Contractor Writes the Real Story About “Secret Warriors” in Afghanistan and Iraq
Contractor Writes the Real Story About “Secret Warriors” in Afghanistan and Iraq
We love the troops here at Victory Girls. We send them care packages, we write them letters, we volunteer with the wounded, and we just straight up believe that they deserve every possible care and comfort we can give them, as small thanks for the incredible work and sacrifice that they do every day.
But what about the thousands of civilian contractors, doing the same jobs, fighting the same enemies, and bleeding the same color? You may think you know all about them—but you don’t. And as always, VG is here to fix that. In our never-ending quest to bring our readers awesome things to read (see what I did there?), I decided to do a interview-review of the new book by terrorism and security expert Kerry Patton, called Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors. It’s one of those books that comes under the heading of “Would be Classified if Not a Novel.” In short, it’s not former-insurance-guy-turned-military-writer stuff (coughTomClancycough). Kerry Patton’s “novel” is the real deal, and it will take you inside the world not often talked about—covert intelligence operations. It’s also a ridiculously entertaining read, managing to keep readers interested while simultaneously highlighting some very real issues that contractors and their families face just like the military—and with none of the support.
Kerry Patton was a civilian contractor in the Middle East, supporting military operations as a “military advisor.” For those of you not lucky enough to know who Kerry is already, here’s a snippet from his website:
“Kerry is an internationally recognized security, terrorism, and intelligence professional. He has taught domestic and international organizations in counter-terrorism, intelligence, and physical security related issues. He has briefed some of the highest government officials ranging from ambassadors and members of Congress and Pentagon staff.”
He also went to my alma mater, and therefore he gets bonus points. Kerry was gracious enough to not only give me a copy of his book, but also answer some questions about what the blazes those contractors are really doing over there—and here’s a hint: it’s not raping and pillaging, as brought to you by a breathlessly stupid and anti-American media.
Victory Girls: Your book brings up what could be considered a “nasty little secret” about America’s wars in the Middle East; namely, that they are fought by as many civilian contractors as they are regular and reserve military. While this is common knowledge to folks who have been there, for some of us—even those who have been writing about the war since it started—this might come as a bit of a shock. Why doesn’t the media really report on this? Why doesn’t the government mention it? And perhaps most importantly to those of us who care about such things, where is the recognition for those who give their lives?
Kerry Patton: Middle East, Central Asia like Afghanistan and Pakistan, Africa, South America, etc., just name the region and you will find contractors. Why the media doesn’t speak about them as often as they speak about our uniformed service members is for many reasons.
A lot of the jobs contractors perform are highly secretive in nature (not all but many).
Americans thrive on the numbers game. If the full truth existed toward the casualties of the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan were to unfold, my opinion tells me more and more Americans would oppose the wars. What I mean by this is if contractor deaths and casualties were included in the tally, Americans would find they were duped for a very long time toward the truth in numbers. In a way, for some, contractors are expendable.
Why speak about a group of patriots when so many have been conditioned to think of them in a negative light? Really, when is the last time anyone has ever heard anything positive about defense contractors? It’s all been negative commentary.
VG: It’s a common theme, at least among those I’ve talked to, that “going civilian” means more money, better treatment, etc. Certainly the Left antiwar crowd has endeavored to paint civilian contractors as mercenaries and bloodthirsty jerks just looking for a place to carry out their own private Rambo fantasies, and get paid supposedly fat cash for doing it. Yet in your book, you portray the opposite–that these contractors such as yourself are motivated by the same things that we see in members of the military–esprit d’corps, the brotherhood, service to God and country, etc. Obviously it would seem that since many contractors are former military, this would be the logical conclusion. But how would you answer those who do not understand the situation, and are honestly asking the question “Why are the contractors there if they don’t have to be?”
KP: Some people I have learned you just will never win over even with practical and reasonable facts. Because you’re correct, the majority of contractors out there are former military or law enforcement who love America more than anything in this world. They are patriots willing to die for this nation. But many on the left and right just don’t want to believe this. Those who refuse to open their mind are those I just won’t waste my time with. But for those who are honest and want to know more it’s quite simple. The US military and our intelligence community is simply not capable of doing every task demanded of them and need specific assets who maintain specific skills to help fulfill what we as a nation demand from our national security apparatus. We find such persons through the contractual force. That force has been a part of US national security ever since the Revolutionary War which comprised of approximately 18% of the Continental Army serving as Scouts, Wagoneers, Medics, cooks, etc.—similar roles used even today.
VG: In the book (and I don’t want to give away anything for readers), you talk about a particular situation where your main character, Declan, is in a village and things get interesting and turn deadly very quickly. Is it typical for contractor intel and “military advisors” to end up in these types of situations or is that the exception? And how are you viewed by the military troops you work with as a rule?
KP: Everything is personality driven. Some, a few, military folks despise contractors solely based off misperceptions and personalities. But for the most part, we are all brothers/sisters and uphold great respect for one another. Really, when most contractors are veterans and law enforcement, we immediately have a common bond with those still wearing the uniform. As far as the scenario you are describing, yes it happens more than people could ever imagine. Contractors often go out into the “wild” more than our own uniformed members—there are estimates that of all military personnel deployed, less than 10% ever go outside the wire but for contractors, that number is dramatically increased well over 40%. Remember, contractors, in a sense, are assets which mean, for some, they are expendable.
VG: There are conflicting schools of thought regarding the various tactics used in Iraq and Afghanistan, both militarily and under the heading of “winning hearts and minds.” Some people think overwhelming force, applied a la WW2 Europe, is the answer. Some people believe that we need cooperation from the locals, etc. You’ve been in these villages, talked to the people, interviewed the innocent and the terrorist. What’s your take on how to truly combat the mindset there and change the situation? Is it even possible to truly change it or are we just looking at this point to control it enough to keep it contained?
KP: There is no question that we have not fought “Total War” since World War II and I believe that is what you are describing here. While this is just my opinion, I believe American policy makers and those who control the Military Industrial Complex don’t wish to see wars truly end simply because they know that war makes money. War and or the military industrial complex is one of America’s greatest economic industries. Really, the DOD is the oldest and largest employer in the United States. I wonder why. But if we were serious about truly winning today’s wars we must go back to the “Total War” principle of quick, violent, decisive actions which brings about annihilation. Once the locals realize we mean business, those who remain alive will submit. War is about submission. It is then and only then when you have the opportunity to truly win hearts and minds because it is then when people operate in a reactionary state of fear. That fear would then need to be capitalized by the whole peace, love, and happiness campaigns of rebuilding infrastructure, medical assistance, handing out candy, or whatever is desired. And yes, even terrorists do go into states of fear—they are human too.
VG: In preparation for this interview, I read a lot of your past articles, watched a few videos you’ve done, etc. One thing I came across was an article you did in which you state, “Many of the wars we fight today are self-induced wars where the United States, or a US-based organization, actually created some of our enemies.” There are those in the intelligence community who would argue that this type of manipulation is necessary; e.g., you build up one guy to stop another who’s out of control, and then when the second guy gets too big for his britches, you maybe build up a third or even encourage the first to go to war with him, etc. Basically, that it’s all one big puppet show meant to ultimately control things that the US may not normally be able to control. What do you say to that? Is it necessary?
KP: The concept behind national security, while it entails the physical, it dominates in economic security. To better understand this, I highly suggest people to look at the Banana Wars and the United Fruit Company then observe how many coups the United States had their hands in throughout Latin America. Or look at why Iran truly became a threat to the United States by researching Nixon and Ford and their admiration for the former Shah of Iran but combine that with what is now called British Petroleum. I have an e-book coming out early this summer about all this “make enemies for economic domination” concept. Social Control theory goes far beyond criminology. It dominates in the field of national security. Until my e-book comes out, I highly suggest individuals to read a book titled “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.” That will give them a serious wakeup call.
VG: You wrote your book well enough so that someone familiar with the military lingo and even the situation over there isn’t bored, but newbies can still get caught up and educated without feeling left behind. Who was your actual target audience? Was this book written to educate? To remember? Or to counter the stereotype made of contractors in the press and antiwar crowd?
KP: It was written predominately as a form of “therapy”—a means to simply let things out of the bag I was holding onto that I just knew would come back to haunt me later if I held on too long. It started as an autobiography but I knew it would never pass the screening process it would need to go through so based off a recommendation from a very good friend who worked in an incredibly high position within our government, he recommended turning it into a novel. So what readers read today in contracted is a true novel yet inspired by real people, real events, and a very real war. The novel itself, which I didn’t initially want to do, was done based on the earlier recommendation because I was told “people need to read this.” Break the misconceptions and educate, let others involved in the same line of work know they are not alone, but more importantly allow friends and family of such individuals know they too are not alone. This is why I thought including Declan’s wife, Brannagh, was so critical to include within. Unlike the military, contractor families don’t have a centralized mechanism to vent to or go to when they are in need of comfort to deal with a deployed family member. Contractors don’t live on military bases and often live very far away from such locations.
VG: As long as we’re talking about the antiwar crowd (and please understand, I use the term “antiwar” to denote that particular group, not to insinuate that the rest of us are PRO-war), one of the things that has always been batted around is a supposed lack of oversight. Obviously troops are subject to the UCMJ, and operate with embedded reporters much of the time (many of whom don’t correctly report events anyway). Who do contractors answer to? How do you respond to accusations that contractors are “freelancing” out there with no real “supervision?”
KP: Contractors working under DOD contracts, while deployed, do actually fall under the UCMJ. Most people don’t realize that. Those who don’t operate under DOD contracts fall under other guidelines which often, believe it or not, include host nation laws. It’s a very difficult task. But contractors sure as hell are not freelance, do anything you want, operators. They are incredibly professional and those who violate unwritten codes of professionalism within the contractual world are normally quickly removed from whatever programs they operate under. Contractors are just that—contractors. We serve a customer just like if you hired a contractor to build you a house or fix a repair in your house. The home owner is the customer and it is the home owner who the contractor must answer to–no difference in the national security world when it comes to contractors.
VG: If people only read this one interview and knew nothing about you, knew nothing about what you guys did and continue to do over there, what would you want them to take away from this? What do you think is the most important thing for Americans to know about the war and all of your part in it?
KP: Contractors are a vital part of national security who undertake grave risks every day. Contractors are patriots who love the United States no differently than those wearing a uniform. In some cases, an argument can be made that contractors actually love America more than some military service members simply because many contractors are retired military and have the luxury to stop all the crazy work and deployments but refuse to stop simply because so long as a war continues, contractors are willing to work alongside their uniformed and non-uniformed government counterparts—continually placing their friends and families on hold to serve within the brotherhood. But being a contractor can be easy in comparison to being a family member of a contractor. In my eyes, it’s the family member who often has no earthly clue what their loved one is engaged in who are the real “super-patriots.” Again, this is why I included bits and pieces of what Declan’s wife, Brannagh, goes through while her husband is deployed. It’s a tough job to be in such shoes, it’s a job that makes me admire and love my own wife that much more. She has been through hell and back just like I have. But together, we are strong—we are lovers of America and would sacrifice everything if it meant to preserve what America represents—and we are not alone.