Don’t let complacency become a killer

  • Published
  • By Special Agent Eric Knapp
  • Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment 522 commander
When working as a bodyguard, the biggest enemies are not crowded streets or would-be assassins. The real killer is complacency. 

I've been here now for almost a year - and a half and, as time goes by, I've become more comfortable traveling off base. The problem with increased confidence is we can become too relaxed. 

Turkey is an amazing region of the world, and we should travel and experience as much as we can here, but for all its exotic flavor and culture, Turkey can be dangerous. 

As Americans in a far-off land, we need to remain vigilant of our surroundings. The recent attacks in India are a stark reminder that bad guys are real and do unleash violence just to grab headlines. 

As anyone who watches more than 30 minutes of Armed Forces Network can attest, it is easy to tell someone "stay alert," but how do we actually go about doing that? 

The most simple piece of advice concerning this subject came to me from a special forces instructor. In order to combat complacency, he told me to ask "What if?" What if an attacker approaches my car when I stop at a red light? Have I left myself room to maneuver? What if a protest breaks-out while I'm shopping in Old Adana? Do I know the best way back to where I parked? What if a group of teenagers demand my wallet while I'm in the park? Do I have emergency numbers plugged into my phone? 

By thinking about these situations and asking yourself "What if?" you can actually do something about remaining vigilant instead of just talking about it. 

Obviously, we can drive ourselves crazy with this strategy - I know from experience. As the father of a worrisome seven-year-old, let me tell you, I hear "What if?" enough to test the patience of a saint. We have to balance the need to remain vigilant without making ourselves jump at every shadow. A healthy inner dialogue will keep us sharp and ready to react in a true emergency. 

"Constant Vigilance" makes a good slogan, but it doesn't tell us how to get the job done. By remembering to ask "What if?" we put these words into practice. Every time we go out-and-about in Turkey, we do well to remember we are bodyguards for ourselves and others.