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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Civilians Flying In Conflict-ridden Afghanistan - South African Experience

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Contracted civilian pilots flying in Afghanistan, serving the military & civilian administration, even as a battle rages on against the Taliban.

One of the most enduring features of an American-lead NATO military campaign has been the extensive use of civilian contractors to carry out tasks and supply troops with wartime-requirements. Most visible since the time of the first Gulf War, these contractors have been increasingly performing tasks in wartime that one would normally associate with the Army Service Corps or its equivalent. The net estimated value of such contracts are believed to be to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Thus the demand for civilians with military experience, is at an all-time high, for employment with the said contractors.

South Africa and, to a lesser extent now, Zimbabwe were two countries uniquely positioned to meet the requirements. These two present-day post-colonial nations have had a number of white military officers leaving service after independence, a near exodus in the case of Zimbabwe. Thus, out of service, and on the lookout for employment, they meet the contractor's requirement to the 'T'. It comes as no surprise to anybody, therefore, that a former South African Army officer was the founder of one of the most infamous mercenary organisations - Executive Outcomes, whose exploits evoke awe and revulsion, in equal measures.

Thus, in this present-day trend to outsource many a wartime activities, large number of South Africans have found employment with contractors servicing the Afghan theatre. This month's issue of the 'World Airnews' magazine features this interesting article, describing what it is like for civilian pilots to fly in Afghanistan. If you want the answer without going through the 8 pages of the article - highly lucrative, extremely dangerous.

Godspeed

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