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Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror Hardcover – August 29, 2006
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“An incredible look into the murky and virtually impenetrable world of private military contractors . . . Pelton may well have seen the future.” —Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm and A Death in Belmont
“Licensed to Kill is smart, funny, sometimes scary, and always interesting. Pelton truly captures the cast of characters that make up our new ‘coalition of the billing’ in the War on Terror.” —P. W. Singer, author of Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry
“A rollicking read that takes the reader inside the murky world of military contractors—from the craggy passes of the Afghan-Pakistan border, to the extreme danger of Baghdad’s airport road, to the diamond fields of Africa. Licensed to Kill is not only a great travelogue, it also has some important things to say about the brave new world of privatized violence that will increasingly be a feature of twenty-first-century wars.” —Peter Bergen, author of The Osama bin Laden I Know and Holy War, Inc.
“Robert Pelton enjoys the credibility not shared by many to comment on the world’s dark corners. Licensed to Kill sheds light on one of the corners—the world of private for-hire guns, mercenaries, and armies. It’s a reality; it’s a business; it’s lucrative . . . Consider Licensed to Kill a ‘safety brief,’ a military term for ‘pay attention.’ Read it . . . pay attention.” —James A. “Spider” Marks, Major General, United States Army (Ret.)
“Pelton reveals how the U.S. military-industrial complex has created its own dark version of the nonstate warrior [and] asks if companies like Blackwater and Executive Outcomes could become the new Hessians for both multinational corporations and overstretched armies.” —Jonathan Taplin, professor, USC Annenberg School for Communication, and producer of Under Fire, The Last Waltz, and Mean Streets
“‘The dark side of the war on terror’ may sound redundant, but how else can you describe the world of contractors, mercs, and wackos who are paid big money to keep the key players alive and the war machinery humming? It’s a cynical, funny, and very scary place, stretching from Arkansas to Fallujah, and no one gets it, or tells it, better than Robert Young Pelton.” —John Rasmus, editor in chief, National Geographic Adventure
About the Author
Robert Young Pelton is a journalist, filmmaker, and explorer. He is the author of The World's Most Dangerous Places, Come Back Alive, The Adventurist, and Three Worlds Gone Mad. Pelton has worked for National Geographic, Discovery, 60 Minutes, the ABC Investigative Division, and CNN. He is also a contributing editor and columnist for National Geographic Adventure.
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I married into an Assyrian family who continues to communicate with trapped family members in Baghdad and those who've made their way over long years to Syria and Jordan in hopes of finding a way out. Mr Pelton doesn't just tell us the stories of the private security operatives, but gives us the impact on the people of Iraq and Afghanistan in ways that only a person of his ability and experience could.
I have a much fuller appreciation for the jobs they do and for the theater in which they do them. And coming by that experience was no mean feat. The book deserves an award and its author a medal. If you read no other book on the subject, read this one.
But, Mercenaries have existed for thousands of years, and in some ways, "Regular Soldiers" are no different in that they are paid for their services, just like Mercenaries are.
When you put a weapon in somebody's hand, whether it be a sword, spear, club, or a gun, what it will boil down to at the end of the day is whether you are fighting for the right cause; not whether you are a "Rogue Mercenary" or a "Federalist/Nationalist ROE Soldier.