Earlier this year, I noticed an increase in the number of attacks on PMCs (private military companies) and the people they employ (military contractors). To be sure, PMCs have never been far from the point of aim of a lot of anger and resentment. But the stuff I've been hearing lately has been especially vitriolic. Why?
The politically expedient withdrawal of US troops from Iraq didn't mean an end to the US mission in Iraq. To protect the infrastructure (such as the embassy in Baghdad) and personnel (diplomats, support folks, etc) that the US still maintains in Iraq, the State Department and other agencies have hired a large number of security contractors. The same goes for missions in other countries, such as Libya.
These contractors range from third country nationals such as the Ugandans that guarded our chow halls in 2006 to former SEALs, Force Recon, Special Forces, and so on - in other words, the best former products of the US military, and our allied militaries' elite units. "Media" organizations such as Gawker would like us to think that when they EAS (leave the military), they cease being honorable and respectable, that they become bloodthirsty killers who act without any morals or respect for human life.
These are the same men who are supposedly loved by the vast majority of Americans when they're in uniform - just look at Gawker's own coverage of the recent SEAL hostage rescue in Somalia. Unfortunately, they're pitied once they have taken off that uniform... and they're looked at with suspicion bordering on disgust when they take a job with a PMC.
An inconvenient collision of facts occurs when private contractors do heroic things when they don't have to. Although it was hardly mentioned publicly, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were on contract to provide security services elsewhere. They weren't responsible for protecting the embassy or consulate, but stepped up to the plate and did what needed to be done. They were most often described as "former SEALs" rather than "security contractors."
The morals of such men don't change when they leave the military. They've simply developed skills that can be better utilized elsewhere with a corresponding increase in pay. Considering the dangers they face, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, in my opinion.
In fact, the hiring of former SOF men to accomplish certain jobs is in fact beneficial to not only their retirement fund, but to the country. Politically convenient decisions to not place uniformed American military personnel on the ground does not obviate the need for American military men to be on the ground in the furtherance of American diplomatic or security objectives.
And while companies such as Blackwater/Xe/Whatever are favorite targets of some, the fact is that the pool of potential private security contractors is not massive. No matter who has the contract, the guys doing the work might not change. Hiring standards vary from company to company and contract to contract, but the top end of this spectrum is composed of skilled and professional individuals.
Of course, the ignorant will always find something to complain about.