Close Protection & Executive Protection

Written by James G. Shortt

I am often asked by colleagues why I have an antipathy towards the terms Close Protection and Executive Protection and their industry buzzword initials CP and EP. The reason why I resolutely use the term of Bodyguard is simple.

The term Executive Protection first made its appearance in private security in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s via commercial bodyguard schools trying to steal a march on their rivals. We see the term used in an article dated in February 1993 "Don't use the 'B' word”, the subtitle of which is “The trick for Bodyguards is to keep a low profile", so even the author, Ms. Fanning, had to use the dreaded 'B' word to communicate to her audience what she was talking about. The entire article is little more than an advertisement for a well known BG school in Virginia. The concept is driven by a weak argument that proposes the EP 'agent' is better trained and of higher standard than the untrained, knuckle dragging gorillas that calls themselves bodyguards without any formal training. That is a no brainer right up to the point the untrained knuckle dragging gorilla catches on to the new fads and changes his profession to 'EP' agent. Very similar crass reasoning is used now by persons promoting the CP or Close Protection term.

There is absolutely nothing between a Bodyguard being trained and educated and a CP/EP being educated. The quality lies in the training, its duration and regular personal audits and updates. Professionalism does not lie in a title but in an individual’s dedication in seeking best practice, good and effective trade craft and their involvement in a brains-trust of dedicated fellow industry operators. Often, and by that I mean the majority of protection professionals have attended one school at the start of their career and the syllabus taken from some yellowed pages of a quasi-government manual (Israeli (730 or שומר-ראש, USSS, BDS, 22 SAS, SO12, RMP CPU, CID PSD... take your choice) but effectively a museum of protective technique of what was once best practice and trade craft when the world was young.

Many of the American EP crowd allude to the fact they are emulating the United States Secret Service POTUS protection division. I have been told to my face this is a fact and EP is a term from POTUS protection. Investigation showed this was smoke and mirrors from an author who became an industry expert by writing books, then teaching protection and eventually actually doing protection (the reverse passage of my own roots).

In 1970, Public Law 91-217 expanded the role of the White House Police, newly named the Executive Protective Service, to include protection of the gates of diplomatic missions in the Washington, D.C. area. Congress later added the protection of the Vice President's immediate family to the Executive Protective Service's growing responsibilities in 1974. After several name revisions, the force officially adopted its current name, the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division in 1977. While protecting the access to the White House Complex remains its primary mission, the Uniformed Division's responsibilities have expanded greatly over the years. So Executive Protection per se only to a uniformed security presence rather than a bodyguard role. These facts have not deterred the zealots that refer to their tradecraft as EP instead of the more commonly known terminology of Bodyguard (BG).

The other element of EP I find ridiculous is the doctrine that they emulate the US Secret Service. This is absurd if you closely examine the methodology of the US Secret Service it relies on large units of man and woman power and banks full of cash. Since the time of Clinton when POTUS travels he is surrounded by a massive entourage - over 1000 persons travelling. The logistics are that a minimum 250 armed protection agents including advance agents and technical support (IED/ESD search) CAT teams, plus 15 IED search dogs + handlers some 40 protective drivers to staff 2 identical motorcades of 20 vehicles. Think of the bill not just for wages and pensions, but accommodation, meals, transportation. On the subject of transportation - 2 Airforce Ones (2 identical Boeing 747-200s) Aircraft One cost UK£200 million to build and costs UK£28,000 an hour to maintain even when just parked up. You want to tell me you follow the US Secret Service doctrine on protection? Then have a budget to match your mouth.

Similar delusions can now be found by those using the term Close Protection. The British Special Branch which included what became SO12 were operating in the Bodyguard role when Queen Victoria was still on the throne. The 'Johnny-come-latelies' were the British Special Forces in the form of the Special Projects wing of 22 SAS. In the early 1960s men like Malcolm Rees and Alex Spence created the SAS BG doctrine but a strain on resources due to switch in SP wing from anti terrorism (prevention -BG) to counter terrorism (intervention) meant surrendering the BG role to the Royal Military Police in Germany in the mid 1970s.Not wishing to be in the shadow of the SAS the RMP bodyguards from their base in Werhl (Sennelager) visited both French and Dutch state bodyguards. Training with the French they encountered the term 'protection rapprochée'. The word 'rapprochée' means close or in close proximity. The RMP decided to use this term to replace bodyguard. 

The term has been used by RMP and the CPU run 4 courses a year of 8 weeks each at their Longmoor base. Again the doyens of the protection world in UK repeat the same jaded mantra of their American forebears of 10 years before "CP" are highly trained and educated and 'BG' are brainless untrained Gorilla (an analogy repeated to me by one of the RMP CP veterans in 1982 when comparing the difference between RMP CP and SAS BG, his punchline was SAS BG ripping the arms of children in the crowd and beating people with the arms - not a reality but an SAS mentality putdown).  Of course now we have plenty of knuckle dragging untrained Gorillas calling themselves CP. Social media is full of organisations claiming to represent CP who have undergone one day of training in either CP or BG before they established the HQ of their organisation in their bedroom (probably without informing their parents). Even 22 SAS when they refocussed on protection under their former boss, Michael Rose now speak of VIP protection instead of Bodyguarding. To me all this find another and different buzz word simply rings of 'paint the bus a different colour'. Anyone familiar with protection knows it requires a team made up of different sections using varied skills to create an overlapping barrier between principal and any threat. Yes, there is the PES (Protective Escort section) This section will vary in size dependent on the level of determined threat. They may operate in Close Escort, but equally may operate in Open Escort formations and with the unhelpful principal (wife and children of the Principal) may operate in Shadow escort (basically the ABC follow method of MI5's A4 surveillance department). So even in the PES it does not compute that protection will be 'close', same is true of the Vehicle section (shadow car/escort vehicle). While members of the Security Section (working in SAP, Residential, Surveillance, IED/ESD Search and counter surveillance roles) are rarely 'close' to the Principal or in close proximity. The Bodyguard role accepts this but the anomaly is that 'Close Protection' is not a fitting term when by necessity personnel are limited in the proximate distance from the Principal. Close or Close proximity is not an apt term to describe the protection activity, especially when one speaks of achieving protection through concentric rings of security with only the inner ring being the actual close protection

Interestingly, absolutely nowhere in British legislation does the term Close Protection appear even in the 2001 Security Industry Act which created the far from competent quango SIA. When questioned by me the woman responsible for adopting the term Close Protection as a qualification for private security staff completing a 1-2-3- week privately certified course, claimed initially it was enshrined in UK law. When I showed her it wasn't she claimed the term had been jointly suggested through liaison with the UK Police, Royal Military Police and 22 SAS. When I pressed her to name names and offered to contact those 3 bodies for confirmation she finally admitted it was from private individuals advising the private training body SITO. The same woman a month later resigned from SIA and went to work for SITO. There is no comparison between the RMP 8 week course and a privately certified 1-2-3 week course. Not only is CP not enshrined in UK Law, nowhere in national or international legislation for the registration of intellectual property or trademarks is it contained. You cannot register EP, VIP protection, CP. Personal Protection or any of the other specialism which come under the term Bodyguard. Through the World Intellectual Property Organisation (based in Geneva) or the EU's OHIM in Alicante (Organisation for the Harmony of the Internal Market) now EUIPO the ONLY recognised term under the Treaty of Nice is Bodyguard and it's classification is No 41. 

I have based my objections to the EP and CP buzzwords based on terminology, history usage and law, but in truth the objection must also be on the basis of public communication.

* In the late 1980s it was my privedge to work in Paris on a Contol Risks project "Arctic Tern" led by Captain 'Ginge' Rees GM. OBE and bar (retired 22 SAS) who was one of the 2 warrant offices who pioneered Bodyguarding with Special Projects. The project was the protection of Penguin Books targetted by a Fatwa for publishing Satan Verses by Salman Rushdie.