Thursday, February 29, 2024

The frog in boiling water, a silent threat in Executive Protection

The frog in boiling water, a silent threat in Executive Protection
Photo Credit: Jaroslaw Muron via iStock

In a discussion with Hussein Nasser Eddin, an expert in security and the CEO of Crownox, a company dedicated to providing solutions for mitigating risks, he provided insight into his viewpoint on the distinct challenges within close protection. Crownox, initially established in the Middle East and Africa, has progressively extended its activities to achieve a worldwide presence.

“The tale or myth of the frog in boiling water posits that when a frog is placed directly into boiling water, it will instinctively leap out to escape the danger. However, if the frog is placed in water at a mild temperature and the heat is incrementally increased, the frog will continually adapt to the gradually rising temperature until it ultimately succumbs as the water reaches a boiling point. Irrespective of the factual accuracy of this anecdote, it vividly illustrates a genuine phenomenon: the tendency to adapt to evolving circumstances, particularly when changes occur gradually over an extended duration.

In my perspective, while acclimation is an inherent evolutionary survival mechanism, it carries inherent risks. Across diverse domains such as business, politics, warfare, security, and our daily lives, failure to discern the subtle escalation of challenges can be dangerous. It is the subtle shifts in the environment that can prove as lethal as sudden crises”.

Nasser Eddin continued: “In the realm of security, a series of seemingly minor alterations or errors, though they might be dismissed or overlooked, possess the potential to dismantle an entire operation, imperiling the safety of all involved. Allow me to address a few specific concerns that have garnered my attention:

1. Local Familiarity: Many of our team members hail from the countries in which we conduct our operations, with some even residing in the very neighborhoods we visit. While having a local team member can undoubtedly be an asset, offering valuable insights, it’s crucial to acknowledge that their familiarity with the location and community might lead them to inadvertently overlook or underestimate certain circumstances. It is imperative to recognize that, irrespective of the country’s context and the team’s collective knowledge, adhering to standard procedures is an unwavering necessity. 

Coming from a conflict zone myself, specifically Jerusalem, I’ve learned that what I might consider routine or benign could, in fact, pose a potential security risk. Even areas I navigate with ease may not be secure when working with high-profile clients. The most effective way to mitigate these risks is to follow the team leader’s guidance, obey directives, and institute a comprehensive plan that mandates strict adherence to standard operating procedures by all team members involved.

2. Breaking the ice and allowing excessive familiarity with service providers in your vicinity, including logistics staff, hotel personnel, waitstaff, and any third-party individuals with whom you interact, can pose a significant risk. Security personnel often project an austere demeanor to those in their proximity, and it’s imperative that we maintain a degree of distance and professionalism. This is essential to safeguard our principal’s security, ensure our team remains focused, and maintain strict adherence to time-sensitive protocols.

It’s crucial to recognize that any of these factors, when compromised, could lead to a mission’s failure. Yet, the real danger is when all these problems happen together, making it all the more essential to uphold a disciplined approach at all times.

3. Subtle indicators of potential operational shortcomings. It’s quite easy to dismiss a minor five-minute delay when you have a 30-minute buffer or overlook the untidiness of a team member who operates behind the scenes. Similarly, a discreet display of disagreement towards the team lead in the presence of your client, as long as it goes unnoticed, is another example among many more. These occurrences are more frequent than we may realize unless we diligently monitor such behaviors.

However, these seemingly insignificant occurrences can snowball into operational failures, leading to insubordination and fostering individualism within the team. It’s imperative to instill in your team the understanding that these “minor” expectations are fundamental to their roles. Never hesitate to address these issues through reprimands, removals, or even terminations, as they often signify more profound problems that demand immediate investigation and resolution.

4. Staying alert to subtle shifts in your surroundings. Threats can range from minor inconveniences to potentially life-threatening situations, but every threat exhibits several warning signs that should be identified in advance. Some of these changes may be subtle, gradual, and potentially undetectable. I counsel my team to rely on their instincts, emphasizing that even the most minor alterations should be treated with seriousness, thoroughly assessed, and promptly reported”.

“While striving for excellence, it is imperative to continually scrutinize every aspect of one’s work and life in the context of the overarching goal. This practice prevents complacency and ensures that even the slightest, potentially obstructive changes are not overlooked, thus safeguarding ongoing progress and personal growth”, Hussein concluded.

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