Jack of all trades?
In the world of protective services there are a wide variety of skill sets available. Some operators are really good at advance work, but you probably don’t want to hand them an MP5 and drop them into a high-threat situation. Others may be equipped to handle a high-threat environment but wouldn’t fit into a social situation. We generally look for a team of specialists that give us a balance of the skills we need.
The exception to this is situations where we have reason to believe the threat to be relatively low, and where the team, for cost (and believed threat) reasons is likely to consist of a single person. In this case the operator will have to fit discreetly into social situations, and the emphasis is likely to be on the ability to do advance work, with medical knowledge being the second consideration. In other somewhat-higher threat situations we still need someone who excels in advance work.
Advance work is where someone actually goes and lays out the groundwork for what needs to be done. If the advance work is done properly, use of time, convenience, and safety will all be maximized. In the best of all possible worlds, advance work will eliminate all variables from the trip – or at least make them known in advance. The cost for advance work seems high to the inexperienced, because you have to send an operator to wherever you will be going, so that they can check things out, and make arrangement is advance.
What is not accounted for by a good advance team? Relatively little, with the amount depending on how well they know the client. Thus, the advance team may know everything about airport construction and street congestion due to maintenance, know where every hospital and police station is, prearrange every meeting and meal and shopping trip, have back-up plans in case of natural disaster or civil disorder. If the client has a sudden whim not in the plans, there may be some detail not examined.
Sometimes clients balk at sending someone overseas to do the advance work at the final destination. When this happens, the advance work relies on past experience and second-hand advice. The smoothness of the operation can be diminished unless you are very lucky. And the function of advance work is to minimize , as much as possible, the effect of luck.