Providing Security For The Military Elite

Naval Petty Officer 2nd class Robert Corson wanted to join the police force and learned that military experience helps, so he enlisted in the Navy. He lives with his wife in Jacksonville, and they just had their first baby, Robby, Feb. 16.

Corson provides protective security for the commander and deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, most recently Gen. John Abizaid and Vice Admiral David Nichols. Corson deployed to Qatar in November and hopes to return to his family this May. He called recently and spoke with Tribune correspondent MyLinh Shattan.

Tell us about your military background. I wanted to be a police officer, and it’s hard to be a police officer unless you have a prior military background. So I joined the Navy and was stationed in Hawaii at Pearl Harbor where I drove patrol boats for a few years. Then I transferred to Jacksonville, and my wife is from here.

I was actually about to get out of the Navy when I called to get this assignment from Qatar. I went to Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., to protective services school, became a protective services agent, then went forward to Tampa and am tasked with 30 other agents out here.

It’s wonderful for my career when I get out. I meet other people from various agencies, and it opens the doors a lot wider. I extended five months after I get back so I can find a job.

What’s the day-to-day routine like for an agent? There are certain aspects I can’t talk about. Whenever these senior details go in country they have full protective service and that involves making arrangements with host nations and embassies to make sure they’re safe and come back to their mission. I wear a civilian uniform and look professional at all times. I don’t have a buzz cut anymore. It’s been a great experience and I enjoyed the places I get to go to.

As a country boy from Tennessee, I thought I’d be on a ship. Never been on a ship. I’m in Doha, Qatar, and I’m assigned to Centcom protective services detachment. We do the same thing the Secret Service does for the president and vice president. I’ve been close in at times, and sometimes we never get seen at all. It depends on the country and threat level.

Are you armed, and do you wear protective gear? I’ve usually got a vest on; we wear our protective gear; we’re armed. Some countries aren’t as bad as others, and we try not to ever let our guard down. We ensure these individuals make it back safely. A lot of times, it’s advance work, coordinating with military officials, host nations, individuals, traveling with them; we drive their limousines with them. It’s important to know how to drive evasively.

What does advance work involve? I do a lot of the advance work. I enjoy doing that and I enjoy interacting with people. I got to go to Spain and I’ve always wanted to go to Europe. A day outing somewhere involves two to eight days of work. Spain was on a U.S. military installation. That made it simple because I could talk with the Navy guys. I know their protocol, coordinate the setup, type of vehicles, where we’ll be going, how we’ll be doing it.

Ninety-five percent of time I don’t have any trouble. Most of them go as far out of their way as possible, because they look at it as an honor to meet these individuals [Abizaid and Nichols].

What does your training include? We learn a lot of indoctrination into protective services, about case studies, acts against individuals in the past. You can never predict what a person may or may not do. So you get in their mind to figure what may or may not happen. Driving is a big part of our service; we’re not driving like normal. We also have a lot of firearms training.

What weapons do you typically carry? A 9 mm, smaller compact version. Some areas we’ll have long guns like an M16, other areas more compact weapons.

What are Gen. Abizaid and Vice Admiral Nichols like? I can tell you one thing – nothing but cordial to me. Always. My wife gave birth about a month ago and they sent me home for it. They’re really good people.

What’s the reaction of the local people? When I actually flew here I was nervous, didn’t know what to expect. Qatar is a nice place. People are cordial. It took me by surprise how much they speak English. I actually like it here. If I wasn’t married I might stay in, but I want to see my family.

We coordinate a lot with the Qatari military police. They’re funny, they do a lot of the same stuff we do. Talking with one of the guys, we sat and talked about fishing for an hour and half. He fishes the same way I do. Things are very different but also so similar.

What’s your take away from this deployment? When I got back home for the birth of my kid, it amazed me how kids out here [in Qatar] are content playing in sewer drains with a rock back and forth. I realized how much I love America and how wonderful it is. After being out here, I value it more than ever.

The Tribune arranges these interviews with service members through U.S. Central Command. Tribune correspondent MyLinh Shattan can be reached at mylinh@mylinhshattan.com

Mar 25, 2007

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About the Author

Mylinh Shattan is a writer who has lived on three continents, served in the Army, worked in corporate America, and taught in college. She loves adventures, in the world and in the mind. Literature is relevant and learning is a lifelong pursuit, so you might as well have a bit of fun along the way.

Stay Up to Date

Become a better reader and writer today and try the TreeHouseLetter for free. Always learning with a bit of fun.

Latest Posts

“Good Luck and Smooth Sailing” in the Year of the Cat

3 min read Lunar New Year Vietnamese Zodiac, Cat vs Rabbit Year 2023 Writing tip, lyrics, backstory on Al Stewart's hit song * AVAILABLE ON PODCAST on SPOTIFY * Chúc mừng năm mới 2023!! Happy Lunar New Year! * It's the Year of the Water Cat according to Vietnamese...

New Year, New Habits: THL on Instagram

2 min read Writing community Marketing platform 4 Instagram posts * It's a New Year with new habits: I am on Instagram! I know, it's hard to contain the excitement but please take a minute to check the posts below before you click over. They are drawn from...

How to Capture a Life in 400 Words

3 Min read The Obituary AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes * Writing an obiturary is a sobering task. I'm not sure if it is harder to write one for someone you know, because I haven't had to do that. My husband wrote his parents' obituaries and my father had written...

Punch In, Punch Out: the Profession and the Side Hustle

3 Min read 1 Book rec Writing Originality and Passion AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes * So you want to write? Do you like words? I finished reading Murakami's book Novelist as a Vocation which was published in 2015 and translated to the English in 2022. As of the...

“Pithy and Practical” – Time in Memoir

4 Min Read Time as a Literary Element The Divided Self Christmas and the Solstice Readers Call to Action AVAILABLE IN PODCAST Spotify iTunes * Not to toot my own horn, but I'll let my cousin do so. She wrote in her Christmas card that she loved the TreeHouseLetter...

Which Part of Speech Makes Up Most of the English Language?

4 Min read Toolbox, Parts of Speech 1 Book rec, grammar guide Word nerd alert Ages 9 to 99 * Let's talk about the parts of speech. As for the seven words in that sentence, the first two-- let's talk--are a sort of conundrum. They're not spoken at all, though I am...

Giving Thanks for Dissent and Cookies

3 Min read True Story On Gratitude and Dissent 1 Cookbook rec AVAILABLE IN PODCAST SPOTIFY APPLE PODCASTS * Giving thanks this time of year is a practice in gratitude. Gratitude is vogue, hip, lit. It's handy and eternal, an ever-ready virtue, making an appearance at...

Topics

Become a better reader and writer today and try the TreeHouseLetter for free. Always learning with a bit of fun.