When I first left the private military contracting world back in 2012, I knew that I gained a wealth of unique experiences, knowledge and wisdom that were invaluable – but I had no idea who would employ me back home in the United States.
After more than a decade of volunteering for the most combat-heavy assignments overseas, I did what many of my peers in similar situations did: I reached out to my peer networks to see what sort of private security jobs were available in *less* austere environments than the ones from which I had just left.
One of my first jobs was to rescue a young woman being held captive by individuals in Central America. The woman’s family in the US feared for their daughter’s life and hired a private firm to rescue her. That company sent me to get the job done.
In fact, I continued to have a string of back-to-back gigs protecting oil and gas executives, top tech executives in Silicon Valley, media and entertainment celebrities, and privately wealthy individuals in the US and abroad.
While it might read like a movie script to some, I, and many handfuls of others like me, repeat jobs like this over and over and the paying clients all have one thing in common: they are ultra-wealthy.
Whether they are private individuals or giant, multi-national corporations, when it comes to physical security, these folks are calling in the best they possibly can. We’re not talking about the kinds of security guards you see roving around the mall or the workplace common areas. The types of people being employed to protect the ultra-wealthy are ones you are not noticing at all because they’re blending right in.
Now, it’s not that the ultra-wealthy are the only ones who care or can afford security like this; however, they are more obvious and lucrative targets to bad actors around the world as well as to local criminals.
From petty crimes such as robbery to larger crimes such as terrorism and drug trafficking, the ultra-wealthy are targets to attack or ransom in order to bankroll more crime.
While demand for private security professionals has been on a noticeable rise, I see a particularly sharp uptick for skilled professionals after incidents of terrorism, social unrest, natural disasters, economic disturbances, or even political scandal.
Lessons from the Recent Austin, Texas Bombings
But what about those who can’t afford this type of security? I have good news and bad news: the bad news is that no one is immune to becoming a target of violent crime or terrorism. The good news is that the overwhelming majority of crime can be avoided or mitigated with strong situational awareness.
It is very important to recognize that criminal and terrorist attacks do not materialize out of thin air. More time is required in planning a complex crime like a kidnapping or car bombing versus simple, opportunistic crimes such as theft.
People who understand and practice situational awareness can very often spot a criminal’s planning process as it unfolds and then take appropriate steps to avoid the dangerous situation or prevent it from happening altogether.
Situational awareness is the foundation to effective personal security – and when exercised by large numbers of people, it can also be an important facet of national security.
Take, for example, the recent bombings in Austin, Texas. While law enforcement and government agencies collaborated and shared resources to identify the bomber, it was through the aggregation of observations and evidence gathered by many random citizens that ultimately gave them their leads.
Reducing Your Vulnerability
It may seem as though Americans are more vulnerable now than ever before – and in many ways, this is absolutely true. But one of the greatest contributing factors to our growing vulnerability is due to a growing culture of ignoring or denying that certain threats exist. Ignorance or denial of a threat reduces or eliminates a person’s chances of recognizing a threat; therefore, in order to be situationally aware, it is important to first recognize and come to terms with the fact that threats do exist. Apathy, denial and complacency can be (and often are) deadly.
Our society is becoming more and more conditioned to suppress or deny our own instincts and intuition; however, oftentimes, a person’s subconscious notices subtle signs of danger that the conscious mind has difficulty quantifying or articulating. Many people who are victimized frequently experience such feelings of danger prior to an incident, but choose to ignore them.
Situational awareness is not something that can or should be practiced only by highly trained professionals – it should be practiced by anyone with the will and the discipline to do so.
People can develop their situational awareness abilities by practicing some simple drills. For example, you can consciously tune up your awareness level to a more focused state for short periods of time during the day. Some examples of this can include identifying all the exits when you enter a building, counting the number of people in a restaurant or subway car, or noting which cars take the same turns in traffic. While things like this sound insignificant, employing such simple focused-awareness drills will train a person’s mind to be aware of these things almost subconsciously when the person is in a relaxed state of awareness.
Exercises like this will help you become more familiar with your environment and the dangers that are potentially present there. At a minimum, you will be able to recall details about a person or situation in greater detail when it becomes necessary.
I now run a job board focused on vetting and hiring military and law enforcement veterans for these high-in-demand jobs and it is clear that combat vets are who the ultra-wealthy clients want. But for everyday citizens who care just as much for their own family’s safety, being security-minded and situationally aware will do more good for keeping you and your community safe than anything money can buy.
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ABOUT SILENT PROFESSIONALS
At Silent Professionals, we are a small team of former and current operators who are in operational and/or direct hiring roles within various companies across several major industries; many of us have served with each other in combat at one point or another. While we predominantly have representation in the defense and private security sector, we also have significant representation in the Oil & Gas and Tech sectors. We’re also constantly seeking to expand our network of job hiring decision-makers. We all personally understand that the professional transition is difficult – don’t be afraid to apply for jobs on our job board or sign up for notifications. You can also send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.