In Close Protection, Conflict Management



An essential core skill required when carrying out the duties of a Close Protection Operative is being able to recognise and deal with potential conflict situations. Conflict Management sits as part of the recognised SIA Close Protection course syllabus but the importance of this element of training is sometimes overlooked in favour of more appealing subjects such as emergency response procedures.

Without doubt the best way to protect a Principal in general terms is to be able to recognise conflict situations and remove them from any threat from the outset. If this becomes impossible then being able to control emotional responses becomes essential in order to have any chance of controlling or regaining control of any given situation.

How Do We Control Emotional Responses?

The very first thing to understand is that WE WILL have emotional responses!! We are humans and primitive responses are part of us!!

Understanding and recognition of what is taking place within you and any potential attacker is the first step towards resolution and ultimately safety of the Principal and possibly fellow members of the Close Protection team.

The key point is that unless you can maintain an ability to stay in control of yourself you will lose the ability to control the situation. This ‘self-control’ must be maintained despite the primitive responses of a two and half million year old ‘chimp’ sending you into a fight or flight response.

When dealing with an individual who may be aggressive or potentially violent we must also be aware that our actions could act as a catalyst and only serve to further inflame a situation. Taking control of our own responses is very different from just reacting to the other person’s actions!

Chimp Mentality

Primitive Fight or Flight responses are something most people have at some point in time been made aware of (possibly through a Close Protection training programme!).

The very simple fact that we are animals and we do have a primitive structure to certain parts of the brain is something that despite being widely understood is very often neglected.

Dr Steven Peters has shown this to great effect in the sporting world and through his book the Chimp Paradox where he centres on the simple message that we are not alone in our own heads! Dr Peters has worked very successfully with top level athletes including the UK Cycling team, Premiership footballers, World Champion snooker players etc. by reducing their primitive responses in times of heightened stress. This reduction in response really comes from a basic understanding that the chimp is there within all of us and will react to threats and feelings of insecurity.

The next stage is to ‘work with’ these responses so that they work for us rather than against us (this will be discussed in further detail throughout 3rg’s Close Protection Conflict Management blog series).

In Close Protection tasking the reality, even when operating in hostile environments, is that 95% of the time daily drills and procedures will be followed with no immediate threats materialising. The Close Protection team should be operating with awareness and anticipation but threats may still come from an unknown source and when least expected.

It is in these cases that the training of personnel and planned team drills should come to the forefront but ALL personnel will now be operating in a heightened emotional and physical response level.

Each Close Protection team member will have their own perception of events and will be reacting accordingly but for a truly effective response and outcome it essential control (personal and professional) is maintained.

In our next blog we will be discussing in more detail the Chimp response and coping strategies………… 

Richard Mann has taught Conflict Management/Personal Protection skills and principles as part of 3rg’s Close Protection course syllabus and on behalf of UKSF/military and law enforcement personnel.

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