Academic journal article Military Review

Zero Footprint

Academic journal article Military Review

Zero Footprint

Article excerpt

ZERO FOOTPRINT The True Story of a Private Military Contractor's Covert Assignments in Syria, Libya, and the World's Most Dangerous Places Simon Chase and Ralph Pezzullo, Mulholland Books, New York, 2016, 320 pages

Zero Footprint examines the evolution of the secretive private security business into a temporary, ¿^fc^scalable, deniable private military force, as told by an insider. The name of the book alludes to the level of support and "signature" these operatives are required to maintain while conducting their assignments. The value of the book is its description of the lives that private military contractors (PMCs) lead, the motives for using them, and the effectiveness and value of their service. A real page-turner, the writing is precise, the detail vivid, and the consequences profound.

Zero Footprint is an autobiographical account of a former special boat service member turned PMC, published under the pen name of Simon Chase. It is his tale that is told, with the assistance of coauthor Ralph Pezzullo, an accomplished screenwriter and journalist. The book recounts Chase's training with the elite special boat services and his subsequent entry into the world of private security in 1999, as well as the massive expansion of the military contractor enterprise through the turn of the century.

Unlike many books about the "war on terror," the characters described are often seen less as heroes, and more as mercenaries. In the opening chapters, one discovers the misspent youth of the author, and the series of decisions and circumstances that eventually led him to the U.S. ambassadorial compound in Benghazi. In the telling, the reader begins to understand the sense of purpose and duty that drives many of these men. Brought together on dangerous missions without overt government support, and no recognition, PMCs can only rely on their teammates to watch their backs. To illuminate this, a chapter describes how two principals vying for control of the country wanted their security detachments to fight each other. However, since the community of operators was so tightly knit, the plan became known and the contractors refused to fight. The author relates a tale of what can happen to special operators that end their service to their country early due to unforeseen circumstances and yet wish to continue the high-risk vocation in which they excel. …

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