Ask Mr. Tradecraft – 1

Dear Mr. Tradecraft, At restaurants, bars and coffee shops I know I should always sit facing the door or window, but what happens when this isn’t possible?  Is this rule so important that I should look for a different place to eat or drink? – Beginning Operator Needs Discussion


Dear BOND. I get this question a lot – it might be my most asked question! The short answer is: eat or drink where you like, because where you sit really doesn’t matter.

You have to remember, BOND, we live in a world of CCTV, drones, cell phones, and GPS. So the tradecraft we use today is a lot different than what George Smiley or his contemporaries practiced during their jaunts through East Berlin. There’s what we call the Golden Assumptions of Tradecraft, or GAT-Rules.  GAT Rule 1: assume you are under observation, everywhere, all the time.  GAT Rule 2: assume that if they want you dead, you’re dead.

Now, BOND, the only thing you’ll likely accomplish by looking for a special seat is to send off those oh-so-subtle body language signals that might be picked up by innocent non-combatants such as waitresses or passers-by.  That can only complicate the successful completion of your mission. No, BOND, your best course of action is to assume you are being watched, and rely on your heightened senses and quick reflexes to deal with any eventuality that may come along.

So, BOND, just relax and find a good spot to enjoy your meal. Because in our business, you never know if it will be your last.


Note from Ken: After many decades, Mr. Tradecraft remains a much-sought-after operator for the most demanding contracts with governments, corporations, and private parties alike. He has over 30 years of international field experience that span the whole spectrum of clandestine services, from cut-outs, snatch-and-grabs, bag jobs, surveillance, to wet work — much of it spent in red zones. His retirement increasingly near, Ask Mr. Tradecraft is the pro bono way he gives back to the community. If you’d like to ask him a question, please submit it to Ken – but due to obvious reasons there may be a wait of many months before he can respond to your question.