security and well-being, allowing them to spot the good things in life as well as the potential dangers.

This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR


The Grey Man

I was talking to a couple of (non-CP) guys yesterday about this, following it being raised on another forum; anyone who's looked into CP learns the old analogy that to do it well, you need to be the Grey Man, but what exactly does that mean and are there different shades of grey? :-)

To answer the last bit first, yes there are shades of grey. How you provide CP depends on many factors, from the threat analysis of the Principal, to the number of assets you have available to the wishes of the protected person and the environment in which you are working.

Fully Overt protection doesn't really count when talking about being grey and blending in, carrying an M4 slung across your chest tends to make security quite visible and that's the whole point of doing it fully overt - it's a show of strength.

Shades of Grey apply to Western CP and in particular to Corporate and proper VIP work (see my second post if you can't remember what I mean here).

The overall aim is to blend in with the Principal and surroundings and not draw any more attention than is necessary. If someone saw me and my Principal on the street, I'm aiming for them to think "two businessmen off to a meeting/going to get some lunch" and then think nothing more about us, what I don't want is for them to think "that older guy must be important, he's got a Bodyguard with him".

You're not trying to become invisible, like a surveillance operative, just non-descript and instantly forgettable, just like the colour grey

Overt-low key is the highest level of Grey, if you like - guys often in suits that with a passing glance look like regular guys but if you get chance for a closer look, you'll see curly wire earpieces, their heads are on swivels and never stop scanning and anyone who pays too much attention to the protected person or starts to head in their direction gets 'challenged'.

Low profile is the next step down, when the threat level is pretty low and is my prefered method by far. You act and look as 'normal' as possible, communicate with other guys on the team by subtle signals, looks and mobile phone supporting a well planned Op, assuming you're not on your own of course and you keep your head under control - looking like a Meerkat is always a dead giveaway that you're security.

It's also very non-confrontational (until you really have to) and gives the protected person the space to live their life, while still receiving a certain level of protection.

The final level is Covert, is not really a 'grey classification' either and is generally used in conjunction with one of the above. You dress to blend in with the area in which you're working, like a Surveillance Operative would; often in casual clothes, Tshirt and jeans, hoodie, dressed like a mature student, football fan etc. You operate in a stand-off position and essentially act as a spotter, to let the TL know of trouble ahead or moving in their direction and while you may remain covert, you might also be asked to intercept the threat before they get close to the protected person.

The role can also include an element of Surveillance Detection, although that's a separate role if you've got the manpower.

It has been known that a VIP can be covered by a covert team without them knowing they have any sort of protection, for example if they've refused official CP but those in charge feel it too risky to have nobody at all on the ground.

Obviously, as stated at the top of the post, how you actually do it depends on the job and can be a hybrid of the above, it can even change as a job progresses, when the Principal suddenly changes their plans and you find yourself somewhere you never planned to be at all or an incident or observation causes you to raise your game.


Private security firms like those operating in Iraq and Afghanistan could soon be in use in Northern Ireland.

They could be guarding police stations and providing protection for politicians, judges and other possible terrorist targets in NI.

The Northern Ireland Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, is to ask the Policing Board to endorse the plan on Thursday.

Police say the plan will save money and free up more officers for fighting crime.

Hundreds of former police officers and soldiers from Northern Ireland have been employed by private security firms in Iraq and Afghanistan, protecting individuals and buildings believed to be at risk of terrorist attack.

Some of them may soon find work closer to home.

The risks won't be anything like those they've encountered in those battlefields, and the pay is likely to be much less, but they could soon have the opportunity to apply some of their skills in Northern Ireland.

Mr Baggott has made it clear that getting more officers out on to the streets and into frontline policing roles is one of his key priorities, and he sees this as part of that process.

About 400 PSNI officers are currently involved in providing protection for politicians, judges and other potential terrorist targets, and guarding police stations.

The police say that is not cost effective.

They argue that it would save money, and give them greater flexibility, if those jobs were performed by suitability trained civilian staff, as that would result in more officers being available for frontline duties.

Bodyguards Private security firms would be asked to provide trained bodyguards and other staff when needed, rather than having full-time police officers doing the jobs.

The chief constable will outline his plans to the Policing Board on Thursday and ask for its endorsement.

That backing is essential because the move would require new legislation, and that will only happen if there's cross-party support within the assembly.

Basil McCrea, the Ulster Unionist chairman of the board's human rights committee, said mechanisms would have to be put in place to regulate the work of the private firms, but he is firmly behind the idea.

"This is the right thing to do," he said.

"The chief constable has made his position clear and it's driven by the need to be cost effective.

Trained "Clearly we need to ensure that the work is properly regulated, but we don't need fully warranted police officers to do this kind of work, they should be out on the streets.

"On that basis we will be supporting him."

Sinn Fein takes a very different view.

It is concerned that those most likely to meet the criteria for employment will be former members of the security forces who have firearms training, and says the police are best placed to deliver the service.

Policing Board member Alex Maskey said the party had fundamental concerns.

He said: "We have made the chief constable aware of our concerns."

"Even if these people are going to be guarding stations and protecting individuals, they are going to be inter-acting with the community and we want to know how they are going to be held to account for their actions.



Makes sense, but then I would say that wouldn't I?

I'm sure Sinn Fein 'takes a different view', probably crapping themselves that all the ex SAS and DET guys now working in the private sector might like to get their own back