Tackling The Hostile Planning Process

After going over the hostile planning process and reviewing a number of case studies, our next goal is to figure out the vulnerabilities of this process and figure out who can tackle which vulnerability.

At this point, I would like to slightly narrow down the discourse and focus it on the preventative capabilities of security officers. The reason for my doing so is because the hostile planning vulnerabilities that a security officer can detect and exploit are often different from those that law enforcement, military or government agencies can detect and exploit; for various legal and operational reasons. Law enforcement and government agencies have policing, investigative and intelligence gathering capabilities that can span over large geographic areas, whereas security officers are usually dedicated to securing specific properties. Lest it seem that security officers are at a disadvantage here, it is important to point out that beyond their ability to contact law enforcement and government agencies when need be, security officers, by virtue of their dedicated presence at specific properties, usually have unmatched abilities when it comes to detailed visual control over the inner and outer perimeters of the properties in question – which is where a considerable portion of the hostile planning process happens to take place.

What this means is that some steps on the hostile planning process will be more susceptible to disruption by security forces, while other steps will be more susceptible to disruption by law enforcement and government agencies – hence the need to narrow down the discourse and focus on one field at a time.

The reason why this series of articles will focus on the security field, rather than on the law enforcement or government fields, is because my own specific field of expertise happens to be in security. And as I am only qualified to discuss the operational capabilities of security forces, this article, and the subsequent ones to come, will explore the preventative avenues that are open to security officers. This by no means is meant to exclude law enforcement and government agents, but simply to focus the discussion on what is most often the job of security officers.

The place to start is to go back to the hostile planning process and determine which steps in it are the ones that contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by security officers. These steps, as one might expect, are only going to be the ones that call for a hostile planning operative to actually be present in or around the specific property in question.

The following is the hostile planning process with those specific steps marked in all caps:

Initial collection of information

  •   Selection of potential targets.

  •   Open source information collection.


Analysis, planning, and training

  •    Final target selection.


  •    Operational planning.

  •    Training and REHEARSAL.




  •     Execution.

Escape and exploitation

As you can see, only the surveillance and the rehearsal steps are marked. Those of you who might be wondering why the ‘Execution’ step is not included in this, since a hostile operative must show up for it as well, have to remember that the goal we have set out to achieve in this series of articles involves proactive prevention, rather than the very different field of reactive physical countermeasures. Even though no one in their right mind would want to simply ignore the Execution step, the mechanics of dealing with it are so different from those of preventative security, that it would, and oftentimes does, necessitate an entirely different series of articles to explain it. Keep in mind that if the Execution step takes place, prevention, by definition, is no longer relevant, and the officer would have to immediately ‘click into’ a reactive countermeasure mode in order to combat, eliminate and/or minimize the damage.

As for the rest of the steps that are not marked in all caps, as important as they might be, they can, and oftentimes do, take place in a different region, or a different country altogether – making them impossible for security forces to detect and disrupt (hopefully not impossible for government agencies, though).

The question now arises, what are the vulnerabilities that a hostile planning operative is exposed to when he/she arrives at or around the facility in question, and how might these vulnerabilities be exploited by security officers? As it happens, the main vulnerabilities come from the hostile entity’s need to maintain the element of surprise, and to therefore COVERTLY collect a large amount of information – i.e. conduct surveillance.

Though the field of surveillance is wide and deep (surveillance and surveillance detection will be discussed at length in a future series of articles), security officers should be equipped with at least a rudimentary working knowledge of how surveillance is generally conducted. It is important for me to stress that within the purview of the pure arts of surveillance, surveillance detection and counter surveillance, conventional security officers are usually at a distinct disadvantage (if only because everyone knows who they are and where they are). These disadvantages, however, are counterbalanced by a number of strong advantages, which will be the subject of the upcoming articles. But in order to understand these advantages, and understand how to put them to use, it is necessary to take a little detour, and delve slightly into the field of hostile surveillance.

The next article in this series will do exactly that.

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