Mmmmmm… I LOVE THE SMELL OF BACON AND BURNING VILLAGES IN THE MORNING!
One of the first things I had to figure out when a young James P. started contracting in Iraq was setting up my “kit” of armor carrier, rig, mag pouches, IFAC and a bunch of other crap I had never carried before. At that point in my career I was not in the tactical gear world and had pretty much never even owned anything ‘tactical’ except a black CamelBak. So when I had to buy a full load of kit I basically ordered a bunch of cool looking shit I saw online.
Two weeks later I got a big ass box that puked out the entire Blackhawk! catalog onto my hooch floor in the IZ. After putting every pouch I bought on my super cool SWAT vest I pretty much ended up looking like a Coyote Tan Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. My kit was also so poorly placed I could not even scratch my junk. I ended up fighting my kit on every mission for the next two weeks until I adjusted everything.
Like most people who have never been deployed to a war zone where they would have to wear full kit, I thought it would be all yelling “follow me lads” and burning villages when wearing all my ninja slick gear. I suppose I had fantasies of going from battle to battle pulling mag after mag while rescuing white women from the clutches of Ray Ban wearing dictators.
Nope, not even close – Even if you were on a mobile team running the most dangerous roads in the world like I was, in reality 99% of the time you are wearing full kit you are doing glamorous stuff like; frying eggs in oil for breakfast next to a Land Cruiser, buying 83 gorditas at Taco Bell on base because half your guys don’t have an MNFI badge or sitting in a truck trying not to fall asleep.
So if you are setting up your first all-out full kit I have the following suggestions:
Ok, Contracting is better than punching TPS Reports, but…
About 30 to 190 (yes, 190 is the record so far) times a day I get messages and emails from guys who want to break into the Contracting Racket. Besides the usual unreadable English from some Italian dude to outright rude emails demanding that I tell someone how to break into the biz “right fucking now”, no one ever asks the smart question of: “Are there any reasons why I should not consider a career in contracting?”
The short answer is “fuck yes there are”
Most folks think the life of an international security contractor is 6-figure paychecks, blowing shit up while yelling “FIRE IN THE HOLE” with a cigar clenched between your chompers with 30 day leaves in Bangkok banging beautiful gals and drinking fine scotch every few months.
To be honest it is that cool, but that’s about it. Forget about having any resemblance of a normal life, you will be an outlaw in the true sense of the Old West definition. So if you are considering a life shooting and looting around the world read everything below, you may change your mind.
Or you may want in the life even more if you are a nut like I am…
The 5 Things to Say Goodbye to if you Become a Civilian Contractor (in no particular order):
“If you jump really high the waves will just go under you bro”
After decades of studying, observing, experiencing and writing about everything Urban Survival, I have heard some serious fantasy about what people claim they would do during an Urban Survival situation. Not surprisingly most of this so-called ‘advice’ comes from people who have never been in a Urban Survival, ‘Fight or Die’ situation or have even stepped outside of the continental US with the exception of Bus Tours in their lives.
Most of the crazy shit I have heard comes from fake tough-guys, dudes who regurgitate stuff they have read on forums and keyboard commandos that make Bear Grills’s advice look reasonable. Having spent the past 10+ living, traveling and working in the 3rd world, I have seen people (including myself) survive the worst possible situations and do what they had to do to either survive or die.
From my experience, the current 3rd world is what the 1st world would be like after a prolonged ‘event’. That may be a natural disaster, civil war, overwhelming violent crime, financial meltdown or pandemics. In my opinion, the best place to study what people will or will not do when the SHTF in the 1st world, is to study what people in the 3rd world have and are currently doing to survive day by day.
If you have ever worked in the contracting biz then you have seen all the shady shit that PM’s, APM’s (Project Managers – Assistant Project Managers) and PMC’s (Private Military Company’s) do. Some of the nonsense PMC’s do so they can save a buck and PM’s can Cover Their Ass when they screw up can be as simple as fudging paperwork to outright criminal fraud. It can be a bit offsetting but most of us who work in this industry have no illusions that the PMC’s we work for are in any way the Salvation Army.
And what happens if they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar? The nearest working fool who is the lowest on the totem pole will eat a dick. Or if one of the PM’s buddies fucks up, steer clear because some poor chump will get thrown on a grenade – no way the PM’s bud is going home. Getting thrown under the bus by the PMC you work for in Civilian Contracting has become an art form to PM’s and APM’s. If you think because you have worked for a PMC for four years and have shown loyalty somehow means you are protected, then I have some beautiful beachfront land in Somalia to sell you.
So how do you CYA?
Before I start this review let me say upfront that I hate wearing shorts, been that way for as long as I can remember. I am the guy you see at the beach walking around in the middle of the day wearing slacks. And despite working in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for the past decade in a half I just never wore shorts no matter how hot it got, just not my thing.
I think my distain for shorts came from my pops who is old school, I remember seeing him wearing a tie while mowing our lawn in the great Commonwealth of Virginia when I was a kid – Old School Man proper style. The memories of my pops combined with seeing how ridiculous Brit soldiers looked wearing cammo combat uniforms with shorts walking around base in Iraq, I just wrote off shorts as a negative for my personal and professional wardrobe.
But about a year ago my buddy and one of the OG’s here at DVM, Thomas Moore told me about an outdoor clothing company called Railriders that he likes. Considering how I am a bit of a connoisseur of outdoor and tactical clothing he introduced me to them thinking it would be a good fit (no pun intended).
After talking to the good folks at Railriders they sent me some samples of their outdoor clothing to check out. I was impressed with the quality of their clothing and to this day I wear their pants pretty much every week – but in the bottom of the box I saw a pair of shorts that immediately got sent to the storage room at DVM Manor (Think the storage room at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark) where they sat for a year collecting dust and stripper glitter.
Fortunately for these fine shorts when I was putting together a list of gear I would need for the Death Valley Expeditionary Corps Humanitarian Aid Mission to the Philippines, shorts ended up on the list. It would turn out I would be traveling by boat in order to reach our destination. Depending on what time our team ended up arriving at our island of destination it could be low tide – and generally operating in a marine environment I knew that I would need a pair of shorts/swimming trunks.
I was going to just pick up a pair of cheap trunks at Walmart until I remembered that I had a pair of Railriders Jammin’ Shorts stuffed away in a gorilla trunk.
Thomas “Tomahawk” Moore (In the Middle)
DVM’s very own Thomas “Tomahawk” Moore’s new Survival TV Show “Dude, You’re Screwed!” is set to premier on Discovery Channel Sunday, December 8 at 10:00/9:00c.
Thomas is one of the founding members of DVM, he was there when Myself and Bubba G. both fresh on leave from some war torn shit-hole came up with the idea to start up an online adventurer magazine that would be written by guys who actually did what they wrote about. Several glasses of mekhong whiskey’s later, and BAM! DVM came to life on the back of a napkin in a shady bar in Bangkok.
Thomas has been working on “Dude, You’re Screwed!” for almost three years now, we had to keep it under wraps until the network made the big announcement. Also co-staring with Thomas will be Terry Schappert, a Green Beret, John Hudson, an Extreme Survival Instructor for the UK Royal Air Force, Matt Graham, a primitive skills expert and a desert survival instructor and Jake Zweig, a former Navy SEAL.
Created by Robert Young Pelton of The Worlds Most Dangerous Places fame, the DPx Danger Tab is a thin metal card with perforated edges on the back that quickly breaks away to form a blade.
Just snap off the edges and you have an instant WW II style OSS Thumb Knife with one Serrated and one Smooth edge with a needle like tip.
The DPx Danger Tab is a clever way to have a small back up EDC blade concealed in what looks like a harmless souvenir. String a dog tag chain through the hole and wear it around your neck, stick one in your wallet, in a book or in your shoe.
Includes a Rubber Silencer (like a dog tag silencer)
DPx DANGER TAB
Grab one at the DVM Gear Store Here:
Picture taken at 9:45 AM on a Wednesday
There was once a time when a man would go on a bender for a few days, week, even a month and dive into a booze fueled haze in a hotel suite filled with women of questionable morals. The reason behind why he went on a bender could have been good or bad news, over a broad, news of a old war buddy checking out or just because he damn well felt like it.
After days or weeks of consuming excessive amounts of scotch, expensive food, non-filtered cigarettes and trashing hotel rooms this Old School Man would wash the smell of stewardesses off in a hot shower, have a straight razor shave, throw on something double breasted and made of camel hair, pop the top of his convertible and drive home or to the office and walk in like nothing happened.
For the kings of the Old School Men like Dean Martin, Steve McQueen, Brando, Elvis and Lee Marvin this was just what they did between making Hollywood movies, dating models, racing cars, hanging out with presidents and buying Cadillac’s.
And as satisfying the experience of going on a solo Bender is, it was hardly a one man tradition for them, whole groups of silk suit wearing Old School Pimps like the Rat Pack would buy multi-million dollar mansions on the outskirts of Las Vegas so they could go on month long benders with showgirls and starlets.
Packing for another romp in the 3rd world
When you pull over at a Hajji Shop in Iraq and you walk through the isles past the cans of fly-covered baklava, dusty cans of corned beef and Gauloise Smokes what is the one thing you can not buy?
And not just in Iraq, I once drove around for 3 hours in Phnom Penh, Cambodia looking for CR123’s before I finally found some in a camera shop for the astounding price of 16 bucks a pop!
After going through all the Bullshit of having to order CR123’s in bulk and paying 150 bucks to ship them, trading bottles of Jack D with force protection guards and wasting time trying to track down a shop in Stabyouinthefaceistan just to get raped at the cash register I had enough. So I decided to replace all the disposable battery powered kit I used with AA and AAA powered kit.
But that created another problem, off-brand batteries in the 3rd world are mostly shit Chinese batteries that have 1/5th the charge that US batteries have, so to make up for using commie batteries I had to pack a shit-load of batteries before every mission.
And enter the next problem, I would end up with a huge pile of loose batteries spread all over the bottom of my mission bag (I would take them out of the package so I would not have to fuck around with cutting a battery package open while trying to watch the road).
Solution: Enter the guys over at Flight and Fight Tactical
To Everyone under 25 – This is NOT an Xbox 360 Controller
*Note: I use the term “operator” loosely here
When the subject of “what are must-have operator skills” comes up most people spit out the obvious answers of guns, Ninja-fu and other shooter type tactical skills that first pops into mind when thinking about leaping out of a chopper in some 3rd world shit-hole.
But as much as being able to fire an AT-4 naked or reloading an AK with one arm blown off may be great skills for shooters, they are actually some of the least used skills unless you are some sort of Tier-1 SF or OGA guy.
When I first started in the Overseas Security Contracting biz back in the day I thought the only skills I needed to know was how to shoot, loot, chew on cigars and say cool catch lines like “Its gona’ be a long day”.
But after working in places like Iraq, Indonesia, Thailand and Kurdistan for the past decade I ended up using way more mundane skills like sewing my clothing than the exciting shit like strapping C4 under a bridge while wearing a black stocking cap.
So I put together a list of some of the less obvious skills that every operator should have, no matter if you are running the roads in Iraq or Afghanistan or surviving a natural disaster with your family, this is the shit you really need to know how to do.