This is a guest article by D. Alan Johnson, his latest book Asgaard explores the role of US military Contractors in far flung parts of the globe. D. Alan Johnson is well equipped to write not only Asgaard, but also this article. He is what he writes about! Since the mid 1980â€™s he has been a private military contractor – Simon
Everyone is familiar with the Military hiring civilian contracting firms to perform duties that used to be fulfilled by active duty servicemen and women. These firms provide personnel for everything from test pilots to cooks, from armed escorts to accountants.
But few know that multinational corporations hire both individual contractors and Private Military Contracting Companies to help them perform a myriad of tasks.
These PMCâ€™s provide:
â€¢Â Â Â Security
â€¢Â Â Â Transportation
â€¢Â Â Â Executive protection
â€¢Â Â Â Logistics support
â€¢Â Â Â Intelligence
â€¢Â Â Â Training
â€¢Â Â Â Product Development
Today we will explore how PMCâ€™s fulfill the Security function in many corporations. Following articles will deal with the other ways that PMCâ€™s contribute to the corporate world.
The highest worry in the mind of every CEO is the fear that some of his people will be kidnapped or killed on the job. Multinationals operate in dangerous countries, and Americans do not realize the level of violent crime and warfare in many parts of the world. The first time that my wife came to Colombia to visit me she was amazed at how almost every mall, bank, and apartment complex had guards with automatic weapons. (Colombia is better now, by the way.)
Their second greatest worry is that corporate offices or means of production will be damaged or destroyed. Resource companies have no choice but to operate in hostile environments. Oil fields, copper mines, and diamonds are all located in conflict areas. (If you ever needed proof that God has a sense of humor, just look at where he put the oil.) Before a company will invest millions in infrastructure, management wants to know that they will be able to maintain a certain level of safety.
Thus was born the Corporate Security Department. Every large corporation has one, and itâ€™s usually headed up by a retired member of one of the elite military units; Delta, SF, and SEALs dominate these slots. Occasionally, one will run into a retired FBI or CIA officer. These in-house departments handle many routine tasks such as hiring guards, securing sites, and meeting OSHA mandates. But these groups, some with odd names like â€œDepartment of Environment, Health, and Safetyâ€, hire individual contractors and PMC firms to help them with the mission of protecting corporate personnel and property in odd places and in trying times.
Having worked for some of these firms in the past, Iâ€™ve been tasked most often with performing security surveys. Often a company wants a new set of eyes looking around at a forward operating base to catch any lapses in physical security. These jobs have run the gamut from teaming up with a psychologist to screen out guerilla infiltrators at an oil production facility to touring mega-yachts after 9-11 to determine their susceptibility to pirates and terrorists. These surveys usually consist of touring the site, interviewing management, writing a white paper and then presenting the findings at a meeting of both local and senior management.
While making my report to one company with a facility in a war zone, I pointed out a weak area where a truck bomb could crash right into a building.
â€œHere at the edge of the road, you need to sink some eight inch pipes ten feet into the ground and then fill them with concrete,â€ I said.
â€œOh, we have orange cones to divert the traffic,â€ the in-country manager said.
â€œOrange cones wonâ€™t stop a truck bomb,â€ I said with a laugh.
â€œYou donâ€™t understand,â€ he said, holding his hand out about waist high. â€œWe have the big orange cones.â€ Like I said, every company has some blind spots.
In many of the â€œhotâ€ countries a corporation will form a partnership with that countryâ€™s government to extract and sell their natural resources. In the agreement, the host nation will provide military units to guard the corporationâ€™s personnel and facilities.
For example, a mining company might â€œhireâ€ a host nation Army battalion to watch over their mines, company housing, and the railroad that transports goods to the port. In return, the company will provide new equipment for the military, a school built in a poor area, or even a power plant. At one large facility, I have witnessed the corporation pressed into providing all three.
The company now needs someone to interface with the troops. You can bet they wonâ€™t look for such a person in the accounting department.
The corporation will hire a PMC that will send a retired Special Forces trooper who speaks French or Portuguese, or whatever the language needed. The contractor will spend his days and nights with the troops, developing relationships. With the help of the senior officers he will write a battle plan to include attack scenarios and, in the worst case, evacuations. With the junior officers, he will help them with how many security patrols need to be sent out, what type of local intelligence needs to be collected, and the rules of engagement.
In many of the Third World countries, this military manager will also have to develop and implement a training program to bring the host nation military up to an effective level. This will take the form of classes in communications, how to call in close air support, and small unit combat tactics.
Some conspiracy theorists cling to the perception that multinational companies still maintain private paramilitary groups. While that was somewhat true up until the mid â€˜80â€™s, today it is purely contractors. This is a function of liability.
Should something ever go wrong, the host nation would sue the contracting company instead of the multinational. After calling in a successful airstrike against some insurgents, two contractors in my company were accused of murder by corrupt prosecutors and judges bought off by the terrorists. Even though the actions of these men saved a major installation, the corporation quietly fired the contractors and continued extracting the resources. My company sent in two new people. The fired contractors got hired by another company in another place, and life goes on.
Non-combatant Evacuation OperationsÂ
NEOâ€™s are the ace-in-the-hole for employees stationed in hot areas. Certain contractors are specialists in getting personnel out of bad places. One almost never hears of the successful NEO. The big exception is when Ross Perot hired retired Special Forces colonel Bull Simon to bust his people out of an Iranian prison and take them across the desert to Turkey. (Documented in the book, On Wings of Eagles.)
A contractor assigned to a NEO will be put in country months ahead of the anticipated fall of the government. He will develop a plan, hire transportation, and train company personnel to work the plan.
During the months of waiting, the contractor will give classes to the corporate officers in first aid, high speed driving, counter-surveillance operations, and escape and evasion should everything go wrong.
When a signal is given, the clients meet at a rally point and are taken out by plane or boat. There will always be two back up plans, and usually a decoy plan that is leaked. As you can see, we canâ€™t go too much into the nuts and bolts.
Corporations are just like people. Most are good; a few are rotten. The good ones realize that their greatest assets are their people, followed remotely by the facilities. While most people donâ€™t think of corporations as caring organizations, I have seen that many care deeply about their people. These are the ones that are willing to spend real money on capable contractors to head off trouble. If the trouble is already there, good companies provide leadership to real soldiers to protect their personnel. Then, if everything goes bad, the best multinationals look to the contractors to pull them out of a bad situation.