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The Cipher Brief’s book review of The Protected, by Mike Trott

By Thomas Pecora, former CIA GS 15 Senior Security Officer

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a “bodyguard” for a high-ranking U.S. government official, the CEO of a large corporation, or the family of a billionaire? In The Protected, (not yet available on Amazon) Michael Trott takes us behind the curtain of Executive Protection (EP) and shows us not only the how but the why!

Trott has a rich and diverse span of experience having provided protective services in the U.S. military, the federal government, the corporate world and for Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) individuals. Each of these is a unique world filled with nuances.

Trott’s thorough review of the critical elements that make up a comprehensive Executive Protection (EP) program is filled with specific examples of how they are applied in the real world, including his time spent as a member of the CIA Director’s Protective Staff. As someone who worked in and around protective operations at the CIA for most of my 24-year career, albeit most of it in the overseas arena, I can vouch for the important and complicated role EP plays in supporting a protectee, allowing them to focus on their mission, whether that is directing intelligence operations or running a fortune 500 company.

It is also intriguing that Trott has been able to appeal to a wide audience for this book; not only is it interesting and informative for practitioners and principals, it is an engaging read for anyone interested in learning about the EP field and the background of people who devote themselves to it. Having taught protective operations courses, I realize how difficult it was to successfully write a book about such a complicated subject and still make it compelling for this diverse audience, but Trott makes it look relatively easy.

Beginning with a superbly apt prologue explaining some of his personal reasons and background for being in the EP field, Trott systematically addresses some of the key elements of any successful EP program – starting with helping to answer the critically important question of “why”; what factors might influence a principal to consider personal protection? He then explains how important the proper defining of the why question is to the formation of an effective EP program.

Because threats are often the driving factor, Trott focuses on the types of threats that are commonly faced by individuals who have or are contemplating acquiring an EP program. The book then examines some of the key elements that are at play in EP, including some that are not commonly known by those who are not “insiders” to this industry. Trott covers the current and possible future threats posed by the nefarious use of technology, by insider threats, as well as the more major but less common threats of kidnapping, assassination, terrorism, and natural disasters.

Trott then provides a summary of current conditions and a predictive analysis going forward regarding today’s security and EP landscape. His honest description of the difficulties of this profession as well as the future challenges make this an important reference for anyone interested in the EP field; it will also remain relevant for many years, to those who are already EP professionals and want to keep up with the trends.

Moving into the nuts and bolts, Trott then discusses some of the most common issues in the EP programs arena…


Thomas Pecora, retired from the CIA in 2013 as a GS 15 Senior Security Officer after serving 24 years in protective operations, counterterrorism, and security training, most of it operating in low intensity conflict areas. Mr. Pecora received the Intelligence Star and the Career Intelligence Medal.


By Joan Dempsey, former Deputy Director
of Central Intelligence for Community Management

In The Protected, Mike Trott provides a fascinating look into the rarefied world of personal protection.  His stories are as riveting as any work of fiction but the fact that they are true makes them all the more compelling.   

I worked with Mike and his colleagues in the late 1990s into the post 9/11 era when the personal protection demand began to expand exponentially both within the government but also into the world of high net worth individuals.  I found the protective service staff I worked with to be unfailingly professional, courteous, discrete, empathetic and, unceasingly, focused on their mission to keep their charges safe and enable them to accomplish their jobs.  With a complete lack of hubris, they accomplished the near impossible every single day.  I was delighted during that era when they welcomed the first female protective agent to the staff and to see her excel in the role. 

Mike and his colleagues were the best of the best.

Most of us will never need or engage with personal protection professionals but Mike’s book isn’t just for those individuals requiring protection or people who aspire to enter the profession. It is of interest to anyone who is concerned about our national or economic security and the important role continuity of leadership plays in both realms. And, beyond that, it’s just a darn good read!