Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Another War Contractor Killed

Over the past week or two my close buddy in Afghanistan has sent me pictures. He and I have worked together in the past and he is now working as a security contractor. His pictures show him sporting a full beard, carrying an AK-47 and a personalized tactical vest among several young native kids happy to pose with him for the pictures. If I had to be away from home and in a war zone, I’d much rather be a security contractor, especially now that I’ve experienced both military and contracting. The military is monolithic and difficult to change, particularly the conventional units. In contracting I worked with guys like me—guys I know and trust.

While the news media has had extensive coverage of contracting fiascos and the Blackwater debacle, no one has raised a cry about all the good that contractors have done or are doing, nor the inherent risk they take each day protecting U.S. government assets and personnel.

I received a note today from a friend who works at Hewlett-Packard. He said that one of the young men whom he had taught in church a few years ago “was killed yesterday in Iraq… He was there as a security contractor. His family is still in my [congregation]. I don't know what firm he was with, but just thought I'd check in the chance that you might have known him.”

I wrote him back the following:

His name sounds very familiar to me. The contractor community is very small. I may have met him. I may have heard about him. I certainly know someone who knew and worked with him. I've sent out an inquiry to a couple friends already.

I'm so sorry that someone you know has died in a war/security capacity. I share your sadness. You are now among the very few of us who knows what it feels like to have a friend killed by others. Death is felt differently when those we love die as a result of another human being intentionally causing it. If there were a way I could better offer my sympathies to you or to his family, I wouldn't hesitate. What I can say, however, is what we spoke about in church here in Iraq on Sunday: The Lord is in charge. He who controls and governs the universe can certainly stop bombs from exploding or bullets from destroying or cars from crashing. The Lord called him home. Nevertheless… we should live together in love insomuch that we weep for the loss of them that die.

May the Lord comfort you and all those who knew and loved him during this difficult period. I'm so sorry.



The security contractors I know aren’t heartless killers. The term ‘mercenary’ has such a connotation. No, the guys I know have served in the military and/or in a law enforcement capacity. They want to do go and be good; they want to help protect lives. If contracting were just about the money they would never have gone into the military or law enforcement in the first place. No, these guys are true warriors.

I hope the next time we see news segments about the unappreciated, anonymous ‘war contractors’ we’ll remember that they have families and loved ones, and that the vast majority of them are decent, civil, morally good human beings.

No comments: