Attacks That Have Changed the Way We Work and Train

One of the advantages of age – and so far, the only advantage I have found – is that I have been a witness to some of the events that changed the way the industry works and trains. These were “game-changing incidents”–vehicle attacks that rewrote the rules for close protection and security driving.

The two watershed events were the ambush and eventual assassination of Aldo Moro and Hans Martin Schleyer. These two vehicle attacks happened in the late 70s, approximately six months apart. Before these two events, security practitioners were having a hard time convincing management that moving from point A to point B in a vehicle was a problem that needed some attention. In the late 70s, the EP and security driving training businesses were in their infancy. Unlike the modern environment, where the phrase “security driver and secure transportation” is used by many as a marketing term, in the 70s, you could count the number of companies supplying those services on one hand, minus some fingers.

During that period, a comment I heard many times from executives was, “The terrorists aren’t organized. After all, we’re dealing with unsophisticated rabble.” In their eyes, the solution was to put a guy with a gun next to the driver, and maybe guys with more guns in a vehicle following the boss. Problem solved.

Moro and Schleyer got everyone’s attention because they had what was considered at the time to be good and effective “protection.” But they were still kidnapped, and their bodyguard teams were eliminated rather easily. These two vehicle attacks, although decades old, shaped what we do; they were the catalyst for creating an industry. It got the C Suite management thinking that maybe we needed to look at things differently.

After many meetings and forensic analyses of the events, these were some of the conclusions:

  • Terrorists plan what they do.
  • Having guys with guns do not solve the problem – it creates a different problem.
  • Because you’re a good cop doesn’t mean you’re a good bodyguard!
  • Armored cars are worth the expense.
  • The protection team is expendable.

During the next thirty-five years, there have been many other events that were skill-setting events.

  • Alfred Herrhausen – Germany
  • Sidney Reso – New Jersey
  • Butler – Colombia

This is my shortlist; what events would you add?

You can view the Moro and Schleyer events on the ISDA YouTube channel. If you have an interest in secure transportation, we suggest subscribing to the channel.

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