Going to Pakistan on Business? Better Bring Security with You

It would be difficult to think of any industry or profession with greater growth potential – especially in difficult times as this downward economy, than Private Security.

No matter what country you think of; Saudi Arabia, India, China, United Arab Emirates…I have visited all of these countries over the past two years and an overwhelming need for security is the one common denominator that they all share.

That is why I find it amusing everytime our training academy announces a training course such as; Executive Protection Agent and people ask; “after I am trained, can I get work as a bodyguard, or private investigator?”.

This story written by Hasan Mansoor for Asiaone News, speaks about the exploding need for private security in Pakistan – a country with a population of more than 170 million, but a Police force of less than 400,000.

Many of the people who graduate from our academy ask us about working overseas. Overseas pays very well. If we had a client wishing to take some E.P. agents on a busness trip to Pakistan (we would STRONGLY advise on bringing your own professionally trained security to a violent country such as Pakistan if it was absolutely necessary to make the trip), we would pay those agents anywhere from $500 – $800 a day with all expenses included.

Now I ask, where else can you make that kind of money during a recession where layoffs and downsizng are the order of the day? Not even lawyers can be guaranteed to earn that kind of money when many of them being laid off from Law Firms all over the country.

The tougher times get, the more need there is for security. Train today for that high paying assignment tomorrow and count yourself lucky that you are in a field that is as about recession-proof as can be found.

Chairman Tata Surprised by Tricky Terrorists

Chairman Rata Tata, whose company owns the Taj hotel in Mumbai, gave a frank and honest interview to CNN. I would imagine that the Tata Group’s PR people and General Counsel are scrambling at the moment trying to do as much damage control as possible.

The sad part of this unfolding story is the feeling one gets that the terrible loss of life at the hotel may have been prevented or at least mitigated had proper security measures been implemented and if the security that had been in place prior to the attack had not been removed.

One eye witness who stayed at the hotel a week before the terrorist assault spoke about metal detectors and baggage being checked. The same witness then went on to say that those security measures had been removed within the last week, allowing people to enter without being checked.

The most surprising news to surface must be the Chairman’s comments regarding the terrible event. Unbelievably, he actually said; “They knew what they were doing and they did not go through the front. All of our arrangements were on the front entrance”.

Who is Tata’s security advisor, a kitchen worker? Actually, he might have been better off if that were the case since the terrorists entered the hotel through the rear kitchen door. ANNOUNCEMENT TO ALL CHAIRMEN AND CEO’s; Terrorists are Tricky. That is their job. They are watching your businesses and will do the opposite to what you expect.

In the case of the TAJ HOTEL, you made it easy for them. Did nobody in Mumbai ever stop to think that a bad person can go through the back door? It is one thing for a cafe in a pedestrian area to be attacked as anyone can walk right by or walk through the front and open fire, but how can a major landmark that attracts Western vistors drop their security measures AFTER they have received terrorist alert warnings that the hotel may be the target of terrorsit attacks?

I don’t know if it was the case with the Taj Hotel, but cutting corners where security is concerned is common place in corporate culture. Security is often seen as a necessary evil and usually the first department to experience budgetary cutbacks. It is very difficult to convince some clients that nothing happening is really a good thing and that by cutting out security may open the door to evil.

This appears to have been the case with the Taj. There is no doubt that the terrorists had conducted hundreds of hours of surveillance in and around Mumbai. Was it a coincidence that the attack occurred the week after security measures had been removed? What might have been the result if security had remained tight (if you could call watching the front entrance and disregarding the back as “tight security”)? Maybe the terrorists would have held back another month or two…maybe in that time they would have been detected…

One thing is for certain, places like the Taj Hotel have to get serious about security. Mr. Tata’s claim that; “If I look at what we had…it could not have stopped what took place”, must be replaced by more progressive, proactive thinking. If the Tata Group had spent an adequate amount of funding on ensuring that a strict security policy was in force – if only for the period in question – then they might not now be facing a 5 Billion Rupee reconstruction bill. Who knows how high the civil suits against the Taj will run when compensation and punitive costs are calculated.

Kudos though to Chairman Tata for at least recognizing that the Indian authorities may not be able to handle the situation on their own. “These attacks underscore the need for Law Enforcement to seek outside expertise for training, equipment and strategic operations”, he said.

We agree Mr. Tata. We also hope that you will recognize the need for the Tata Group to seek similar outside expertise to assist you with your security planning and training.

When does a bodyguard need to shoot into a crowd?

A story out of Mumbai,India caught my attention today. A politician’s bodyguard shot into a crowd of people and killed a man.

While professional Executive Protection Agents no longer refer to themselves as “bodyguards”, if we nonetheless examine that “handle”, we can break it down as; “a person who guards (protects) the body of another”. If I was tasked with the investigation of this shooting incident in India, one of the very first places I would look at would be the training manuals of those involved. If they were Policemen, I would demand to be allowed to inspect that Department’s training guides that were used when training their “bodyguards”. Same thing would apply if they belonged to a private company/entity.

I very seriously doubt that I would find any directive anywhere authorizing those assigned to the protective detail to fire haphazzardly into a crowd of people. To me, this suggests that the bodyguard either panicked or was placed in the position without any professional training (most probable explanation). Anyone who has spent more than 15 minutes in E.P. training knows that the responsibility of the Protective Agent(s) is to evacuate their client (Principal). Shooting into crowds of people would be out of place, even in far-fetched Hollywood. I am quite sure that Indian society is nothing near as litigious as it is here in the Western world, but I still suspect that there is a smart lawyer somewhere in India trying to contact the victim’s family. I believe the case will be his for the winning.

Ironically, I contactd a company in India a couple of months back with a proposal to train their Executive Protection staff. Without ever hearing a price, they contacted me back and said they were sure they couldn’t afford us (eventhough they are one of the largest employers in India). Which makes me wonder, how do you put a price on a human life and what would you consider a fair price to have your people professionally trained so that you were not sued by the family/next of kin of someone killed by one of your employees? By the way, this question can be asked of any employer anywhere in the world who is in the business of either safeguarding their own employees, or protecting the life of others.

In Real Estate it is about; “Location, Location, Location”. In security, it is about; “Training, Training, Training”. I sincerely hope that many get to know of this incident (including nearly all of the Hollywood stars who allow their Protectors to assault people on a regular basis)and begin to realize the importance of having a professionally trained person taking care of them. Hiring some big guy with a couple of years military experience is not good enough.

That would be like hiring a person for a plastic surgery procedure whose only experience was carving the Thanksgiving turkey. Who’d be the turkey then?