Protecting Hunter Hayes

Most celebrity bodyguards would be thrilled to be chosen as the security providers for Hunter Hayes during his 10 venue tour.
However, the level of gravitas shifts rapidly toward the heavy end of the  scales when CASS Global Security’s bodyguard team discovered that this was no “simple” tour, but rather a highly concerted effort to shatter a World Record by a whopping  margin of 20%. Ten concerts, ten cities, and 24 hours to pack it all in. It was a logistical nightmare involving helicopters, private jets, no less than 7 Greyhound class tour busses, etc. The list of potential security issues requiring mitigation went on and on. Starting in New York City on Good Morning America, then rolling through New England’s historical section, meaning narrow streets, thronging college towns, and highly vocal fans on a Friday night through Saturday morning, ending in Philadelphia.

The ante was upped immeasurably when we discovered, during the Client Brief, that the celebrity Hunter Hayes is not only a phenomenal artist but also a very sincere and down to earth human being who prides himself on being highly interactive with his fans. Of course that increases the complexity of the security challenges, in addition to losing seconds off the ever present 24 hour clock forever ticking in the background every time Hunter stopped to sign an autograph.  And every minute lost would have a ripple effect upsetting the intricate logistics required to make it all work.

So like the majority of our assignments, this was going to be another “zero tolerance, can’t miss” undertaking. It was a very quiet team when we commenced the mission planning sequence.

To the layperson, the initial challenges appeared well nigh insurmountable, especially with the tangled web of logistics, organizations both government and private, and hundreds of people who had never worked together before.

In short, it eerily resembled many of our high-risk operations overseas. So we applied exactly the same formula for success, which was based on the following:

  • For far-flung and asymmetrical operations, a Centralized Command structure does not work. So we pushed responsibility and authority down and forward, empowering our teams who stood with boots on the ground to execute the tactical decisions as they best saw fit. The person best suited to slaying the dragon at 20 meters is the one actually staring at him as opposed to sitting in an Operations Center hundreds of miles away.
  • We would need “buy in” from all the various elements. So we spent days on the ground prior to the mission, and ensured that all contingency plans were both robust and realistic. That we never needed to implement any was testament to the “buy in” effort expended with all appropriate personalities at all venues.
  • We had to be exact. From the number of steps to the stage to the location of the restrooms to where the tour busses would be parked. Details were critical and attention to detail would win or lose the mission.

As the Guinness book of world records will now attest to, the mission was a success. In fact, by the halfway mark, we were running with a surplus of time. We were, in fact, ahead of schedule, which was the result of hundreds of people working in unity of which CGS represented one cog in the wheel. So after all was said and done, we too would like to compliment Hunter Hayes on his magnificent effort and hard work that ended in a well deserved world record.

It wasn’t just Hunter Hayes who set a record for those 24 hours. CGS hit a few high notes as well, to include the following:

  • Our published operations order was over 180 pages in length, with over 25 pages of highly detailed Coordinating Instructions.  In other words, it was the length of a medium sized book.  It covered everything from vehicle routes to the location (expressed in minutes) to the nearest pharmacy in case a crew member got sick during the show. It discussed how the busses needed to park down to the point where we drew chalk lines on the roads to ensure the client bus arrived precisely where necessary.
  • Our videos, shot in nearly real time, were fed directly to the command element accompanying Hunter who was thus able to update the tour manager with real time intelligence of what lay ahead. In so doing we avoided several potentially catastrophic traffic jams, and were able to beef up security at a venue where the local service provider was unacceptably lax.
  • All of our mobile teams, working in a leap frog fashion, clocked over 1300 miles on their cars in under 48 hours.
  • Our command element, themselves en route to a major urban center for a surveillance operation, were supervising  a protection team in Cannes for the pending film festival, a major security operation in the Middle East, and the Hunter Hayes event simultaneously.

There is a reason CASS Global Security gets the hard missions. It’s because we can do them.