Assessing the potential threat on a client can be the difference on whether you have a good day or a Very bad day! Assessments should start off with one simple question....
Why is a Protective Detail being placed on the client?
Sometimes, the answer is quite simple. The Detail is needed due to a direct threat that has been made on the Client. While it seems quite simple with a threat that's been made, it really isn't. Too many times Protection Specialist can get too "front sight focused" on what the imminent threat is, that they completely overlook other threats which might not be as devastating to the client but still embarrassing. Sometimes embarrassing is just as devastating as a life or death threat depending on the career and position of your client. Protecting your client is not just protecting them from death threats but also embarrassing moments in which can be exploited to the benefit of others.
On December 14th, 2008 President George W. Bush was visiting Baghdad, Iraq holding a press conference at Prime Minister Maliki's Residence. With it being a Presidential visit, of course the Secret Service was involved as they handle all security related issues with the President of the united States. The visit as I stated was at the residence of the Prime Minister of Iraq, which was located inside of the "International Zone" formerly known as the "Green Zone" due to the fortification that was put in place when Iraq was "liberated".
With this being the "Prime Minister" of Iraq's residence, I am sure you can imagine the level of security that is in place on top of what the US Government had in place in the surrounding "Green/International Zone". I will never take anything away from the Secret Service. I believe they are the best at what they do when they have complete operational control of the environment. On this day however, most were focused on keeping our President alive. I am sure there the majority of the SS Agents had no experience in a war zone and were most likely uncomfortable with their surroundings. Dealing with the unknown in a hostile environment is much different than an allied partners backyard.
As the press conference went on, there were NO Secret Service Agents inside of the conference room. I will say there were none, because if there were, then I would have hoped they would have reacted. On this day, President Bush had two shoes thrown at him from a reporter in the audience in which our President proved to be most agile. The Shoe Thrower Muntadhar al-Zaidi was subdued by a Blackwater Contractor working on the State Department's World-Wide Personal Protective Services Contract. I do not know why there weren't any Secret Service Agents in the Audience that day, but there could have been a number of reasons. One of which could have been that our President wanted a low-profile presence to appease the host PM Maliki as so many other Diplomats request.
Either way, it proves that even the Secret Service can get "Front Sight Focused" concentrating too much on one and not enough on the other.
Stay Vigilant my Friends, sometimes it is not always the one coming at you, rather what is waiting to flank you when you are least expecting it.