Welcome to this week’s Urban Survival Newsletter, brought to you by my famous and popular SurviveInPlace.com course–a vital resource for anyone who wants to prepare for disasters and who thinks they might have to interact with other people after a disaster (yes…this means you : ). This week, we’re going to do the second of a 2 part series on preparedness lessons from executive protection. This is very meaty, valuable stuff and you’re going to like it. If you missed part 1 last week, you can read it by going to: http://www.secretsofurbansurvival.com/1220/preparedness-lessons-from-executive-protection-pt-1-of-2/
Funnels and Channels. Funnels and channels are areas that restrict or control movement and make movement controllable and or predictable. They’re something that you HOPE your enemy will go into if you’re trying to attack or ambush them. In the insect world, it’s where many cunning spiders spin their webs. In the mouse world, funnels and channels are normally where we set traps in hopes of having the greatest chances of success.
Executive protection specialists try to avoid funnels and channels with high risk principals as much as possible. Some examples are construction zones, underpasses, roads where traffic stops for trains, long hallways in malls, alleyways, gates into parking lots at night, or even walkways to your house.
Unless you consider yourself a high risk target, you probably don’t need to worry about being the specific target of an attack. But this plays out in helping you keep from being a target of opportunity. The practice of identifying funnels and channels combined with identifying multiple exits can make a speedy exit MUCH faster as well.
Movie theaters are an example of this concept that most people can relate to. Normally, when the movie is done in a medium to large theater, everyone gets up and slowly waddles down the stairs and out one of two exits. The rows of seats create channels that funnel everyone to the isles, funnel everyone down the stairs, and funnel everyone back along the outside walls and back together to exit a common door.
If you’ve got to go to the bathroom, you know how agonizingly slow this can be.
But EVERY theater also has additional marked exits that people could go out. At the front of the theater, at the back of the theater upstairs, or sometimes along the walls. These exits fight against the channeling and funneling that the aisles are trying to accomplish and let a few rebels get out quickly and efficiently.
By simply identifying these additional exits in advance, you can avoid unnecessary waiting during normal times and they could make the difference between surviving and dying after a fire, explosion, or natural disaster.
Where else does this play out? Malls, churches, sporting events, offices, or anywhere else where large groups of people might have a planned or unplanned incentive to move at the same time.
Give as few (accurate) details as possible. Details help predators identify targets, opportunities, and the best times to strike. For executive protection specialists, you can increase your safety level considerably by keeping your day’s itinerary and other plans as secret as possible.
The same holds true for individuals, but this is a TOUGH one for social people. We don’t tell people where we live, unless we’ve invited them over. I rarely use my last name. Oftentimes, we make up a name to use at restaurants. When we go out of town, we hardly tell anyone…and when we DO tell people that we’re going out of town, we do it in private. And, we don’t talk about what we own. This makes for some awkward situations with overly curious people, but I’ve learned to accept that.
A good friend of mine has had the opportunity to do some VERY impressive things, both in the civilian sector and in the military. He’s accomplished things in both arenas that make him a ripe target for all sorts of bad guys. When his family goes on vacation, they not only use a different last name, but he also says that he’s a history professor at the local community college. That shuts off conversations with the majority of people who don’t like discussing history and provides great conversation with those few who DO like discussing history.
You’re going to have to figure out how open or covert you want to live…and then accept the fact that it’s incredibly difficult to be both social and covert. Family and friends who you talk with in confidence may or may not understand your desire to stay covert. Even if they do, the passage of time tends to make people think, in error, that things that you once told them in secret are now open to the public.
Keep loved ones on your weak side. When guarding a principal, bodyguards keep their principal on their weak side so that they can push/pull them to cover AND use their primary weapon. When I walk with my wife, she’s always on my left hand side. When I carry either of my sons, it’s with my left arm. If we’re all together, my wife knows that if something happens, her job is to get our boys to safety and it’s my job to distract, defend against, and/or destroy anyone trying to hurt them.
Spare food & hydration. Almost every EP professional I know keeps SOME spare food with them or near them at all times. For the most part, it’s something simple like a small water bottle that they drink and refill whenever possible and a meal replacement bar. In their vehicle, it might be a case of meal replacement bars and a case of water bottles, or something similar.
In addition to the general guidelines mentioned above, here are some location/situation specific guidelines that EP professionals use that you can implement immediately.
Around The House.
When returning home, do a quick check to make sure that your “castle” hasn’t become someone else’s “castle” while you were gone. Are any lights/windows broken? Are multiple security lights suddenly malfunctioning? Are pets responding normally? Is your door locked? Does your alarm beep like it should when you open your door?
As a quick note, during “normal” times, if you know that an intruder is in your house, your best course of action is to call 911 and retreat to somewhere where you can provide updates, descriptions, and take pictures.
On this topic, are your firearms secured so that an intruder won’t be able to find them and use them on you? If you don’t carry weapons, do you know where traditional and improvised weapons are near your door?
I LOVE fire extinguishers. Quoting Clint Smith, “Spray them with the white stuff and hit them with the red thingy.” Do you have plenty of metal fire extinguishers? New fancy compact fire extinguishers have their place, but it’s hard to beat the versatility of a big old metal fire extinguisher.
What is normal? Observe what normal is…for your neighbors, for your neighborhood. Cars, coming & going, etc. It will not only alert you to people and events that are out of the ordinary, but it will also help you get to know your neighbors better. You’ll quickly see who’s social, who races off every morning with a scowl on their face, who always waves and has a smile, etc. You’ll also see who notices you and who is oblivious to the world and completely un-aware.
In your car.
Proper reaction gap. Everyone knows that you should keep a 2 second gap between you and the car in front of you during ideal conditions. I increase this to 3-4 seconds if either the car in front or the car behind me are tailgating. In the case of the car in back, they’ll usually go around if I give them enough room.
See the bottom of the tires in front of you. When you pull up to a stopped car at a light or stop sign, make sure that you stay back far enough so that you can see the pavement and bottom of the tires of the vehicle in front of you. In general, this will put you far enough back that you can go around them without having to back up first. This guideline will put shorter people a little further back than they need to be and taller people a little closer than they need to be, so you’ll want to experiment some.
Timing. With EP details, drivers do their best to miss regular traffic jams, trains, and other predictable delays.
Identifying potential threats. For EPs, this includes ambushes, attacks, and embarrassing situations. For the mere mortal, it means identifying and avoiding unnecessary risks. As an example, I live in earthquake country. I know where chemical plants are near me and know how to avoid them if necessary. Identifying dangerous parking lot or low light situations is another example of this.
Surveillance detection. Detecting a tail may be a life or death situation for the principal of an EP. For you and me, it may not be life or death, but it is still a smart thing to do. You may have accidentally cut off a driver who got laid off, lost his dog, and who’s wife left him that day and not even realize it. I have a handful of turns between the interstate and my house. If anyone follows me for more than 2 of these turns, I turn early or late to see if they keep following me. I’ve pre-identified routes that I can take that only add 30-60 seconds to my drive.
Thankfully, since I don’t have any clear and present threats, this discipline will hopefully never protect my family from a violent attack. That being said, the cost of developing it over the last few years is basically non-existent. If I ever do NEED the skill, I won’t have to learn it under stress and I will have had years of daily experience practicing it.
I will say this, though. Being constantly aware of the cars behind me and their behavior DOES have everyday benefits. While I can’t be sure of it, I would put money on the fact that my observation skills have kept me from being rear-ended multiple times. I’ve pulled off to the side of the road multiple times when I’ve had to stop suddenly and I knew, from watching, that the person behind me was not paying attention to the road.
Alter your route and timing. High risk targets and protection details for high risk targets do everything they can to keep from having their movements be predictable. At the most basic level, this means changing when and how you go to & from work and other regular appointments. Even if you’re not a high risk target, you might want to try different time & route combinations for your regular trips so that you can become more aware of your area and to see if there isn’t a quicker combination. AT LEAST become aware of your habits and the things you would change if you needed to become unpredictable.
Overpasses. This one has personal significance for me. In many African, Central American, and South American countries, bandits will throw logs, cinder blocks, and tree trunks off of overpasses to disable vehicles so that they can rob or kidnap the occupants. This happened to a very good friend of mine in Mexico City when we were in college.
Her mom, brother, and her were on their way home from the airport at night when her brother (driving) saw a couple of kids throwing a tree trunk off of an overpass they were about to go under. There wasn’t really any time to react, but he did manage to swerve and have the tree trunk hit the side of their Jeep rather than the front. It blew their tire and they drove on the flat and then the rim, destroying the rim, until they got to help. They didn’t get hurt, but another mom and daughter got killed later that night on the same road.
For day to day, low threat life, you don’t need to do much about this. It’s not very common in heavy traffic, since the followup to throwing things is to rob the occupants of the vehicle. It’s MUCH more common at night when traffic is light. As the economy continues to slide, it is important to know what to look for and how to respond to this threat.
If you see one or more people standing on an overpass where it doesn’t make sense, stay in your lane until 1-2 seconds before going under the overpass and quickly change lanes. As the practice gets more common and drivers get wise to it, the bandits get smarter too and start using teams, radios and throwing items off of the “back” side of the overpass instead of the “front” side. When things develop to this point, it becomes wise to simply change lanes before going under an overpass.
There’s enough of an overlap between prepping and executive protection that I encourage everyone who can to go through one or more local executive protection classes. Not only have I learned a considerable amount from going through the training, it has given me the opportunity to get to know some VERY highly skilled EP professionals.
I’ve found that, with rare exception, EP professionals and people who take EP classes are also preppers by nature. Even better, by nature they have gamed out numerous scenarios in their heads, have their ideal teams in mind, defensible locations picked out, and are just looking for the right people to fill in the holes. If you go to a class with the same outlook, you’re likely to make some great long term friends who you can call on if the SHTF.
As an additional bonus, if you can get a non-prepper friend or family member to willingly take an EP class with you, “for fun,” you’ll probably leave the class with someone who’s become fully aware of the need to prepare.
If your interested in learning more strategies to incorporate Executive Protection into a preparedness lifestyle, I’d suggest that you check out my SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course. In addition to covering all of the basics of preparing for disasters, it also goes into some advanced topics such as tactical movement to and from barter/trade situations after a breakdown in civil order. The course is a true treasure for people ranging from newbie “preppers” to lifelong Special Ops guys trying to pass on a lifetime of experience to loved ones. To learn more, check it out at http://surviveinplace.com
What are your thoughts on “living as a bodyguard”…either of yourself or of familiy members? Are you currently or have you done EP work in the past? How has it carried over to your everyday life and what lessons can you share with others? Let us know by commenting below.
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