Preparation or Paranoia?

Paranoia photo

Preparation or Paranoia?

Is it better to be prepared or paranoid? Can you be over-prepared? Well, it might be more of a matter of perspective. Being paranoid can actually help you identify gaps, it's just easier to assume everyone is a threat. But, some-times being prepared is much easier to maintain than having to be paranoid and unsure that your mitigation rules and procedures will be able to stop an attack in time, or perhaps even before it can realize.

Why does this happen?

Why do we fall into a state of paranoia? Is it really paranoia when we evaluate the state of things in the world we face today? I sort of want to say that the fact we need to barricade ourselves in our own homes should probably tell us that we might be way past the point of paranoia. Of course it would be unhealthy to constantly be in that state. But, how do you move away from paranoia into a state of preparedness? Will you ever really be prepared for everything? Sure, being properly prepared can help reduce strain and stress, and direct more attention to where it is more critically needed. But then what is it you need to be prepared for? The truth is, you simply cannot always be prepared for everything, all the time. I certainly do not want to feel more stressed out on a family trip out to town than actually relaxing for a change. And if you ask any CPO, it gets tiring to be on a constant state of awareness. And although I do stress the importance of awareness, I also need to warn about the dangers of paranoia. I mean, is that six year old really planning to mug me? Or is the over dressed dude with the baseball cap and aggressive stance really just a friendly by-passer in the parking lot?

Will it make a difference?

It's never a bad idea to know what your go-to action should be with possible scenarios you might encounter. It's dangerous to assume that what we train for will be the only reality we will get to face. So, when you are certain of what is going on and what is not, you can overcome the state of paranoia and rather focus on things that require more of your attention and things you can have some form of control over. I do not want you to try and control everything. But make sure you have some form of control, like having a task covered by a team-mate or spouse or outsourcing it. Preparing a detailed risk-assessment will help identify where you need to focus on and what measures need to be trained and perfected more.

Think of it as a type of contact sport

If you want to score, you need to be on the attack. But, often you will need to defend your post as well. Proper, prior preparation will determine how quickly you neutralize the attacking team, regain control and get back on the attack. The reality is you will take some blows. But you can greatly control the outcome of those blows, with blocks and countermeasures.

This is where some of us tend to overdo it and look more like we are moving into a state of paranoia. We carry 3 sets of briefs and plan our routes in such order that we will get the opportunity to use them after we wet ourselves. And while we over plan for the most common things, we neglect to properly align ourselves to the actual threat (that was supposed to be identified with proper risk assessment) and make the one with a greater probability of realizing our main focus. Maybe I could avoid needing three pairs of briefs and identify the threat moving into position. Then I can act on it before it can realize.

Just like our contact sports, we practice different plays beforehand. And we try to stick to them rather than work things out whilst on the field. But if we only focus on our play, we potentially miss what the opposing team might be positioning us to do. So it makes sense that a lot of us tend to lean more to the side of paranoia. We need to have basic plays in our arsenal that are tested and perfected, both for defending and for attacking.

So it gets confusing, right?

It doesn't have to. The key is to identify common plays that you will need to succeed in. In boxing, for example, you might be able to use one block more effectively than another. So use that as your basis, as your go-to block. Something you can always rely on to keep you in the fight, no matter what the opponent throws at you. And perfect it. But never stop there, that specific block might be in-effective against another type of martial arts or weapon. So for that reason you need to know what type of opponent you are likely to be facing, and prepare for that. Think about the whole "never bring a knife to a gunfight" type of scenario. Whenever I get into a self-defense training type of talk with someone, I always coin what Bruce Lee taught the world: Focus on a handful of things you can master and execute with perfection, rather than try and learn every move. This eliminates the probability of your mind getting cluttered and possibly creating a delayed response, which we all know in our environment could prove fatal! Focus on, for example, five things, create the neural pathways, and hone them in. And when you need to act, your options are limited to just those five, thus reducing your reaction time. Think about the fight/flight/freeze response again.

Whenever I have no idea what to do with specific information. I pass it on to another teammate or outsource it completely. Like having someone to do some background check or research on a specific name or company etc. This might give you a better idea of what to look out for while on the task and what to pay more attention to. You do not want to be on a task and having to spend more attention on every little person and thing around you and not have much attention span left to focus on the actual threat determined by your preparation tactics (pre-determined threats). So while on the task, your mind will not need to wander all over the show and start questioning things that could have been mitigated before-hand.

If you want to know if you are over-prepared, ask a colleague to review some things for you. Doing this, helps you get more professional insight and, the colleague might identify some spaces you do lack in and help identify sectors you tend to overdo. Who knows, maybe that just might shed some weight from your tasking. Or perhaps it helps indicate something you might have missed initially?

When you operate in a team environment, everyone must be aligned. Why should each member plan their luggage when one or just a few more extra hands can manage and transport kits and or equipment? Or you might want to make sure you mention your concerns to the team, no matter how ridiculous it may sound. You never know how the risk that you're thinking of, is being mitigated by another member if you never ask.

Conclusion

Do what you are tasked to do and do it well! Only then can you improve on less-likely sectors that can be improved or perhaps cut out completely. Like having to carry a first-aid kit on your person, but you spend most of your day inside a vehicle or office space. So you can rather have a more sophisticated kit stashed at one of these locations or in the vehicle for example. I sincerely hope this was more informative than confusing, and if you feel that you still don't grasp it yet, comment below or drop me an email and I'll get back to you with more insight.

Interested to learn more? See the following links:

Principal profiling

Physical security threat assessment

Fight/Flight/Freeze

Awareness training

Action plan

Security when driving

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Security when driving

One would think that a simple act like daily driving will be an easy task. Yet that's not true, so many lives are lost on the roads, mostly due to negligence or bad behavior. I surely don't need to hit you with any statistics now, but if you want, just google road accidents in your area. You might be surprised, or you could be living in one of those far-away places where cars are somewhat prohibited and not have this problem at all.

Basic driving methods

If you follow any sports, you would know each team has an offensive and defensive play. Meaning, they can defend their goal lines and also attack other teams' goal lines. During the game though, they have to utilize both methods if they want to win. Driving does not place as much effort on offense as a sports team would, but defensive driving is the basis you work from. I don't know about you, but I would rather be driving peacefully than trying to push for every gap I can find or have to force my way through each stop sign because everyone else on the road is driving offensively. So defensive driving can be seen as recognizing and reacting to any situations you might face when driving. And, with offensive driving, you would be trying to force others to react to your actions, which would more likely lead to accidents.

I would say you need to use both methods, as required. Sometimes gunning it to pass an idiot who seems to be intoxicated or a danger to others on the road is a better bet than having to try and react to his every move. I've seen some pretty weird things people get up to under the influence and driving, such as taking a nap in the middle of a busy intersection for example, or being overly aggressive for no apparent reason and trying to pull attention to themselves, without considering other drivers safety. It's your job to figure out when its necessary to be more aggressive and keep a vehicle from passing or staying in front of you.

A few tips to follow when driving

  • Always have a plan - Know where it is you are going and exactly what route you will take, and let someone else know you are driving and have arrived.
  • Always check your vehicle - Need I say maintenance is important? you want your vehicle in the best condition it can be.
  • Have the right emergency tools and equipment available in your vehicle.
  • ALWAYS have a medical kit in the vehicle.
  • On long trips, pack snacks and water, you never know when you will be left on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, with hours before assistance arrives.
  • Carry your cellphone on your belt/inside your pocket - when you get into an accident, you need to be able to access it with ease!
  • Set speed dials on your phone, The last thing you need to try and remember after an accident is a 10 digit or longer number!
  • Be vigilant! Check your surroundings and utilize the OODA Loop!
  • Leave efficient space between your vehicle and everything else, including other vehicles, buildings, and paving.
  • Place an old phone and empty wallet somewhere on the dash, just in case an armed robber demands your phone and wallet at a traffic stop. (The real one should be on your person).
  • Keep your vehicle clean and have nothing loose lying around! It will make things worse in an accident.
  • Wear your damned seat-belt! One exception, if you're pulling up to a shop/gas station or pulling from your drive-way, you don't want the belt in the way if you need to get out quickly to face a threat. Especially true in multi-level parking.
  • If you EDC, Have it on your person! You do not want to be pulled from your vehicle and when you have the opportunity to draw, not have it on you!
  • Probably pointless to repeat to most people, but keep to the road rules! These rules were created to prevent as many accidents as possible anyway!
  • Know who to call when you have a breakdown
  • Know where the nearest police station and hospitals are along your route.
  • Utilize technology - Google maps, for instance, provides great real-time traffic feedback and possible problems on the road.
  • When getting out to open a gate in the dark, switch off your headlights, this enables your eyes to scan behind the vehicle and down the road.
  • Do not pull into your driveway before the gate opens, the last thing you want is to be parked in. Wait for the gate to open, then only start pulling in.

That's it for now

I can go on and on. But it's better to be tackling one subject at a time and in relevance. Driving is the most dangerous activity for any security detail as it presents many more threats and inconsistencies than other activities. It should be taken much more serious than just the normal act of driving, whether you are part of a security detail or not. It is also a very draining activity, even though you are seated for the whole trip. So plan accordingly and make sure you stretch those legs and keep the energy levels high.

Anything you would like to question or add to the list? Drop a comment below or email me @ alphadefense1@gmail.com

Also: Download this pre-use inspection list for your next trip.

Look out for future posts on driving.