The development of Personal Protection tactics is based on the behavior
of the attacker. Only those who are attacker oriented will be able to
establish efficient defensive measures. The attacker has to be hurt
by his own means.
The function of the motorcycle by the perpetrator
Especially in South America and Italy, the motorcycle is used to commit assassination attempts.
Even the West German RAF used such a vehicle for the assassination of the German General
Prosecutor Mr. Buback. Inside narrow city traffic, the motorcycle has several advantages com-
pared with a car. When a car is stuck in a traffic jam, a motorcycle can wind through it, allowing
for a quick approach from the blind spot of the car. The sound of the motorcycle engine is
covered by the noise of the traffic. The manoueverability of the motorbike or motorcycle
enables the attacker to escape from the scene of the assassination attempt, even if there is a
traffic jam, a factor which attackers seriously consider prior to any incident attempt.
A further advantage for the perpetrator is his ability to cover his face with a helmet without
appearing suspicious. Carlos Marigella, one of the innovators of terrorist tactics, emphasis
in his book, ”The Minimanuel Of The Urban Guerrilla”, the importance of surprise and
mobility for the success of an attack. The motorbike supports these elements. During surveil-
lance , the Principal’s car can be followed by a motorcycle at a greater distance than with cars,
because the motorbike can overtake other cars very fast if necessary. If the motorcycle had to
stop at a red traffic light that the Principal passed by on green, the motorcycle can easily make
good the lost time and distance to the VIP.
Attackers on motorcycle
When attackers use a car and the shooter is the front-seat passenger, the attacker car has to be
left-side of the principal or behind him. With a motorcycle the pillion rider can operate and
shoot from all four sides.
The use of the motorcycle by the Executive Protection team
The French president is escorted by at least one civil motorcycle. But in this country (Germany),
the use of motorcycles for personal protection is more common than in other countries, even in
the field of private security.
The motorcycle has not only for the perpetrators a lot of advantages, but also for the protection
The use of the motorcycle inside the security escort section
It is a big advantage, if the Principal’s car can be surrounded from different sides. The motorcycle
can change its position very quickly, when it’s needed. Even on a one lane road (one in each
direction), the Principal’s car can be protected from the side. The motorcycle Protective team
can react very quickly. If a suspicious car (with open windows for example) or a motorbike is
approaching, the two men of the security detail can drive with motorcycles with the principal’s
car between them. With an escort car, a fast change of position in a high traffic situation is very
difficult and nearly impossible. And there is also the possibility of sending the motorcycle
in advance to take the point, or put it behind the convoy, so that it can follow the motorcade
with some distance. If an unknown car is driving between the Principal and the escort car (for
example after the escort car had to stop at a traffic light), the motorcycle can cover the distance
and reach the Principle’s car much faster than the escort car. In the case of a shooting the
motorcycle Protective crew can fire back very quickly, without having to open a door or window.
The freedom of movement of the Protective crew allows the ability to shoot to from all sides. If
the motorcycle Protective team is operating under low profile conditions, it will be of great
benefit for a surprising counterattack.
A disadvantage to a motorcycle Protective team is that during longer travels, the motorcycle
crew gets tired and they are much more exposed to bad weather conditions than the officers
inside the cars. If perpetrators identify the motorcycle as part of the detail, the crew is also
nearly unprotected and exposed to a ramming attack.
When the Principal has gone out of his car, and is traveling on foot, it is normally not possible
for the motorcycle Protective crew to escort the Principal, because they do not have the neces-
sary clothes to work low profile.
The departure of the Principal
The Principal leaves his house and enters the car parked at his doorstep. Behind the Principal’s
car, the escort car is parked. In front of the house, the motorcycle is parked, and its crew obser-
ves the street and the surroundings.
The motorcade leaves the estate only after getting the signal from the motorcycle crew. The
motorcycle can follow the motorcade directly, or stay for the moment at the house (low profile)
and carry out counter-surveillance.
The arrival of the Principal
Before the VIP Principal arrives at his destination, the motorcycle arrives at the site. Only after
getting the okay signal (via communication equipment) by the motorcycle crew, the VIP and
Advance and reconnaissance/countersurveillance measures
The aim of the reconnaissance and countersurveillance measures is to recognize surveillance
carried out by any perpetrators. The motorcycle fits the necessity of an unobtrusive counter-
surveillance vehicle. The surveillance vantage points and possible attack sites that were
evaluated during the analysis of the routes (especially those near the house and office of the
VIP) have to be checked by the motorcycle crew. If the motorcycle is part of the escort section,
it has to relocate from the section quickly in order to observe the area and movement prior to
the passing of the VIP. After the VIP has passed, the crew looks for changes of the situation.
If the motorcycle is only used for countersurveillance, it is much more difficult for the perpe-
trators to detect it as part of the security measures; this presupposes that the motorcycle crew
has worked unobtrusively. When a motorcycle with a two man Protective crew is used for Per-
sonal Protection, the rear-seat rider must also possess a driving license to make sure that both
can operate as driver during longer travels. The handguns must be easily and quickly accessible.
There must be a baggage rack in order to transport the necessary equipment. Motorcycle riders,
in order to maximize the benefits from the advantages of unobtrusiveness over a longer period,
need to change the type of motorbike, the helmets and protection clothes whenever possible.
The crew has to train regularly how to
operate in a team with the other members of the Protection detail. Different attack scenarios with
the appropriate defense tactics have to be trained. Not to forget the practice of shooting from a
motorcycle and regular security driving exercises with motorcycles.
Beat the bad guys with their own means!
Copyright P. M. and PRAESIDIA DEFENCE. The author P. M. is a former member
German government security forces. He has studies “Terrorism and Political Violence” at
an university in the USA. He works now for PRAESIDIA DEFENCE in Germany.