The Secret Soldiers of Afghanistan and Iraq by Dominic Oto
Did you know that private military contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq outnumber U.S. troops three to one?
The biggest growth has been the market of protective services in hostile environments, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan. These services include Executive Protection or Close Protection or CP (a bodyguard in layman’s terms) for government clients.
By 2017 the United States is involved in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. Some of these places are so dangerous that the State Department has assigned a threat level of “critical.” In October 2001, an American led Coalition attacked Afghanistan. The Taliban was overthrown in six weeks.
In March 2003, the U.S. led Coalition invaded Iraq. The Iraqi people deposed dictator Saddam Hussein after 43 years of tyrannical rule. Warring factions and militias took over in both countries opposing American involvement. Over the next decade, violent wars broke out killing 6,000 American soldiers.
Afghanistan and Iraq are the worst and most dangerous places on earth. American personnel working there were in grave danger. To protect essential State Department personnel American diplomatic outposts and bases in Afghanistan and Iraq needed to be protected.
PMCs hired former elite military soldiers called “operators” for the dangerous and difficult mission of protecting American assets overseas. The operators are mostly former Navy SEALs, U.S. Army Special Forces and Rangers, and Marines. These former special operators and Marines that bring calm to moments of absolute terror and chaos. Many of them were the top warriors in their respective services.
These men are not about politics. The mission of PMCs is to protect U.S. assets and personnel in dangerous places from a relentless and constant terrorist threat. They are mainly used in high-risk areas. PMCs act as the security element of the U.S. government assets in war zones and beyond.
PMCs protect American assets and personnel in the most austere environments. PMCs see themselves as Americans helping Americans overseas especially in areas where there is no military support. PMCs do amazing work. Their service and sacrifice is larger unknown because they are no longer soldiers. PMCs put others before themselves.
They train in everything from shooting and reloading rifles and pistols, to close quarters combat to offensive driving. Business firms working The Circuit are called Commercial Security Companies or CSCs.
The primary goal of CSCs is to make money. They are above the political reasons that countries are in wars. PMCs are different than mercenaries. Mercenaries are hired guns who sell their services to the highest bidder despite the mission or circumstances.
Mercenaries have no national loyalty, no sense of duty or honor to a country and no moral foundation. Most PMCs are former soldiers. They regard their employment on The Circuit as a continuation of their public service, not an end to it.
Most PMCs do not accept jobs that run counter to U.S. national interests. A majority of PMCs are retired veterans with a decade or more of military service. They see their work in the private security sector as an extension of their service as soldiers. PMCs are patriots and military contractors, not mercenaries.
Pelton, Robert Young. Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns on the War on Terror. New York City: Random House, 2006.
Schumacher, Gerry. A Bloody Business: America’s War Zone Contractors and the Occupation of Iraq. St. Paul, MN : Zenith Press, 2006.