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Understanding the Life of a Bodyguard by Derek Smith

I spent many years as a bodyguard in the military and as a civilian agent. During that time, I was able to meet and guard such principals as Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Costner, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Hillary Clinton, and Norman Schwarzkopf.

As a bodyguard, your duty is to protect the hiring authority, an individual, or his or her family. We call these people Principals. You can be hired either through private bodyguard agencies or you can be a government-appointed agent as I was. The persons who usually hire bodyguards from different bodyguard companies are those who are famous and wealthy or have received threats for assault or kidnapping and thus need bodyguard protection. Mostly, a bodyguard agency or bodyguard company is contacted for bodyguard protection by celebrities like sport and movie stars, etc. whereas prominent public personalities like politicians and government officials are protected by government agents.

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Who Needs Bodyguards?

Public Figures usually have higher risks. For these high-risk individuals, several bodyguards are employed for protection and in most cases where lower risks are involved, a single bodyguard might serve as a driver and bodyguard.

Bodyguards, during their duties, must fend off stalkers, or violent fans and keep them from attacking and harming their principal. The bodyguard company that employs you (unless you work for yourself) will often decide how you should be armed for the protection of the client. This is usually based on the laws in the concerned jurisdictions. The bodyguard will usually be trained to use various types of arms, such as pistols, shotguns, machine guns, pepper spray, batons, knives, and their hands. This is the same for government bodyguards. I was allowed to use automatic pistols and mini-submachine guns for the protection of my principals.

What Does a Bodyguard’s Job Entail?

Being a bodyguard is not an easy job, and most bodyguard companies will explain the hazards of the job before hiring you and ensure that best practices are adhered to for their clients. They often depend on referrals so they will ensure that the client’s needs are considered and they get the best customer service.

The work requires that you be ever vigilant to ensure the client’s safety always. To accomplish this, the bodyguard will examine premises where the client will arrive, check the entrances, identify loopholes in security and implement measures to avoid them and check out the staff. This is called performing an “advance.” Bodyguards who double as drivers need to have evasive driving skills that will allow them to evade attacks if they need to. Most bodyguard companies will seek to hire trained guards who are vigilant and can react quickly and calmly to threatening situations.

If you happen to be working with a group of bodyguards, the bodyguard agency will assign different roles to different bodyguards. For example, some specialize in screening and controlling the crowd, and some specialize in searching for bombs or explosives or weapons, whereas others might simply serve as protective escorts. Whatever the role, the bodyguard will be trained in armed and unarmed combat techniques, first aid and evasive driving.

Some bodyguard companies also offer services where they assess risk and analyze weaknesses in the security provided by other agencies to clients. This is usually called a risk assessment or an operations security (OpSec) survey. The goal is to ensure that the client’s security is always up to par and that the client gets an expert second opinion. Sometimes different bodyguard companies work together to provide seamless protection for the client.

A Bodyguard Job is 24X7

Bodyguards have a lot of responsibility, and their work requires them to work for long shifts regardless of the day of the week, be it a weekday or weekend. The client mostly requires protection 24X7 and therefore, work shifts can be for varying durations and at different time intervals in a day and even on holidays. Again, since the job of the bodyguard is to guard the client, that duty is not limited to any specific location or city and the bodyguard has to accompany the client everywhere ranging from the office or meetings to public places or social events. The bodyguard will travel the world if the client is some foreign minister or needs to travel extensively for business.

The bodyguard had to be talented with good reflexes and be a good team player as well. He or should will have to coordinate activities with teammates to ensure assigned tasks are expertly executed because lives may depend on it. However, at the same time, he has to be capable of adapting to act independently if such a need arises.

Must-Haves for A Bodyguard

The job of a bodyguard is not easy due to such stresses as travel, long hours, and having responsibility for protecting the life of important people and their families. Therefore, they must be able to gauge the emergency of a situation quickly, make quick and accurate decisions, act on those decisions, convey the same to others clearly and promptly and always be in control of the situation. They must also be able to communicate well. The guard must stay calm and rational because the client might tense up when an attack occurs. This is when the bodyguard will swing into action and do what he has been trained to do.

The guard usually knows a lot about his or her clients, and there have been many incidents where bodyguards or employees have revealed confidential information concerning their clients to media or other individuals. This should be avoided since the client has the right to privacy; you don’t want to lose your job or reputation due to a slipup. Your agency will likely have you sign a non-disclosure agreement to ensure you will maintain the client’s confidentiality and not disclose it except under unavoidable circumstances.

Finally, the bodyguard must be willing to put his client’s life before his own. That is part of the job and reflects the commitment required in this profession

I hope that this gives you a little insight into what it takes to be a bodyguard, whether you are just curious or seeking to start a new and exciting profession.

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