Connect with us

Private Military Contractors

The mercenaries through history – modern PMCs

Published

on

Former special forces soldiers are mostly engaged in private military companies doing jobs as PMCs (Private Military Contractors)

The profession of mercenary is not changed so much through history. The mercenaries have one of the oldest jobs in the world. They have played a key part in wars around the globe – from Biblical times to modern conflicts such as Bosnia, Iraq, Syria and now Ukraine. Mercenaries are often described as ‘dogs of war’ through media – psychopathic inadequacies in search of thrills and cash. True enough, there are a good few Walter Mittys around calling themselves mercenaries. The Bosnian conflict, and conflicts after (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine) attracted a large number of social rejects with plenty to prove. But regular army units such as the French Foreign Legion and the British Gurkhas are, strictly speaking, mercenaries – and they are among world’s most effective and respected regular military units.

Private Military Contractors (PMCs)

Outside conventional armed forces, there are international companies which sell military skills. Its described the same way as a corporation might sell its services in the field of oil exploration, civil engineering, etc. Today, these services are not unknown or secretive anymore. Today, they are often referred to as Private Military Companies (PMCs). Examples include Executive Outcomes (active in Africa during the 1990s, but now closed down), the UK-based Sandline International (Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone), and the US Military Professionals Resource Incorporated (MPRI). The most recognised company in PMC business was the Blackwater, a now infamous US-based company.

Such companies consist largely of ex-armed forces staff, providing military advice, training, support and material to customers who include oil and mineral companies, and states who lack the military capabilities themselves to deal with rebel forces. After the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, the Private Military Contractors become partners to US military. These type of organisations dislike being labelled ‘mercenaries’, with all the negative connotations the word carries, but their operations fall squarely into the area that most civilians would think of as the realm of the mercenary.

Blackwater PMCs tracking convoy in Iraq, helicopter fire support

Members of Blackwater in Iraq

The private military contractors are, on the whole, keen to point out that they have strict rules about who they will and will not work for, and always operate under the control of a client country’s legitimate government.

Employers

For the professional mercenaries, the post-Cold War world provides plenty of potential customers, from deposed rulers and governments, to businesses needing protection from organised crime, to the organised criminals themselves looking to recruit military support to protect drug factories and the like against security forces and rival gangs alike. The individual has to make up his own mind about what kind of work he is prepared to do, and for whom.

Mercenaries also, on the opportunity, provide Western governments with a conveniently ‘deniable’ way of conducting foreign policy. A mercenary outfit can be hired anonymously to conduct various operations which would be politically unacceptable for a government to carry out with its own armed forces. If things turn nasty, the whole thing can be denied and mercenaries left on their own. This type of operation has already happened in the past, and it would be naive to think it could not happen again.

Blackwater PMCs traveling in Iraq

One of the mercenary’s problems can, on occasions, be knowing exactly who he is really working for. The real employer may hide behind a chain of middle men.

Recruiting

Back in the 1960s and 70s, mercenary companies and various organisations advertised openly to recruit former Special Forces personnel for ‘interesting work abroad’ – such as the bloody wars in Biafra, Angola and the Congo. Today recruiting is quite different, no more mass advertising, not it is a word-of-mouth affair, with recruiters approaching former comrades. This has the advantage that the mercenary units now consists of soldiers who have already worked together which makes it much quicker and easier to form an effective combat unit.

Finding works in profession

There are many more ‘wannabe’ mercenaries than real mercenary jobs. Most of the wannabe’s are totally unsuited to the life – even those who have some military training. Mercenary soldiering is not something you should go into because you can’t think of any other way of earning a living after leaving the army. Some do it for the money, some because they believe in the cause they are fighting for; almost all enjoy the sense of adventure, and the chance to use skills which have little or no application in civilian life.

Security jobs in war zones as Private Military Contractors

Military skills are a vital part of being a mercenary, but not the only one. The successful mercenary needs other skills that the average squaddie never picks up during his military career. A special forces background is helpful, providing a greater level of self-reliance and independence of mind – plus a healthy scepticism which can prove a lifesaver. When a mercenary group’s backer pulls out unexpectedly, the individuals who saw the danger coming and made their own arrangements stand the best chance of getting out alive from every situation.

As we state in the ‘small print’ on our home page, special-ops.org is not a mercenary recruiting agency – we will not put wannabe mercenaries in touch with mercenary organisations or companies doing Private Military Contracts business. If you’re suitable, they’ll more likely come to you anyway. If not, and you’re still determined, follow up your own contacts; put the word about that you’re available for mercenary work, and keep trying. If you’ve got skills and whatever it takes, then sooner or later it’ll pay off and someone will contact you.

Advertisement    

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Michael Losser

    Mar 20, 2016 at 5:58 am

    I am ex Military and ex Law Enforcement. Training duties in both during Field raining periods and weapons training thru law enforcement. Have done out of country work in the military and have no ties to thew states to hinder deployement. Would be interested in patrols and personal security, but since I am not doing the hiring that will be left up to you.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Private Military Contractors

Road rules for gunslingers: How military contractors use their vehicles to fight

Published

on

The Chevy Tahoe leaves a white, chalky trail of dust as it careens towards Shoot House 2. There are four heavily armed men wearing body armor seated inside the SUV, wielding automatic rifles, 9mm pistols, and a shotgun. These weapons are loaded – and not with blanks.

The driver directs the vehicle off the dirt road and skids to a halt in front of the building. Even before the doors open, the tactics that will decide the gunfight ahead are already being implemented. The driver parks the vehicle with the rear facing the targeted building, so the team inside can dismount facing the door they mean to breach. This position also protects the driver in case the team loses the element of surprise and needs to retreat in a hurry.

Three men pop out of the Tahoe, each wearing body armor, and helmets. The rear opens and the last members of the team leap out: a dog handler and security canine on a leash. The men knock down the door and loose the dog to latch onto a man inside wearing a padded suit. The team sweeps the building, storming each room quickly. The pistols cough, and paper targets sport fresh holes. The concrete mix used to construct the walls of the building absorbs bullets. The operators flow from room to room while covering each other’s blind spots, popping off shots in a controlled dance of fire and maneuver.

A mix of auto journalists and company staff observe the exercise from a catwalk above the roofless, one story building. Chevy brought us here to reinforce the link between its SUVs and toughest clients: military operators who use the rigs on overseas missions.

Although a small percentage of total Tahoe sales go to these customers, the luster of Special Operations can help sell vehicles to domestic law enforcement, who need proven vehicles. The general public is also not immune to military chic: Some tinted windows, black steel wheels and footage of live-fire demonstrations should also help sales.

It’s also a rare opportunity to discuss the relationship between special operations troops and the automobiles they use in combat. This is the place where advice isn’t based on a movie or video game.

The range and the talent are courtesy of TigerSwan International, a security firm that trains police, US military and civilians on tactical gunfighting. Part of the training they do here centers on smooth exits from vehicles to get to gunfights, as well as times they must shoot from moving cars and trucks. “What people get here is real-life experience, to see what is fact versus fiction,” says Jim Reese, co-founder of TigerSwan. “Most of what they think they know is total B.S.”

Reese is a retired Delta Force operator. He founded TigerSwan in 2005 to “provide business intelligence, crisis management and global stability services to governments and businesses.” The firm recently made headlines when documents leaked that identified them as part of the security brought in to guard the Dakota Access Pipeline against protesters. They perform risk analysis, protect company executives, and help design secure facilities in risky places.

Supporters call them contractors. Detractors call them mercenaries. Both sides agree: the firm is staffed with shooters with experience on elite military teams. The gunmen at this event are all former members of Delta Force, an elite unit formed to conduct counterterrorism missions.

Chevy hired TigerSwan to host this demo on its sprawling training range, located 17 miles from Fort Bragg in North Carolina. The Range Complex, as the company calls it, is spread over 1,900 acres, plenty of room for the intensive combat exercises conducted here. The practice spaces encompass just 100 acres; the rest of the area is needed to make sure that errant bullets land harmlessly, outside of what’s called the Surface Danger Zone.

“Your vehicle can be the most lethal weapon on the battlefield, if it’s used the right way.”

Not many Hollywood myths survive for very long when discussing the best uses of vehicles in shootouts with professionals. For example, ducking behind a car for cover during a gunfight is a bad idea. “Most vehicles don’t make good pieces of cover,” Reese says. “Bullets go right through.”

He is in a good position to know: As an operator with Delta, which they call “The Unit,” Reese once caught a bullet in the wrist while driving his commander through Baghdad.

Training is another word for experience. It’s not a good idea to try something for the first time when lives are at stake. For example, training here includes the best way to drive a car away from a roadside ambush by gunmen. The first priority is to get away, to nullify the advantage the attackers gained by choosing the location. And that usually means driving forward. To do this safely means shooting out of the car’s windshield, to hit or scare the gunmen outside.

This is easier than it sounds. The ideal way to shoot out a front windshield is to make a hole with a few quick rounds, and then poke the barrel of the firearm through the hole to shoot back in earnest. But how many shots will it take to make that hole? Is the glass tempered? What’s the best body position inside a car to fire accurately?

Like anything, being a badass car gunman requires training so that your body acts without hesitation. “Practice, practice, practice,” Reese says. “Your vehicle can be the most lethal weapon on the battlefield, if it’s used the right way.”

Another lesson from the special ops world: Those behind the wheel don’t shoot. “The driver is the driver,” Reese sums up. They are responsible for watching everything ahead of the vehicle, scanning for upcoming threats and leery of any chokepoints. Others in the vehicle have their own sectors, areas they constantly watch for trouble. They call this “putting your head on a swivel.”

The hired guns of TigerSwan have been deployed across the world and have been subjected to nearly every threat to a vehicle you can imagine: roadside bombs, gunmen posted under overpasses, suicide bombers, motorcycle drive-bys. “They usually don’t even slow down,” says Rick, an operator with extensive experience in cartel-infested parts of South America, of motorcycle gunmen there. (Former operators ask that only their first names be used.)

Despite all of Chevy’s happy talk of delivering battle-ready SUVs, the first thing Delta Force does is tailor the vehicle for the conditions on the ground. That could mean using “bolt on” kits, supplied by third-party vendors. These vendors sometimes work with vehicle makers to ensure their solutions, like extra armor or weapons stations, will be easy to install.

Other enhancements are improvised on the spot. Two popular SUV mods in war zones emerge during separate conversations. One is cutting a hole in the roof to create a firing position. Rick says he first saw this in Beruit, where gunners wanted views above the tops of other vehicles. Others add that this became common in Iraq and Afghanistan as well. Delta operators even figured out a way to mount a heavy .50-caliber machine gun on top of the vehicle. Another popular modification: putting a seat in the rear, facing directly behind the SUV. This takes care of one of the few blind spots.

Eddie is a 23-year Army veteran with 17 years of service in Delta, and a recipient of two Bronze Stars and multiple Purple Hearts. He says any vehicle they receive in the field gets modified immediately. “We’ll do the tires, brakes, lights, everything,” he says. “In Afghanistan, we once replaced an SUV engine, and put in a diesel. Easier to get fuel.”

Special Operations troops such as Delta, the Navy SEALs, and the Air Force Special Tactics Squadron, are known for their specialized vehicles. But oftentimes it makes more sense to blend in, and that means using indigenous vehicles to get around. In some parts of the world that means pickup trucks, but in others the black SUV is common. “In Iraq, at first, these would stick out,” says Antek, who has 15 years of Delta experience. “But after a while they were common.”

After the sun sets, a handful of Z71 Midnight Edition Tahoes arrive. They’re marketed to look mean: a black mesh grill, dark painted DuraTrac tires and black bowties. The cross rails have an odd strip across the top, faintly glowing red. This is a reflector that glows like hot metal under night vision goggles, which amplifies what little light exists.

The TigerSwan operators load into Tahoe Z71s and drive into the night on a “ghost ride,” headlights extinguished and wearing night-vision headsets. In the lenses, the lightless dirt road is bathed in a green hue. Every insect becomes a brilliantly lit orb. Antek drives quickly but in control, gently drifting across turns and weaving in between heavy equipment and farm buildings.

He’s shot from moving vehicles before, at targets who shoot back. He has practical advice: Try not to do it unless you have a heavy machine gun mounted on the vehicle. “You won’t hit anything with a rifle or pistol, if you’ve got any speed,” he says.

The ghost ride, shoot house, and time on the gun ranges at the event are not very instructive when it comes to the merits of Chevy’s SUVs for this kind of work. They are popular, sold worldwide and common in US and foreign police units. But the real lesson is in the relationship between elite warriors and the mounts they ride.

“Of course we pay close attention to the vehicles we ride in,” Antek says. “They can save your life when you need them.”

This article originally appeared at Auto Blog. The author of the article is Joe Poppalardo.

Continue Reading

Careers

Jobs in Iraq

Published

on

Most of the time, people asking about contracting opportunities. Former soldiers, law enforcement specialists and others are usually interested in continuing their carrers somewhere abroad. This time, we are announcing the call from the HR Power consulting agency. HR Power is a security recruitment & vetting company specialized in sourcing ex-military professionals.

Jobs in Iraq

Team Leaders, Deputy Team Leaders (2IC) and Tier 2 Medics needed for an already awarded project in Basra, IRAQ.
The base requirements for the positions are as follows:

Team Leader, Deputy Team Leader (2IC)

  • 3+ years of Military Service
  • 12+ months previous PSD TL or DTL experience from Iraq
  • Close Protection certificate (SIA approved or equivalent)
  • Medical Qualification (FPOS, MIRA or equivalent)
  • Previous experience working as a PSD TL or PSD DTL (2IC), depending on the position you are applying to
  • Clean Criminal Background
  • Good English

T2 Medic

  • 5+ years of Military Service within a medical unit of the armed forces
  • 12+ months previous PSD TL or DTL experience from Iraq
  • Close Protection certificate (SIA approved or equivalent)
  • Proof of current status as a practicing medic
  • Clean Criminal Background
  • Good English

Deployment date: after the vetting process is completed and VISA received
Rotations 2 months on, 1 month off.

More details to follow after we receive your application. If you meet the requirements, please confirm your interest by sending your CV to security@hrpower.ee with the tag “Iraq17”.

Continue Reading

Most Popular (30 days)

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Subscribe now for free

Sign up today for free and be the first to get the latest news & intel from our former military journalists. Support our Veteran writers and get the latest news and exclusive intel.

We won't disclose your personal information to third parties without your permission.