Hi everyone!

I'm a former US army paratrooper who then worked in the private military world, mostly in Africa.

I write about this world in my new novel SHADOW WAR: A TOM LOCKE NOVEL, based on actual events.

Check it out at http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-War-Tom-Locke-Novel/dp/0062403702/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

More about me here: http://www.seanmcfate.com

Proof: http://imgur.com/gallery/u9EtvGD

Will start answering questions at 2:00pm EST


Comments: 190 • Responses: 74  • Date: 

lonely_light26 karma

Have you caused any "collateral damage" you regret?

seanmcfate50 karma


onlytech_nofashion2 karma


seanmcfate11 karma

I wish I could. There are non-disclosure agreements in place plus US government secrets (i'm not implicating US or anyone else in war crimes when I say that, nor am I admitting to war crimes). I love AMA but not going to become a felon here. Apologies.But I will answer everything as much as I can.

brenwolf15 karma

I'm reading "The Modern Mercenary" as part of my grad school thesis on Private Military Companies, and I have to say that out of all the literature out there that seeks to define PMCs, your book stands out for doing the best job establishing a coherent definition. So thanks for that, you made my life a lot easier!

Quick question: When doing the research for that book, did you come across any sources that covered Executive Outcomes in Sierra Leone that you might be willing to recommend?

seanmcfate6 karma

Thank you!!! I spent a lot of time on that book (Modern Merc).

Hmmm. Most of what I know about SL is anecdotal from people I know who worked in or with EO or Sandline at the time. Eeben Barlow wrote a autobiography though. Not sure if it deals with SL

ExpatJundi1 karma


seanmcfate2 karma

Yes, thanks. Damn autocorrect!!

nice_and_friendly14 karma

now that you live a civilian life, what is your every day carry?

seanmcfate20 karma

Unfortunately I don't anymore. I live and work in Washington DC, where firearms are strictly outlawed. But I do like SIG Sauer and Berettas (I spent a lot of time with the latter in the US Army, so force of habit I suppose)

maflickner4 karma

Guns haven't been banned in the district since 2008. They're a pain in the ass to get but it's doable

seanmcfate6 karma

True. But the pain in the ass factor > benefit of carrying firearms

-Falcon_punch-10 karma

Why would you want to become a mercenary after dealing with all the military bullshit after your time in? Why not get a comfortable job and live in the suburbs? I expect the reason is money, but was it worth the risks and the possible moral conflict?

seanmcfate20 karma

Actually, the money is not that great. There's a lot of myths out there about how mercenaries get paid a lot. I'm sure some do but most don't.

Going into the private military world was great, in some ways, because there was less BS than in the US military.

seanmcfate18 karma

But yes, there are moral conflicts. Not everyone cared but some did

blarghusmaximus5 karma

Ballpark it. Whats an entry level mercenary making? We talking 120k/year?

seanmcfate12 karma

The market is different now. A few years back, plan on doubling your US military salary. But you give up your career, pension, VA hospital benefits (such as they are). You live contract to contract and if you get hurt...medicaid.

reederface-7 karma

Why did you dodge the question? It would be more interesting than the answer you actually gave...

Ich_Liegen10 karma

Because that'd be like asking how much a human beng makes while working: There are many different companies on different parts of the world paying different salaries to different people with different backgrounds.

seanmcfate6 karma

For me, I was making about $120k plus bump-ups like hazard duty pay (same rate as a US soldier gets) and some other perks. Close to $200k a year, not that much actually. People hear about the US paying $2k a day for Tier-1 guys. HOWEVER, that's what the private military companies may charge the US govt for a Tier-1 guy. The company then turns around and pays him considerably less, pocketing the rest as profit. It's how they make their money: time and materials.

But that's on US govt contracts. In the past, some mercenary companies, like Executive Outcomes (not out of business) worked African contracts for shares in mines. I don't know how much Nigeria paid mercenaries to help clear Boko Haram. I heard the Emirates paid Colombian mercenary a few thousand a month to fight in Yemen. They earn a few hundred if they stayed in the Colombian army.

-Falcon_punch-5 karma

So why do it then? If the pay isn't that good and presumably less benefits/support when shit hits the fan, why not get some civilian job?

seanmcfate14 karma

Not everyone does it just for the money. Your logic is perfect. Not everyone is logical. Men I knew did it for all sorts of reasons

Fake-Professional6 karma

Why did you, personally, get into mercenary work?

JezzaN16 karma

Seems like this question has been avoided a few times now..

Fake-Professional-7 karma

Yeah, which is frustrating because it's called an "ask me anything." I feel like this guy is just a piece of shit that likes killing people, and now wants to sell his stupid book.

seanmcfate10 karma

I entered this profession because I was curious. I was frustrated with the 1990s 'zero-defects' army and wanted real missions beyond Balkans peacekeeping. However, I didn't want a desk job back home. I was approached by a company that said we want you to do interesting stuff of us in Africa. The pay wasn't great and parts of the industry sucked, but the work I did on the ground and the people I worked with were interesting. I'm also proud of some of the work we did. That is reward enough.

Plus, I don't like killing people. There are troops who leave the service an join the private military world so they can go rogue. I knew some of them. Twisted people.

TheScoop069 karma

From your experiences, how accurately do movies like 13 Hours portray what your life was like as a merc? What type of rifle did you carry, and what attachments? What was the most badass thing you did while enlisted and as a merc? Any backlash from the operator community because of any of the material in your book? Thanks for the AMA.

seanmcfate15 karma

I haven't seen 13 Hrs, so can't comment. I preferred the AK47. reliable, cheap, easy to get parts for or replace. Sure, it would be great to have a HK or other exotic long gun, but those things are thief magnets in the field too.

seanmcfate22 karma

Unfortunately, the most bad ass thing I did I really can't discuss. However it involved helping stop a genocide in central Africa

blarghusmaximus10 karma

You should write a book or something.

seanmcfate17 karma

Yeah, someone said that to me once...

Fake-Professional1 karma

What's the reason you can't talk about it?

cozywoobles1 karma

NDAs you nitwit.

seanmcfate7 karma

Correct. There are non-disclosure agreements in place plus US government secrets. I love AMA but not going to become a felon here. Apologies.But I will answer everything as much as I can.

seanmcfate9 karma

I'm thinking of writing something comparing Trump to a mercenary. What do you think?

parasocks9 karma

What's something a paratrooper needs to learn about parachuting that a recreational parachuter wouldn't necessarily know or have to worry about?

Also, do you have a digital copy of your book?

seanmcfate9 karma

As a military parachutist (static line), you jump about 1000 feet AGL, which means you don't have much time incase there's a malfunction. Plus you're jumping out with a few hundred paratroopers at night, during a mass attack. Troopers blow into one another and sometimes canopies collapse.

parasocks9 karma

Very cool, what's the strategy for trying to help out someone whose parachute collapses? Is there some kind of team effort to watch out for that?

seanmcfate12 karma

Yes. If you're canopy has collapsed but the other jumper's has not, you climbed down his risers hand over hand then vice grip in his harness. You ride down together and crash land.

If you canopies collapse, you try to deploy reserve parachute (if you have time, and you probably don't)

seanmcfate7 karma

Yes, the book can be downloaded via kindle. Also, there's an audio version

goodguygreg8083 karma

Thanks for the audio book, my eyes are usually doing other things.

seanmcfate3 karma

I've not heard it yet. I'm told they found two really good readers though.

Jungletouch8 karma

What was your go-to fixed blade knife?

seanmcfate11 karma


InfuseDJ2 karma

the american made or chinese made ones?

seanmcfate7 karma

Well, I hope American made. Mine is quite old now.

morecoffee8971 karma

Don't they make pacifiers?

seanmcfate7 karma

Different company. I hope.

rorcuttplus7 karma

What's a story that would make me want to buy your book?

seanmcfate13 karma

Locke, the main character, is a high end mercenary sent into Ukraine to help an oligarch become president and fight Putin's forces. But things are not as they seem, and Locke and team are fighting for their lives. It's based on actual events. Fiction is sometimes a better truth teller than non-fiction.

seanmcfate1 karma

I don't know Garrett but it's on target. A lot of private military contractors/merc on both side of the fight in the Ukraine. That's one reason I set the novel there. It's modern war.

spicypepperoni7 karma

Do you like pickles?

seanmcfate6 karma

of course

TheOlRedditWhileIPoo5 karma

Will any of these questions result in you having to kill someone?

And if so, how would you do it?

seanmcfate3 karma

Haha. Nope I'm done with that. However, there are some things I can't talk about.

Arysus491 karma

But if so how

seanmcfate1 karma

Pistol. That and the AK-47 are the WMDs of Africa.

Stateside? Couldn't say. Not were I worked.

mmacfarlane4 karma

Are any actual events from your formative years with the Oxford Street Gang represented in the book?

seanmcfate2 karma

Ha! Oh yes. There's backstory on Locke in Cambridge, MA. But not for public consumption!

geara_zulu4 karma

Not sure if asked...have you ever played the Metal Gear Solid Series? If so, how close are your skills and actions compared to Solid/Venom(Punished) Snake

seanmcfate5 karma

I have not played MGS but know it's a cult classic. My skills have softened a lot since I stopped doing field work.

geara_zulu3 karma

Thank you for the reply. If you have time, I suggest playing or at least watching a Play through. You may come up with a few ideas for future work. I look forward to reading your book.

seanmcfate2 karma

Thanks, interesting idea.

LoZ564 karma

Hi there! I'm a student in international security, so definitely find your work and industry fascinating. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer questions. I'll definitely brainstorm some more but this one popped into my mind:

I was surprised by the use of the word "mercenary"! It seems like the terms private contractor or military contractor (etc) are more commonly used to avoid comparisons to Machiavelli's Italy or something. Is that the common term really used in the industry or is it less of an issue (PR or otherwise) than I'm making it out to be?

seanmcfate4 karma

It's a fine point, and I get into it in my non-fiction book Modern Merc. But at the end of the day, people like me are paid to do uniquely military things and that's mercenary. It it like Machiavelli's Italy. The private military industry has paid a lot of PR money to reframe the debate but they shouldn't be allow to get away with it. Mercenaries have appeared - last year alone - in Ukraine (both sides of conflict), Yemen, Nigeria, Iraq and Syria. The mercenary industry is on the rise and it's going to play a big part in the future of war. It changes war, as Shadow War shows.

Jungletouch3 karma

A 3 year-old violinist? Psshhh... When I was three I had better things to do like pick my nose and irritate my sister. I don't want one of those bothersome PHD's anyway.

seanmcfate3 karma

Too funny. I was pretty screechy on the violin as a toddler. The Phd came much later.

Jungletouch3 karma

How was the writing process of this, being a fictional book? Did it seem to flow or did you hit any snags?

seanmcfate3 karma

It was hard at first. Dialogue, character development, building tension...all a new art.

MeatMeintheMeatus3 karma

What's the funniest thing you have ever seen?

seanmcfate7 karma

I was in the back bush of eastern Africa when a driving truck chassis blew by me. It was like Mad Max, just an engine, wheels, engine and a dude driving god knows where

audio-volatile3 karma

He probably just wanted someone to witness him.

seanmcfate2 karma

Strangest things happen on the savanna.

Stinkvis3 karma

Is it true that your book would have caused legal issues if it were non-fiction? Also, is your book gonna be for sale in The Netherlands?

seanmcfate6 karma

Yes. I wrote a non-fiction book about the rising mercenary world called The Modern Mercenary. The material I couldn't put in there went into the fiction book Shadow War (which is a lot more fun to read too).

I hope it goes on sale in NL

Stinkvis2 karma

Thank you, does Shadow War involve Africa again as well?

seanmcfate3 karma

It starts in north africa and finishes in eastern Ukraine. However, it also takes place in Washington DC, NYC, Houston, London and elsewhere

InfuseDJ3 karma

did you pull any pranks or "initiations" or was it far to professional for that in your company?

seanmcfate3 karma

We never did that in the private sector. However, when I was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne I went through "Prop Blast." It's a week long initiation ceremony involving a lot of PT and alcohol. Makes frat parties' hell weeks look quaint.

goodguygreg8083 karma

While writing the book did you have ptsd flashbacks? If so what was your go to therapy to help you calm down?

seanmcfate5 karma

I don't (think I) have PTSD flashbacks. I know some guys that do. It's terrible. I'm not sure what the best therapy is. One think about being a private military guy, is not one cares about your PTSD. Even if you worked a US govt contract

Spike422 karma

What was your contract for the military?

seanmcfate4 karma

which one?

KezzaJones2 karma

Do you smoke weed?

seanmcfate9 karma

No. Not against it though.


Paratrooper? So what; you were in the 82nd?

seanmcfate2 karma

Yes. 2/504 PIR. "Devils in Baggy Pants"


2/504 PIR

You ever go SF or Ranger? How'd you pick up PMC employment if you didn't do so?

seanmcfate3 karma

I thought about it but got out in 2000 thinking the future of US military was nothing but peacekeeping. I didn't want to wear a blue helmet. Ofcourse after 9/11 it was hard. I thought about going back in but ended up in the private military world instead.


How'd you get all those sweet contracting gigs not being SF/75th?

seanmcfate3 karma

SF/75th/SEALs et al are awesome. However, being a good 'contractor' requires a lot more creative thinking. My missions were bigger with less resources and no political top cover. I doubt most SOF guys can do that. They are amazing when working 'in their lanes.' But asked to do something weird on the fly...

To be fair to those guys, whom I respect immensely, they have huge constraints placed on them by higher. That's both a good and bad thing, depending on your perspective. Contractors have loads less constraints on them. Which is one reason they are hired in the first place.


What I mean is that those guys tend to have the best pickings when it comes to getting PMC gigs. I didn't think, and I'm delighted to learn, that one can have a successful PMC career not being a Tier 1 or elite unit

seanmcfate1 karma


cozywoobles1 karma

I doubt most SOF guys can do that. They are amazing when working 'in their lanes.' But asked to do something weird on the fly...

Did you guzzle the 82nd koolaid?

seanmcfate2 karma

No. 82nd guys don't do that stuff either. Our military is terrible at raising indigenous forces. Latest disaster: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/11882195/US-trained-Division-30-rebels-betrayed-US-and-hand-weapons-over-to-al-Qaedas-affiliate-in-Syria.html

[deleted]1 karma


seanmcfate1 karma

I don't think the 82nd or SF can raise indigenous forces well. The US spent billions on the Iraq army and it fled at the site of ISIS in Mosul, a vastly inferior enemy in terms of numbers and equipment. The Iraqi forces even tore off their uniforms and threw down their weapons as they ran away. The Afghan security forces are mostly ghosts, despite the billions and time spent there. Someone is collecting those salaries though. The US military is terrible at raising indigenous security forces, despite the money and time spent doing it. This is one area where I think mercenaries and contractors are genuinely superior.

_ShutThatBabyUp2 karma

Mercenaries are generalized as being bad guys. Military pawns that tend to be funded by someone with too much money and has their own agenda. How accurate is that and were there times where you thought you were on the good side, for sure?

seanmcfate2 karma

This is accurate, except not all mercenaries are villains. Many are like the guys you might know who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Although some become mercs to walk the dark side.

Mercenaries are disposable soldiers. I hate to say it, but it's true. They are hired for high risk missions or for plausible deniability reasons. When I was in the field, I knew that if something bad happened to me, the US government would not send in SOF to rescue me, the way they might if I were still in uniform. Hazards of the job.

Locke, in the book, has to deal with this. His mission goes sideways and he has to outsmart his employers. Who are not really who he thought they were in the first place. Realities of working in that world.

Squishfish252 karma

Have you ever been on a job with other mercenaries where you were on a crappy boat going to rescue some folks and the boatman turned out to be a complete bad ass and tagged along with the mission and it turned out to be John Rambo? Or anything like that ever happen similar?

seanmcfate3 karma

Haha! I wish. I like a guy who knows how to handle a bow and arrow. Seriously, I have been on a job with other mercenaries in a crappy boat going up river with an old geezer steering. It was just a crappy boat though with an old guy. Nothing too sexy.

iambookfort1 karma

What was the difference in the operational culture from the Army to being a private military contractor?

seanmcfate1 karma

Loads. The warrior ethos is utterly different, something I punctuate in Shadow War. Bottom line: Soldiers serve. Mercs work. There's enmity between the two. That was the case a thousand years ago between knights and mercenaries too. Not much has changed. However, not all contractors are scumbags and not all soldiers are saints. It's complicated, in interesting ways.

ExpatJundi1 karma


seanmcfate1 karma

I worked mostly for a company called DynCorp International, a multibillion dollar company few have heard of. I worked US govt contracts. Doing stuff CIA and SOF would be doing in the past. We outsource that stuff now.

ExpatJundi1 karma


seanmcfate2 karma

No, I had a weird path. I left the army in 2000 because I didn't see a future in it. A lot of guys left in the 1990s. I went to Harvard for grad school and almost immediately regretted my decision. I didn't want to be cramming for Econ exams after the stuff I had done in the military. I got a call from Dyncorp, nearly out of the blue, asking if I could help them build and army in West Africa. Econ exam v. West Africa army building. The choice was obvious.

ExpatJundi1 karma


seanmcfate1 karma

I'm not trying to be vague. Ask a specific question.

ExpatJundi1 karma


seanmcfate1 karma

We competed with MPRI and they lost the contract. I helped design and raise Liberia's army from scratch after the civil war there. We had to demobilize the standing army first, not an easy thing. I worked in Burundi to help prevent a threat that would have resulted in a genocide akin to 1994 Rwanda/Burundi. Did other things too. Mostly USG contracts.

One great thing about the private military world is that good ideas can grow regardless of age, rank, background or profile. It's entrepreneurial. That's why the private sector military is better at innovation than the Dept of Defense. Let's not forget they spent BILLIONS of dollars and years creating the armed forced of Iraq and Afghanistan. What did tax payers get? The Iraqi army fled at the site of ISIS, a vastly inferior enemy. The Afghan security forces are mostly ghosts, but someone is collecting their salaries. That was DOD incompetence, a lot of it done by special operators.

The armies we raised are still doing their jobs. We used completely different models than DOD for getting things done. The private sector can be very clever compared to the bureaucracies and "received wisdom" of Washington DC.

The problem is: can it be too clever for its own good? What happens when the private military industry goes into business for itself? This is disturbing to me. I think we're closer to this than most people realize and one reason I wrote Shadow War...to show how this could/is unfolding.

SlapMuhFro1 karma

If you work for/as a PMC, does that disqualify you for VA "benefits"? I get the feeling from some of your answers that it might, but I wasn't aware of any such thing.

seanmcfate2 karma

Working for a PMC does not, to my knowledge, disqualify you for VA benefits, if you're a US vet.

cenkiss1 karma

Do you care about whom do you work with? Do you think your opponents may have some just cause or do you just do your job?

seanmcfate3 karma

cenkiss, another good question. I care but not everyone else does. For example, I would never work for China in Africa, even if they made me a millionaire. Just cause I'm an independent contractor doesn't mean I'm not an American.

However, there are people who don't give a crap. They go where the money is.

At the end of the day, the best mercenaries are the most professional. It's a warrior code without a cause.

seanmcfate1 karma

Also, to answer your second question. I don't worry too much about my opponent's just cause when I'm on the ground. Before and after, I might consider it. But when I'm working in the field, not really.

ElCidTx1 karma

Did you ever travel to Texas for Dyncorp or did you stay in Falls Church?

seanmcfate1 karma

Yup. Near DFW airport. DynCorp HQ (back then) was in a Bank of America building. Nondescript. How the industry works...

ElCidTx1 karma

Sent an email to your info account, you will enjoy a few of the dyncorp inside stories I can share...

seanmcfate1 karma

Thanks! It was crazy back then

JAJA1281 karma

Compared to your time as a mercenary what is the difference between those in movies that you see or in shows such as Burn Notice? Also did you ever have to deal with those involved in Boko Haram? Or did that come later.

seanmcfate3 karma

Hollywood's version of mercenaries go from villainous to ridiculous. I wrote Shadow War to put a nuanced face on the modern mercenary. Neither apologizing nor hyping this new kind of warrior. Shadow War pulls back the curtain on today's mercs and how they fit into modern armed politics.

I didn't work directly with mercs involved in pushing Boko Haram out of Nigeria. A lot of them were connected to the former Executive Outcomes (EO) "alumnae" network in Africa. I did work with them. I also have a lot of senior friends in the Nigerian armed forces.

JAJA1281 karma

Thank you for the reply I am going to try and pick up both of your books :]

seanmcfate1 karma

Thanks!! Read Shadow War first. It's fun and easy, like Brad Thor and Tom Clancy but without the boy scouts. My non-fiction book is more serious and less a beach read.

AsianWarrior241 karma

Hi former paratrooper, I want to know that what were your best experiences in Africa and which movies or TV shows you feel portray paratroopers accurately?

seanmcfate2 karma

Hmmm. For movies, probably A Bridge Too Far. The opening scene of Band of Brothers is intense. Obviously I was never at D-Day but I can imagine the insanity and courage.

My best experiences in Africa were the surprises. I was in Africa's worst parts...and they are far worse than anything in the Middle East. You expect horror. However, every now and then the world surprises you with little things: a beautiful sunrise or an act of unconditional kindness from someone who's lost everything yet somehow can show generosity to strangers.

Some of my best experience, or perhaps most memorable, are not beautiful per se. For example, a fire fight in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, in an attempted coup d'etat. It was "best" in that we beat them back.

Rarr_1 karma

If someone wanted to become a mercenary without a military background. How would you go about doing that?

seanmcfate1 karma

It's harder. You need to get some skills and then some references (just like any job). There are para-military training camps all over the US and the world. Find one that has connections to the industry, pay money to attend, kick ass, work the network.

A lot of guys just show up in hotspots, in a 'have gun, will travel' mode. For example, in Goma or Irbil. Quality varies there, though. It's definitely for the rough necks and you need to watch your back. It can be like El Paso 1880s.

Rarr_1 karma

How do mercenaries transport weapons across borders? It seems like jumping on air Berlin with an AK checked at baggage claim, would be a no go.

etherez1 karma

Yes, i would like to know this too. I hope OP would answer this.

seanmcfate1 karma

They smuggle them. Not hard in conflict prone places that have porous borders.

ChasingGoodandEvil1 karma

How do you live with yourself, being a mercenary?

seanmcfate2 karma

I write about it now.

AlanBeads1 karma

What was about a military lifestyle, US Gov't or private, that first attracted you? Why did you become an Army Paratrooper rather than a 'normal' office worker, for example?

Also if you could listen to one song and one song only forever/before passing, what would it be?

Many thanks!

seanmcfate2 karma

I wasn't into the military that much as a kid. When a lot of boys were playing GI Joe, I was doing other things (like the violin). However, my grandfather always told me to serve, from the time I was a small child. He had fought in WW2 but didn't talk about it much. So after I left college, I went into the army.

Why the 82nd? For me it was go big or go home. Why join the army to do something I could do in the civilian world. That was my approach, anyway. The same logic applied when I got the call to work in Africa as a private military contractor; if it's worth doing, it's worth doing all the way.

Tough one on the song. First, no one wants to think of their death. Even though I put down the violin a very long time ago, I still love classical music. I would take it into the field with me (iPod). My last song would probably be 'Pie Jesu' from Faure's Requiem. It's a death mass and hauntingly beautiful.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VLY2bd5w8k

reallifelucas1 karma

How accurate is Metal Gear Solid's depictions of PMCs?

seanmcfate2 karma

Sadly I haven't played MGS. Someone else asked the same question so I guess it's time to invest in a playstation

ChaoticNeutralLife1 karma

What advice do you have for anyone interested in getting into private security?

seanmcfate3 karma

I get asked this a lot, ChaoticNeutralLife.

Most guys in the private military/mercenary world are ex-military from someplace. Occasionally, some guys are ex-police, with SWAT like tactical experience. So military experience is generally the way to go. A lot of hiring is simply through word of mouth, or right place and right time. There's a lot of BS artists in this space, so a potential team leader will start quizzing you about your credentials to see if you're full of crap. For example, if you said you were with 1/75 Rangers, he's ask you when and who the commander was, what operations did you do and do you know so-and-so. It's easy to spot the liars, and they are blackballed.

I also worked with former French Foreign Legion guys, so that's another avenue. It's a tough way to go, though. They treat Americans rough.

One of the best guys I ever worked with was not former military at all. He ended up becoming a trainer at one of the large private military company's training grounds (name I cannot divulge). I took him down range with me and he was awesome. I had no idea he had no military experience until we were already in mission. I took him because the head of the training camp I was using vouched for him, and he was not wrong. However, that guy was exceptional and I don't know how he did it.

So my advice is: join the military and get some experience. OR get cozy with someone who's already in the business and see if you can apprentice. I'm not sure how to do the latter, since I was former army. But I'm sure it's possible.

Best of luck

seanmcfate2 karma

Read Shadow War.

Parrotherb1 karma

You probably heard of "Kongo Müller", the german mercenary in Africa who got interviewed and displayed quite the joy when talking about his profession and killing. How many mercenaries like him have you met in your career?

seanmcfate1 karma

Yes, I know of KM and also Bob Denard and many others. They were fighting the African Wars of decolonization, especially Congo. Today's mercs are companies traded on Wall Street and the London Stock Exchange. New breed.

Parrotherb1 karma

So, mercs used to be freelancers in the past but nowadays they're kinda like company employees? And investors can place there money on those merc companies like on Facebook or Apple? That actually sounds kinda frightening.

seanmcfate1 karma

Yeah, hard to believe. Some firms are bought and sold in Wall Street, like DynCorp and ArmorGroup (London stock exchange, actually). However, there's guys running around the Congo and Iraq and Ukraine who are just bands of mercs, off the grid and for hire. The industry has all kinds now.

jamiezero1 karma

When you say BASED ON actual events. How much creative control do you use with that term?

What did you want to write about in the book but left out because you were either told to, or were told that it might not be very interesting information?

What was your favorite book on this subject before you wrote this one? How is yours similar or different?

seanmcfate1 karma

jamiezero good question. This book began as a memoir but I decided to switch to fiction because:

  1. Didn't want to go to jail for reveal US secrets
  2. Didn't want to have DynCorp international sue me to death
  3. Didn't want some scary people in Africa to come after me

At first I was against it but now I'm really happy I did it this way. Plus I could have some more fun with the story.

The operations, culture, way contracts are done, field time etc...that's all real. The characters are all real or composites of real people. For example, the oligarchs in the book. The General chewing steak at Morton's in DC looking to retire into one of these companies. More too.

Stuff I had to leave out? Some specific people's name, contract info, things that some might consider proprietary (even though that's debatable). I had a lawyer look at it and had leave stuff out, but it was mostly technical jargon.

I like Forsythe, but his books are now a different era of mercenaries. My favorite movie is Dogs of War, with Walken (super young).