In a practical sense who are we most like, USSS or DSS. Survey says…..

20130405-091900.jpgI have been mulling over posting this theory for awhile now and decided to blog it to open the minds of members of the CRAFT regarding who we are similar to in everyday detail operations.  This is in no way to diminish or contradict which official methodology of protection you espouse to, but rather a moment to scratch your head and say, “Hmm.”  Before you begin reading I want to make a disclaimer that in this blog I am making NO reference to superiority of one government agency over the other.  I do make a clear distinction between how we readily admit that we espouse to the methodologies of the United States Secret Service.  Lastly, the references and comparisons that I draw are NOT all inclusive, but are the ones that stand out the most to me from a service provider that has worked in VERY, VERY close proximity of both agencies.

From the onset and early beginnings of executive protection, the model to train to and strive for was, and still remains the United States Secret Service Presidential Protection Division.  In our aim for the highest regard of protection perfection, it has always been the Secret Service model that has been the benchmark of a executive protection specialist.  Even the untrained, with no courses under their belt watch and try to emulate the Service.  I can’t blame them because they do it in poetic fashion.

The other official protection team down the street, whose headquarters resides in the Department of State is the Diplomatic Security Service.  Virtually unknown to most until the wars in the middle east, the DSS has become the brother to protection that was kept a secret.  As Ambassadors and other dignitaries started traveling abroad to represent our government’s interests, the Agents of DSS appeared on the radar screen.

Enter PSD, the son that DSS fathered for overseas security contractors and suddenly we have an official branch of protection that we are directly related to.  To the surprise of many the Department of State has started issuing RFP’s in the mid 90’s BEFORE there was a Blackwater, yet BW is the name associated with the WPPS program and overseas contracting.  The WPPS program was an open door for the private sector of protective services to work under the umbrella of an official government protection entity.  Connection -1.

As I have interacted with members of the USSS and conversations ensue about official protective methodologies, there is always a diminished look upon DSS and protection.  I get that because I had the same outlook on other police departments that weren’t state troopers.  There were Troopers and those other police that wanted to be troopers.  I asked myself why did the members of USSS make fun of DSS.  Is it because the USSS protects the most powerful leader in the free world?  That may be true but DSS agents operate in the most non-permissive environments on the globe.  Is it because of the budget that USSS has to protect POTUS?  That may be true also, BUT DSS does more in non-permissive environments with LESS.  The score is still even in my view, yet we still strive to the USSS model.

I will say this, that in my conversations with USSS agents, the closer I got to PPD the more elitist the behavior.  I guess they have a right to be, but EVERY DSS agent I have interacted with were cordial and interacted like we were all in the same fraternity.

I have seen first hand as 2 DSS agents [that we eventually worked beside] did their site advance and it identical to what I experience.  They waited for the security manager to come to the lobby.  There didn’t seem to be any expediency or urgency in the hotels response to his request for the meeting.  Take that same situation and replace that with a USSS/PPD agent and the General Manager, the Security Manager, Housekeeping manager et al would have been lined up – Parade Rest.

As an industry we have a direct relationship with DSS through the WPPS program, we have none with USSS and there probably never will be one.  DSS agents have looser facial hair regulations, even though the USSS does NOT prohibit beards, there is an “unwritten rule in PPD that only mustaches are allowed.  The current SAIC is not in compliance with the unwritten rule.  I heard from a USSS advance agent that there is a fully bearded agent on VPPD, but I can neither confirm or deny that.

I have had great successes with PPD and DSS where I was allowed to protect two (2) separate principals inside the inner circle of PPD with current and past Presidents.  I have also been very fortunate to work with DSS with one of my clients.  I highly respect both groups and still strive for the pinnacle, always understanding that in a practical sense I work more in the practical realm and treated more like DSS.


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  1. Avery Mitchell

    Great article Eric, I completely understand your correlation from private/civilian sector to DSS as I have lived this traveling around the world to very high risk environments and challenging budgets and resources. My mentors for years have always made sure I understood the DSS way I would call it with so many foreign assignments I did, great article again!

  2. MJ

    Well said and very respectful of both. Two great groups to aspire to be like.

  3. Leon Adams

    Great info as always, Guardian. Points well made.

  4. Loren Johnson

    Great Blog, I agree completely. You laid it out exactly how it is and I’m sure opened a lot of eyes.

  5. Jabir Hazziez, Jr.

    I also agree… well said. Perhaps this should be part of the historical lesson for those embracing the craft and receiving certifiable private EP training. At one time or another they may be fortunate to work with these federal professionals, and or the military/civilian agents with NCIS, OSI, and Army CID in permissive environments stateside.

    Always a pleasure to read your blogs. I have learned a lot.

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