I recently watched the movie “Thirteen Hours; The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” and from the very first scene I was completely 100% drawn in. I felt as if I was there in Benghazi, it was incredible. The Operating Environment was very familiar to me – similar to so many other vacation spots around the globe.
I am not going to spoil it for anybody but I will simply say that if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, you really should. It is well worth it and provides, what I believe, the factual account as to what really happened at the State Department Special Mission Compound – U.S. consulate of sorts – that ugly day Sept. 11, 2012.
Beyond the heroic story of these men and this tragic incident, I believe there is an underlying story that also needs to be told. If you just see the movie and don’t read the book, you might miss it because it isn’t fully revealed unless you are familiar with the world of High Threat Protection (HTP). This world is a closed community staffed by Americans who provide specialized skill sets to agencies and departments of the U.S. government.
Who are these people who work in the shadowy realms? You’ve probably seen pictures of them – rugged looking men with beards, muscles and guns posed against the background of some foreign outpost.
Why do they do the crazy work they do?
They are “government contractors.” To some, those words have a negative connotation and, man, do I despise the very word contractor – and I’ll tell you why.
In the case of overseas high threat protection and security, which I have been a part for several years, the government – Department of State, CIA and other agencies – desperately needs people with unique security and combat skills combined with real-life experience. Great Americans, like these six men, are contracted to do jobs either the government doesn’t want to do or can’t do but desperately needs to have done. They are hired to specifically protect facilities and keep government employees safe in the otherwise insane and unsafe world, namely places like Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and others.
Unfortunately though, many times, government bosses treat them poorly in the face of the enormous and important job they do as this movie so accurately shows.
But who are these six men, these so-called GRS security contractors employed by the agency to do the thankless job of overseas protective security – guarding spies of the agency? Are these just some money hungry guys looking to score on the big government salary? Men without scruples, morals and principles who are just in it for the money? Just some more “security contractors” as the term is often used with a derogatory tone.
I demand to differ.
Kris “Tanto” Paronto served honorably as a U.S. Army Ranger with the 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment.
Mark “Oz” Geist was a U.S. Marine for 12 years and deputy sheriff in Colorado.
Dave Benton (not real name) was also a U.S. Marine and Swat Team member.
Jack Silva (not real name) was former U.S. Navy Seal.
John “Tig” Tiegen, was also a former Marine.
Tyrone “Rone” Woods, a SEAL, served 20 years in the U.S. Navy and retired as a senior chief.
These men are all former or retired military. They are all honorable men who have served our nation in war and peace. Their resumes provide evidence of men with the highest integrity, morals, scruples and, above all, solid principles.
Top-tier professionals – operators.
I am proud to have worked with men and women like these for years in nasty places all around the globe. Many of my closest friendships were born out of common sacrifices while working as contractors overseas. These professionals do the work they do for their families and to provide a future for their loved ones.
They do it because they believe in the mission and in America. They have to because if anyone even attempts to do this type of overseas contracting work just for the money and without a moral sense of duty, they’ll never last – believe me.
You have to have a deep-seeded belief in the significance and meaning of your work. This is what carries guys like these men from one leave period to the next, year after year. It is the motivation needed to leave their families behind as they go back to the serious business of overseas security contracting.
These people are different.
They believe in defending and fighting when others won’t. They are willing to lay down their lives in the face of overwhelming odds, when nobody will make a decision or answer a radio. They work in dark holes in faraway lands that nobody wants to hear about nor cares about.
They are the first guys to buck the system when American lives or America itself is threatened. They are warriors, secret soldiers, dads and husbands – overseas security contractors – and I would stand by anyone of them any day of the week.
Several of my strongest friendships are with men like these. Guys like: Linz, Blackhawk10, Choncho, Moetown, Big Mike, Crazy Abe, JT, NYMike, Taor, Pete, Tread, Craig, Greg and many others. You know who you are.
Friendships forged while skirting through checkpoints in Afghanistan while working undercover, during flights in a Blackhawk across the middle of Afghanistan and during hair-raising High Threat Protection details in the backstreets of Baghdad and Basra.
The underlying story about these men who fought for 13 hours in the nasty, mean and insane streets and compounds in Benghazi without any support from the government, who gave so much to save American lives and attempted to save the life of Ambassador Stevens, is the fact that they were “contractors.”
God bless every one of them.
Viper One Six – Out.