The New Frontier for Private Military Contractors

The New Frontier for Private Military Contractors

Black Skills, a shadowy organization with no known affiliation with any government, is a military contractor that focuses exclusively on cyber warfare.

The name “Private Military Hacking Company” is a clear riff on the growing presence and cult of private military companies in Russia (primarily the Wagner Group). It is also likely a not-so-subtle invitation to the Russian government to use Killnet’s resources as a cyber mercenary group, although it’s also unlikely they will deeply vet their clientele. 

Some observers dismissed the group as a collection of boastful, low-sophistication threat actors whose bark is often bigger than its bite. Others believe the “hacktivists” could be a much greater threat.

What Contractors Do

Black Skills proves that contractors do not just carry machine guns. Sometimes, they carry other tools and do other jobs. These tools include bullhorns, screwdrivers, and laptops.


Wars are costly, and not just financially. Almost everyone wants them to end sooner rather than later. But before a foreign power can leave, another fighting force, usually a government fighting force, must be able to take up the mantle.

Former President Richard Nixon tried this approach when he announced plans to Vietnamize the Vietnam War and make the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) primarily responsible for South Vietnam’s defense. For various reasons, Vietnamization failed. But that outcome does not mean the underlying idea is unsound.

Many private military contractors are foreign nationals. So, they are well-suited to train government or other security forces, and not just by the book. Contractor trainers pass along anti-insurgency skills they learned in the field.

In terms of injuries, training is almost as dangerous as combat. Inexperienced troops make mistakes, and those mistakes often hurt people. Compensation is available for these injuries under the Defense Base Act. More on that below.


Nixon was fond of saying that America won the Vietnam War but lost the peace. His self-serving assessment might or might not have been accurate, but it certainly raises a good point. The events following a war are often almost as important as the events that occurred earlier.

Rebuilding is a good example. People continue to feel unsettled until their neighborhoods have hospitals, schools, power plants, roads, and some semblance of normalcy. Unsettled people are quick to criticize the government and embrace anti-government elements. At that point, renewed combat is just around the corner.

Non-military contractors take an active role in the process. Generally, overseas contractors are construction managers. They keep projects moving forward. Vigorous activity demonstrates the government’s commitment to helping everyday people.

Military contractors are important during rebuilding as well. Insurgents often target construction sites and other soft targets to make a splash and impress would-be recruits. Armed contractors deter these evildoers.

Cyber Warfare and Cyber Support

James Bond’s new Quartermaster bragged about his abilities to the aging secret agent. His comments were probably accurate. Cyber warfare and other electronic disruptions are often almost as effective as traditional military strength. Military academies usually do not teach these skills. Contractors have them, mostly because many of these individuals worked for high-tech military companies before they decided to serve overseas.

These high-tech military companies also manufacture and sell drones, missiles, and other high-tech weapons. Contractors use their skills to maintain these weapons. A billion-dollar piece of hardware that’s missing a few tiny parts is a billion-dollar piece of junk.

On a related note, contractors also service tanks, guns, airplanes, and other kinds of military hardware. These contractors continue a long tradition. The first military contractors who served in the American Revolution were cooks and other support workers who could pick up rifles in emergencies and contribute to the cause in other ways.

Injury Compensation Available

All these activities are dangerous. Falls or other injuries that happen in the United States often aren’t difficult or expensive to treat. Overseas injuries are much different in many ways.

  • Transportation: Field hospitals and other such facilities often are not much more than first aid stations. They do not have the personnel or equipment to deal with serious injuries. These victims require medevac to larger hospitals, which are usually in different countries or even on different continents.
  • Emergency Care: By the time victims reach faraway medical facilities, their injuries are usually more advanced and more difficult to treat. Head injuries are a good example. Brain surgeons are not available at field hospitals. So, by the time one is available, the victim’s brain has often bled and swollen uncontrollably.
  • Physical Therapy: All this additional early intervention causes issues later in the recovery process, specifically during physical therapy. Once again, brain injuries are a good example. Advanced brain injuries require advanced physical therapy. Generally, these victims must learn to walk, talk, and do pretty much everything else all over again. Brain injury therapists must train uninjured parts of the brain to assume lost functions.

The Defense Base Act pays for all these and other medical expenses as long as they are reasonably necessary. Usually, to an insurance adjuster, “reasonably necessary” means “cheapest possible.” Serious injury victims do not need the cheapest medical treatment. They need the best available treatment.

Fortunately, injured overseas contractors can usually choose their own doctors. So, they get the care they need instead of the care an adjuster is willing to pay for.

DBA insurance companies often drag their feet and initially refuse to pay disputed expenses. They hope the financial pressure forces the victim to accept an unfavorable settlement offer. An attorney short-circuits these efforts. Lawyers connect victims with top-notch doctors who, in most cases, charge nothing upfront for their professional services.

For more information about lost wage replacement and other DBA benefits, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.