A Field Guide: The 21 Century Campaigning Life of an Able Military Contractor

Part 1.
Various are the travails, trials and actions in a Contractor’s life; the long days standing vigilant post, developing risk assessments and intelligence products, involved operational planning and ever-present inspections, continuous risk/reward analysis, team and weapons training as time permits, the hazardous yet expected convoy and motorcade movements, and the bold actions on the ‘X’ when called for – All of this lends a fascination and romance to the professional endeavors of the Contractor and gives us a framework to delve into how Contractors play out their lives and evolve with their profession.

A Contractor must be part security consultant, intelligence analyst, logistician, scout, weapons trainer, team leader, business manager, and subject matter expert; above all, a contractor must be mentally agile, physically fit, and a flexible and independent actor ready to fulfill a complex set of roles for a demanding client in a dynamic and rapidly changing environment.

The present day conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have highlighted the existence and operating capabilities of consultancies, security service vendors, private military companies and the security contractors found in their employ.

Those that fill the ranks of the security contract world are a mixture of former police, military, and security personnel from nations spanning the globe. As well, you’ll find a mixed bag of personalities and professionalism too.

Many first world nations engaged in combat, stability, and reconstruction operations rely upon security contractors to provide essential security services including force protection at forward operating bases, security for convoys delivering all classes of goods, and close protection for engineers and diplomats.

The roles the security contractor fills are not offensive combat roles, but a mixture of essential services that allow military personnel to focus on their objectives and not squander field resources at the same time. While you will never see security contractors taking down a target building in a raid, you will see them filling defensive combat roles once populated by men and women in uniform.

The military’s reliance on contractors has been met by opposition in some quarters, and has been used as a political tool from time to time, but what is certain is that the security contractor will be a battlefield actor for a long time to come.

The purpose of this field guide is to help highlight and delve into the rudiments and mechanics of the security contractor deployed in the field; the contents of this work aims to explore not only what the business consists of and how to break into it, but also practical tips and techniques for those deployed in conflict zones as well.
The 21st Century Field Guide for the Security Contractor is written in plain English in a ‘Gonzo Journalism’ writing style and most certainly is an unpolished product created by a ‘Trunk Monkey’ with better things to do than worry about every slice of grammar and common prose made available herein.

So, kick back in your favorite chair, grab a beer or some lifer-juice, and enjoy the ride…
A General Contracting Overview. Contracting is a diverse field and we need to be narrow in our focus to not get lost in the weeds and trail off needlessly on topics and tangents not related to the security end of professional contracting which is our focal interest.

The best place to start defining the 21st Century security contracting profession as a whole is to look at the big picture first and give Able Contractors a concrete setting so they can understand the larger framework their business and professional endeavors take place in and then move more into the mechanics of the job. So, let us begin here…

Able Contracting. Security Contractors not only have to be resolute actors and prepared, Contractors must also have their senses tuned in to the mission and objectives they get handed, and build a deep well of grit to succeed in the Red Zone. They have to be able users of weapons systems and a broad range of mission tools as well as experts in deploying specialized equipment and technologies.

To be an Able Contractor, the individual must act as a repository and center of gravity for a host of skill sets, talents, and attributes.

The Able Contractor brings to the table all the necessary pieces of a skills framework including refined talent and tested experience to accomplish his duties proficiently and provide an excellent security service for his clients and organization.

For the Able Contractor, all actions have consequences, and it is from this simple fact of causality that the profession of arms, to include security contracting, as a whole is given life.

For any number of reasons and factors nation states and societies degrade, dissolve, come to calamity, or find themselves in conflict with each other or within themselves. It is from these ripe and dangerous circumstances that those skilled in the use of arms develop and ply their trade to assist others in rebuilding, protection, and re-establishing order where instability, suffering, and incivility often reign.

The Able Security Contractor develops an eye for ground level details, historical contexts and cultural complexities that drive the possibilities and potential consequences of operating in unforgiving terrain where political and social climates can spell out terrible results if moves are not made expertly. The work environment you may find yourself in must be considered caustic, but to some extent definable.

Many zones of conflict and war, where Able Contractors operate share some common characteristics that can guide our understandings and expectations in a broad sense. Here are a few of the more obvious features to let your mind scour concerning the ground level realities of the broken lands where you will end up performing contract security services:

  • A weak or fledgling government in some stage of recovery or collapse that cannot offer its populace needed security or basic services without outside assistance is nearly an environmental prerequisite for contract security services.
  • A population often defined by personal desperation and disunity driven by historical and/or cultural differences.
  • A seemingly temporal focus on daily survival and subsistence living that dominates any economic, educational, or individual progress.

The Able Contractor is best served by developing a practical outlook guided by common sense and an alert frame of mind sensitive to the economic, cultural, political and historical atmospheres he finds himself in.

Now, how do you break into this business and at the same time avoid most of the misconceptions concerning the job, and connect with those looking to potentially employ an Able Contractor such as yourself? Read on.

Guidelines and Considerations for Close Protection. Protecting clients as well as places and things is part art and part science and ‘Big Boy Rules’ are always in play. This section will specifically delve into close protection operations, the security mechanics involved and the teamwork that binds it altogether.

High Risk Protection Operations, Better Defined. Able Contractors are dedicated protection agents assigned to operate in an often unforgiving environment. They provide their clientele with tailored security solutions and a dependable and trained team of operators that offer both subtle and overt protections against enemy threats and designs.

To better understand what is expected of close protection team members, we first need to clearly define their mission in the most basic terms.

It is the duty and mission of each close protection team or detail member to provide:

  • Physical security and risk management of the client’s person or persons to which the detail is assigned.
  • Provide, where possible, protection from embarrassment and liability from direct or casual sources of risk.

While these two bullet points are fairly overt and simple to understand and know what is expected of a team member, producing the intended results makes demands on a skilled protection agent’s capabilities that many would underestimate.

The close protection cycle of operations, like most things that work well, a tested formula of principles, procedures, and guidelines are generally instituted and in place. Close protection operations are no different. Effectively managing risk and dealing with danger when it cannot be avoided takes employing a solid set of tested principles and procedures. Following the provided protection cycle herein will offer your close protection team a solid foundation to build upon.

… Coming up next: Individual Skills for the Protection Professional!

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