A vast part of the world history has been marked by the great individuals whose charisma, skills and experience allowed them to gather immense power. Those were, as a rule, the most prominent state officials, military commanders and rulers of their time. It was their will that could have decided about lives of the many, and the global politics of their known world. That is precisely why their security has often been jeopardized, either by revolted slaves or citizens, political opponents, religious fanatics, as well as hired assassins. Therefore, it has quickly become clear that their personality and their closest relatives must be guarded properly. Those duties were entrusted to the most elite soldiers, who stood out by their skills and loyalty and formed a personal guard, the closest circle of men around the champions, established to protect the security of them and security of their families.


The Cobras specialists training close protection tactics with assault rifles. :

It is similar today. Modern leaders are protected by the most elite modern warriors, operators of national police, military and military-police units, who are match for all types of modern security threats, thanks to their high level of training, specialist gear and, of course, outstanding reliability. In recent years, many national legislations allow private firms and contractors to carry out tasks and duties of this kind, under certain terms[1].

Close protection of the VIPs today includes a set of planned operational-technical measures, activities and actions, based on positive legislation, that are carried out by relevant state authorities, or authorized private companies in order to neutralize or minimize risks and dangers of harming psycho-physical integrity of very important persons.

In the Republic of Serbia, since May 2013 and Private Security Law[2], close protection tasks of persons, property and business can be carried out by specially registered companies, only when those tasks are not within the exclusive jurisdiction of state authorities. Also, these tasks can be conducted by companies and private entrepreneurs, who had organized the inner system of security for their own needs (self-protective activity).

According to our friend and associate, veteran of the Serbian Special Anti-terrorist Unit (SAJ) (Srb. Specijalna antiteroristička jedinica — SAJ) and chief instructor of the Griffin Security and Ronin Elite Security companies, Dragan Šušulović: “The VIPs close protection is specific in that the attacker often has the advantage. They are often very intelligent, know their target (VIP) well, and by learning the time and place of the VIP`s public appearance, they can carefully plan his attack at the most advantageous spot, retaining the element of surprise. That is why every operator of the group that protects the VIP has to be very psycho-physical strong, to possess and develop extreme power of observation and to learn to think rationally in a very short period of time, when needed.“


The VIP extraction to the S vehicle, carried out by the Cobras operators. :

Experienced instructor says that very few people have these traits by born, and that in any case those must be practiced and perfected. “Knowing and developing martial arts, close combat techniques with cold weapons and firearm, as well as with bare hands, are among the most significant aspects of special physical training. As for the martial arts, I would point out jiu jitsu, krav maga and aikido as most appropriate for this area, because they learn us realistic and very logical techniques and moves, that are very applicable in real situations. These techniques should be practiced in situations close to the real ones.“

As in many areas, teamwork here is also important. A close protection group usually consists of a leader and operators, and depending on the circumstances, a group can be reinforced by specially trained K9s. The leader of the group manages its formation, gives orders to the operators as well as to the VIP. If a threat occur and the VIP is in danger, the group must think and act as whole, so that every operator must carry out the part of the tasks of his area of responsibility. Reactions have to be in time, and fast, because external circumstances are volatile, and if only one of the operators have not been at their best, the ending could be disastrous for the VIP (or VIPs) as well as for the operators, depending on the type and intensity of the attack, as of the attackers goals.

Due to the nature of these tasks and duties at this area, firearm use is possible, so the procedures and terms of these actions are meticulously regulated by legislations of the Republic of Serbia.

The firearm use must be the last option to repel a threat, in most critical situations. Operator must learn how to safely operate a weapon, as to practice tactical and precision shooting. Through the continuous training those actions must be perfected and learned as automatized, since only in that way one can obtain confidence in his skills which will help them to react in time to stop and repel an attack without endangering others, but the attacker (or attackers) in critical situations.“


Efficient execution of complex tasks and jobs of this kind requires reliable gear of the operators. As for the firearm, the most common choice are semi-auto handguns in 9×19 mm Parabellum caliber, as well as automatic models and submachine guns and personal defense weapons, even carbines and assault rifles. Semi-automatic guns have to be compact in order to fit the concealed carry. A due attention is given to the mag capacity, which is desirable to be as high as possible, being the case with many handgun models that come in 9 mm caliber. On the other hand, higher mag capacity means that bullets are placed in two rows, which, therefore, increases the width of the weapon, making it more apparent under clothing. But, as the veteran of the Serbian SAU says: “It is far better not to use the entire magazine, than to need one more shot“. The 9×19 mm Parabellum caliber itself is very good, due to its stopping power — when hitting any part of the attacker’s body being strong enough to stop them in most cases, preventing them to continue or finish the attack. Smaller, weaker calibers cannot achieve this (at least not to the same degree as the 9 mm), therefore the attacker can continue their actions and continue the attack on the VIP or operators, even after being shot. Weapon sights should be fitted with tritium dots, with a clear aiming channel, so that aiming can be efficient in conditions of low visibility (these construction features are common for models of newer generations). The handgun should not have any mounted accessories, such as red dot or holo sights, nor accessories of other kind, because it could interfere with quick draw, as well as firearm weight balance.

Watch Cobras close protection group tactics on our YouTube channel .

“A very important criterion in the selection of personal weapon is its ergonomics — how the weapon fits to the hands of the shooter who should carry it. The firearm should not be chosen by its looks, or its popularity among users, nor by its price. Even tactical-technical features could mean nothing, if the model`s ergonomics do not fit to the shooter“, says Dragan Šušulović and continues: “The most suitable armament of my choice for these tasks are polymer models of newer generations, in my case, that is Glock 22 Gen 4 in .40 S&W caliber, but one should try any model from Glock 17 onward. Those are really reliable models, as evidenced by rigorous testing throughout the world and their high quality can confirm operators from our elite units. In addition, great ergonomics and high magazine capacity make these Austrian models used worldwide. With my Glock 22 I usually carry at least three mags.“

As for the holsters, drop-leg models that are mounted around one’s leg and suspended from their belt, are not suitable for these kind of tasks and jobs, because they are easy to spot, therefore choice comes down to models that are mounted directly on the belt, outer or from the inner side of the pants, or those that are fitted around shoulders or chest. Instructor Šušulović has been operating as a retainer for over 16 years now, and as a the SAU operator he had carried out these duties and jobs as well. He emphasizes that during his career he had tested many holsters of the most famous manufacturers and is currently using the Israeli Front Line models, as well as American Uncle Mikes for which he claims they provide a safe carry and fast draws.

[1] Due to the significance of the social sphere and relations that are regulated, these terms are usually defined through specific laws, or legal documents of the same rank.
[2] Official Courier of the Republic of Serbia No. 104/13, 110/2013 (Srb. „Službeni glasnik RS” br. 104/13, 110/2013).

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