View Full Version : Private security corporations... need advice.

04-02-2015, 06:14 AM
I'm thinking Blackwater type agencies here, but any insight might be helpful. Specifically, I'm wondering about the rank or job-title structure used by this type of company. What types of things are promotions based on? And can an operator move up the ranks into managerial, supervisory, or executive positions. I.E. Can an operator move up the ranks to become a company VP or something like that?

04-02-2015, 07:28 AM
Howdy, Gecko.

I'm doing a bit of the same research. The short answer, based on what I've learned so far, is probably not. The operator types, the guards and the cooks and the laundry guys and the housekeepers and the pilots, are probably not going much beyond where they start. There seems to be more than a fair amount of turnover at that level. Lots of company-hopping. Remember that most of the guys at that level are on contracts.

I would guess though that if someone was good friends with some of the founding group or upper management, then it might be something that could happen. I've gotten the feeling that
1. Our view of PMC/PSC has been shaped poorly by the MSM and its stories about Blackwater/Xe/Academi; and
2. Once you get away from the day-to-day security details and camera-watching and cooking and such, it's much like any other business.

Had someone on another forum recommend two books to me:
The Bremer Detail (http://www.amazon.com/The-Bremer-Detail-Protecting-Threatened/dp/1497643988) and Civilian Warriors (http://www.amazon.com/Civilian-Warriors-Inside-Blackwater-Unsung/dp/1591847451). Both involve Blackwater. Civilian Warriors was written by the founder of Blackwater, Erik Prince. In my friend's words: "Erik Prince's book Civilian Warriors, is well written, and gives more of a behind the scenes and into the dark spaces of dealing with the Fed and the associated BS from a businessman's perspective. He doesn't get detailed in the day to day, nitty gritty of PMC work. However he does give a clear picture of what his PMC's capabilities were from an overarching perspective. His family history is a story worth the entry price of the book.
Frank Gallagher's book on the Bremer Detail is tops; coherent, well written and paints a nice day to day collage of work in a PMC!"
For reference, this friend was a Navy boat crewman in the late 70s to mid 80s. So, not a SEAL, but he hung out with them.

04-02-2015, 10:18 AM
thank you cmhbob. I'm working on back stories for the characters in my upcoming project, and while it doesn't pertain directly to any current company, it's based only a short distance in the future, so I want to preserve as many standard practices as I can. I will be on the lookout for that book next time I get to a bookstore, sounds like an interesting read.

King Neptune
04-02-2015, 05:08 PM
That business is peculiar, and it appears that it is still developing. As far as I can tell, every company is different, so you can make up quite a lot.

Steve Collins
04-02-2015, 06:07 PM
Usually the operators will be cast on their prior experience and is usually made up of a Team and a Team Leader who is paid a higher wage.

04-02-2015, 09:04 PM
FWIW... I consult in that field. It is contract driven, almost exclusively. Operational personnel turnover is relatively high - not unusual in a contractual environment. Non-Disclosure-Agreements (NDAs) are typical. While the majority of work is security related, there are elements of intelligence acquisition that are becoming more prevalent. Government contracts are conditionally confidential and typically require limited security clearances.

Since you are crafting fiction, you can pretty much write what you please - although you'd be well advised to steer clear of existing corporate entities in that field (they can be quite aggressive in pursuing litigation).

Dave Williams
04-08-2015, 07:09 AM
I worked in private security for a while, a sizeable company but not even approximately Blackwater sized.

The structure was very flat - grunt (me), shift supervisor or team leader, then management, who were basically just memos or voices on the phone. Chances of promotion were basically zero since each higher level was considered to be an entirely different job, and they preferred to hire outsiders rather than move people up.

Presumably the mercenary/operator types do interesting things, but security is mostly trying to find ways to deal with soul-crushing boredom.

L.C. Blackwell
04-09-2015, 02:39 AM
A smaller company may have a more flexible structure. For example, a group of former police officers who start their own company. That's when everyone wears a lot of hats, though there is usually at least one executive type pushing the company to grow, hustling contracts, etc. If you want upward mobility, go with small. Say, fifteen to twenty employees. That type of company needs a lot of local business to survive--may do personal protection detail for local executives, may have factory contracts or monitor the gates at a business retreat. They're not likely to land anything big and federal, unless they've really proved themselves, gained the notice of the right people and have the manpower to make good.

P.S. I have known a company of this type that used the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, etc., though the owner was President.