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CIVILIAN CONTRACTORS: Do Non Ex-Military Guys Have a Place in the Security Contracting Industry?

Ex-military – does it really matter?

Do Non EX-Military Guys Have a Place in the Security Contracting Industry?

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This is a debate I have heard from my first day on a security contract when some ex-mil contractor asked me;

Ex-mil Contractor: “you ex-mil?”

James G.: “no dude”

Ex-mil Contractor: “how the hell did you get on this gig?”

James G.: “Smith* hooked me up”

Ex-mil Contractor: “you guys don’t have any place in this line of work, go home before you get someone killed”


Later I found out that this dude was ex-Army but he sat a desk the whole time as a photographer. Now I am by no means a “Bad Ass Village burning cigar chomping mercenary” but I am pretty sure that I am at least the equivalent of a guy who drove a desk for a few years in the military.

Don’t get me wrong, I do understand some high-risk jobs in security contracting do require a high-speed background. But I have to disagree with the argument “if you are not ex-military then you don’t have a place at all in OCONUS security contracting”:

Non Ex-Mill guys won’t be able to handle themselves under fire

Just because someone is former military does not guarantee that they will hold up under fire any better than an experienced security contractor (or even a “first-timer”). Knowing how someone will react the first time during an armed confrontation is not pre-determined by military experience alone.

Now some people argue that ex-mil guys are more likely to have experience under fire, but that is not always true. Out of all the security contractors I know very few saw serous combat time wile in the military (especially those who served in the 80’s).

I won’t argue that an ex-military guy with a ton of combat time under his belt should be a prime choice for high-risk gigs. But nor do I think non ex-mil guys should be excluded from those gigs simply because they are not ex-SEALS.

Non Ex-Mill guys are unfamiliar with small team tactics

I think people put too much relevance into small team tactic experience in security contracting. Generally speaking the majority of OCONUS security contracting work is force protection, PSD and convoy escort.

If you are working on a PSD contract then you surely have at least a few years experience in EP, so you have the small team tactic experience relevant to your job.

On convoy escort details you are unlikely to ‘stack-up’ and fight ass to cock, so many traditional small team tactics become irrelevant. But working as a team when a vehicle becomes disabled or if you have contact, then small team tactics do come into play, but the tactics you use are unique to convoy escort duties (and are generally learned on the job or during pre-deployment training).

With force protection most of the time you have one of the following duties; sitting in a tower, manning an ECP or working on a QRF team.

In a tower your team is you, so small team tactics don’t really come into play outside of radio commutations or working with one other guy.

If you are working at an ECP small team tactics become more relevant, and wile the tactics you use on an ECP during a threat are similar no matter the ECP – generally speaking each ECP has a different SOP that is learned by training and on the job experience.

In QRF teams small team tactics come more into play as you will be operating in a fashion similar to a SWAT team. And guys with small team tactics experience in the military will surely have a shorter learning curve when joining a QRF team, but is a skill that can be learned on the job in a reasonable amount of time.

Non Ex-Mill guys Don’t Fit into the team environment as well as ex-mil guys do

I think this argument is a load of horse-shit, fitting in on a team has nothing to do with military experience. It is 100% personality, ether you fit in with people or you don’t. If you are an ass-hole it wont matter if you are a 20 year veteran of the Army or not.

Some guys get along with people some don’t, its that simple.

Non Ex-Mill guys do not have the experience for certain specialized missions

I tend to agree with people on this one, certain jobs in the security contracting world require such specialized experience it can not be taught to someone, it must come from actual time working as a high-speed SF operator.

Things like when Blackwater was running operators in and out of Pakistan snatching guys could hardly of been done by a guy without some pretty serous SF experience. And in the Maritime security market defending and assaulting ships is probably a skill you should bring to the table, especially if you don’t even know if you will get sea-sick or go sea-crazy.

But these specialized jobs are less that 1% of the entire security contracting job market, so using the argument that everyone without military experience should be excluded from security contracting because of one thin field is sort of silly.

Non Ex-Mill guys do not have the same discipline as ex-military guys

I also think this is another horse-shit argument, just like getting along with people discipline is something you ether have or don’t have. Following orders is something anyone who has worked in the security contracting industry can do. Hell, its something anyone who has had a job can do.

In conclusion…

In my opinion equivalent experience in the security contracting industry should be held at the same level as military experience. And immediately disqualifying someone from a security contracting job without even considering the experience they do have is unfair to security contractors with years of in-country experience.

Obviously by the tone of this article I believe that non ex-mil guys can perform just as well as former military guys (like I would be against myself working). So I am interested in hearing more “Against” arguments along with the people who agree with the tone of my article.

But please keep it civil guys, I know this is an emotional subject for allot of contractors. So if you disagree with me or someone who makes a comment here please state the points you disagree with and your rebuttal.

*Not his real name

QRF = Quick Reaction Force
OCONUS = Outside the Continental United States
PSD = Protective Security Detail
SF = Special Forces
EP = Executive Protection
ECP = Entry Control Point
SOP = Standard Operating Procedure
SWAT = Fo reals, you don’t know what this stands for?


~James G
Founder – Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and regretting he never joined the French Foreign Legion because it would make finding work a hell of allot easier (but thank god he can still do IT gigs when he gets passed over for security ones).

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  1. In my country the coast guard is a part of the military, which means I’m ‘ex-mil’. My extensive experience includes mopping floors and measuring cod.

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  2. “Measuring Cod”, that’s one hell of a skill. :) I jest, but here’s a real question, what type of training did they give. I’m sure even for guys who are ex-mil and have sat behind a desk most of their careers, they at least went through basic and possibly other training. They’ve at least qualified on the range. That being said, I’m sure a lot of them would piss themselves in a live fire situation. I’m also sure that there are quite a few that would excell in a SHTF scenario.

    My personal opinion is this;
    If you can do the job, it’s yours. If you can’t, you’re out.

    I’m not one for giving preferential treatment just because someone is ex this or ex that, or based on color, race, creed, religion, etc. It all comes down to “CAN YOU DO THE JOB”. If not, get the F out.

    Giving someone extra ‘points’ or giving them the job over someone else is horse shit.

    I’ve personally met full birds who have NEVER seen combat, NEVER been deployed OCONUS (unless Jersey counts) and couldn’t lead their way out of the bathroom. Would I want to follow them into even an EP situation? Hell no.

    I’ve known a dishwasher (WAY back in the day when I was a waiter) that was dropped out of the Marines due to a medical discharge (something wrong with his one foot) that I’d follow to the gates of Hell and back because of the confidence and the way he carried and handled himself in some interesting situations (3rd shift, weekend, drunks, not the best neighborhood, you get the idea).

    So yeah, non-ex-mil guys have a place and some ex-mil guys don’t.

    [commenters disclaimer] This does not apply to all ex-mil or non-ex-mil guys. I’m sure there’s a lot out there that do and/or don’t fit the mold.

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  3. I’m gonna have to side with you on this one James. Although after my second deployment was over it was pretty aggravating to hear that some private first class who didn’t do shit our whole deployment at Camp Cropper got a contracting job because he played World of Warcraft with a contractor. On the other hand that kid got a Navy seal to bring us a big bag o weapons while a bunch of us were using Dublin range at camp Victory but whatever. I have a buddy in my intro to criminal justice class who would be awesome at a security contracting job. He shoots competitively, takes all kinds of survival courses and works for Sig Sauer. He says he would prefer police work though but I’ve told him a few times to try looking into security contracting.

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  4. Yeah, we have a special cod caliper that’s the size of a TV, it’s great! We also towed a whale carcass once. The smell of a whale carcass is like that of a recently opened clogged shower drain x1000.. And it spread inside the entire ship. *barf*

    Jokes aside it did include some valid experience, small boat transfers and climbing pilot ladders in the Arctic Ocean did help my fear of the unknown a little. I work on a civilian ship now and the kind of things that are deemed ‘unsafe’ by policy does make me want to smirk some times, I try to avoid commenting too much..

    I fired around 20 rounds total from a Glock 17 (I sucked and still do) and fired a little bit of prone Olympic style shooting with a bolt action. (and yeah sucked and still do) So no, I wouldn’t be of much use in any 3rd world place except water boy and bullet magnet.. surely someone has those positions too though?

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  5. James,

    Ithink a lot of the attitude AGAINST no-mil is “fear-out -of ignonrance.” A former 82nd guy has an idea what the other branches and MOS did and is comfortable with which skills transfer over. They also will assume the ex-mil will operate under standard military chain of command rules, etc. Someone from the civillian world is an unknown factor they may not be comfortable with. So the St. Louis Cop who has been in numerous fights, talked down even more, has a high awareness and street IQ and will be your team’s best interrogator may be viewed by the ex-mil as “another cop waiting to give me a ticket when I run my crotch rocket out to Myrtle Beach.”

    That said, the same desk-pilot could be no-go’ed by any combat arms guy and the gun bunny NG’ed by the infantry guy, and so on; all in a huge pecking order. I think 80% of what makes a good team member is attitude, intelligence and focus. You can teach them the rest.

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  6. I agree with DanO, it basically boils down to our “herd” mentality. We’re comfortable with what and who we know. So the mil guys hang-out with mil guys, LEO guys hang out with LEO guys, etc, etc.

    And let’s be honest, about the only way one’s going to get a decent contracting job these days is by knowing someone on the “inside”. Case in point; gave my buddy a heads-up on a contracting job I saw somewhere. The job description fit him to the “Tee”. It was the same thing he had been doing in the Army for years. He actually got a call-back from the firm and they eventually said; “they were looking for someone else”. Whatever the hell that means.

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  7. Hey guys, stumbled into the site a few weeks ago and have been reading regularly since then. Great job on the articles. Hilarious and so true.

    Now, onto the topic at hand. My background is military and LE. I was a grunt in the 101st, and attended a few specialized and advanced schools. Came up in the years when things were really heating up for the Army so was able to see some real world stuff, though as the article said I’ve seen more fighting as a contractor than as a soldier.

    Became a cop and was on the department Special Incident Response Team. Then 9-11 happened, and the phone started ringing. I haven’t looked back since then.

    After working contracts for some time, I came to feel that non-former military guys were at a great disadvantage in the contract world. In spite of having been a cop for a few years, I saw a lot of cops melt down or whine incessantly about that fact that some contract work was 24 hours per day and there was no “end of shift.” The former military guys seemed more in tune with the lifestyle. The contract I was working then did involve team tactics and teaching at least rudimentary skills to nationals that you would then depend on to work in the field, and military guys “got that” a lot more than even good SWAT cops did, because police work is still not like small unit military work. The lines blur a bit, but there are critical differences.

    I ended up on a contract working almost exclusively with ex-SF guys and sometimes with active SF teams. I was well accepted, except for one active duty SF weapons sergeant who simply could not believe that any one who had not been in group could have the job I had. We chatted a bit, and he had no complaints about my performance, just that I wasn’t a group guy. As someone said above, there is always a pecking order and it will sometimes rear it’s head.

    Overall, I still feel that good quality military guys have an inherent leg up, because as someone else said, they don’t give some of that training in the contracting world.

    However, as James said, there are many kinds of contracting duties, so their are chances for many different kinds of people. You don’t need to be a high speed mall ninja to work a fixed post.

    Now that I’ve ventured all over the map I’ll sum up a bit: certain kinds of very active contracts almost require guys that come from a similar military background with a certain understood skill level. Other than that, there is room for cops, pogues, remfs, and anyone else willing to accept the risk and perform the duties.

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    • You make excellent points. I served 4 years active duty in the U.S. Air Force and then went to school for electrical engineering to only sign up with Northrop Grumman as a Field Engineer. Some of my counterparts have military experience, some don’t. Obviously there’s advantages when you have that camaraderie but sometimes you’ll run across someone who took a different path, but loves the defense industry, and wants to go all in at a much later point in life than we did. We must accept that and not judge or think of them less in any regard. Give them a shot. If they can’t hang, send them home asap.

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  8. Oh, and I almost forgot….cod measuring sounds really dirty and I’m not sure I’d put that on a CV.

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  9. Great article.
    Another point is not all ex-mil are knuckle draggers.
    So someone who was in the mil for 10 years behind a desk can do EP?

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  10. I agree with you James, but I think you are missing one thing. If someone asks me if I am ex-mil (I am), it’s 99% of the time followed up with “What branch?” then “What did you do?”.

    I’m not a contractor, and this was not work-related, but this is what I’ve seen in my life.

    Again not speaking from a contractor perspective, but I have a feeling that if some high speed Delta/SEAL operator asked if you were ex-mil, you said yes, and then they found out you rode a desk in the Air Force, you would get the same GTFO attitude as if you weren’t ex-mil. I think part of it is that you just don’t GET to the second question.

    Not excusing that attitude, simply commenting on the “not all ex-mil experience is the same” bit.

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  11. Thank you for the acronym definitions.

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  12. All ex-mil special operators aren’t equal either. I was advising the U.S. Army Reserves in Guam for summer training and we were supposed to defend a compound from some Seals from the local U.S. Navy base. The Reserve guys were just good old boys who were in the Reserves to get an ID card so they could go into the local PX, and the Seals were active duty “hard core” operators. The Seals were so f’d up, we saw them coming for miles, and then they fell into our concertina wire and got all cut up and we had to stop the training and medi-vac them out. Ex-mil / Seal / SFer / LE / whatever can be great, but the real test is in the man.

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  13. All ex-mil special operators aren’t equal either. I was advising the U.S. Army Reserves in Guam for summer training and we were supposed to defend a compound from some Seals from the local U.S. Navy base. The Reserve guys were just good old boys who were in the Reserves to get an ID card so they could go into the local PX, and the Seals were active duty “hard core” operators. The Seals were so f’d up, we saw them coming for miles, and then they fell into our concertina wire and got all cut up and we had to stop the training and medi-vac them out. Ex-mil / Seal / SFer / LE / whatever can be great, but the real test is in the man.  (Quote This Comment)

    A lot of truth in that one.

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  14. Good article. Working on a private security contract is a different environment than being in the military. 20 years of service is great, but it doesn’t by any means guarantee success in the private sector…

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  15. I am not ex mil. I did the college thing before I went into this type of work. Got a couple of Bachelor’s and a Master’s before anything. Worked as a Reserve Officer for a bit and then took some courses in EP work and so on. But I was a military brat and lived mainly over seas growing up in and around embassies. Got to take a lot of varied Martial Arts and learned a lot from the Marines that were stationed there. Which is not experience, but did instill in me a sense of honor and discipline.

    So I have certainly been met with derision and a lot of untrust with guys that I have worked with. At least for the first few weeks. I got called “college boy”, “professor”, “Frat F*ck”(never in a frat however) and several other colorful names. And the pranks, ugh the pranks. But after a few weeks when they realized that I was still there and could handle myself they warmed up to me. And it has always been like that, non mil guys just have more to prove than ex mil guys, because ex mil guys have that knowledge as to where they have been and what they have done. And that is no problem, I will gladly prove myself to whomever requires it.

    I have seen ex mil guys freeze, or psychologically crumble after gun fights, spend the rest of the day afterward drunk out of their mind. Just as much as the non mil guys. I really think it is one of those things that you either can do or you can’t do. And the learning curve is pretty extreme, so you get to know whether members of your team are up to the task or not pretty fast.

    As for me, I have been doing this type of stuff since about 2003 off and on between stints back in the halls of academics. (I prefer it out here. It is scary in the Ivory Tower). I enjoy the work, I enjoy most of the guys that I have worked with, aside from the archetypes that James loves to write about. Even with those types I have enjoyed them from a psychological perspective. But I have learned a lot from them, and I hope that they have learned from me, I have counseled several of the guys that I have worked with. I have never been in a team that I didn’t gell with the guys that could be gelled with. And that is the way it goes with many. personality clashes will occur no matter who is on the team.

    So can the non mil guys do this type of work. I say yes. Is it easy for them. No. I say it takes a certain someone. Is it easier for the ex mil guys to do it. Sure. Depending on their vocation within their respective service. But it at the end of the day is the person that can either adjust to the work or fail to.

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  16. Ok here I go. James is right on. Years ago when everyone needed a medic, I was qualified having worked in a high crime area that saw a boat load of GSW (gun shot wounds) calls, and actually helped train Navy SEAL & Air Force PJ medics. The problem was my kids were young & I wasn’t quite ready to do contract work. So now that I have taken years of PSD & tactical training classes I am no longer qualified even for a static medic position because I have not been in the military or been LE. I even have all of my maritime credentials.
    I have to deal with high pressure situations every day that I work. I have to be able to work in a team environment on every call. I have spent time in the Middle East & understand the people.

    It should be about an individuals experience & skill level.
    Rant over. :>/

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  17. Great artical, as a civilian security contractor I got sick of getting passed over for more high risk assignments as I was not ex military.
    So I joined and although I have now a wealth of knowledge in demolitions I did not posess before it has made no difference to my CPP skill base.
    What it has done is open up an old boys network and have clients take me more seriously which in itself was worth the effort.
    I have worked with ex mossad, MI6, NYPD, SAS and so on and have to agree that its the individual and not their former employment
    That makes a good operator it is nice however to have experience to draw from.

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  18. Great artical, as a civilian security contractor I got sick of getting passed over for more high risk assignments as I was not ex military.
    So I joined and although I have now a wealth of knowledge in demolitions I did not posess before it has made no difference to my CPP skill base.

    Another comment that has me perplexed. When you state “CPP” do you mean Certified Protection Professional via ASIS International? If so, I’m having difficulty correlating the ability to pass a paper test with military experience. If I’m way off base, forgive me, it’s late here.

    I even have all of my maritime credentials.

    Curious as to what you mean by “maritime credentials”?

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    • No I did not mean the paper test and certification run through asis. Close personal protection! Maybe I used
      The wrong acronym, however you wish to call it EP, PSDN BG that was what I was refering to .

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    • Z card & TWIC cards that allows me to work on ships & in any port the the US Government deals with.

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  19. To be, or to do. -Col. John Boyd

    To me, actions speak louder than words. I could care less if you are prior service or not, SF or not, infantry or cook. All I care about is your actions on that contract, and how you get along with the team. I want to work with the guy that does things right, when no one is looking. Someone who is locked on, but still able to crack a joke and get along. I do not like posers or guys who talk themselves up to more than what they are, or worse yet, lie.

    But in the same breath, it doesn’t matter what I think. What matters is what the customer thinks. If they have to choose someone to protect them in a war zone, will they choose combat veteran and former Marine, or will they choose a kid with no police or military background–but they took some cool courses and worked at the mall as a guard once or twice? He who writes the checks, determines who gets to protect them.

    Personally, if it was my company and I did have the choice, I would purely choose based on the full scope of the person’s background. I would not discriminate. But if the customer tells me what they want, I have to abide, or I will never get any work for my company. It is that simple.

    Finally, I do recognize the reality of this industry. When guys write me and ask for advice on how to get into this work, I tell them to join the military. Get into the combat arms field, do some time in Iraq or Afghanistan (at least a year), and most importantly, choose an MOS that will get you a clearance. The highest clearance you can possibly get. Also get into a sniper course, armorer’s course, dog handlers course, or medical course (or MOS). If you can get a SF type classification in any of the services, that would really be helpful. All of those positions are highly sought after in this industry. The Paramedic certification is a really good one to have as well, and you can get that as a civilian. As for IT stuff, I am sure James will chime in there. There are a number of ways to skin a cat, but guys without the military or police background, have to work and hustle that much more to get a place at the table.

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  20. Great insights and comment Matt – thanks

    ~James G

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  21. The main question I am asking here is if you are not prior military should you be excluded from security contracting work based on that single factor?

    I know many contractors that say straight-up if you are not ex-military than you should not be allowed in security contracting – period

    ~James G

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    • My story is very similar to Eugene’s. I have not served in the military, but I come from a family of Vets. I was in LE for 4 yrs, and did some different jobs in LE, then went to college, got a degree, then a JD, passed the Bar, practice law and train w/LE and have worked a handful of domestic security contract jobs. I also consult and teach in church security, pulling in high-speed experts to teach where I’m lacking.

      I am basic SWAT certified, and qualify on pistol, carbine and shotgun, H2H, have many hours of related training and more than half a dozen EP placements solo and on small teams,etc..

      But when I looked into some good paying jobs in Haiti after the earthquake, even with an inside connection, I was told I might be too old, my certifications hard to figure out exactly who I was or what I was about, and that I should finish up my paramedic if I wanted to distinguish myself and compete with the former infantrymen & high speed guys who were lining up to go down there.

      So basically not being former mil was a strike against me from the get-go. The short-term cop experience was better than nothing, but just enough to keep my resume from getting ash-canned out of hand. I sympathize with the recruiters who wonder if this self-made “soldier of fortune” Walter Mitty-type, was somebody they could rely on to do the job. That’s where WHO I know can and should make all the difference.

      So I’m with you 100%, that civilians should not be disqualified out of hand for not having military experience. But that being said, it doesn’t mean it will be easy for ex-mil types to find jobs if they don’t have an inside hookup.

      I’ve worked with ex-mil, some great, some batshit crazy (no offense, but some Nam vets were still in the jungle). One particular recently discharged Ranger I was partnered with in several months of EP with was a solid guy with a great attitude. Crazy fun to work with. And we became great friends.

      It’s a great discussion, but at the end of the day, imo, it comes down to 2 things:

      Character AND Competence.

      You need a good guy, with good skills. Regardless of his past labels.

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  22. Maritime credentials:
    US Merchant Mariners Document issued by Coast Guard to work on ships.
    TWIC card issued by TSA that allows one to work out of any port that the US does business in. I also know from a number of acquaintances that this is needed to work security at any nuclear power plant these days.

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  23. This argument reminds me of when I was picked to be a fire investigator. Every firefighter at work cried foul because I wasn’t at the time a firefighter (I had been before getting hired a firefighter for 7 years). Then it was pointed out to them that firefighters didn’t learn fire investigations in academy, so they were no more qualified to do the job than I was.

    So the question comes, does being in the military train one for PSD work? I have a kid in the Army & I know for a fact that he hasn’t received any PSD training & he is an officer. So once again it comes down to the individual, his training which in this case is specific, & ones experience. To me the answer is that military experience should not be an absolute perquisite.

    One other point needs to made concerning non military. If you have been through a training academy of some sort than you should have by the end the same level of discipline and understanding of a rank system as anyone in the military.

    This then for me begs the question, why should someone with maybe 4 years experience be more qualified to be a medic than myself with 24 years experience just because his uniform had cammo on it?

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  24. The main question I am asking here is if you are not prior military should you be excluded from security contracting work based on that single factor?I know many contractors that say straight-up if you are not ex-military than you should not be allowed in security contracting – period
    ~James G  

    I say no. Sometimes. It depends on what you bring to the table as merely a civilian. You may not have any years in the military, but you may have been in the Martial Arts since you were a kid and have a knowledge of combat at least in the H2H sense. Hell I have come across guys whom were just bouncers that could barely string a complete paragraph together. That were crap with weapons. But there H2H was solid.

    Or you might not have the military experience, but due to your history and education you can speak 7 different languages. That is how I got my first job initially, they were wary that at the time I only took classes in EP work and then they saw the languages that I spoke and that was all they needed.

    So there are several factors, from medical knowledge, language, a knowledge of the geography and area in general, contacts so on and so forth that can be of more use to the employer than merely they were in the military before hand. Because it is difficult to get all of that in one package.

    And again it depends on the civilian. They need to be humble and realize that they have less experience than the rest. If they are hard headed and think they “got this” because they went to a really good class or trained at gunsite, tactical response, thunder ranch etc. Then they are not going to be liked or they are going to be easily hurt. They need to sit down, shut up, follow directions and keep their head. Some guys pick it up quickly, others don’t, they don’t tend to last long.

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  25. Ah, I see, I was not thinking in terms that general such as a TWIC. I had begun to think some entity developed a Maritime Security credential that I was not aware of.

    Maritime credentials:
    US Merchant Mariners Document issued by Coast Guard to work on ships.
    TWIC card issued by TSA that allows one to work out of any port that the US does business in. I also know from a number of acquaintances that this is needed to work security at any nuclear power plant these days.  

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  26. Very cool your site G James, I am Brazilian and I’ve read your articles, I am not ex-military, very good your articles.
    PS: If you want to train in Brazil’s favelas, talk to me.

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  27. Ah, I see, I was not thinking in terms that general such as a TWIC. I had begun to think some entity developed a Maritime Security credential that I was not aware of.  

    The most popular maritime security course that I have heard about so far is in Israel.
    I have also come upon one school here in the States & one in the UK. I just have never heard anyone talk about these two.

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  28. 2 cents worth:

    James’ response to the ‘ex mil macho man’ was on target – F You! Everyone here seems on the same page, i.e., it is the man that makes the difference.

    Colon ( misspell intentional ) Powell, also called Master C Boogie Chill, after his stupid effin’ clown dance campaigning for Obongo, was ex-mil. Would you want HIM – or the ( thankfully ) dead Dirtbag Murtha, covering YOUR six? Not likely.

    Gabe Suarez once pointed out that when training a man or a team for any mission, you begin from scratch and take nothing for granted, whether half your team is made of SF snake-eaters and the other half all have exclusively civilian pasts… you train them for the job, equip them for what is needed of them.

    I knew, in another lifetime, a couple of former mercs ( one now dead, one retired) who worked as ‘civilian advisors’ in Laos, they would be classed as ‘non-mil’, both were tough as nails. The younger had trained with a private security firm in South Africa and was brilliant mentally, and also tough as they come. Neither of them was a crazed berserker or a cold blooded killer, in fact, the older man was much loved among the hill people, and he loved them. But anyway, I’m just saying, military or non, if a man has the inclination and is teachable and physically qualified, then barring any ‘mission specific’ stuff, like a snatch & grab, where former training would be beneficial, then I say treat each applicant with the same respect.
    Besides – sometimes a reputation can be unwanted baggage.

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  29. James

    Being non-military or non-police does not take you off the table from a practical point of view. I think the consensus is clear here, that is is the actions of the man. But being competitive in this market is another story. Having no military or police background will take you off the proverbial table, because the majority of your peers are either former military or police, and most clients prefer prior military or police. So with that said, if you want to increase your odds of actually getting a job in this industry for overseas, you should probably do some time as a cop or soldier in your country. I would lean more towards military, and a strong emphasis on getting the highest clearance you can in the military.(US) I would also suggest pursuing anything that will give you a tab- SF, Ranger, whatever special forces group your country has.

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  30. The most popular maritime security course that I have heard about so far is in Israel.
    I have also come upon one school here in the States & one in the UK. I just have never heard anyone talk about these two.  

    I have sincere reasons to hold a little bias in that I’m not convinced one is able to garner the necessary skills from some of these courses offered by many of these fly-by-night operations suddenly claiming to be authorities in maritime training. I say this not in reference to the links you posted; quite the contrary, the link for COTI appears to have the proper ingredients for relevant curriculum and realistic training.

    Rather, I am not impressed with the MANY security companies that look like a PPO (guard company) with a website who is trying to cash in some maritime action with nothing more than a poker face. It’s not hard to out these folks. Guarding the strip mall in Miami or a Texas town one day and the next they are “Maritime Security Consultants” or offering high speed “Maritime Security Courses” with a pleasure craft or yacht. PLEASE.

    Do I have a reason to be biased? Yes, very much so. I have a strong Navy background in Visit, Board, Search & Seizure (VBSS) ops, I’ve done several Counter Illicit Trafficking (CIT) deployments working in conjunction with Coast Guard LE detachments and I have over 10 yrs of continuous AT/FP experience as a trainer and ATO. There is a reason why the Navy places such emphasis on Maritime Security and the Coast Guard established the rating of PS & MST’s.

    It should be quite obvious that defense of a HVA such as ship creates a unique and complicated scenario unlike that of any asset on dry land. I have seen military LE folks with investigator and EP backgrounds struggle after accepting an assignment to a ship, finding it is a whole other world; that is, the nautical environment. When the SHTF aboard a ship it takes on a whole new meaning when you are 100 fathoms to the ocean floor.

    I could go on and on with this one. LOL

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  31. i am a security officer from Autralia, i am not ex military, however, ihave a fair knowledge of what to do and how todoit, i have used some Military weapons, Such as a Bolt action Sniper rifle, Semi Automatic Pistols, Rifles etc. i have was in foster care for 18 years and have constantly read and studdied tactics since i was 5 im now 22, i havent been in combat but id give it a shot, and id take whatever advice/training tips etc that the guys with more exp and learn it, my brother was in the Australian Army, i want as much work as i can get, hell id be happy patrolling a base/building/ops centre or checking IDs.
    if anyone knows of a list of companies that would hire me please let me know at [email protected]

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    • Studying military tactics since you were 5, I must say at 5 all I was interested in was spiderman comics
      And riding my pushbike. If you would like some info try and maybe read “security contracting” ebook by jake allen
      To give you an idea of what you are really looking at.

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    • I am a contractor and not ex military, it cost me a lot in air fare and training schools to be able to get the jobs I want, a rough estimate I have spent is in the 30,000 cdn range as my country makes it impossible to get such training with a criminal record, though no federal charges it doesnt matter.
      My point is I get a lot of looks and flack for being non ex military, I train just as hard and can fight ass to cock quote just as well as the next. Funny thing is other than training I have never once used those skills under contact, perhaps my trainer is a little on the light side lol.
      Anyhow not feeling well so Im outta here but thanks for writing this blog.

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  32. Chris,

    No offence but while you may be prepared to listen and receive advice I would not want you on my team. A team hasn’t got time to train someone who has never done the job before. When my life and the life of my operators is in question I cant afford to reduce the effectiveness of my team.

    Why not consider joining the military for a few years to gain some measurable skills and then look at going overseas.

    The only company that has been employing recently for static guards in Iraq still had a minimum expectation of military service.

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  33. Craig,
    No ffencetaken i completely understand
    but that is the main reason why id be happy to do security at a base or Ops centre or something, thereare personal reason why i want to get into the private security industry, my girlfriend left me 3 days ago becuase im not a multi millionair and i have no family, i have only 3 or 4 friends and i want a job where i can use the skills that i know, if you know any intenational companies that want to hire a Security guard for around the base or something let me know

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  34. Outside of some weapons training almost anyone can become qualified for Force Protection

    ~James G

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  35. Even the special forces look for skill sets common in civilian jobs. Medical experience, structural engineering, network operations, flying an airplane or helicopter or just plain technical stuff like hot wiring a car.

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  36. Having served in the Marine Corps infantry for 10 years with two tours in Iraq under my belt, I think this article and most of the comments are spot on. I’m proud of the fact that I was in the Marine Corps, however, I learned that the things that make a good warfighter/security operator are a positive “can do” attitude, physicality, humility, being a team player, and a desire to keep learning, not a uniform or label.

    I am not downplaying military or LE experience by any means. Like I said, I was Marine infantry for 10 years. I trained with SOTG for the 24th MEU to get the Special Operations Capable qualification for our deployment. We worked with SF for a short time during the invasion of Iraq. I worked with Force Recon during our second tour. Not to mention all the training I’ve been through during my 10 years of service. But during that time I noticed certain traits that seemed to be universal to make good “tactical operators”.

    The really good guys that I worked with were not the chest pounding, hoorah hoorah types that bragged about being a Marine, SF, or whatever. They were, for the most part, the proverbial quiet professionals.

    I am currently trying to break into the private military industry and I hope that my military background will give me a leg up. But I don’t think that a lack of military or LE background should automatically exclude someone from getting into this line of work, although I’m sure it helps.

    I’m glad this issue was brought up because this is something I have had on my mind since ’03.

    Good article, James. Keep’em coming.

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  37. Thanks dude – glad you liked it

    ~James G

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  38. what would someone suggest to a college grad with out Military or LE experience. I am willing to do any kind of training, other than joining the military, to become a basic security contractor just doing the basic security jobs on a base or compound. I am open to any and all suggestions or programs that people know of that would help get my foot in the door.

    any advice James G….

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  39. im ex mil but i got a criminal history nothing bad just stupid shit. can i get in with that or hell no?

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  40. Can some one get me a job please? I have no background in the mil but you put me through some drills and I bet I impress you..

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  41. I happened across your comments while browsing articles of interest online and read your original post but just to be fair, I did not take the time to read all the responses or follow ups so this is stuff that may have been already bee said. I do have limited prior service in mil and LE. I dont really have any security experience to speak of other than a year I spent on an inner city task force here in the US that used squad based tactics to do drug house raids and similar stuff, but nothing at all like the para-SF type stuff you guys do in the bush and in the middle east. I agree with a good clip of what you wrote. There are definitely a lot of guys that arent prior service that I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to have beside me during some heat. And I can tell you first hand there is no shortage of oversung, underwhelming military and LE personell…more than not actually. But the fact still remains that when your talking about private sector stuff, your still talking about a business and so capitalism and supply and demand reign supreme. As long as thats the case and as long as it remains true that there are alot more out of work ex-soldiers and ex-cops than there are slots on private sector teams, then a job being sought by two otherwise equally capable muldoons will continue to go to the one whose training and experience is certified by the US government. Think of it like this, you like two guys for a job. One of them has commensurate life experience and the other one has commensurate life experience AND his is endorsed by Federal/State military/police organizations. Which one would you choose if everything else was equal? To a VP, the one with the highest ranking endorsement is gonna spell the least liability for the company, and that will win 100 times out of 100. It will be different if there is ever a shortage of qualified guys wanting to do that kind of work, but as long as theres an over abundance in the hiring pool, the recruiters are gonna take the brightest star they can afford. I dont know if that sheds any light or not, but thats my guess as to why the smoke screens.

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  42. Being a veteran of ten years in the Dutch army with some deployments in strange countries I can only say that Ex-Mil have lots of usefull skills and experiences that might come in handy.
    But that never covers personallity, I have seen soldiers run away screaming for their mothers where I have seen civvies keeping themselves together.

    Working in the international security now, if I can pick teammembers, I value military experience but I valua character more.

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  43. So I became friends with a veteran of both multiple security contracting firms and the green berets who says he can get me a job with one of the companies he works for. I do not have military experience, because I’m about to finish college, and didnt get into the naval academy or marine corps ROTC.

    During the time I spent in college, I became a beast at boxing, mui Thai, brazilian jj, judo, and Japanese jj. I also played 2 years of D1 collegiate rugby. I have spent a year in intense, dangerous factories. I am very fit, courageous, humble, agressive, etc. I have been a bouncer for 2 years, which has resulted in numerous bar fights, which involved a lot of hand to hand combat and aplication of martial arts. I have become very proficient with handguns, shotguns, assault rifles and knives. I am 23.

    I am considering doing marine corps OCS when I graduate this spring, but if I can go straight to private security contracting by getting hooked up by my friend I think I’d rather do that, for the larger paycheck and the shorter time commitment.

    I know I have the raw material it takes both for military service and private contracting, and can learn the rest quickly.

    Is this a realistic expectation to skip military service and have a career in security contracting? Does the “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” concept apply in this situation? If I prove myself in training and in the field, will my resume still always be at the bottom of the pile because I didn’t serve in the military first?

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  44. Over the past months I have seriously considered civilian security contracting. It has become a dream of mine to be able to work for one of these companies. I am twenty years old with no previous combat experience but am currently working on my criminal justice degree. I grew up around firearms and can shoot and handle myself around them and am also extremely fit and tough with an itch for a fight due to my years of playing rugby in highschool and college. Although, I understand when situations call for peace and non-violence. Now with this being said, if I were to take Tactical response classes and prepare myself for H2H and close range combat, would I be a viable candidate for civilian security contracting? Would you, as a contractor with military experience, want me be hired on with the same group you’re with? And if so, what experience besides joining the military would you want me to have before I signed on?


    P.S. Thanks for the knowledge on this website James

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  45. So I am 33 been shooting since I was 1 y/old. My parents were both cops and my dad a marksman, when I he resigned he opened his own gun shop and did gun smithing. Dad taught me to shoot any weapon you can put in my hand, at 8 I was shooting Mac-10’s then AK’s, M4’s, M-14’s, M-1 Garands, you name it I have probably spent a day on the range with it. Anyway, I have about 30 years experience as a shooter, constantly on the range with all types of weapons, also been hutning my whole life. Got my first Elk at 867 yards with my uncles southpaw .338/.378 that I had never fired before. through the scope I saw the rain being blown first to the left then to the right. So I held the crosshairs right on her hind quarter, the wind pushed the round about 4 feet right and it hit her in the neck, instant kill. I have studied various martial arts since I was 7 and currently study MMA. I can handle any weapon you give me and have great accuracy. I have never been Military or LE, so I am curious, if I were to get EMT certified and maybe even my Helicopter pilot license. What would be the likelihood I landed a job in the Private Security industry? Also, where should I go to get my Firearms training certified? And what should I get? Pistol? M4/M-16? sniper rifle of some kind? Where to go for EP training? Get my Bodyguard cert? Thanks for any and all info you can give me. If you have more info you think I shoulod read you can e-mail me at [email protected] Thanks again.

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  46. Very nice article, totally what I ωanted to finԁ.

    Mу web page … V2 cigs Coupon Code

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  47. Hi,

    I am from Turkey. May be you know this, in my country everymen should perform military service. Most guys firing three rounds with G3’s and then cutting grass or doing some paperwork, during their service. Few people actually being in firefight. When i did my time in the army as 3th LT i was in watchhouse, which is settled middle of nowhere. There was no possibility to escape on foot and no air support. We attacked 6 times in 8 months. Terrorists hit us with rpg’s, machine guns… first one was just interesting experience. you can measure life and dead with inches. most guys just froze at first time. If someone is lucky enough to live and see 2nd one, he/she will be just fine. Learned reflxes can save your or your teammates life. Every single drill should perform to become a reflex. Every person is learning fear in time, but you are capable to forget or replace what you learned. Talk with your teammates about your problems and theirs. And make sure everyone is mentally stable and good.

    Thank you for this article. Be safe folks. Best regards from Istanbul.

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  48. I have been trying to break into security contracting, but been turned down due to “lack of tactical certifications”. I am a paramedic in a very busy system, I am a training officer and I teach EMT students. I have TCCC and a load of medical classes, but what I do have is real trauma and medic experience. I am 34, healthy and fit, was prior Navy, but non-combat and out before 9/11. I could got take an executive protection class, but it is a class, I didn’t get where I am as a medic by taking classes. I learned on the road. I don’t know how else to get into contracting. I have a good friend that was hired by the same company as a PSD medic with no mil or LE background.

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  49. Great thread. I served 7 years as a Police officer in the UK and saw and dealt with all kinds of stuff. We are unarmed in the UK.
    Pretty much excluded me straight away. I have a friend who has worked Afghanistan, iraq, Bosnia as a PMC and is now marsec and he said straight away, the “circuit” is massively competitive and i have pretty much no chance against military backgrounds. Honest bloke, honest answer. I feel the only way is to go and get the experience you need.
    I am about to start gaining military training and hopefully experience via the army reserves.
    Im massively aware this may also not be enough.
    I will get where i want to be but not on a whim. Im going to get qualified and get stuck in. Im not going to sit and whine that i cant do what i want to do.

    Go get it peeps. Not prepared to go get it? forget it. Its that simple.


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  50. Hi guys, haven’t checked here for a while been busy, I tried to enlist in the Aussie military when I was younger, but my foster parents destroyed any chance of a military career because they contacted the recruitment HQ and told the main person in charge that I was a trigger happy gun nut, now even though the local guys saw I was totally normal, I just had an interest in firearms and military stuff, but because of what my foster parents did I couldn’t enlist, I recently called up again (last week) to try again but unfortunately what my foster parents did, has most likely permanently destroyed any career in the Aussie military, and so I’ve just resorted to working security around melbourne (state and federal government, Aussie defence force bases, banks, Universities, concerts etc) but I’m still interested in going into pmc work, now I know on my previous post someone put that they wouldn’t want anyone they would need to train, but with military career opportunities destroyed from my foster parents there is no way I can get military experience in Australia, if I can get work in the US I’d be happy as I would then try out for the US Military and earn citizenship while in the US military (if I got in)
    if I can’t serve the country of my birth may as well serve another country.
    Can anybody help?

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  51. Im curious if anyone can offer any information/help. And point me in the right direction, as to what I need to do to join A private company without prior military service. Any help or guidance would be greatly appreciated.

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  52. I\’ve seen and heard this a lot as I\’ve tried to break into the PMC world. I also heard it a ton over a decade in LE. During my first week when I indicated to my training officer that I wanted to work special ops he said I\’d never get selected because I wasn\’t a veteran. Several years later I made the team, part of the reason I made it was because of task force work I had done while in the field that gained me experience that was unparalleled on the team- not to mention extra certifications I had sought on my own. They were training for entry and man hunts, I had been doing them without formal training. Once I made SWAT there was only one guy who out PT\’d me- he wasn\’t ex-mil, and me and one other guy went back and forth as top shooters- again, also not ex-mil.

    I figure the same principles carry to Security work. Can you do the fucking job regardless of how you got the skills? I\’ve heard that shit more times that I can count- love all the clerks, cooks, and bus drivers that are all of a sudden bad ass EOD Sniper Divers when they are discharged (probably for being over weight).

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  53. Some civilian contractor training that\’s available appears pretty intense. I think the training that\’s available to whoever is willing to pay for it, and the diverse skills many non-ex military personnel posses, or have the potential to through continual training is highly underestimated.

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  54. thats why if your a civi you get an ex special forces trainning instructor to train you up then you are the same as them but just no combat experiance which can be vital but i guess contractors can start them of with the small jobs working to the top end of the jobs this is the sort of work i want to do i have basic trainning under my belt but that is it

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