• Brad Parker

What's Your Self-Defense Mission?

Updated: Feb 8

Police cars and ambulance in front of crime scene
Your self-defense mission dictates the skills, tools, and training you'll need.

Mission? What are you talking about? I just want to learn how to defend myself and protect my family.

Great. You are not alone here on this blog. Besides people like yourself, we also have people in the executive protection and security industries who are looking at how to protect the clients and families in their charge.

We study and deploy the tactics, techniques, and procedures that are more consistent with this type of role -- the role that we as private citizens, executive protection agents, and security personal will primarily be concerned with. Military operators and law enforcement personnel have different missions and spend their time learning and training the TTPs that are consistent with their mission. For example law enforcement officers train to discharge their duty to identify, apprehend, control, arrest, and preserve evidence. Military peacekeepers are often charged with counterinsurgency operations. Or long-range patrolling, or...you get my point.

Because they have different missions than us, they need different equipment, different training, and often a different mindset.

The Good News

The good news is this identification of our particular mission allows us to concentrate our finite time and resources into the skills and training that are applicable for us. We don't have to continually pursue skills and knowledge which are not germane to our mission. For example, if you are in the military, you might devote a significant amount of time and effort to be airborne qualified. Or dive qualified. Now, skydiving and scuba diving might be really exciting, but it's not necessary for our training with our civilian protection roles.

The Bad News

The bad new is our society is changing as it fractures along social, cultural, and governmental lines. Increased lawfare, organized social pressure, and changing applications of the law for different segments is now having a dramatic affect on how we approach self-defense. It has all of us constantly evaluating our strategies for self-defense.

Take a look at this video with Ken Hackathorn below for his take on how the self-defense picture has changed with the new reality in the U.S.

He brings up the importance of avoiding conflict, realizing that the police are not able to save you, and the importance of planning ahead.

The reason I included his video here is that it's germane to the discussion here and another voice to consider when looking at your self-defense mission.

The Mission Dictates the Weapon

When people ask about the work system I employ for firearms, my answer takes into account my mission. The firearms I employ are compact with the capability of a high volume of firepower to break contact and escape.

It's a very simplistic system centering on two guns: a handgun and a carbine. It's not literally two guns, it's two platforms: the Glock handgun and the M4/AR-15 carbine.

This allows:

  • having the option to carry individual firearms of different sizes (full-size duty, compact, subcompact).

  • they can all share the same magazines and same ammo

  • they follow the same exact manual of arms. In other words, when I pick up one, it operates exactly like all the others. Perhaps more importantly, it feels exactly like all the others.

This system works well for my protective services/executive protection mission because we spend the bulk of our resources identifying and avoiding potential conflicts. Our priorities are:

  1. Detect

  2. Deter

  3. Deny

  4. Delay

  5. Defend

Notice that 'Defend' is at the bottom of the list. If we are in a firefight, we have failed in the higher priorities. The best fight is the one you avoid.

Even if we are in the Defend mode, we are still looking to evacuate the principal. We are looking to break contact and get out of Dodge.

Hence, the choices for my equipment and platforms. Your system can be different, depending on your mission. And I implore you to consider your mission now to focus your vision and maximize your resources.

Defining your mission now gives you the advantage by:

  1. Having an overarching strategy you can deploy without thinking about what do to during the attack

  2. Concentrating your focus on the skills and attributes you'll need

  3. Narrowing your choice of defensive tools and firearms necessary to fill your mission

We are all bound by the limits of time and money. The three points above have the ability to limit your scope to the most important items. This focus gives you the structure to deliberately practice and train to become a virtuoso in your protective skills.

Mission Creep

We probably won't get much pushback on the wisdom of focusing your vision to maximize your effectiveness.

That all sounds well and good from an intellectual standpoint. But, alas, many students can find themselves slipping into a churning cauldron of training and equipment choices because they have let the parameters of their mission expand and, perhaps the stringent focus can get boring.

Here's where we get people arguing about terminal ballistics of rifle rounds at more than 1000 yards. Here's where we get people who have different platforms for different activities. They enjoy shooting a number of different platforms and a number calibers.

But are they losing sight of their original mission?

Again, that depends on the original mission. If your mission is area denial or anti-material duties at 500 yards and out, then you're equipment choices and arguments regarding .338 Lapua versus .300 WinMag are probably justified.

If your mission is executive protection in a permissive environment or you are a CCW holder interested in personal protection, the above argument is probably not germane to your mission. It might be fun, but not applicable.

Focus on what you need to fulfill your mission at the basic level. Then, add to your attributes and skills in a way that builds your capabilities to a higher level.



Our quest never stops. It can get sidelined sometimes, but we never stop.

“Determine that today you will overcome yourself of the day before, tomorrow you will win over those of lesser skill, and later you will win over those of greater skill.” ― Miyamoto Musashi
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