Close Protection Teamwork  & Briefing

Close Protection Teamwork & Briefing

Understand the importance of teamwork and operational briefing within a close protection environment.

Attributes of a Team 

Successful teams in all walks of life, be it business, sport or the services, share common core attributes:

Shared goals

The individual team members know and share the end goal and are motivated to achieve the goal. Individuals know how each member can uniquely contribute to the mission. In operation, the team can focus on how each member’s strengths advance that goal. 

Inspired Leaders

The best teams are led by leaders who communicate the mission. These humble leaders are open to feedback and criticism. 

Team Cooperation

Team members know their roles and responsibilities. Furthermore, they know how to leverage each other’s strengths and gain the most from the group’s unique mix of knowledge and abilities.

Constructive Communication

Great teams and team members are open to feedback and actively encourage constructive communication. The team leader (TL) and team members should respect one another’s opinions. Incorporation of diverse viewpoints makes for a more productive and efficient team.

Mutual Support

Team members should encourage each other and offer each other support.

Organised

Any good team has to be organised.

Know and Utilise Team Members’ Abilities and Skills

In an ideal world, the close protection team would be hand-picked in advance to ensure that the most suitable operatives with the best all-round knowledge and experience are on the task or assignment. The close protection company would look for relevant assignment experience. However, this rarely happens. 

For example, take an assignment to protect an overseas wealthy business person in Central London on business. A close protection operative (CPO) that only has operational experience within hostile environments such as Afghanistan or Iraq may not be the right fit. Vice a versa, a CPO with only executive protection in Central London is unlikely to be the right operative for an assignment in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Different character traits and skillsets are better suited to various assignments. For example, someone who has confidence in negotiating could be ideal on the security advance party (SAP). An operative who is comfortable at negotiating is perfect for gleaning any information that is required at a proposed location to be visited by the Principal. This CPO could apply the same skills to securing a Principal the best table in the most fashionable, allegedly full, restaurant.

Some operatives can blend in or disappear into the background and can move about quickly without attracting attention to themselves. These CPOs are suited to a surveillance role. Whereas others stand out, this type of operative may be more suited to the CAT (counter-attack team) or the counter-surveillance team.

By the very nature of close protection, the operatives are or should be born leaders that have confidence. However, arrogance often accompanies these two traits. Some CPOs cannot follow another’s lead. Not because they do not understand the instructions but because they are leaders or have been the team leader on a previous assignment.

A well-rounded operative should be adaptable, having the ability to lead or follow whenever either is required.

Every competently trained operative with adequate experience has something to bring to the table. The TL or manager needs to identify each CPOs’ skills and traits; then marry them to the assignment. Often with very little or no time at all. In the ideal world, a TL will be able to balance skills across the team, increasing effectiveness, efficiency and safety. However, more often than not, a TL assigned to a team of 6 CPOs would be lucky to have worked with more than one of the team members previously.

Teamwork Briefings

Operational Briefing

Close protection TLs or managers give the close protection team briefing before an assignment starting. Most likely, with the operational plan.

The fundamental goal of an operational briefing is preparedness through the exchange of information. However, the meeting can serve other purposes, such as meeting the Principal and enhancing their perception of the team and close protection company.

An operative giving a teamwork briefing must have the confidence to stand in front of an experienced operational team. These CPOs must also have confidence in the information that they will be passing onto the team. Standing in front of a group and giving a briefing is not for everyone. If the CPO lacks confidence when briefing the team, the team is unlikely to have confidence in the information.

The TL uses the operational plan to inform the team of the assignment. The team will learn about the Principal’s background and the schedule and locations to be visited or attended by the Principal. The TL will give each team member their own individual set of instructions usually based on proven and previous experience. 

Essentially: when, who, what and where is determined; roles are clarified; questions are asked and answered.

Each team member will be made aware of standard operating procedures (SOPs). SOPs are important for consistency in operational practices, responses and understanding. Standardisation makes the team more efficient and safer. SOPs also help ensure continuity when team members change. 

Caution

The SIA licence syllabus requires close protection operatives to learn about teamwork briefings. However, it is highly likely that most CPOs will never be part of a teamwork briefing let alone give a close protection teamwork briefing. The exception is CPOs from a military or service background. In the military and police, team briefings frequently occur, possibly daily, when on exercise or operations. 

Operational Debriefing

TLs can also use a team briefing to debrief the team after an assignment, discussing the task with all team members and examining the job in detail. The unit can identify mission pros, cons and mistakes. The aim is to learn from experience. Plans can change to mitigate or rectify any issues before the next task.

Close protection operatives should be open to constructive criticism as the industry is forever evolving as do the dynamic risk assessments or the equipment in use. A CPO who claims to know everything that there is to know about the industry is narrow-minded and is likely to make mistakes. Their career will be short-lived!

Close Protection Services

Westminster Security provide close protection services in London, throughout the UK, Europe and Worldwide.

Disclaimer

Westminster Security Ltd are not close protection training providers. Content provided is for informational purposes only. Please do not take this content as an operational guide. Some sensitive details have been omitted or changed for confidentiality and security reasons.