On Wednesday 20th June GKR London, Beeken Reeves, Bow Resources & Group 8 travelled to Charlton to take part in a high pressure, fast paced and intense programme of events at Bunker 51. The day was hosted by SGH Global Solutions and we were lucky enough to work with some of the very best negotiators in the UK whom for many years had headed Anti-Terrorism negotiations working for government and consulted security forces globally.
Upon arrival we were briefed and introduced to our leaders. Swiftly, we were split into teams and ‘Mission Moscow Mule’ was underway; we had 4 hostages to rescue and we had been given several instructions to complete within a time limit;
- Identify the hostage's
- Map the area
- Identify the kidnappers
- Negotiate the ransom
- Attack and free the hostage’s
We were split into five teams of six and our communication and planning skills, and ability to research whilst keeping cool under pressure were put to the test. We determined individual tasks within the team and deciphered our leader; quickly, the walls were plastered in pieces of paper with intelligence we had gathered, and frequently our leaders demanded updates on our progress.
One by one, a member of the team was taken off to join others to conduct their first Combat Training Drill; seven enemies to kill between four of us. We were given overalls, gloves, protective face masks and our weapons – M4’s. In a single file we stormed a dark, loud building to locate and kill the enemy in preparation for our hostage retrieval. We were taught combat drills by former special forces operators and conducted an Alpha/Bravo type attack with two members of the team pushing forward whilst the other two protected them by laying down and covering fire.
We were then given intelligence surrounding Gangs and Crime Leaders that may have been responsible for the kidnapping; we were required to research their previous crimes and understand their motivations for attack to link the right one to our mission. One by one, we whittled them down to 2-3 potential organisers within our teams and returned to the gun room to conduct a final practise invasion. We had got better and better each time; our confidence was building and our communication skills on the front line were much stronger.
We needed someone on the inside to give us more information, but it wasn’t easy. We were tasked with finding the right person with enough motive to betray his syndicate and willing to risk their livelihood. We established a rapport with them, ensured their protection and leveraged their motivations to extract information from them. This involved intense telephone negotiation under extreme pressure and put us in contact with the kidnappers. We were then required to negotiate a ransom reward, agree a drop off and to retrieve the hostages, ALIVE.
Despite our very best efforts and despite some excellent suggestions, we realised that the negotiation was an exercise designed to buy the combat team time so that they were able to prepare themselves to rescue the hostage and to take out the bad guys in a real-life situation. This was now our time to kill. In our teams of six, we got kitted up once more and we went into combat for our final attack to retrieve the hostage safely. We weren’t told how many of them there would be, but we prepared for the worst and we only had three minutes to get in and get out with the hostages. Every team was successful and most of the hostages were grateful that we hadn’t shot them by accident, under pressure (most being the key word there.)
What we learnt
There was a huge amount to take away from the day and to take back into the office. Working with other companies from the Recruitment Entrepreneur portfolio allowed us to work with some fresh faces and to learn new ideas. It also gave us the opportunity to get to know one-another more personally and will contribute towards relations across our open-plan, shared offices. We worked excellently within our teams and several reported huge developments throughout the day with a much more effective unit as the day came to an end. Learning from some of the best negotiators in the UK made us think more about the outcomes of our decisions and the wider impact it can have on peoples’ lives and to business performance. Another key point was the importance of listening to one another and being confident about our strengths and weaknesses; it was crucial that everyone was able to bring ideas to the table and communicate them effectively. The repercussions of mishearing or mis-recording something in a real hostage scenario would have impacted the rest of the team and seriously delayed the rescue. If we weren’t communicating properly during drills too, the likelihood of us getting shot were much higher.
Huge thanks go to SGH Global Solutions, to the Bunker 51 Team, to Recruitment Entrepreneur and to our CEO’s that helped make all this possible; Grant Kaveney, Chris Reeves, Michael Beeken, Ben Carlisle, Ian Balcombe and Miranda Hilton. We all had an INCREDIBLE day out.