Route Mapping for Executive Protection Professionals by SECFOR 360

Route Mapping for Executive Protection Professionals

One of the most important skills you will learn if you travel to high risk regions

Why route mapping...?

Newcomers to the industry will soon find that they will spend a good part of their time in the planning phase. In the age of smartphone navigation, trackers and GPS, why would anyone need to put together a hard map of their routes? Since I mainly run protective details in high threat areas, I found out quickly that all the electronics in the world might not allow me to quickly find my next safe zone and medical asset when the time comes. I need to have a clear vision of where I am at all times, and be able to see my next safe-haven or hospital and all routes to get to these points without having to do a search on a smart phone or GPS.

See course Syllabus here

Additionally, while working in Haiti, our electronic navigation devices were constantly running us into make-shift burning-tire roadblocks. We already knew how to route around these obstacles because we were using our prepared hard maps that allowed us to identify key landmarks on the ground and route around problem areas. We do use electronic devices, but always have that hard map open in the right front seat and use that in conjunction. 
When using electronic devices and mapping platforms in conjunction with your hard maps, which systems are readily available and can be shared and edited between team members? What is a quick and easy way to layer the map with hospitals, safe-havens and multiple routes, as well as how to change things up when on the ground doing my advance work so that the entire team gets real time information...These are some of the things we will not just go over but teach you how to accomplish for your next detail. 

As far as hard maps go, here are some other reasons we map all of our details:
  • Battery Issues on Electronic devices
  • Poor GPS signal
  • Grid down scenario
  • Remote areas without data
  • No offline electronic mapping 
  • You are using your phone to nav....and you need to use your phone
  • Limited view on electronic devices
  • Hard maps allow me to match landmarks on the ground
  • Protection Teams have been killed because of lack of hard maps
  • A dot or arrow on an electronic screen does not get you to safety
Years ago I decided to prepare map books for my teams in Iraq after 4 contractors were ambushed, strung up from bridges and lit on fire, due largely to a navigation issue. They were not able to procure good hard maps, so they accepted directions from a local element who most likely set the team up. When I was informed that there were no maps of Iraq (2004 timeline), I started looking around and found the Humanitarian Information Center (HIC), Iraq. They had every small village mapped out on hard maps and electronically. I grabbed everything I could and went to work. You will not need the HIC to build your maps, we will show you how we do this with common open-source information that practically everyone has access to.

Years later, while working full time in Mexico these maps became life savers as well, and I developed a system to teach others how to quickly put these maps together, and how simple it was to use them. Since those days, I have used this system on all high threat details, and when I drive out of an airport with no phone signal; and the GPS is having a hard time acquiring signal, no worries, I have my map book open on my lap, know exactly where we are, and what are next landmark is bringing us into the next phase-line.

I have been teaching this for years during our 7-week Protective Security program, and can literally teach the exact same course to you online. Complete with testing and grading your route maps. This will be optional, but, to get our certificate, you will be tasked with completing 4 route maps. At SECFOR, we do not hand out feel-good certificates, you will have to earn it. We will measure your work against a set of standards I have developed, and once you meet or exceed these standards, you will receive our certificate showing employers that you can map routes.

Two parting thoughts:
1) We at SECFOR work high-threat international locations almost exclusively (with exception of some recent civil security issues where we staffed numerous details in Los Angeles and other metro areas). When running a dozen international details simultaneously, we sometimes need to look outside our circles to find qualified personnel to support our protective details. I will almost always pose a scenario question to the otherwise qualified applicant, and very rarely during these interviews do I hear that anyone bring up mapping. We will also explain during the course, what the correct answer is when posed with a scenario question about taking a businessman from El Paso, Texas to Juarez, Mexico (I use that one frequently)

2) This system is set up to be used with any computer equipment, I myself use a 15 inch laptop and the touch pad. In class we supplied students with 17 inch laptops with a mouse to get used to the system, and Mac or PC users will be able to use the same system. I wanted to devise this system so that, worst case scenario, and EP agent whose computer went down, could go into the business center of the hotel and complete one of these maps. Let us know if you have any questions, and put your email in the box below to receive word as soon as we launch a course (and also when we put out free content)

Course launch
This course will launch soon. The program will contain 4 hours of instruction and demonstration and an additional 4 to 6 hours of mapping assignments. With 8 to 10 hours of course-work, our goal was to put out a formal course of instruction and not just a 30 minute tips-and-trick video. When you complete one of our courses, you will have knowledge and/or skills to integrate into your protective details immediately.