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Number of posts : 9089
Registration date : 2007-06-27




There tends to be two distinct branches of VIP Protection. Royal/Diplomatic and Executive Protection is the province of BGs (Bodyguards) with appropriate military backgrounds and graduates from specialised BG schools. Celebrity Protection, guarding pop, TV and movie personalities, on the other hand, is mainly performed by bodybuilders and martial artists whose main qualities are intimidating bulk, and unarmed combat prowess. There is some overlap, however. Some celebrities come under quite serious threat and require a more sophisticated level of protection, and some ex-military BGs also have the necessary physical attributes to widen their markets into the celebrity field. One such BG, who works mainly in the high risk Diplomatic field, is Nick Hughes. Coupled with his military background and graduation from CQB Services Advanced level BG Courses Nick is also a 5th-Dan in Goju Karate, and, at 6’7"{2m tall} is big enough to discourage even the most enthusiastic pop fans! Working with a famous group at a concert in England he was drawn into conversation with a bodybuilder he knew from a London gym, who was working as backstage security. The weightlifter, who we will call "Ralph" was denouncing the military types and couldn't understand their role in protection. He only understood physical capability and wasn't impressed with the size of the BGs he had seen with various public figures. Nick explained to him that in anti-terrorist protection essential skills such as planning, threat evaluation, emergency procedures, and the right equipment, were usually more important than the image of size. To demonstrate Nick showed Ralph some of the equipment he routinely carried as part of the job. Ralph saw the point and asked if Nick would help him compile the type of mini-medic kit which Nick had just shown him. Accordingly after the job they went to a couple of London shops and assembled a small but comprehensive "med- kit" in a belt pouch. Nick explained the use of all the components, and emphasised the importance of carrying it at all times, and of topping it up if any items were used.

[Nick training on the BG Course]

A couple of weeks later Ralph was working backstage again, this time guarding the dressing room of a famous female Rock & Roll star. The door opened and the star asked Ralph to take here down to find medical help as she had gashed her hand on a beer can. Ralph whipped out his med-kit and cleaned the cut then applied steri-strips to close the wound. The star was amazed and asked why he had the kit. "I'm not just here to prevent attacks, but to cover all eventualities" Ralph explained. Anyway after the show the star contacted her manager and told him she wanted Ralph on a forthcoming tour of America. Ralph phoned Nick in gratitude and told him that just having that kit had secured him a tour, and he went on to be a permanent personal BG to the star.
What this story illustrates is the importance of the right equipment for the job in hand. In this article we will examine the items normally carried by working BGs in their daily duties. We can divide the necessary kit into three levels:
RESERVE/SPARE (to top up any items)
In this first article we will discuss personal "first line" kit, that is, items carried on the body. Later articles will look at the special Team Kits which are available.

The first problem with the carriage of various items is that the BG is usually required to look smart and complement the image of the VIP he is protecting. Wearing a smartly tailored suit while escorting a Diplomatic figure is little use if your pockets are bulging with kit, so you look like a potato smuggler! I once jokingly suggested to a former member of the SAS Ops Research  Wing that they design a" BG suit" to discreetly contain all of the kit required !

[Suited and booted]

Working in "hot"{in both senses of the word} areas, such as Third World locations, and war zones requires a different type of clothing. Quite often some variation on the classic Banana Republic  vest may be considered. Here the opportunities for carriage of kit is greater,the need for more kit is greater too, due to the operational situation. Swings and roundabouts!

[Evening dress]

The armed BG will be carrying a pistol, spare ammo and a radio on the belt, so it is possible to carry other bits of kit in this way.
The Special Forces principle of having each item serve at least two purposes should be used wherever possible in BG, due to space restrictions.

We won't discuss the carriage of weapons and ammo, which although central items of personal equipment, have been discussed in depth in other articles in this section. Since the above example concerned med-kits we will start there.
At a minimum each BG should carry a FFD [first field dressing] There are several types available.

[Top is a military “shell dressing”. Centre is the more modern Israeli Dressing. Bottom is a compact version of the Israeli]

If you find the large dressing too bulky, then the compact version may fit the bill.
Alongside the FFD a tourniquet should be carried. They have been proven in Iraq/Afghanistan, and are the other component of haemorrhage control.
State of art is the CAT, which can be discreetly tucked away on the belt..

If other med items are to be carried, then a compact pack should be considered.
I put together this pack for individual BG use:

Inside are most of what is needed to treat injuries resulting from an attempted CQA [close-quarter assassination]

There are a number of commercial first aid kits on the market suited to pocket/belt carry. For the individual BG I would recommend the Belt Pack from North American Rescue:

Our good friend Steve showed the class the NAR kits during one of our US courses, and the products are first rate.

Remember, these items are for kit-on-body. The team med-pack has more comprehensive capabilities., and will be discussed in a future article.
For more on this topic checkout this thread

To assist in close-quarter combat it might be useful to have some sort of impact/restraint weapon. One Team Leader I worked with carried an expanding baton up his sleeve, with the idea of poking or striking any attackers.

"A"= Kubotans. I was issued with one on a job, and subsequently took the training course. To be honest, not really worthwhile, expect as a handy way of carrying keys. If you really like the Kubotan, then the mini-maglite is just as useful as a restraint device, plus you can use it for illumination.
"B" is an expandable baton. The one illustrated is formerly East German police issue. A better choice , if you like the concept, would be the American CASCO,  ASP, or, my personal favourite Monadnock MX-18.
"C"= the Dejammer tool. This carries your keys, can be used for restraint/pain compliance, and will additionally clear a variety of revolver and pistol malfunctions. It is even threaded to accept a bore cleaning brush. This slimline aluminium tool was designed by Massad Ayoob, and is available from Monadnock.
"D" is the  Tekko, which our staff designed especially for close protection. Based on an early Okinawan design the Tekko protects the hand while punching with either regular forefist thrusts, or, backfist/hammerfist strikes. It is quite unobtrusive, and even when used is generally unseen. One mate of mine was assigned to a look after Liz Taylor who was attending the grave  of  former husband Richard Burton; and being pestered by paparazzi. I had given my mate a Tekko before he left and he used it with good effect to the solar plexus of a particularly persistent photographer.
"E" & "F" are discussed later.

Some BGs carry flexi-cuffs. Again arrest and restrain are not really the prime task of the BG, but there are times when flexis can be useful. There are several types on the market, including the new "Tuff-tie" which is made of braided cord. I prefer the basic flex-cuff,usually carrying one  inside the circumference of my belt. I find they are good for a number of general tasks, such as where the need to secure kit while travelling, for example, rather than their primary function as a restraint device
With any weapons, or, restraints the laws of the area of operations must be studied and adhered to.


[Marcus Wynne demonstrating body armour on our BG course for the US military]

In crowd scenes, where VIPs are subject to hostile demonstrations etc the BG is wise to pay attention to protective apparel. Steel toecap shoes (to prevent your toes being crushed), shin guards and a groin box can be well worthwhile. Clip on ties are worth considering too, as crowd members seem instinctively drawn to grabbing your tie, and a conventional tie is a garrotte!
Ballistic protection, in the form of concealed body armour is vital. In modern tactical firearms training it is usual to emphasise the importance of cover, but remember in VIP close-protection you are the cover!.  Body armour is vital for BG, if not VIP. Second Chance were the inventors of the armour, and have the proven track record. They are the ones we recommend. A second Chance vest is shown at" "F in the above photo.
The wearing of ballistic eye protection is now universal on most well run ranges, but we suggest that they have a role in BG work too. If you are going to be wearing sun glasses, then they might as well be protective lenses. While in vehicles the driver and at least the front seat BG should wear toughened lenses, tinted for road use. A stone- or a bullet-through the windscreen may miss you but you can be blinded by fragments of the shattered screen.
Shown on the kit photo at “E” are a pair of Gargoyles, which offer superb protection.
Spectacle wearers should have their prescription lenses on toughened glass/polycarbonate. Frames should be titanium and "octopus bands" used to prevent loss of the spectacles in violent action. Spares are essential.

The full size police flashlight (Streamlight/Maglite etc is a great tool, but is usually too big for routine BG carry. The mini-flashlight, however, can be tucked in a pocket and forgotten about...until needed. The state of the art brand is the Surefire which besides being useful for general search tasks, can be co-ordinated with a pistol for low-light shooting.

[Surefire 9P on belt]

[The Surefire E2e is more compact, while still offering brilliant illumination]

A traffic wand exists for flashlights, which has uses for vehicle/helicopter handling at night. Also, some models have an optional fibre optics attachment available which is most useful for BG search of vehicles and accommodation.

Any forms of ID applicable to the area of operations should be carried at all times. This includes passport, agency credentials, weapons permits, driving licences, passes etc. A lapel ID badge may be issued for liaison purposes on large scale jobs.

[At formal functions where all the men wear identical tuxedos I devised this LED lapel pin for the team]

It is general practice for a BG team to be equipped with modern radio transceivers. These are best "body worn" with accessory earpiece/lapel mikes, so as to be of "hands free" operation. Some BGs, including British Police Special Branch and Royalty Protection, carry hand held radios, but this has the dual disadvantage of drawing attention to the bodyguards, and denying the use of one hand in the event of an incident.

[Middle Eastern BG showing the pressle switch on his bodyworn comms]

[Sat phones]

Pager systems and cellular telephones  also play an important  part in BG work.

Prestigious VIP protection discounts the use of a fighting knife, but a pocket knife may be indispensable.
The old stalwart Swiss Army Knife is more than a pocket's a pocket tool kit. Just in the course on normal daily life we find utility in the various blades, screwdrivers, bottle-openers etc. The BG engaged in travel, training and arduous operations finds such a knife vital. When you consider that Cape Buffalo have been  skinned with this knife, you will realise what a formidable tool it is.
My particular Swiss Army knife is the "Champion" model, and besides blades and screwdrivers it has a saw, magnifying glass, scissors and tweezers. The knife is an essential adjunct to the personal medi-kit.
A recent rival to the Swiss is the Leatherman Tool from America. A strong pair of pliers is the main feature of this device. It's a good idea to have both options available and alternate team members can carry either the Leatherman, or, the Swiss Army knife.

[Various useful knives]

Finally, the Spyderco "Clipit" range of folding knives have much utility. I find the "Mariner" model, with serrated edge, especially useful. While devoid of the myriad features of the two pocket tools described above the Clipit nevertheless fulfils a very important role, that of cutting," long, deep and continuous". For possible emergency tasks, such as cutting seat belt harnessing, that  serrated edge is quick, while the lack of a point ensures safety.
Recently, I have found the Spyderco Rescue/Assist to be highly useful.

A notebook is essential to store current information. BGs are fanatic about logging all possible relevant phone numbers, locations, contacts etc. I remember a job where an American client came over with his personal BG. The VIP hired a car and driver on a daily basis. After one excursion the VIP found he had left something he needed in the car, which had departed for the day. There was a phone in the car....the American BG didn't have the number, but the British BG produced his notebook and all was well.
A pocket tape recorder can be useful for logging information when doing a recee of a building, or, more significantly, a route. It is easy for even one man to drive a route and dictate the appropriate points into the mini-tape, for later transcription into a survey report.
The mini-tape doesn't replace the notebook. For fast retrieval of information the notebook is still supreme.
Obviously, current cellphones have audio/video recording capability, which is great for BG work.

The above comprise the main equipment carried "on the body" by working BGs. There are some other items of merit, including:- keys, handkerchief, small map, miniature toothbrush/paste (as found in airline travel kits) and cash/credit card (including coins for telephone/phone-card)
Having the right equipment is only a part of being a BG, but it is an important part. It is a sign of the professional, and, who knows, it may just "earn your Rolex" one day.

Check Six,
Dennis Martin
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