Close protection (CP) is about guarding people, with operators keeping their clients safe from the unwanted attentions of anyone – from criminals and the insane to autograph-hunters and those who are simply intent on causing trouble. The majority of the work revolves around logistics, threat assessment and general contingence planning for every possible event that could occur. Teams are then deployed to protect respective principals from threats during overseas business, and daily routines.
The commercial industry is generally divided into three main sectors. High-profile businessmen operating in dangerous places like Central America or Africa and parts of the old Soviet Union need a high level of personal protection against criminal and terrorist threats. The other group, common group which utilizes close protection (bodyguard) services are people such as businessmen executives, celebrities, and public figures who due to their position or acts have come into the public eye and for one reason or another have increased their likely hood of attack or simply have increased their value in life and therefore require security guards for hire.
Very few CP operators are in long-term employment. The vast majority are self-employed and form teams for contracts that may run from days to years, with most of the contracts being developed and negotiated by CP operations companies. Networking is vital and individuals’ reputations and experience are critical to their chances of getting work and progressing to the more lucrative contracts. Many close protection/bodyguard operatives specialize in specific skills such as surveillance or medical expertise and as such usually deploy in that roll when operating with a full team on a high risk project. A good close protection team is made created by combining several individuals with the same general training and each with a specialist background.
The top CP operators are people who have been in the Special Forces and specialist police units of countries such as Britain, the USA, France, Germany and Israel. They are in high demand on ‘the circuit’, and tend to dominate the high-risk end of the business where the financial rewards are the greatest. It is possible for someone without this background to move into the upper echelons of the business but they will need talent, a professional approach and a slice of luck to attract the attention of companies or senior team leaders who have access to the best contracts.