Teachout Security Solutions


Executive Protection: Who Needs It and Why

Most people think of personal protection through the lens of Hollywood; Kevin Costner sleeping on Whitney Houston’s couch in “The Bodyguard” or Clint Eastwood closing in on John Malkovich in “In the Line of Fire.” The President enjoys Secret Service protection and high-profile celebrities and corporate executives often hire personal protective services. Are they the only people who should consider executive protection services as part of their operational budget? Not in today’s global economy

We live in an increasingly interconnected world economically. Goods are often manufactured in countries where labor and materials are less costly. This requires members of your executive team to travel to parts of the world where the political structure and societal turmoil may require a greater degree of security than is necessary for North American cities. Some parts of Central America, South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia have a thriving underground economy based upon kidnapping for ransom and extortion. Business travel to these areas without the proper safeguards is risky at best.

What is Executive Protection?

Executive Protection is a team commonly referred to as the Executive Protection Detail (EPD). This team is comprised of the Advance Unit, the Driver, and the Close Protection Unit. 

Their primary objective is to anticipate the worst-case scenario and mitigate the associated risks. Each part of the EPD works from checklists, many of which are industry standard and can be customized to fit the scenario at hand.

The Advance Unit is usually made up of two or more security professionals who will travel to the target destination a few days before the executive is scheduled to arrive. Their task is to identify and plan contingencies for any potential threats to the executive. They will meet with the U.S. State Department representatives, local law enforcement, and the host security operatives. They will determine the most secure route between the airport and the hotel or meeting location, identify choke points and alternative routes, and the fastest routes to the local hospital. They will identify and screen members of the host entourage and staff who will be present for the meetings, at the hotel, and handling food and beverage preparation. Finally, they will determine communications protocols. The Advance Team reports its findings to the EPD Planning Supervisor.

The Driver in the Executive Protection Detail is responsible for the safe travel between the airport and the event. They are responsible for ensuring that the vehicle is operationally ready, secured from any tampering, and is trained in evasive and high-speed driving techniques. The Driver is often trained in Combat Firearms use and tactics.

The Close Protection Unit (CPU) is responsible for the physical safety and security of the executive. The CPU usually wears body armor and is in constant communication with the EPD supervisor. They are also trained in evacuation scenarios and emergency trauma first-aid. If the situation requires it, they may be armed and are also trained in combat firearms use and tactics. The CPU is sometimes comprised of the Advance Team.

Unlike what we see in movies and on television, ongoing around-the-clock security protection here in the United States is rare. It is usually only necessary for very high-level government officials and their families or for high profile people with controversial personas like Richard Spencer or Louis Farrakhan. There are, however, very credible times to consider enhanced executive protection services due to situations or specific events. These could include receipt of a credible threat, media coverage of an incident that may have inflamed passions, a labor strike, or speaking engagement by an outspoken political pundit.

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