The first ever, first-person story of America's private, paramilitary contractors at work around the world-from a man who performed these missions himself and has decades of stories to tell. This is a fascinating tale-and potentially the first-to describe the work of American contractors, men who run highly dangerous missions deep inside foreign countries on the brink of war. It will lift the veil and detail the ultimate danger and risk of paramilitary operations (both officially government-sanctioned and not) and show us in very intimate terms exactly what private soldiers do when the government can't act or take public responsibility. GRAY WORK combines covert military intelligence with boots-on-the-ground realism, following Jamie Smith through his CIA training and work as a spy in the State Department, to his co-founding of Blackwater following 9/11, to his decision to leave that company. As the founder and director of Blackwater Security, Smith's initial vision has undeniably shaped and transformed a decade of war. He argues that this gray area-and its warriors who occupy the controversial space between public and private-has become an indispensable element of the modern battlefield.
Smith, a "simple, Christ-following American from Mississippi" offers a look inside the world of the "operator" a contractor who works in the "gap between the soldier and the spy" that doubles as an advertisement for his security services company, Gray Solutions. The book, in tone and content, reads like late-night bar braggadocio. Smith presents himself as a cutting-edge, hands-on expert in a new kind of warfare, the product of a "savage, hard" world that is "more lethal than ever." Private security companies, Smith argues, trace their roots to government agencies like the CIA, where he claims he began his own career. He learned the techniques of intelligence collection in an increasingly paramilitary atmosphere, during the CIA's development of "a killing machine like none that has ever existed on this planet." Today, there is cutthroat competition for contracts among the paramilitary entrepreneurs, and Smith's account of his business's volatility is almost as exciting as the tales of operational derring-do that hold the book together. Smith insists that private contractors do "hard work worth doing" in "providing training, intel, and security services" to ungoverned spaces in "innovative and flexible frameworks." He is persuasive enough to be almost convincing.