I recently had the pleasure of putting together a Close-Protection Course in which the only parameter I was given with was... 7 Days. Not 7 Days to come up with the course, but 7 days for a student to complete the course.
Now I know there are a number of reputable Schools out there putting out a 7 day program but when I started getting into the nuts and bolts of the curriculum, and thinking back to the courses I have attended... WOW, that is a very short time in which to put out a quality product in hopes of someone being able to grasp all that information and being able to retain it and then use it.
I remember first jumping into the Contracting world on a State Department Contract in which the Vetting/Selection process was 3 weeks long, with no days off. It consisted of Weapons Qualifications, Protective formations, Medical procedures, Attack on Principle drills, and Principle, Recovery, and Extraction Procedures with Simunitions in a shoot house. We also had a full week of driving (Which in my opinion is one of the most valuable skills). I later attended the Diplomatic Security Services High Threat Protection Course, in which was 8 weeks long at the time I went through. I have heard it has been abbreviated as short as 5 weeks and then as long as 15 weeks. I then reviewed the courses I attended and then started thinking about what could be cut in order to put together a 7 day course that can provide the all the basics of protection and get someone's foot in the door.
Now when I say "Cut".... I say this as, what do I think should have a specialized training session as to emphasize the importance of this skill-set. The first thing I looked at, was firearms training. This topic is very controversial as I see it in a lot of posts. But the reality of you utilizing your firearm with the exception of High Threat Environments is minimal. Do I think proficiency with firearms is required? Absolutely, And that is why I require a 95% qualification to work EP with my Agency. However, if you are properly licensed through your State, then they should have some sort of qualification in place. Any Agency employing you should be reviewing your range scores as a whole evaluating the fact if you are cut out for this line of work. Bottom line, as minimal of the chance it is for you to actually draw your weapon on a Domestic EP assignment, if you can't hit what you are intending to shoot, I don't want you working for me. So with that being said, when I am reviewing a resume, you can graduate from whatever course, but I always love seeing the guys that will go out and attend a "Shooting Package". It bolsters up the resume and shows that you are always thinking about continuing your education and wanting to make yourself stand out from the others.
The next portion to be cut is Driving. I know, I know, I said it early on that I feel it is one of the most critical portions of a Protective Detail. And that is why I feel it should have specialized training as well. I myself went to a specialized training course back in the day with a school specifically to driving. Nobody is paying me to write this, so I'm not giving credit to which school it was, but I attended a great course in which I worked on racetracks in different conditions as well as off-road tracks with night vision devices. It was lots of fun and I got a lot out of it. I've also attended courses as a part of the training which I was ramming cars to get out of ambushes but none of which were 7 days long.
The final portion I was evaluating was the Medical Training. There are so many new up and coming Medical Training Certs these days. I remember when the Combat Lifesaver Course was the "end all, be all", and now the TCCC (Tactical Combat Casualty Care). I was fortunate enough early on in Baghdad to have an outstanding Team Medic who was an 18D who had also been an 18D Instructor for a number of years on which we did weekly training for "Care Under Fire". He made me a believer in Kerlix. You can stuff it in any hole with a little pressure and you are good! I later had the opportunity to attend a Live Tissue Trauma Lab with Pigs instructed by 18D's. I left their feeling the most confident ever after attending a course and I would highly recommend anyone in the Industry take advantage of that opportunity if it were to present itself. I can't specifically go into the actual experience because of the NDA I had to sign, but I assure you this was by far the best training I had ever attended. I didn't cut out Medical entirely from the program because that is just not practical. But what I did put in, focuses on the detail, fitness and diet as to how to maintain yourself working long hours and then of course on the focus of the Protectee focusing on any medical needs he/she may require. If all else fails... Stop The Bleeding, Start the Breathing, and a Tourniquet works for just about everything! And yes, I carry all the good stuff, tourniquets, combat gauze, might even have some of that old style quick clot that will burn you, but its the little things you get out of specialized training like super glue and duct tape. :)
Now other than I mentioned, I would think there would be more continuing training in the field. I mean.. as an employer, and any employer in any field... What are you doing to keep your resume alive?
Close-Protection is one of the hardest fields to break into. There is a huge stigma as to what you should look like, how tall, or how big? Clients will never understand the Skill-Set involved as to why you are the choice over the 6'6", 250 lb. guy with no specific training. Not to take anything away from the larger protection specialists as I know a few that are very competent in their abilities. Protection goes beyond the visual, it is a much larger thought process that encompasses much more than just providing a shaded presence for the protectee, It goes into proper advancing, preparation and then flawless execution. Flawless Execution is a huge, and anyone that struggles with the term flawless should not be in the Industry. We have to be right every time to be successful, the bad guy only has to be right once to be successful!
So in closing..... There is nothing wrong with taking a "Short" course and then expanding your skill-set by taking other courses periodically specializing in other areas of protection. Well Rounded Professionals that are Team Players are who make it in this Industry.
-Eric Parker is a Special Operations Veteran with service in Mogadishu, Somalia. Since then has obtained his BS in Criminal Justice, worked Executive Protection Assignments throughout Florida and then moved on to work HT Protection throughout Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Eric is the CEO of Trade-Craft Consulting which is a Private Investigations Agency in the State of Florida which specializes in Executive Protection.