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You are next on deck

Dave croppedEarlier this month I took one of my full-time employees on his first overseas trip which I new would change his perspective of the industry and his daily responsibilities on many levels.  Dave Bohlman has been working for me for approximately three (3) years as my Detail Leader for the residential detail of one of my clients.  I told Dave and the other specialists on this detail that there would come a time when they would get the “tap” to travel and support me abroad.  I gave Dave that “tap” late April, early May.

Not to slow my preparation process I kept Dave abreast of every procedure that I used to prepare for our arrival days before “wheels down” of the principal.  I also told instructed him in the “dance” that had to be conducted between the event planners and the corporate security that they had employed to support the four (4) visit.  That is an entire blog in and of itself and I won’t get into the weeds with that in this blog but there are a myriad of lessons to be garnered by all when placed in that mix.  This blog, like the many others, is an opportunity for Dave to give his personal experience on his maiden voyage.  What Dave either forgot or decided to leave out were moments when there were minor problems that needed to be solved outside of the executive protection realm but smack DAB in the middle of Value to Client of the BPI Security’s “Top 10 secrets to building client relationships” paper I wrote

 

European Immersion

 

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win” 
― 
Sun TzuThe Art of War

 

After recently returning from my first professional executive protection experience over seas with Eric Konohia I felt it was necessary to reflect on the preparation, experience, mentoring, and post event effects of the assignment.

 

Preparation Phase:

Upon being notified of a planned 3 day, high-profile, protection event at a European destination, I immediately shifted into a pre-event mode of ground research of potential cultural and political pulses of the region. Eric assured me that all the proper planning was in the works on his end and that the routine of U.S. Embassy contacts and ground contacts were being made – which of course with Eric was executed flawlessly.  With that I too reached out to regional and international contacts I had made through my former FBI National Academy colleagues for any additional ground information that may prove helpful.

 

Not having any experience with the culture, foreign language, or the increased threat levels at the foreign location, left me both excited and anxious to engage in the opportunity head on. Planning, research, intelligence gathering, and pre-event itinerary analysis were all key to the preparation phase. As the travel date neared I was informed that I would arrive and meet Eric at the destination days ahead of the principal’s arrival so that the advance work could be completed at the event sites. Now it was time to make sure that I was personally prepared to travel by making sure my own affairs were in order regarding international mobile phone adjustments, credit card notification of international travel, documents, and backup supplies of equipment needed for the detail.

 

Arrival and Advance Phase:

Upon my overseas arrival at the destination my transformation from pre-planning to complete assignment engagement immediately took effect. There was no time to waste as my flight had been delayed and Eric, and the other event coordinators and security personnel, were awaiting my arrival to begin the visit of the different event venues.  It was the advance of the sites that really showed the training, experience and the vast knowledge Eric possesses in his expertise in executive protection.  It was a unique exercise to look at venues from the perspective of the event coordinator and then to step back and look at each event from a 360-degree executive protection standpoint.  Through the eyes of an event coordinator everything will go as planned, the fans will be happy, the crowds will be controlled and contained, and the arrival and departure of the client will go off just as scripted. However, under the microscope of an EP professional lies the unknown and the unpredictable variables. It was clearly evident through the advance of the venues that much work had gone into the planning and preparation of each site while carefully considering event security. However, general security of an event and the protection of a high profile individual are many times in conflict with each other. Needless to say that as a result of the analysis and scrutiny of the event sites several adjustments were made at each of the venues.

 

Action – Ready Go!

No time to waste, wheels down and an action-packed, robust itinerary is dead ahead. It’s go time!!!  Plan of action in place, personnel expectations and assignments made, and everyone on the detail is onboard.  The events attended over the next several days, both on and off the itinerary, resulted in long days, long nights, and required mental fortitude to remain focused and hyper-vigilant.  That’s not to say that adjustments didn’t have to be made in the moment, or that there were not some elements that may have been partly attributed to this event being in a European location. I personally observed a difference in behavior from domestic crowds, as these fans and media tended to be more aggressive and unrelenting in their desperation to get close to the Principal.  At times even some of the very people charged with assisting with crowds, such as police and other private security entities, lost their focus and seemed awestruck with the Principal’s presence.  Fortunately Eric saw the signs of some of the lapses in personnel focus and made the necessary adjustments for the success and protection of the principal.  Everyone knew what was expected from the different security layers, but on the go reminders to some personnel to remain focused was an occasional necessity.

 

That’s a Wrap!

At the end of the weekend, when the principal went wheels up, there was a physical and mental wave that came over me that unknowingly sent a signal that the detail was coming to a close. With that my body and mind made the closure connection and I started to come down off the rush of adrenaline that kept pushing me through the weekend. Almost like a battery that was a maximum power for a period of time, now my body internally knew it could go into a power save mode. I guess the industry terminology used is referred to as an “adrenaline dump.” I can’t think of a better way to describe the physical effects that occur with the conclusion of a detail such as this.

 

At the end of the weekend the European visit was a success for the client, the brand, and the event venues.  As with anything in most professions, proper planning and relentless follow through are keys to success. This European executive protection detail was no exception to that rule. Had it not been for the pre-detail preparation, the critical eye during the advance of the venues, and the anticipation of some of the bumps in the road, the visit as a whole may not have been able to be celebrated as it can be now.  I can only thank Eric Konohia for the opportunity to stand beside him and personally witness him perform his duties with precision as he continued to set the benchmark at the highest standard for executive protection professionals.

 

David J. Bohlman

5 comments

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  1. Scott De Atley

    Great job David! Having had you as my mentor for several years in Law Enforcement, and reading your comments regarding Eric’s mentoring further excites me about the possibility of pursuing a similar position with BPI. Great job guys!

  2. Mike G.

    Sign me up for some advance planning trips if you expand on this in the future.

  3. Jeff Sprauer

    Great artical Dave. Glad to see you thrive after JPD.

  4. Sally Saulitis

    I am very proud of the man you are!

  5. Steve McNally

    I found this article to be drafted in a clear and concise manner. This article thoroughly describes the challenges involved with providing protection to high profile clients in an unfamiliar and constantly evolving environment.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences Dave.

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