People engaged in terrorist activities and organised crime share many commonalities and traits, as do the “good guys” that pursue them. All these character types have serious ramifications for governments and businesses. Here are some of the key considerations and differences.

“Good guys” are factory produced. That is, they come from a public schooling system, undergo standardised testing and are recruited or selected using group selection and training conditions. Whilst there are inevitably specialists and elite elements at the top of these hierarchal systems, the majority pass through factory selection and conditioning at some time, often for lengthy periods. Bad guys don’t. Even special forces, spies, intelligence officers, undercover operators, anti-terrorism and SWAT trained individuals are all taught their tradecraft, skills and application of training via standardised and regulated systems. Sometimes, they are even taught how to be bad guys, after learning new skills by engaging, hunting and combating their adversaries. Bad guys adopt new skills, tactics, equipment and operating procedures faster than the good guys at times.

Good guys have to operate within the realm of rules, approvals, government oversight, political influence, budgets, workplace health and safety, political correctness, anti-bullying and social/media review. Bad guys don’t. Good guys have terms of employment, job security, routine salaries and long term goals or career prospects. They have the prospect of pension and disability benefits. Bad guys have to hustle for a living, finding ways to make cash, profit from their actions as soon as possible or seek opportunities in which to conduct their operations against a numerically superior network of good guys. Bad guys don’t have to take time out of operational activity to do paperwork, submit approvals, create budgets, undergo promotions training and other management/compliance requirements.

Good guys don’t pick which of the “big fights” they engage in. They are dispatched by the government, community and leaders they serve. A solider does not determine which wars, groups and individuals they will engage. Bad guys don’t have such limitations. Often it is the total opposite, with bad guys, seeking out the weakest and “most likely of success” targets possible. Bad guys can change the rules of engagement, cheat, walk away and even cease work until a better time to conduct business presents. They can even uproot and find a better location for their enterprise but most are doing business on their own terms, in their own backyard, within environments with which they are very familiar and can spot outside interference very quickly. Good guys may only engage in one or a few “live operations” during their entire career, whereas bad guys may engage in “live operations” each and every day of their lives.

Good guys have to set up, prepare and manage sources, assets, information, resources, assign equipment, develop intelligence and maintain awareness of their operational surroundings. Bad guys are often already present and familiar with specific communities and may well come from within the general populace where crime or terrorism is active. Bad guys take or procure what they need, when they need it and make do with what is available or improvise. Good guys are only permitted to conduct operations within the scope of their job title, training, department or agency. Bad guys don’t. Bad guys can be responsible for a variety of skills, tasks, areas and ongoing operations, as the situation requires, without conventional management and organisational constraints.

Good guys are surrounded by “pre-approved”, sympathetic, recruited and specially selected agencies and individuals. Bad guys aren’t. They are suspicious of everyone, everything and approach any new activity with caution and reserve. Bad guys have to qualify sources, covert assets, establish trust and work on relationships and networks each and every day, particularly when players and circumstances change. Bad guys have establish effective and complex means of establishing authenticity and sympathies when dealing with new or unknown individuals. Long term experience in these areas, under these circumstances enables individuals to develop a ‘sense’ of whether circumstances or individuals present a threat to them or their organisations. They may even act preemptively in order to protect themselves, not having to wait approval or verification. Good guys can’t.

Good guys “turn on” once they engage with their adversary and “turn off” once they are home or finish work/rotation. Bad guys don’t. Good guys often have a home base or retreat in which to relax, recharge or generally decompress from the stress of life and death pursuits. Bad guys operate on a 24/7 basis, in hostile and potentially deadly environments and never ‘turn off”, unless eliminated or captured. Therefore, their tradecraft or skill set becomes their lifestyle and all actions and planning are second nature, in order to ensure survival and longevity within the trade. Bad guys can sustain their operational tempo for weeks, months and years without relief in place, frequently conducting networking, recruitment and training all whilst engaged in an operational theatre. Bad guys may even be active during one or more rotations, deployments or careers of good guys whom are assigned to capture or kill them or their associates. Good guys have set work hours or require approvals or budgets in order to conduct “overtime”.

Good guys are often forced to comply with the “group think” and act in a preferred or particular manner. Bad guys don’t. Bad guys will often devise any means possible in which to achieve their objective, even if it is not historically demonstrated, consistent with peer views or deemed within the acceptable realm of actions by peers or superiors within their field or industry. Good guys who go against the grain and explore new or alternate strategies are often ostracised by their service, department or agency and don’t enjoy long or successful careers. Bad guys are rewarded for results and finding solutions to problems with individuals and alternate thinkers gaining popularity or prominence.

If good guys transition to the commercial world of protectors, sentinels, risk management or security advisors, they have the above mentioned disadvantages. They very quickly have to assume more of the bad guys habits and resourcefulness, for much longer periods than usual. They have to do more with less and become principle advisor and expert in a far greater range of disciplines than ever before. They need to sell themselves and talk about what was once considered secret or highly privileged information in order to ensure credibility, relationships, work, employment or their next paying customer. This is why there are far fewer effective and successful good guys engaged within the commercial/business world as so few make the successful transition. Some many end up in corporate roles, which have built scaled down versions of the good guy’s former service/department/agency but are more likely to be reliable employees than guarantee commercial results and continual improvement. Senior officials originating from the various services or agencies also often fail to gain commercial favour or have short/limited business careers, despite their previous seniority or experience “within the system”. This also explains why so many corporates and managers continue to recruit or covert the wrong people for their commercial needs and protect their interests against the bad guys.

For every one of the good guys, there are ten or more bad guys and this is why even some of the good guys end up working for the bad guys or their shared benefit.

Note: For the purpose of clarity, a”good guys” refers to those acting in support of the state, community and social good, whereas “bad guys” are the illegal, stealing, criminalist, murdering, destructive and self-serving people that make up the bulk of terrorist groups and organised crime groups.

Tony Ridley, CEO & Founder – Intelligent Travel


Travel Safety Experts
Travel Safety Experts

Travel health, safety, security and risk management experts