As a practicing Defense Base Act attorney, I have been granted invaluable insight into the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During my practice, I have read thousands of pages of incidents reports detailing countless terrorists attacks perpetrated against American forces, and viewed numerous photos memorializing the aftermath of the same. I have met those wounded in the war, heard their stories, and spoken with the families of those who have lost their loved ones. It is an honor and a privilege to fight on their behalf every morning I wake up.
It goes without saying that I am disheartened when I encounter people who know little about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The three main glaring omissions from America's current consciousness I have observed are: (1) people fail to realize that the current war in Afghanistan is America's longest war by a large margin, (2) few are aware that there are more contractors than actual soldiers fighting the war, (3) even fewer people truly understand the sacrifices undertaken by the men and women who make up America's defense contractor community.
In his new book entitled Zero Footprint, author Simon Chase highlights the men and women who make up America's defense contractor community:
If you haven't found yourself in the middle of shit in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan or Syria recently, you probably have little understanding of what we do. Or that we're sometimes called upon to perform missions too sensitive and top secret for even Delta Force or SEAL Team 6. We're mostly guys, and some women, who live in your neighborhoods, drive fast cars, work out a lot, and spend long periods of time away from home...There are hundreds of thousands of us living in the United States working for companies like G4S, DynCorp, Unity Resources Group, Erinys, Triple Canopy, and AEGIS Defense Services. They hire us to do the dirty and dangerous jobs the military and intelligence services can't or don't want to do.
In a real sense, America's defense contractors are our elite super heroes. Unfortunately, respect for these men and women has been lost through media manipulation centered around the misconduct of one notorious defense corporation during the early part of the war. In my experience, this portrayal is unfair, and inaccurate.
Our contractors fight overseas alongside their military counterparts, yet oftentimes fail to receive the adoration deserved for their valuable service. They do not get to wear the regalia, their families are not afforded military funerals, they do not receive metals for untold acts of bravery, they don't have their own federal holiday, and they are oftentimes ignored by the establishment in times of need. Defense contractors compromise the "tip of the spear" fighting the war on terror in hostile territory, and deserve the respect they have earned by risking their lives for America's freedom.
In many ways, members of the defense contracting community are victims of circumstance. The President, and our politicians, know that continuing the war on terror is an absolute necessity. However, they also realize that continuing to send servicemen into battle and instituting a nation-wide draft is political suicide. Even more politically unpopular are newspaper headlines featuring American soldier casualties. Our politicians have tactfully avoided the political downside of the war effort by turning to private contractors to continue America's dirty work, while simultaneously withdrawing troops to garner political accolade.
Oftentimes, defense contractors are former elite veterans seeking the higher income needed to provide a better life for their families. They transfer the valuable skills developed in the military to the private sector in order to put their children through college, or pay their mortgages. With high risk, comes high reward. It is unfortunate, but our politicians and bureaucrats at the U.S. Agency for Veterans Affairs simply do not provide adequate compensation to our soldiers who risk their lives overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. This continued policy of underfunding military personnel has prompted many servicemen to go into the private sector.
Below, you will find my commentary on a few pieces which highlight the harrowing environments our defense contractors face each and everyday. Hopefully, this raises awareness of the sacrifice America's defense contractors make fighting the war on terror in furtherance of our contiued freedom stateside:
Inside Blackwater: Iraq's Most Controversial Private Military Contractor
This short documentary features the operation of Blackwater and Armor Group in Iraq & Afghanistan. This video contains interesting footage of company compounds, training techniques, protocol for protecting clientele, training and insurgent ambushes. In addition, the filmmakers follow Nepalese contractors training local national troops who work for far less wages than their British counterparts. This documentary also contains an interview with Armor Group executives and recruiters which highlights the stringent qualifications needed to be a defense contractor.
Finally, this documentary is concluded with a piece concerning the tragic death of Blackwater employee Stephen Scott Helvenston who made the ultimate sacrifice. Overall, this piece did a decent job at showing (1) the dangers faced by defense contractors in combating terrorism, and (2) the magnitude of the sacrifice of America's defense contractors.
VICE: Superpower for Hire: Rise of the Private Military
This documentary examines the rise of international Private Military Companies ("PMC"). It follows Security Contractors in Venezuela as they escort high profile client. Additionally, the filmmakers interview Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater (Xe/Academi), who provides insight on the increased use of defense contractors in the theater of war. Furthermore, this video gives an inside look at the Anti-terror Training Academy locate in Czech Republic, which is Europe's leading PMC training facility.