10 Skills Every Operator Should Have: Part 1 (of 10) - The Stick Shift


To Everyone under 25 – This is NOT an Xbox 360 Controller

*Note: I use the term “operator” loosely here

When the subject of “what are must-have operator skills” comes up most people spit out the obvious answers of guns, Ninja-fu and other shooter type tactical skills that first pops into mind when thinking about leaping out of a chopper in some 3rd world shit-hole.

But as much as being able to fire an AT-4 naked or reloading an AK with one arm blown off may be great skills for shooters, they are actually some of the least used skills unless you are some sort of Tier-1 SF or OGA guy.

When I first started in the Overseas Security Contracting biz back in the day I thought the only skills I needed to know was how to shoot, loot, chew on cigars and say cool catch lines like "Its gona' be a long day".

But after working in places like Iraq, Indonesia, Thailand and Kurdistan for the past decade I ended up using way more mundane skills like sewing my clothing than the exciting shit like strapping C4 under a bridge while wearing a black stocking cap.

So I put together a list of some of the less obvious skills that every operator should have, no matter if you are running the roads in Iraq or Afghanistan or surviving a natural disaster with your family, this is the shit you really need to know how to do.

10 Skills Every Operator Should Have

#1 Know How to Drive a Stick Shift

I was on a contract in Iraq a few years ago when the boss came to me with the usual “we got a new guy, wet behind his ears like a mother-fucker, learn him up cuz’ he is on your team”.

This dude was 24, ex-Army (no trigger-time) but a pretty bright kid and seemed Non-Douchebagey so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and put him through the usual routine of the 'new-guy' BS errands. Seeing it was lunch time I threw him some bread, the keys to the Hilux and sent him on a Taco Bell run for everyone”.

taco belll Iraq
taco belll Iraq

About five minutes later he wondered back into the team room with a bewildered/embarrassed look on his face.

I was like “what’s up kido?” - he said “I don’t know how to drive a stick”

Being an Old School guy who learned how to drive on a stick shift with his pop yelling at him the whole time the very concept that a man can not drive a stick has never entered my mind. So I was like “are you fucking serious bro?”.

Yep, he could not drive a stick shift, I have no fucking Idea how someone who was in the Army never learned how to drive a stick. And I have even less of an Idea how a Man does not know how to drive a stick. Anyway, I told him to grab one of our TCN’s and learn how to drive a stick by Thursday. To his credit he did, but we gave him shit about it everyday until he went to the Philippines on leave to marry some bar-girl and was never to be heard from again.

Reality Check:

Pretty much all the money gigs, military deployments and humanitarian aid volunteer work are gona' be in some 3rd world dump-hole. That means the Contractor (or Mil/Government Agency/State/UN) you work for will buy a stick for non-mission getting around (and sometimes even for missions if they are especially stingy bastards) to save a lousy 500 bucks. Unbelievably in the 3rd world they still have brand new cars where airbags are an option, so the chances of you getting behind a manual car is pretty dang high.

And think about this scenario: What if the guntruck (or your car) you are driving gets disabled and you have to snatch some local dude out of his car (or just hot-wire a parked truck during a Hurricane when you minivan can't go over a twig) and you sit down behind the wheel, it's a stick and your ass does not know how to drive a manual? Well, you are fucked you pansy.

The Moral of the Story: Even if you are not shootin’ and lootin’ in some Tin Pot Dictatorship you are still a man, and men know how to drive a stick.

The above also applies to Motorcycles: Seriously, if you do not know how to drive a motorcycle and you are a man then take your skirt off and take a course

Part 2 Coming Soon Pimps…


~James G Founder – Editor in Chief DVM


James 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 Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and grinding gears