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Training Review: BSR’s Security Driving Course (SDC)

Topic: Mobility, Automobile

Instructor/System: BSR is a specialty driving school located at Summit Point Motorsports Park in Summit Point, West Virginia. BSR has been around for decades and teaches classes to the US military, law enforcement, government agencies, and civilians. Beyond their military work, BSR also provides training for the Department of State’s Worldwide Personal Protection Services (WPPS), the AFPAK Hands folks, etc. Lee Chewey, a retired Delta operator who’s gone on to be involved in a lot of security operations and security training work globally, is the Director of Training. Their course offerings include off-road driving, evasive driving, surveillance detection while mobile, and vehicle commandeering. They also offer some firearms courses. Being co-located at Summit Point gives them great asphalt tracks for the evasive driver training, as well as ample space for the off-road work and easy access to suburban West Virginia for the surveillance detection work.

Content: BSR’s Security Driving Course (SDC) a three-day course compromised of one additional day prepended onto BSR’s two-day Evasive Driving Course (EDC). Day two and day three of SDC are the same as EDC — not just the same in content, but the EDC and SDC students are all mixed together doing the exact same training. Please see our review of BSR’s Evasive Driving Course for discussion of what’s covered in those two days.

What SDC adds is a day of training around how terrorist organizations operate specific to ambushes/kidnapping/etc along driving routes and how surveillance operates in the same setting.

This one-day section of SDC is essentially Lee Chewey’s baby. He wrote it, updates it, and teaches it. It’s got his fingerprints all over it and is clearly a labor of love. So, who is this guy beyond the blurb mentioned above? Lee retired from the US Army after 22 years. He was early, proto-Delta, in one of their first classes. He went on to do security and operations training all over the world, including counter-terrorism and counter-drug stuff for the military and law enforcement. As you’d expect given his pedigree, he’s plainspoken, mild-mannered, and a consummate quiet professional. He has tremendous depth on the historical scenarios discussed, sometimes letting his mask slip slightly and using grammar suggestive of having either been there or having directly debriefed the actual players involved.

The first half of the day discusses historical case studies of attacks on vehicles while en route from one location to another. For as much as can be known, this includes how the surveillance was conducted, how the attack was planned, and, of course, how the attack was executed. Slides include maps, newspaper clippings, photos from the scene, and sometimes video surveillance footage. This portion of the class takes place in a hotel in Winchester, Virginia, and is excellent through-and-through. These case studies are used to illustrate concepts in route selection, surveillance, and attack sites that will be used in the field training that occurs in the afternoon.

The second half of the day is spent planning a surveillance detection route (SDR) that will take you from the hotel to a fixed location across town. Surveillance is conducted by role-players associated with BSR. You employ what was learned in the morning in order to include route features that will allow you to identify both static and mobile surveillance. The goal of this training is NOT to “shake” the surveillance, so there’s no running yellow lights, speeding, pulling illegal u-turns, etc. This training — both the route planning and the travel itself — is done as a group. This means that you don’t get to plan your own route, nor be the sole observer, nor be the driver. Instead, the group of piles into a large van: one person sits in the passenger seat and plays navigator for the driver, the rest look out the windows and try to spot any surveillance while taking notes.

The practical exercise has some utility, but it’s mostly just in the realm of becoming more aware of the threat, generally. Since the exercise is conducted as a group not an individual, and since there aren’t enough reps, the value to the individual who’s going to need to do their own route planning and SDRs is rather small. This is compounded by the lack of feedback and engagement from the instructor on what was done well or poorly in the route planning. All of that said, it is instructive in other ways: first, that by paying attention you can successfully spot non-professional surveillance, and second, that when you’re keyed-up and looking, lots of things seem suspicious. Student reports on possible surveillance included all sorts remarks on the day-to-day goings on of Winchester that had nothing to do with the exercise. Thesea re good take-homes and will help improve awareness for people who are at some risk of being surveilled and attacked while in transit.

RMSR Recommended: Yes, if it’s your first ever exposure to surveillance. No, if you’ll need to conduct route planning, driving, and surveillance detection on your own.

Pre-requisites: None. No awareness of surveillance techniques or ‘in-transit’ terrorist operations is assumed.

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