Ex-military – does it really matter?
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”
James G.: “FUCK YOU DOG-RAPIST!”
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 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?
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).