"I know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy who got a security contractor job in Africa - fo reals dog!"
Back in the day when I first started working in the security industry I almost immediately started to hear all sorts of International Security Job Old Wives Tales. These jobs were usually located in some exotic country known for girls and bars or in one of the classic “Wild Geese” post-British colonies.
The tales of these jobs were almost mythical, being paid in uncut diamonds, gold bars or spending every night surrounded by beautiful women in grass skirts. Most of the stories had the common theme of ridiculous salaries and movie like adventure.
But the biggest common factor of all these jobs was… well, no one directly knew anyone who has actually held one of these jobs. It was always “a friend of a friend’ or “I heard a guy I was in the (insert military service branch here) is making big bucks over there”.
But none the less, just about every Civilian Contractor or ex-military guy out there has chased these ghost jobs like they really existed – despite the fact they had no idea where to apply. I admit, even I have asked around about International Security old wives tale jobs a few times myself.
Getting a lead on one of these jobs was sort of like trying to track down Big Foot – lots of rumors and blurry photos, a few crazy people claiming that they personally know someone that is "over there" and dead ends.
The 4 International Security Old Wives Tale Jobs that I Have Heard Rumors About Almost Every Month for the Past Billion Years:
AFRICAN DIAMOND MINE SECURITY/CONVOY ESCORT
This is the first one on the list because it is the one International Security Old Wives Tale Job that I have heard the most amount of times. This gig is regularly brought up in a Middle Eastern bar by guys working on one of the lower paying overseas security gigs.
It has also been making the ex-U.S. military rumor mill rounds for the past 20 years, I even know some small town cops who have heard it.
Supposedly this job is guarding diamond transport convoys traveling from the mines to the airport or guarding the actual diamond mines. Descriptions of this job always included fantastic stories of huge shootouts on dusty abandoned African roads that left no man alive.
But the most fantastic part of this job is the pay – handfuls of uncut diamonds awaited any man that survived the shoot-outs and malaria. 20, 30 even 50 Thousand Dollars a month was just the starting pay; millions awaited the guys who could survive a few years.
Even after 10 years working overseas as a Civilian Contractor on three continents and meeting thousands of other contractors I have never personally met someone that had done this job. I have heard that ex-South African Military guys are the ones who generally get hired for these gigs, but that could be BS also.
Pretty much any information connected with the African Diamond mine security job rumor is questionable at best – complete and utter BS is more likely.
AFRICAN OIL PIPELINE SECURITY JOB
Yep, Africa again, the Dark Continent is connected to about 30 different Civilian Contractor old wives tale jobs. I think all of the mercenary movies during the 80’s are probably behind Africa being connected to rumors of this sort.
I first heard about jobs protecting the oil pipelines in Africa in about 98’ from some ex-military guys I was working with on a US domestic Executive Protection gig. Just like all of these other rumors the guy telling me about it heard it from friend of a friend of a friend.
This was supposed to be a pretty easy gig, all you had to do was drive around in a truck with a couple of other guys and shoot anyone trying to sabotage or tap into oil pipelines. I believe the pay I heard then was 10 thousand dollars a month (a damn fortune in 1998 for security guys) paid in cash.
After a wile I tossed this tale in the back of my head, filed away with the African diamond mine security job. But when I was in the Middle East in 2003 I actually met a guy who worked one of these jobs. He told me it was just like I heard; he just drove around following an oil pipeline in a truck drinking beer with an AK on his lap and a monkey in the passenger seat and was paid 10 grand a month.
I was pretty shocked that this job actually ended up being true. Pretty much like all “odd” security jobs like this he was hired on via the “Bubbas Club” (a friend hooked him up).
So this one ended up being true, but good luck getting hired on if you are not elite ex-military and you don't have a friend already working there who will vouch for you. I am not aware of any company hiring for this job right now (the company he worked for no longer has the contract). If you are “in the know” and you have a pretty serious background you may get lucky.
ANY HIGH PAYING SECURITY JOB IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
This is probably the Holey Grail of all the international security jobs out there, its not as common to hear about as the African gigs but it still pops up on the job radar rumor mill every now and then.
The idea of making a mid-6 figure salary as a corporate security manager with a corner office and fat expat package in Bangkok or Manila truly sounds like a dream to anyone who has worked in the international security field.
And let’s not even forget spending your weekdays with short skirted office girls pouring you tea and the weekends spent nose high in go-go dancers.
Well, strike that image from your mind brothers because it won’t happen unless you are a combination of all of the following: British, retired very high ranking police or fed, hold a minimum of a master’s degree and you come from an upper-class family. Oh, you also have to be in the international corporate multi-millionaire executive loop.
I know a few guys that hold these positions in Southeast Asia, you can generally find them eating dinner at the Ritz Carlton or hanging out at the local 100K a year membership fee expat country club.
Outside of executive security jobs the only other high paying security work in Southeast Asia is pick-up intelligence or EP (Executive Protection) work that the above corporate security guys farm out. Some guys who are in the loop locally occasionally find extremely well paying “as needed” work doing shadier black bag corporate intel stuff or working for a rich local.
So basically the International Security Job Old Wives Tales you have heard about guys making 6-fig salaries and driving around in chauffeur driven Mercedes in Southeast Asia are not rumors, they are true. But it won’t happen for you.
ANY SECURITY WORK IN SOUTH AMERICA IF YOU ARE AN AMERICAN
Back in the 90’s hearing about security work in South America was as common as hearing that McDonalds is hiring. Just about every security job imaginable was supposedly available down there. And of course, the pay was out of this world and in cash.
- Training Presidential Bodyguards – Check
- Corporate Gigs with the Oil Companies – Check
- Bodyguard Work Protecting Rich locals – Check
- Kidnap and Ransom Consultant – Check
- Straight-Up Mercenary Work – Check
- Bounty Hunting American Fugitives – Check
- Actually Knowing an American That has Ever Held One Of These Jobs – FAIL
To this day I have never met any American who has worked in any security related job for Oil Companies, K&R firms, bodyguarding or any corporate gig in South America. I met one American guy on an internet forum who said he was once a security manager for a Brit oil company down there but I can’t verify this.
The few Americans I do know who have worked in South America are guys who used to wear green berets in the army and a few mercenaries who were in the loop. That’s pretty much it.
WHY DO PEOPLE BELIEVE THEse JOBS EXIST? Or They Could Actually get hired if they were true?
Now, if most guys look at the job descriptions or pay for any of these jobs using half their brain power they would immediately brush it off as Bull-Shit and rumor.
But for a guy with a mortgage, a wife, 2 kids and a stack of credit card bills on the kitchen table the idea of working for a few months to square himself away generally trumps reasonable thinking.
And in some cases these jobs really do exist… but only for the guys who are well hooked into the ex-military/ex-special forces network. And for a few guys that are just lucky or may have a buddy who will vouch for him and hook em' up.
But don’t hold your breath waiting to get hooked up.
*NOTE: this article mostly refers to Americans
————————————————————————————— ~James GJames G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in his homes in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns and writing poorly written articles.