People Not Systems!

Captive Audience Prevention Training and Recovery Team was asked yesterday what makes us different than the big Goliath security companies and their approaches to countering kidnapping for ransom, extortion, and terrorism. Our response was very simple, “We focus on people and not systems”. One of the Special Forces imperatives that I learned was that humans are more important than hardware. I have seen over and over again, that when you operate in the human domain, relationships, education, training, and dynamics matter.

Kidnappers, traffickers, criminals, and terrorists thrive and succeed where people are untrained and unprepared. Many people we talk to often tell us that they are afraid of seeking training like ours because they are afraid of becoming paranoid. The fear of knowing that bad people are out there and how to avoid becoming a statistic, makes the bad guy’s jobs easier. In a sense, learned helplessness has permeated our everyday society by making it taboo to talk about preventing kidnappings, trafficking, criminal, and terrorist activity, because it is scary.

I often tell our friends that the training we provide will not make them paranoid, but instead, will make them safer. Our focus is on people, and empowerment. One of the best examples of a society of trained and prepared people, is Israel. Israeli citizens are trained to be vigilant from an early age. The vigilance is not paranoia, but a learned state of mind. We call it knowing the baseline, or knowing what right looks like. Paratroopers who aspire to be jump masters, spend entire days learning how to inspect a perfectly rigged parachute. Student jump masters become incredibly proficient in knowing what a perfect parachute looks like and, when deficiencies are suddenly thrown into the parachute, the students see them right away. Knowing the baseline and being empowered with knowledge makes us all safer, just as with student jump masters.

Many of our competitors focus on selling hardware and skimp on empowering their clients. In a systems based business, businesses make money every time the app, beacon, alarm, or widget is used and they make money from the service they provide. The answer is seldom empowerment of the person buying the service with more knowledge but instead selling another widget, app, alarm, or beacon. The problem is that systems also create learned helplessness when not backed up by knowledge. Special Forces soldiers are required to learn how to navigate over long distances with map and compass. Land Navigation training is done over and over again and refreshed repeatedly. Many argue that this is less necessary than ever because of GPS technology and the prevalence of GPS systems on our phones, computers, cars, and watches. The sad reality is that GPSs have failed me at the worst times and I have had to go back to the basic skill of map reading. The result is nine safe tours to Iraq and Afghanistan and returning to write this blog post.

As we continue to discuss themes like the shock of capture, learned helplessness, critical thinking, and survival, I need to add that empowerment and vigilance becomes a state of mind, and brings calm. It is up to all of us to learn to be vigilant instead of complacent, in order to prevent our systems from failing. If we all learned how to recognize and prevent kidnapping, trafficking, extortion, crime, and terrorism, imagine the impact we could make and the peace of mind we would have. At the end of the day, it is learned helplessness that allows perpetrators to be successful, and it is learned helplessness that forces victims to remain under their control.

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