Seems like forever and a day, there has been a constant rivalry between those that have been in the Executive Protection Industry and those that entered into the arena since 9/11 given the invasion of Afghanistan and then Iraq. I will say that it seems that it is not as much today (2015) as it was back in 2005 time frame.
I myself, started working EP early on before I ever deployed for an overseas contract. So I was networked enough to hear all the chatter in the Industry going on as things like the WPPS program standing up. The biggest argument I always heard was that "The overseas Contractors are a bunch of Cowboys who wouldn't make it doing the real deal stateside". That "Shit is Private Military, not Executive Protection". "Those Tattoos and especially that beard is not acceptable and they would never fit in!" On the other side, when I arrived in Baghdad in 2004, you had a lot of hungry contractors who saw their contract as a stepping stone into the the world of Executive Protection, traditional Suit and Tie "Bodyguard" work. (And yes I hate that word as well). It was mostly the younger folks straight out of the Military in which they were looking long term as to have a career in the Industry. I sat down with a few and explained some of the differences, and emphasized the fact, that stateside/domestic protection is not nearly as adrenaline filled as rolling out of the "Green Zone" daily where the likelihood of being engaged is likely.
I would like to think that the Industry has progressed since then and some of the bigger employers can see past the Contractor stigmatism (Spell check said I'm wrong, but I am going with it anyways, Probably too much time as a Security Contractor) and find value in the skill set that some of these professionals can offer. I will say that I myself have more time on High Threat Contracts than I do Domestic Assignments, but I have continuously received praise on my abilities to adjust to the environment. My opinion is "Protection is Protection" and that is why the Secret Service and Diplomatic Security Services are able to adapt so well is that they exploit the expertise of others. If anyone would love to dispute that, I am open for that one, since I have worked with both.
So I wanted to break it down as I see it. EP VS. PSD. And I hope I don't upset too many in the Industry.
The EP Industry does NOT require any certain background to train. Anyone can apply to the many schools in the Industry and go through their course, graduate and be a part of their network. It is a money making Industry, so the certain training centers that are providing High Threat Protection Courses are hoping to bring in more clientele to spend money on their course. They are influencing the student to think they will be able to go to places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel and Africa making the big dollars. And some do, but they probably already had a background for it to begin with and really never needed that course. They regardless had to go through another vetting course that went over everything they were already instructed on or something different without of any out of pocket expense. When I went through vetting, I was paid $150 a day, which is so much better than paying someone else.
For one, anyone wanting to get on a Contract in any of those Country's will have to go through a vetting process (If you are with a reputable company). The Vetting process consists of being proficient on the combat skills that should already be in place and then your adaptability to progress with the Close-Protection mindset versus the "Attack and Destroy Mindset" that you learned in the Military needs to be put aside.
So...... EP Versus PSD in short words. I know many of guys that excel in the EP Industry working Domestically that do an outstanding job. The Client is happy, and I am happy. But on the other side I know many of guys that I have contracted with that I would love to have my back in a complex attack in which we have the responsibility of covering the Principal and actually returning fire in order to evacuate them to ensure their safety.
Now, saying that I have worked with the best in both is accurate because I have been fortunate in which I was able to work with professionals in both environments. Do I think one is interchangeable.... Absolutely NOT!
And I defend this answer not being biased in anyway, but everyone has someone they would prefer to work with. Some will want the person they took the last EP Course with because he was the honor Grad, some will base it on personal experience, then their are the few because they were with that person when they did have to react to an attack on their Principal and they did! And that alone for them was enough.
I know lots of Professionals from each Industry if you were to divide it, and I have my reasons for picking each for particular assignments. And I do!
There are plenty of EP Professionals that are very successful in the field of Domestic, Traditional Executive Protection that will never work a High Threat Contract because of the certain skill-set involved which in many cases is because of the weapons platform you are expected to be proficient at.
But on the same note there are so many Security Contractors looking to break into the Domestic/EP field that will not make it or even be given the chance. They are still perceived by the Dinosaurs of the Industry, that think their way is the end all be all in the Industry and have already established that a Security Contractor is not capable of it.
The way I look at it... Look at what you are getting as a new recruit, then look at the combat veteran that after his tour of service was completed he went back and did it voluntarily. It's actually a lot smaller and easier to verify someones background. I kind of like Combat Proven Veterans working for my Agency, but that is just me! :)
Like I mentioned, this is bound to be somewhat controversial, I just hope everyone keeps it professional.
Bottom line, There are some that can change shirts, and there are some that can't. Some are good in what they specialize and others are not. They are not interchangeable, and should never be perceived that way, but everyone should be given a chance.
-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.