Protective service operations are of the utmost importance when considering the impact that leadership and those who are being protected have upon the environment. The sacrifices made by secret service agents demonstrate the essence of teamwork, faith and dedication to the American way. Protective operations are complex however, and require some in-depth study to truly appreciate these practices that contribute to the general good.
The purpose of this essay is to explain the conducting of a protective service operation for an employee who is at high risk for targeting. This essay will describe in detail the specific 3 phases that are necessary to be successful in this procedure. The essay will first discuss phase I which includes the research, reconnaissance and counter surveillance operations contained in protective operations. Phase II will then be discussed which focuses on the planning aspect of the operation. Execution is the third phase of these operations and will be discussed before concluding this essay. The specific elements in each phase will be discussed and applied to the idea that each portion is of extreme importance and when combined in an operational concept, can deliver success and safety in a very reliable manner.
The first step in any protective operation is research. The situation at hand must be learned about in the most significant manner. Research is about gathering facts and information that is pertinent to the task at hand. Research requires a team effort, with individuals contributing in ways that can best benefit the team. When gathering facts during this stage of Phase I, emotion should be minimized and a fact-finding attitude will serve best. Research includes gathering facts about the terrain, weather and enemy situation.
When conducting research it is useful to understand the situation for the time that the high level employee will be exposed to danger. Research may be conducted in many different places and a variety of resources should be used to gather a consensus to the problem. Many times, things are taken for granted and facts are assumed. During the research portion of this phase it is important to keep an open mind and investigate ideas and qualities that are not obvious.
Since research is the first step in all of the phases, it is of high importance to get off to a good start and provide a solid base of information that will be used and built upon the following stages of the operation. Poor research can be devastating to the operation and the risk will skyrocket. Quality in research is more important than quantity and all sources of information should be vetted to the highest level possible to ensure validity and predictability of the situation. Most important the research involved should answer the questions that operation currently poses. While the answers are important, if the wrong questions are being asked, then the answers themselves present little value and may put the entire operation into an unwanted and unnecessary state of peril.
Reconnaissance is the second portion of the Phase I in conducting protective operations. According to the Free Dictionary, reconnaissance is " the operation of gathering information about an enemy." This activity is very important and is at essence an offensive and aggressive act. Gathering intelligence is the main purpose of recon missions in the eventuality of using that information to protect the high level employee. Recon missions can take place in a number of different forms. Map recons are useful because they provide a method to gather intelligence without having to go to the location to scout it out.
It is no doubt preferable for secret service professionals and others working in protective operations to recon the actual ground that the mission will be taking place at. Having eyes on the actual terrain provides a level of information that cannot be gleaned in any other way. Recon missions also involve probing and locating enemy forces that may be threatening the operation. Potential enemy hiding spots, routes of travel and clues of weapons and tactics are all important details that must be gathered if possible on a useful recon mission.
Surveillance / Counter Surveillance
Surveillance and counter surveillance are the final portion of the first phase of protective operations in protecting a high level risk employee. Surveillance is the act of monitoring and watching potential threats to the mission. Surveillance can provide useful and actionable intelligence that agents can use to help develop their plan of defense. Surveillance works best when it goes undetected and the same can be said about counter-surveillance. What is most important in this phase is that deceit and trickery are used to their fullest advantage. In war and conflict, deception is a great tool that must be used to its fullest advantage. Making the enemy believe you are far when you are near, and vice versa, provides the best protection possible. Disinformation is valuable and the ability to control it can make the difference in whether the target will survive or be attacked.
Phase II Planning
Once all the information has been gathered and vetted for quality, a plan may be created to best utilize that information in concert with the available resources. The plan is how a strategy is laid out and should also include some tactical information as well. A plan is only as good as its planners and the ability to provide quality leadership in this stage is invaluable. Honesty and frankness are needed in this stage to help combat some of the human tendencies that promote failure in such cases. Planning must be aggressive and direct. The plan of defense must address specific issues that are specific for the task at hand. While generic plans are useful, they must be tailored to the situation or critical pieces of information may be lacking.
Communication then becomes an extremely important skill set to have when conducting protective operations. A good and solid plan becomes useless if it is not clearly communicated to the professionals designated to work the mission. Written, verbal and listening skills are all important in this phase of the operations. As a plan may be written or verbally transmitted, it is helpful that all key terms and language is fully understood by all members. It is also important for leaders conducting the planning to have an open mind and open ears. Many times leaders' egos may get in the way causing them to ignore key pieces of information that may have came from a subordinate or an unexpected source of information.
The plan should contain a mission statement that reveals an explicit task and purpose. For this plan a mission statement would read: The purpose of this mission is to protect Mr. X from the dangers of travel route Y, in order to guarantee his safety and provide a level of security for those around him. The mission should be simple and understood and recitable by all those in the operation. The mission is the one sole objective that needs to be accomplished and needs to be reinforced as the guiding light for the planning phase.
A well intentioned plan should help the mission in charting a path for achieving the goals of the mission. Current operations need to be considered in addition to the changes to those operations specific to the task at hand. A good plan takes the desired results and works backwards in time to visualize the necessary steps to reach that point. When all resources available are contributing to the situation, this is a good sign that the planning phase has been productive and successful.
Planning is nothing more than team building. Building a cohesive team for a specific mission requires knowing how each and every resource may be added to help contribute to the endgame solution. When a team is properly built, everyone knows their designated role and tasks and how those items work in concert with the other members of the team. A superb protective operations team will know each other's roles and tasks and can substitute if necessary. Planning should also take into consideration points of conflict within the team and should address those items explicitly to help minimize the risks to danger such confusion may oftentimes promote.
According to the U.S. Secret Service Strategic Plan (2008) there are a plethora of resources available that can be used to help create a successful and safe plan. The plan stated "protecting national leaders, visiting heads of state and government, designated sites and National Special Security Events has become more complex with the evolution of conventional and non-conventional weapons and technology. In meeting new challenges, the Secret Service will continue to provide progressive training, devise and implement sound security plans, measures, equipment and systems to ensure the safety of individual, sites and events under Secret Service Protection."
Phase III Execution
Phase III of protective services operations revolves around the idea of executing the plan. A plan is useless unless it is put into practice and by executing the plan,…