Dear Brendan,

The Hollywood elite was shocked when news hit that Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint in a Paris apartment.  I’m not surprised a celebrity such as Kim made the headlines or that Paris is once again in the news, although for all the wrong reasons.  Kim was lucky this time; she was not hurt.  Whether or not you like the Kardashians, no one likes to see people robbed or hurt by the criminal element. 

I’ll attempt to draw from some lessons learned in this recent event from the perspective of the protector of our families and loved ones.  Let’s try to better understand the nature of what happened in a brief After Action Review (AAR) so we can all learn from this and hopefully make it more difficult for something like this to ever happen to our loved ones. 

BLUF:  I’m writing this piece from open source reporting and news media that have covered this event.  Not all sources have been verified as accurate. 

Another point is that I’m not here to point fingers at her security detail or the private security industry.  Many of us here know what it is like to be in charge of a protection detail and have served on PSD teams in hostile environments.  We know a situation can go sideways quick, fast, and in a hurry.  Hey it’s Murphy’s Law. 

Personal protection is not a one-man job, nor does it take place in a fish bowl.  True protection is a team effort.  Just look around at how various Governments protect their senior leaders, how military SOF teams operate, U.S. Secret Service protect the President and his family, Personal Security Detail (PSD) teams such as those that were on the ground in Benghazi, Libya, to the executive type PSD teams that protect CEO’s such as Bill Gates, or celebrities such as the Karadashians.  It’s important to note that other resources and capabilities play a role such as technology and funding. 

Just as personal security experts come in all shapes and sizes, so do all men, (fathers, husbands, sons – military, businessmen, family men).  We also come from different backgrounds, training and life experiences. Regardless of the variables, we are the protectors.  And yet we have something in common– we all have to make do with what we have at the time, and do the best possible job with the resources at hand in that moment.   

As you can imagine, rumors and gossip are all over the Hollywood type magazines and news channels.  The word is that millions of dollars worth of jewelry was taken.  Some sources following this story say Kim was being tailed by suspect people posing as paparazzi and or police prior to the robbery.  This type of modus operandi (MO) is commonly used to get close to a high value target.  Even in a combat environment you have seen this M.O. used.  From Taliban fighters infiltrating military bases wearing Afghan National Army (ANA) uniforms, or at mock check points in Afghan National Police (ANP) uniforms.  The Iraqi military and police have been infiltrated in similar manner by foreign fighters, ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).  The rumors and gossip across media sources have people saying it’s an inside job, too lazy security, Paris police dropped the ball, to involvement of Euro gangs.  It’s all great headlines to sell magazines. I don’t want to get wrapped up in all the speculation, and want us to focus on key takeaways from what went down and what we as the protectors of our families and loved ones can do to minimize the odds of anything like this attack occurring to us and those we care about. 

Here’s what we and others know about the victim and her situation.  Kim is a high-profile celebrity who attracts a lot of attention and is always in the public eye.  She has millions of followers on social media, a reality TV show, clothing line and is constantly in the news for something.  So it’s no surprise the criminal element, along with many many others that follow her closely, know important facts about her.

Such as – She usually has valuable jewelry and was in Paris for Fashion Week.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that the robbers knew all this and more.  This robbery could have been planned out in detail.  Those involved likely conducted surveillance and or were tipped off by another source. 

As it turns out, Kim was staying at a private residence.  She was being protected by one unarmed security agent and it’s likely he had to keep his head on a swivel to cover down on others in her entourage.  He was set up for failure, in my opinion.  It’s also common sense that she would have a lot of high end jewelry with her since it was Fashion Week in Paris.    

So given this background and the calculated assumption that the criminals involved knew that Kim was in the apartment and that her security detail was an Army of one and not even armed.  Plus, it is reported that her security agent was with a group from her entourage at a night club at the time.  This created a window of opportunity and five armed robbers seized the moment.  They overpowered one concierge and gained access to Kim’s apartment.  This was all made too easy.  From a military standpoint of mission planning for a capture/kill mission and weighing the risk versus reward, this would be considered a low risk and high reward operation. 

Let’s ask the so what question and how this could have been different.

I hate Monday morning quarterbacks and of course hindsight is 20/20.  It’s easy to sit back and pick this apart when it wasn’t your wife, daughter or ass on the line.  Still, some tactical considerations are worth us taking the time to think about.

Given the risks and vulnerabilities while visiting Paris, some measures could have been taken to make Kim–  or our own family members, if they were in Paris– a harder target to help this hit home.

So what can high-profile people do–or even our own family members– while traveling abroad in order not to become a victim..?

1.     Maintain a low profile.  Be the grey man.  Don’t wear a USA flag or flash your blue American passport.

2.     Check into hotels or restaurant reservations under a pseudonym.

3.     Select your hotel or residences that have visible security staff and security systems in place.

4.     Do not post your plans or itinerary on social media.  Post on Facebook or other social media after you leave the place and do not broadcast to the world your current location.  Once you are back home safe and sound from your business trip or vacation you can upload your photos to Facebook. 

5.     Do not be predictable in your day-to-day movements.

6.     Put in place a method of communication in case of an emergency to your family, company, or Govt. agency.  Know where the embassy or consulate is, local medical/hospital, and EMS.

7.     Do your research before you travel and know the local threats, criminal elements, etc.  Get smart on the area of operation you will be visiting or traveling through and know the friendly and threat areas.  Become familiar with local laws, customs and courtesies.

The AM STRONGHOLD team hopes this helps other men keep their families and loved ones safe in an increasingly dangerous world.

Be Aware & Be Safe

Your Friend,

-Travis