Small world it is (Iraqi contractors' kidnapping)

Of the four “civilian” contractors recently kidnapped in Iraq, i actually know one of them by proxy through a mutual friend (him) /coworker (me).

Apparently he was special forces that contracted out to the Blackwater mercenary company after his service expired.

According to this mutual friend, he actually told people he felt “that something bad was going to happen” before returning to Iraq around the beginning of the month.

But, in good news, supposedly he and the rest of the group were already released with a “message” and that he posted to this guy’s Myspace or something. I’ll have to find out tomorrow whether this actually happened or was his family keeping bad news from him at work.

Aren’t all “Civilian contractors” basically mercs? According to Shadow Company, anyway…

So how much $$$$ does he make there?

“Mercenary” is frowned upon, since that assumes an offensive capability. “Private security contractors” are there in a defensive capability only, in theory, but it’s a pretty broad gray area.

I really found it amusing/sad how the spin early during the occupation was “a contractor was killed” and the Pentagon and conservative media would make it seem like it was some dude putting up drywall. “He was a civilian contractor, those horrible insurgent bastards!”

PSCs make from $400-1000/day depending on their skill set. They do 60/30 tours – 60 days in-country and 30 days off, so they only work 9 months out of the year assuming full utilization. No health benefits, IRAs, death benefits (beyond like some $50K thing), etc. It’s a grim existence.

I highly recommend the book “Licensed to Kill” if you want some eye opening details and interviews about this industry.

Mercenary is the usual term for guns for hire, I don’t see why it shouldn’t apply here if it wasn’t for media newspeak reasons.

This whole “grey area” is bullshit. These people exist because there’s a market for violence, or the threat of violence, beyond what the state can provide. Security guards are purely defensive, guys with automatic rifles and kevlar operating in de facto war zones are not.

Is a bodyguard a mercenary? Is a security guard that’s armed a mercenary?

This whole “grey area” is bullshit.


These people exist because there’s a market for violence, or the threat of violence, beyond what the state can provide.


Security guards are purely defensive, guys with automatic rifles and kevlar operating in de facto war zones are not.

I don’t know what semantic bullshit you’re trying to pull here, or if you’re just being vague on purpose, but PSCs are not supposed to mount offensive operations. They’re supposed to perform convoy and personnel escort, and this kind of requires “automatic rifles and kevlar” when the people attacking you are armed with RPGs and AKs and don’t really give a shit that you’re a “civilian”.

Now, maybe your argument is that your presence in a war-zone while being armed, period, makes you a mercenary and not a security guard, but that’s pretty damned stupid if that’s your assertion.

Why not skip the foreplay and just call them “evil”, followed by a snide rejoinder about how he got what he deserved? I know that’s what people like you (Kalle) mean when you use the term “mercenary”. Otherwise, you wouldn’t bother with the semantics.

I think that most people with their ass on the line are not compensated nearly as well. I still think putting your ass on the line for $400-1000 each day takes a lot of guts. I favor the use of the term mercenary because the term is synonymous with having wicked huge balls. Probably not all of them really did have wicked huge balls. Probably not all of them are awesome as people, but the same is true even of babies that get cancer from oil company experiments, and we still feel sorry for them.

$400-$1000 day is actually pretty good money. More than I expected they made.

Assuming 200 work days a year, the $400/day guy gets $80k/year and $800/day gets $160k/year. Factor in how well the almighty US dollar spends in most foreign countries that would need mercs and I can see how it must be tempting.

Yeah, I didn’t want to malign Bacon’s concept of what constitutes a grim existence, but that is a ton of fucking money. Still takes the same amount of huge balls, but I don’t exactly hear violins playing. Violins as in, suuper sad, orphans getting their brains bashed out. It’s sad, but we’re not talking Oliver Twist level shit.

Hmm, I haven’t read Oliver Twist, but I assume that it is pretty sad in parts.

I wouldn’t bother with the semantics if the alternative wasn’t “private security contractors”. But lets recap. We have former soldiers, armed and armored, putting their soldierly skills to use in a warzone to protect private interests. But why call them mercenaries when we can call them something that lets people pretend they’re practically civilians.

Semantic bullshit, yeah, that’s it. Lets play with words until they lose their meaning.

If I heard these people actually being called security guards I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with it since that actually describes what they’re doing with some degree of accuracy. I don’t have a problem conceding that security demands in Iraq require different measures than security demands in a country that’s not waging a civil war.

But as it is, Private Security Contractors just sounds like a phrase that’s used to obscure whatever activity takes place under the label, while neatly avoiding any kind of blame put on the companies who hire them when they do shit that’s blatantly illegal.

Like what? Do you have examples and proof? Do you know that these particular security guards were doing illegal things? What percentage of PSCs are you claiming engage in illegal activity?

Do you have any facts or just meaningless attacks?

Hope your friend-of-a-friend is ok.

Spoof, there’s been a bunch of rumors floating around since the war started about how the hired guns over there are a law unto themselves. I haven’t heard anything anything concrete though.

You’re not working 8 hours/day. You’re working 24 hours/day and you’re open to being killed at any time. That, to me, is pretty goddamn grim. $80K sounds like a lot, but when you factor the thought of imminent and all encroaching death and the complete lack of salaried perks (you don’t exactly get sick days, vacation days, 401K with matching, etc.) and it’s still tough.

Oil rig workers make a ton of money too, but there’s a reason that the term “hazardous duty pay” exists.

Is a contractor an employee? Why, gosh, they both work for someone, so they’re the same! Is a contractor a soldier? Why, gosh, they both have weapons, so they’re the same! Semantics in this case matter, because there’s a HUGE FUCKING difference between a soldier, a mercenary, and a PSC. If you are unable to discern the difference between a merc and a PSC, the problem is you, not the nomenclature.

A PSC is providing security. That means they do not initiate offensive actions, do not enforce laws or orders, etc. What they do is essentially ensure that structure, personnel, or convoys are adequately defended from insurgents. They do not go out looking for a fight.

A mercenary will do whatever their host asks, be it launch offensive attacks, perform snatches, you name it. That’s a big, BIG ass difference between what they can and can’t do.

But as it is, Private Security Contractors just sounds like a phrase that’s used to obscure whatever activity takes place under the label, while neatly avoiding any kind of blame put on the companies who hire them when they do shit that’s blatantly illegal.

PSC was actually invented to differentiate from PMCs, which are definitely far more like the Dogs of War style mercs you think of. Executive Outcomes is a good example of a PMC. PMCs are illegal by UN mandate.

PSCs are legal and serve a vital function.

Now, if you want to argue that there are serious fucking issues with how PSCs operate, I’m with you 100% right there, but if you’re going to argue that they’re the exact same as mercenaries, then you’re dead wrong.

No taxes, however, if you’re in Iraq (or wherever) for the majority of the year. And you don’t spend any of it on room/board/whatever else while you’re working.

I’m not exactly planning on getting a job there or anything, but consider that, taking your low end as an example, you could make $20k/year here in the states as a cafeteria worker and be living paycheck to paycheck, or get the same job in Iraq and have $50k-80k in the bank at the end of a year.

Main Entry: 1mer·ce·nary
Pronunciation: 'm&r-s&-"ner-E, -ne-rE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -nar·ies
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin mercenarius, irregular from merced-, merces wages – more at MERCY

one that serves merely for wages; especially : a soldier hired into foreign service


hired professional soldier who fights for any state or nation without regard to political interests or issues. From the earliest days of organized warfare until the development of political standing armies in the mid-17th century, governments frequently supplemented their military forces with mercenaries.

Thanks for clarifying, that means PSCs are definitely not mercs.

…or get killed.

In the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions (GC) of 12 August 1949 and the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977 it is stated:

Art 47. Mercenaries

  1. A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.
  2. A mercenary is any person who:
    (a) is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;
    (b) does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities;
    (c) is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party;
    (d) is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;
    (e) is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and
    (f) has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.