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Force for Hire
1 minutes | a year ago
Coming soon: Military Matters
Stay tuned for Military Matters, the new podcast from Stars and Stripes. Listen as U.S. Air Force veteran and Force for Hire host Desmon Farris and U.S. Army warrant officer Rod Rodriguez examine the topics that matter to service members, veterans, and the people and communities that support them. Subscribe now to Military Matters, launching in January 2020.
34 minutes | a year ago
Wrapping up, a look at key issues, and farewell
In this final episode of Force for Hire, we examine some key issues about the private military contracting world that we uncovered. The cost effectiveness of contracting kept coming up as one of the major questions during the season, and experts had widely differing answers. We found that the broad use of third-country and host-country nationals in security contracting often goes overlooked, particularly when it comes to their casualty rates. We examine the use of private contractors by the Defense Department for intelligence, and how intelligence agencies have relied on them since 9/11. Addressing one of the main questions of the series, we look at trends within the military contracting industry and examine its future. Thank you for listening to Force for Hire. Stay tuned for Military Matters, our new topical podcast that will launch this fall. We hope you’ll join us. The full transcript of the podcast can be found here. email@example.com
25 minutes | a year ago
'Mercenary Mum' talks leaving military, joining contracting world
In this penultimate episode of Force for Hire, we welcome on air Neryl Joyce, an Australian servicemember who turned to contracting when she wasn’t allowed to deploy with her fellow soldiers. She soon found out that what kept her from deploying with the Australian military was one of her greatest assets in the private sector. Joyce worked with a couple of different private military contractors, one of which was the infamous Blackwater. In this episode she talks about her experiences with both, her time in Iraq and what it was like being a woman in the PMC world. Next week we’ll be wrapping up Force for Hire with a look back at the biggest issues facing the private security and contacting worlds. We hope you’ll join us. firstname.lastname@example.org
28 minutes | a year ago
Contractors: Asset or liability to nation's cybersecurity?
Thanks to high-profile cybersecurity operations — the recent U.S. cyberattack against Iran and Russia’s 2016 attack on Ukraine’s power grid, for example — the public is much more aware of the digital threats that the U.S. faces. While the public lags behind in understanding these threats, the U.S. has for years been taking steps to keep U.S. assets safe from foreign and domestic hackers. The National Security Agency has long been responsible for cybersecurity operations, and the military has stepped up by raising individual cybersecurity commands. Private contractors have also taken part — or even led the charge — in the digital defense arena, but not without controversy. A Navy contractor was responsible for a Chinese hack last year that resulted in stolen U.S. anti-ship missile data. Edward Snowden, an NSA contractor, became a household name after leaking reams of sensitive data. Richard Clarke, special cybersecurity adviser to President George W. Bush and author of "The Fifth Domain: Defending Our Country, Our Companies, and Ourselves in the Age of Cyber Threats," joins us this week on Force for Hire. Clarke addresses cybersecurity threats and how military contractors have helped and hurt U.S. national security. Clarke has worked for the Pentagon, State Department and the White House, and his decades of experience make him among the top experts in the field.
30 minutes | a year ago
Fighting for justice in a lawless land
Attorney Kimberley Motley has spent years fighting for justice in a country where most women are still fighting for basic human rights. As the first foreigner to litigate cases in Afghanistan’s criminal courts, Motley faces judges whose concept of “not guilty” is often as foreign as the “perahan tunban” is to Americans. This week Force for Hire welcomes Motley, who has made a career out of fighting corruption in Afghanistan and has helped bring justice to those working to support the U.S. military. Her story, which she shares with us on this week’s episode, is one of determination, courage and legal intrigue. You won’t want to miss this one. email@example.com
24 minutes | 2 years ago
Dodging bullets, execution during rise of ISIS in Iraq
Military contractors in Iraq have had to deal with a near constant threat of violence, corrupt politicians and untrusting locals who often saw them as an invading force. South African national Johann Raath had to deal with all of that during his many years working security in the Middle East. But when the Islamic State came to power in 2014, he — and other contractors supporting the U.S. mission in Iraq — faced a new threat. As one the most bloodthirsty terrorist organizations in recent memory took control of areas of the country, foreigners of any kind were rounded up. This included contractors who worked with Americans or the Iraqi government. Men like Raath. Some were thrown in prison. Others were executed. Raath talks about his experiences working in Iraq during the rise of ISIS and how he escaped death more than once – and came back for more. A full transcript of this episode can be found here. firstname.lastname@example.org
27 minutes | 2 years ago
Fighting piracy on high seas often job for private military contractors
Maritime security operations are complex. The mesh of international politics, private company procedures and the uncaring nature of the open seas make for a security situation best handled by professionals. More often than some may think, those professionals are private military contractors. It’s those security professionals often tasked with keeping vital shipping lanes open, fighting off threats and keeping the goods people worldwide depend on, safe. On this week’s episode of Force for Hire, we welcome aboard a pair of former Royal Marines – both maritime security experts – to talk about the complexities of modern maritime security operations. And yes, one of the threats ships face out there on the open waters are pirates. They exist and when security is lax, they strike. So, how do contractors keep pirates and hostile foreign powers at bay on the open seas? You’ll have to tune in to find out.
35 minutes | 2 years ago
Kidnapping, death of US contractor leaves behind shattered family
The day Russell Frost and two former American soldiers were kidnapped was an unusual one, even by the standards of 2016 Baghdad. On Jan. 15, as the battle against Islamic State raged across the country, Frost and his two fellow contractors — former U.S. Army soldiers Amr Mohamed and Waiel el-Maadawy — found an interpreter to assist in their government mission of training coalition forces. The interpreter was a strange one, Mohamed said, offering the men liquor and women in an area where such things at the time could lead to death. Against their better judgment, the three men met at the interpreter’s house to finalize a working relationship over tea. As night began to fall, Mohamed insisted they leave. When the Americans attempted to do so, they were surrounded by dozens of armed men, members of a Shiite militia supported by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. What followed was a horrific, 31-day ordeal in which the three — accused by their captors of being CIA operatives — were brutally tortured and imprisoned in inhumane conditions. It was the first kidnapping of Americans in the country since 2011 and while it was widely reported, the reason why the men where kidnapped by a faction ostensibly working with U.S. forces — and why it took so long for them to be released — remains murky. This episode of Force for Hire welcomes Mohamed to talk about the ordeal and its fallout. Frost died in November 2017 of complications from the kidnapping and torture. We’re proud to have Frost’s family on this episode to talk about how his death has impacted them and what they’re doing to help ensure the sacrifices of military contractors aren’t being forgotten. email@example.com
32 minutes | 2 years ago
The legend of 'Mad Mike' Hoare
Michael Thomas Hoare has lived a life that, were it not endlessly documented, would seem a pastiche of barroom brags, urban legends and anecdotes lifted from mid-21st century military pulp fiction. Hoare, better known as “Mad Mike,” is a soldier of fortune. A mercenary. He has seen combat in multiple battles during World War II with the British army, and in numerous conflicts across the Congo and elsewhere. He recently celebrated his 100th birthday — apparently, living hard is no predictor of longevity. Hoare is a decorated combat veteran. He’s been an African safari guide, an accountant and a Hollywood technical adviser. He’s been a leader of men in combat as well as a prisoner, convicted of hijacking a plane after a failed 1981 coup in the Seychelles. Chris Hoare, his son and the author of “’Mad Mike’ Hoare: The Legend,” joins us this week to talk about some of his father’s greatest moments, as well as his impact on private military contracting. Some of the stories Chris Hoare tells on this episode of Force for Hire are not for the fainthearted. From bloody conflicts in the Congo to a failed coup that led to “Mad Mike’s” imprisonment, nothing is held back. You won’t want to miss this one. firstname.lastname@example.org
35 minutes | 2 years ago
Exploring the murky, mysterious world of Russian military contracting
Force for Hire’s hosts have focused primarily on American military contracting. We’re changing it up this week as Michelle and Desmon look at a private Russian paramilitary force that is a global threat, even though it isn’t formally recognized by its government. The Wagner Group, believed to be run by former Russian military intelligence officer Dmitriy Utkin, is shrouded in secrecy. A 2017 Bloomberg article placed its membership as high as 6,000, even though mercenary forces are not allowed under Russian law. (https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2017-12-06/putin-wants-to-win-but-not-at-all-costs) The group has reportedly worked in Africa, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Ukraine and Syria. In early 2018, forces believed to be a part of the Wagner Group engaged in a battle with U.S.-led Syrian Democratic Forces troops near the Syrian town of Khasham. That led to a U.S. airstrike that killed numerous Russian mercenaries fighting alongside pro-Syrian government forces. Some reports put the number of Russian deaths as high as 200, although that has been contested. (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/13/russian-mercenaries-killed-us-airstrikes-syria) Critics allege that Russia uses mercenaries in Syria to keep official military losses low. Even with high-profile battles, the Wagner Group largely flies under the radar, leaving questions about its members and its mission, and who’s ultimately calling the shots. To help explain the issues, Force for Hire welcomes Sergey Sukhankin, a research fellow at the Jamestown Foundation think tank in Washington; and Peer Schouten, a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies, a research institute in Denmark. ogether, they’ll talk about how the Wagner Group and other Russian contractors are influencing policies, affecting trade and shaping the politics of central African nations. Their operations on that continent remains a hot topic among the contracting community and those that follow it. Schouten and Sukhankin explain all this and more on the latest episode of Force for Hire. email@example.com
24 minutes | 2 years ago
Former British Army leader Tim Collins talks Iraq War, contracting
When the United Kingdom sent soldiers to join the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the force was marked with veterans of a decades-long conflict between England and Northern Ireland, which came to be known as “The Troubles.” Among those soldiers was a Tim Collins, a British colonel in charge of the Royal Irish Regiment’s 1st Battalion. Collins, 59, had grown up in Belfast and came of age while serving in the British army as his hometown was rocked almost daily by violence. He was no stranger to bloodshed, and he was aware of the impact an invasion could have on a population caught in the crossfire. When Collins stood before his men on the eve of sending them into battle March 19, 2003, he knew what was at stake. That familiarity with fire and death and that empathy led him to deliver one of the most famous speeches of its time. In that speech — a copy of which was later said to have hung in the Oval Office — Collins talked about the Iraqi people. “Their children will be poor. In years to come they will know that the light of liberation in their lives was brought by you.” We are joined this week by Collins, who will talk about his time in the British service, what it was like growing up during the Northern Ireland conflict and the early days of the Iraq War. Collins — now involved with private military and security contracting firm New Century — shares his perspective on the operations gaps filled by contracting and how it’s shaping the modern battlefield. firstname.lastname@example.org
35 minutes | 2 years ago
Examining contracting, military spending in the UAE and Saudi Arabia
There is a lot of money in the private military and security contracting worlds. While the U.S. remains ahead of the pack in defense spending, countries like Saudi Arabia spend a greater percent of their gross domestic product than the U.S. Other countries in the Saudi region continue to build up their defenses by recruiting native forces or hiring private military contractors. The United Arab Emirates is known for hiring foreign nationals, including a large number of private military contractors. That practice is so ingrained in the country’s culture that in 2004, leaders introduced an incentive program to promote hiring from within to reduce its dependency on a foreign workforce. Even with the incentives, the defense money continues to flow, and the UAE has one of the region’s most formidable military forces. The UAE, according to senior adviser to Gulf state analytics Theodore Karasik, is one of the most attractive places for private military contractors to find work. Karasik explains why in this week’s episode of Force for Hire. We’re also joined by Washington Post reporter Aaron Gregg, who helps detangle some of the financial and military ties between the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the UAE. A full transcript of this episode can be found here. email@example.com
21 minutes | 2 years ago
A talk with Tim Lynch, voice of a misunderstood industry
Tim Lynch retired from the Marine Corps in 2000 after a lengthy career as an infantry officer. Some would consider that timing — just a year before the 9/11 attacks thrust America into decades of combat operations — fortuitous. Not Lynch. The retired Marine major saw his former brothers-in-arms deploy, watched them put into practice the combat training he had spent his life perfecting. He wanted in. So Lynch threw his resume at every private military contracting company he could find. Within days he had a job offer. What followed was a long career spent deploying to some of most hotly contested war zones in the Middle East as a security contractor. While there, he decided to blog about his experiences, collecting his thoughts on contracting, Afghan politics and so much more. Free Range International is a fascinating look inside an industry often hidden from public view. He’s also a seasoned podcast guest, appearing frequently on All Marine Radio. Lynch joins us on this episode of Force for Hire to talk about his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan — from the mundane to the extraordinary. His insights, thoughts and observations make this episode one of the most dynamic of the season. You won’t want to miss it. firstname.lastname@example.org
40 minutes | 2 years ago
Exploitation, human trafficking rampant in third-country national contracting
This week on Force for Hire, we bring aboard a pair of experts to examine an aspect of military contracting that ties into issues of human rights abuses and modern-day slavery. Third-country nationals, workers not employed by a company headquartered in their home country and operating in a country outside of their native lands, are often part of the contracted workforce supporting the Department of Defense. A 2019 U.S. Central Command report counts 24,000 third-country nationals among its workers. But as researcher into modern slavery James Sinclair says the practice of hiring and subcontracting out a third-country national workforce has led to some massive human rights issues. Sinclair will talk about how shady and largely unregulated hiring practices can lead to what amounts to modern-day slavery. Also joining us this week is Noah Coburn, author of “Under Contract: The Invisible Workers of America’s Global War,” a book that examines a contracted workforce that is often ignored, exploited and forgotten about. Coburn discusses how security contractors in countries not known for their human rights records can be robbed of promised salary, arrested or worse – and what part defense contracting companies play in all of this.
43 minutes | 2 years ago
Meet Cindy Waldron, war zone trucker, military mom and survivor
Cindy Waldron has done a little bit of everything, it seems. She has taken big rigs up and down America’s highways. She has delivered much-needed supplies to troops in Iraq, braving gunfire and improvised explosive device attacks along the way. She’s a proud mother of a U.S. soldier and author of the 2006 book “Cindy in Iraq: A Civilian’s Year in the War Zone,” which chronicles her experiences. She’s also a survivor – of firefights, of abusive relationships and of a sexual assault while deployed. Through it all, she not only persevered, but flourished, becoming one of the few women driving supply convoys through Baghdad in its bloodiest years. Morgan stopped by and talked with Stars and Stripes about her experiences in Iraq, in a raw, unfiltered look back at a singularly unique career. She talks about it all, from happy family moments, to dealing with PTSD, to finding peace after coming home from war. Along the way Morgan gives advice to abuse survivors, talks about her support of U.S. troops and paints a picture of Iraq in its most war-torn days. This is one episode of Force for Hire that you won’t want to miss.
34 minutes | 2 years ago
Contractors navigate complex maze of laws, policies for health care
As complex as military health care can be, servicemembers don’t have to worry about the Department of Defense shutting down overnight. Contractors who work for smaller private military or security firms have faced exactly that, leaving them without continued care. Even though that was an extreme case, contractors commonly face a tangled web of regulations, insurance policies and legal loopholes when seeking health care. A trio of experts joins hosts Michelle Harven and Desmon Farris to help explain the intricacies of contractor health care, provide tips for those in the industry and clear up some of the murkier aspects of the current system. Among those is Doug Grauel, a lawyer who specializes in helping contractors with injury claims. He’ll talk about a little-understood policy that helps safeguard government workers and will provide advice for any contractors facing medical issues. Also joining us this week are the two researchers behind a Rand Corp. study about the health of contractors operating in conflict areas. Molly Dunnigan, senior political scientist for Rand, and Carrie Farmer, a senior policy researcher for the nonprofit think tank, talk about the report and what it means for anyone considering a job in the private sector.
38 minutes | 2 years ago
Black Rifle Coffee CEO’s life as Green Beret, military contractor
The idea of leaving active duty for a contracting gig is a dream that many servicemembers share. And why not? Heading back to college at an older age or going from leading a fire team to working in retail can sound less than exciting. Taking hard-earned military skills and applying them to a lucrative new career is appealing to many veterans. But is contracting all it’s cracked up to be? In the last episode of Force for Hire, we heard how servicemembers and veterans can get started in private military contracting careers. Now, we’re going to hear from a contractor who made that leap – with mixed results. Evan Hafer, CEO and founder of Black Rifle Coffee, joins us on this week’s podcast. Hafer began his career as a U.S. Army infantryman. Later, he joined the elite ranks of the Green Berets, served among them for more than a decade. Afterward, he become a military contractor working personal security for the U.S. State Department. Hafer talks about his many deployments to combat zones, how his experiences differed between uniformed and private military service, and what inspired him to leave it all behind for a life of coffee roasting and entrepreneurship.
43 minutes | 2 years ago
Leveraging military skills, expertise to forge a new career
With Force for Hire, we’ve covered the modern history of military and security contracting, talked to veterans of the industry and spoke to the families affected by the realities of the business. Now, it’s time to find out what it takes to become a military contractor: the skills needed, the attitudes recruiters are looking for and what challenges veterans can expect to face when looking to make the leap into the industry. Many veterans have designs on using the skills they’ve picked up in the service after hanging up the uniform. Private security and military contracting remains a high-profile landing spot for veterans, especially those in combat arms who might find their skill sets undervalued in a civilian workforce. So how, exactly, does an infantryman make the change from servicemember to military contractor? To get that information, we brought back Adam Gonzales, a military veteran who transitioned into the private military world. He and his wife, Susan Gonzales, also a veteran, now run the security and military company Silent Professionals. Together with hosts Desmon Farris and Michelle Harven, they talk about what veterans and transitioning servicemembers can do to become better candidates in the private sector, dispel some common misconceptions and touch on what turns off potential recruiters.
38 minutes | 2 years ago
The families left behind
In this episode we talk to Barbie Baker and Nicole Woodland, two women with firsthand knowledge of the lifestyle change that takes place after a spouse joins the world of private military contracting. Their story might sound familiar to former military spouses — loneliness, uncertainty and a search for new meaning — but some of what they say might surprise you.
58 minutes | 2 years ago
Money makes the contracting world go 'round
Over the past few episodes of Force for Hire, hosts Michelle Harven and Desmon Farris have broached a number of topics pertaining to private military contracting. Throughout, they’ve briefly touched on the issue of money, from guest Adam Gonzales talking about his salary as a private security operator to author Sean McFate talking about the profit of doing business downrange. Now, it’s time to dive headfirst into the topic that has bubbled beneath the surface of nearly every conversation about private military contracting. Money.
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