• S.R.

What is close protection

Updated: Oct 20

Close protection (executive protection, bodyguarding, VIP security) is a sine qua non for personal security and safety of high-risk, high-ranking, and high-net-worth individuals. This article aims to provide more information on the private close protection industry—ideal for those who seek to hire a bodyguard (close protection officer, executive protection agent, VIP security guard).



Modern close protection


Commercial close protection is based upon police dignitary protection principles [protecting and escorting government VIPs]. Close protection security is a proven method of reducing personal security risks attached to designated persons due to their high-profile status, environment, association, net worth, profession, or other circumstances that could endanger their security, safety, and well-being.


VIP security services keep a protectee (Principal/VIP) safe from physical, financial, and reputational dangers [ensuring the security of VIP's most valuable assets such as life, lifestyle, family, finance, reputation, property, business, and information].


Providing close protection is not passively waiting for something negative to happen and responding to it [a reactive approach]. Professional bodyguard companies employ an innovative approach relying on multi-sectoral strategy, layered protection, and proactivity [actions and not reactions] to keep VIPs safe and avoid potential risks.


One of the primary goals of close protection is to identify, assess, and mitigate a threat before it eventuates [being one step ahead]. Close protection operatives apply advanced close protection tactics, techniques, and procedures to prevent hazards [risk assessments, threat analysis, anti-surveillance, surveillance detection, technical surveillance countermeasures, and contingency planning].


If a bodyguard uses violence [guns, fists], the threat has occurred [Principal is compromised]. So, the bodyguard is one step behind the peril and is failed in one of his principal duties [threat prevention]. The main task of executive protection specialists in an emergency is to evacuate VIPs out of harm's way [cover, escape, and evade] and not to fight.


For complex operations and high-risk protection, VIP's security detail is backed up by other teams such as:

  • CAT (Counter-Attack Team) or QRF (Quick Reaction Force) responds to incidents and attacks on Principal and close protection detail, providing support, cover, and suppressive fire.

  • SAP (Security Advance Party) collects intelligence and conducts route and venue reconnaissance.

  • CS (Counter-Surveillance) team following up surveillance detection, performs covert surveillance on threat actors.

  • ERT (Emergency Response Team) responds to emergencies, incidents, and crises such as kidnapping [hostage rescue] and medical evacuation [medevac].


Why do people need close protection?


Depending on your needs, there are many reasons for close protection security services, ranging from menaces of paparazzi and workplace violence to terrorism and kidnapping. Government and corporate VIPs such as CEOs, diplomats, dignitaries, celebrities, and wealthy people hire personal security bodyguards for three main reasons:


Precaution [averting indirect and potential dangers]


Ultra-high-net-worth individuals engage VIP bodyguards to take care of their security and lifestyle [UHNWI security].


Deterrence [discouraging likely attackers]


Public figures take celebrity bodyguard services to decrease vulnerabilities associated with their high-profile status.


Mitigation [protecting from credible, actual, and direct threats]


Organizations hire corporate VIP protection to ensure the safety of their c-suite executives and staff traveling to at-risk regions [duty of care].


Who are professional close protection officers?


Contrary to stereotypes, professional executive protection bodyguards are not brainless muscleheads, human shields, and bullet catchers armed to the teeth. They are intelligent, tech-savvy, highly competent, skilled at arms and martial arts, and peak fitness. The physical size is irrelevant in close protection [bigger does not mean better]; some bodyguards are standard-looking persons, while others have massive physics.

Protective security specialists maintain secure and safe environments for VIPs while static/mobile on any occasion [travel, meetings, events, leisure, at home, work]. They can work solo or in a team, overtly or covertly, and armed or unarmed.


Close protection operatives are usually ex-military/police bodyguards and are predominantly males. However, there are many female bodyguards since specific situations better suit them [view more about Jacquie Davis—a female bodyguard]. Female Principals prefer female CPOs in certain countries due to culture [the Middle Eastern families]. Anyway, both male and female executive protection specialists are equally capable.


Also, there are executive protection operatives with no military/police experience; the background, as a stand-alone trait, does not predetermine the quality of a bodyguard. The level of skills and personal attributes are what make one a good or lousy executive protection agent.


How does a bodyguard operate?


Although all bodyguards share the same goal and have similar roles and responsibilities [protect VIPs and assets], their modus operandi depends on a situation [client's profile, the operational environment, risk level, and threat type].


Celebrity bodyguards are usually big lads, providing high-profile protection [overtly and within arm's reach] mainly to deter would-be attackers, stalkers, and photographers [read more about celebrity bodyguards]. Celebrity VIP protection differs significantly from corporate VIP protection. A CEO prefers low-profile executive protection [regular-looking EP agents wearing plain clothes, concealed weapons, and without earpieces].


Affluent families appreciate privacy and freedom; hence, close protection companies looking after ultra-high-net-worth individuals deliver unobtrusive protection focusing on confidentiality, preserving privacy, and protecting information and reputation/image [see how Pegasus spyware was used to hack the phone of Princess Haya].


In many cases, a private bodyguard has additional duties such as personal assistant, private security driver, travel security, child bodyguard, event security, residential security, and superyacht security. View more how rich hire bodyguards to nanny their children.


Bodyguards operating in hostile environments are referred to as PSD (Personal Security Detail, Protective Services Detail, Personal Security Detachment) or PPD (Personal Protection Detail), which are military terms for close protection details operating in conflict and post-conflict zones. PSD protection is based on principles of military protective services and has seen its boom in the commercial sector with the expansion of private military contractors [find out more about private military contractors] afterward wars in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan.


How to hire a bodyguard?


Professionals Vs. Amateurs


When hiring close protection and bodyguard services, you should understand the differences between amateurs and professionals. What sets them apart is their modus operandi. Amateurs lack responsibility, ethics, and professionalism, putting you at unnecessary risks.


Taking photos with VIPs, posting sensitive task details on social media, and exposing the private matters of Principals in public is a terrible practice. It is unsafe since it compromises privacy [privacy equals security]. Check out an article about bodyguards' confessions. Professionals do not live their lives on social media nor take selfies; they stay low-key and adhere to a strict code of conduct [respecting confidentiality, law, and ethics].


Amateurs provide too intrusive personal security. You certainly do not want a bodyguard to breathe down your neck [safety is felt and not seen!]. Arms-length protection is an old-school bodyguard method used in the 80s and 90s. The main characteristic of this approach is a personal bodyguard [usually the one with a massive physical and serious-looking appearance] standing next to the Principal [within arm's reach]. This mode is useless for more complex operations [high threat protection] since the bodyguard and VIP are easy targets [sitting ducks]. Hence it must be backed up by additional teams [layered protection]. Close protection security is limited if not supported by other departments [cross-sectoral approach].


Professionals employ covert protection (protective surveillance) to ensure the security of VIPs inconspicuously [low-profile protection for high-profile clients]. With undetected executive protection services, you do not have to trade off privacy for security. Undercover protection agents blend into the environment without attracting undue attention. Still, they are close enough to react promptly in an emergency, enabling them to detect and resolve incidents before escalating into a full-blown, uncontrolled crisis. Overt protection can be helpful to a certain extent [as deterrence]. Thus, professionals combine covert and overt protection to achieve the best results [a personal protection officer is visible and backed up by an unnoticed protective security detail].


Amateurs are poorly trained, lacking the required competency. Protecting VIPs in a constantly changing [threat] environment demands perpetual progress and technical, mental, and physical resources. To stay relevant, professionals develop skills commensurate with threats and trends, such as investigations, OSINT, cybersecurity, intelligence gathering, counterintelligence, debugging, and modern technologies. Aside from professional know-how, close protection specialists have excellent intrapersonal skills like quick wit, mental toughness, can-do attitude, determination, leadership, composure, modesty, loyalty, and honesty. Discover more about what it takes to protect rich people.


Incompetent protective services are a risk per se. Having an amateur bodyguard is much worse than having no protection at all. Unnecessary costs, legal issues, breach of privacy, tarnished reputation, overburdened and ineffective security measures, and a false sense of security are just some of the problems you could end up with when hiring amateurs. Explore failures of bodyguards in the following article.


Get professional close protection bodyguard services


If you want to get the most out of executive protection, you should check out my company. Nemesis Protection Global is a leader in providing international bodyguards and security services, enabling government and commercial clients to protect VIPs. Our close protection department is a core part of our protective security services, incorporating ex-special forces executive protection officers, cutting-edge technology, and a novel approach to risk management. Some of the service features are as follows.

  • Rigorously vetted, highly trained, carefully selected, and discreet ex-military/police bodyguards at your disposal.

  • Thoroughly planning every mission, leaving nothing to chance.

  • Valuing privacy, discretion, and confidentiality, promoting ethics and accountability.

  • Applying a multidisciplinary approach integrating all our departments [protection, intelligence, investigations, consulting, and crisis management] to achieve the end goal—your safety.

  • Implementing security measures that are equal to actual risk.

  • Employing multi-layered protection—successfully ensuring VIP security in any threat environment.


For more info about our close protection services, check us out and get in touch at contact@nemesisprotection.com.

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