Why does the military provide the Head of State's honor guard? Why is the Head of State always accompanied by military personnel? Why don't the police escort the Head of State?

  • 2
    I think you should mention the country you are talking about. In some counties what you said is not true. And different countries have different reasons (follow the trend, resource problem, past coups etc.).
    – Apoorv
    Commented May 24, 2012 at 1:53
  • In modern times, presidents replaced kings, which originally were military leaders; which is why, until this day, the president is (still) the head of the country's armed forces. The police, on the other hand, are an aspect of law-enforcement, and, as is well known, law-enforcers (or the judiciary), the executive (headed by a president), and law-makers or law-givers (parliament, or the legislating body) are separated in democratic countries.
    – Lucian
    Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 15:12

4 Answers 4


I do not know which country do you mean but I suppose that in most countries the head of state is guerded by special services, and not police, not the army. The ceremonial escort though may be by some special military units, but the actual protection do the special services.

The special services usually receive better training.

  • This doesn't answer the question. Why is the head of state guarded by special services?
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 20:17
  • Because they have better training for that than the police.
    – Anixx
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 22:38
  • So make that your answer. Notice that the question asked was why.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 23:43

Note that in the USA, the people responsible for the President's security are The Secret Service. They are not military.

They can be viewed as a kind of Federal-level police. They used to be under the Treasury Department (with the IRS and the folks who make our money), rather than the FBI or Justice Department. In 2003 they got moved into the new Department of Homeland Security (along with a mishmash of other domestic security-related agencies that weren't politically powerfull enough to prevent it).

  • Why under the Treasury?
    – quant_dev
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 16:42
  • @quant_dev - Mostly historical accident. You are not alone in finding that odd.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 17:38
  • @quant_dev - ...however, that appears to have changed in 2003 in the wake of 9/11. I'll fix the answer. They still aren't under the FBI like you might expect though. The DHS they are under now is even more of a creature of historical accident, so perhaps it is appropriate in a way. :-)
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 17:41
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    @quant_dev: Because the primary purpose of the Secret Service was to combat counterfeiting. That it also provided security to politicians is, as TED said, historical accident.
    – Charles
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 16:57

Piggybacking on what mgb said, it is necessary from a security standpoint that heads of state have a dedicated security force whose sole purpose is the protection of the head of state. Local police forces, or even national police forces, have conflicting agendas that can lower their focus. That said, the Secret Service (in the US) and their counterparts in other countries work with local security whenever the head of state travels.

  • Agreed. In fact, this need for a security force which would be only loyal to the head of state is in fact quite old; the Roman Emperors created first the Praetorian Guard and then the Varangian Guard, which were mostly composed of immigrants for precisely that reason. Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 10:52

In addition to the answers posted, a couple of common-sense answers come to mind. First, police aren't specifically trained for that job -- a head of state needs bodyguards, not law-enforcement officers. Second, police serve a city or other locality. A head of state would want one set of guards who traveled with them, rather than having a different set everyplace they went.

  • 1
    Outside the USA most police are national rather than local, and often the anti-terrorist/intelligence agencies are part of the police
    – none
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 2:42

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