The Gray Man

Today Netflix release the film ‘The Gray Man,’ an action spy thriller based on the novel by Mark Greaney. The story is based around Court Gentry (Ryan Gosling) aka ‘Sierra Six’ a former CIA Operative, who was once the agency’s best operator. After his escape from prison Gentry is now on the run from the CIA – ultimately it’s a mix of Bourne, Wick and Bond.

The title of the book/film – the Gray man – immediately caught my attention as it’s a term regular used in the security world, especially in the area of surveillance. There are several definitions of the term but in simple terms, ‘it’s the art of blending in, an average, forgettable man/woman who does not draw attention or stand out’.

If you’ve undergone surveillance training or worked for an organisation (military, police etc.) where there is a requirement to ‘blend in’ the term ‘gray-man’ will be well known to you, and you will have undoubtedly received lectures on the subject followed by practical exercises. It sounds pretty simple in theory and for many, it is. Others take time to adjust to the concept. In previous posts VALKYRIE (GB) LIMITED have mentioned and used the term gray-man/woman. Yes, it’s a vital basic skill a surveillance operator needs to master to ensure he/she fits into their surroundings to allow them to conduct their task without drawing unnecessary attention and getting compromised. However, the gray man concept can be utilised in everyday life to lower the risk of becoming a victim of crime, especially the street variety

According to crime figures from the Metropolitan Police, the highest number of offences recorded in 2021 were violence against the person with 233,965 and in 2020, it was 220,607. The second highest crime committed in 2021 was theft, 182,808 offences recorded. We can all utilise elements of the gray man/woman philosophy in our everyday life to avoid standing out:

1. Understand your environment especially if new to you – dress to fit in NOT stand out – act like you’re supposed to be there, your actions should fit in with those around you
2. Avoid looking lost/unsure in your surroundings, plan your day, move with confidence & purpose
3. Avoid wearing anything that draws attention e.g. ‘loud’ clothing or high profile logos
4. Avoid wearing/displaying expensive jewellery & watches
5. If you utilise a bag use a backpack/over shoulder bag (neutral colour) – only carry what you need for the day, keep contents concealed
6. Avoid highlighting yourself, blend into the background
7. Practice good situational awareness – discreetly monitor your surroundings & people close by – ‘people watching’ is a great teacher
8. Avoid wearing headphones, keep mobile use to a minimum
9. Minimise interactions, avoid unnecessary conversations
10. To blend in watch your mannerisms e.g. use the right amount of eye contact, don’t be standoffish but don’t stare

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