Go Back   Professional Soldiers > Special Forces > 7th Special Forces Group

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12-13-2004, 09:44   #1
Area Commander
vsvo's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: No. VA, USA
Posts: 1,095
Salvadorans chase "Iraqi Dream"

Thought this was interesting since some of these folks may have been trained by SF.

Poor Salvadorans Chase the 'Iraqi Dream'
U.S. Security Firms Find Eager Recruits Among Former Soldiers, Police Officers

By Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, December 9, 2004; Page A24

SAN SALVADOR -- Juan Nerio, a 44-year-old mason's assistant, was sick of living in a mud hut on the side of a volcano. When he heard that an American company was offering six times his $200 monthly wage, he signed up. Six weeks later he found himself holding an AK-47 assault rifle and guarding a U.S. diplomatic complex in Iraq.

"No one could possibly earn so much in our country," said Nerio, who returned to El Salvador two weeks ago after a hernia forced him to reluctantly give up his $1,240-a-month job in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. "With that kind of money, I thought I could make my family's life a little easier."

Like Nerio, hundreds of Salvadoran men, and even a few women, are jumping at the chance to pursue what the news media here call the "Iraqi Dream." With the U.S. military unable to meet security needs in Iraq, private U.S. firms are now providing thousands of armed guards for diplomatic installations, oil wells, businesses and contractors there.

These firms are aggressively recruiting in El Salvador, a member of the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq, viewing it as an ideal source of guards. The country has low wages, high unemployment and a large pool of men with military or police experience -- many of whom were U.S.-trained -- from the 12-year civil war that ended in 1992.

But the heavy recruitment campaign -- through newspaper ads that offer salaries of as much as $3,600 a month -- has raised concerns among human rights officials, who say they believe the companies are exploiting the poor.

"This is the equivalent of a poverty draft," said Geoff Thale of the Washington Office on Latin America, a rights and policy group, speaking from his office in Washington. "The United States is unwilling to draft people, so they are recruiting people from poor countries to be cannon fodder for us. And if they are killed or injured, there will be no political consequences in the United States."

Beatrice Alamani de Carrillo, El Salvador's independent human rights ombudsman, said the security companies were "playing with the desperation of people who have no other options." She said that if any of the Salvadorans were kidnapped, "our country is not in a position to negotiate their release." She said she was especially concerned about under-trained women going to Iraq.

Many of the Salvadorans, including Nerio, have been recruited by Triple Canopy, a U.S. firm. According to Salvadoran news reports, a group of 30 men and six women hired by the company left for Iraq in late November. Many are former soldiers and special forces members; others have far less training. Nerio served in the Salvadoran army for two years more than 20 years ago.

Several recruits said in interviews that the jobs appealed to them because opportunities to emigrate to the United States had been severely cut back by tightened immigration rules and border controls. More than a million Salvadorans emigrated to the United States during or after the civil war.

Some also said they hoped their service in Iraq would earn them some gratitude from U.S. officials -- perhaps in the form of a work visa when they returned.

"I never thought I had a chance to go to the United States before," said Nerio, a grandfather of six, standing in his tiny home amid groves of mangoes and papayas. "Now they will see that I have experience in Iraq, so this might be my opportunity."

Officials from two U.S.-based security firms working in El Salvador said they never told recruits that service in Iraq would improve their chances of getting a visa. James W. Herman, the U.S. consul general in El Salvador, said service as a private security guard in Iraq was irrelevant to visa applications.

Joe Mayo, a spokesman for Triple Canopy, declined to say exactly how many people the company was sending to Iraq, but he said local news media estimates of about 175 recruits were about right. Mayo said the firm made clear that the jobs were dangerous. He said the company was providing a needed service to the U.S. government and private companies in Iraq.

"It's a free world and a free economy," said Mayo, who spoke from his company's headquarters in Lincolnshire, Ill. "We're not grabbing people and making them go."

Between 3,000 and 6,000 non-Iraqi security guards are currently working in Iraq, according to Doug Brooks of the International Peace Operations Association in Washington, which monitors the private security industry. He said about one-third are former special operations soldiers, mainly from the United States and Britain. The rest are men and women with some military experience recruited from about a dozen countries, especially El Salvador, Fiji, Nepal, Chile and India.

Brooks said the U.S. and British guards make as much as $700 a day for jobs requiring the highest skills, such as protecting high-profile diplomats and business executives. The others make an average of about $1,200 a month, generally for standing guard at military or civilian sites.

Over the past few weeks, lines of applicants have formed every morning outside George's, a karaoke restaurant next to a fancy shopping mall in San Salvador. They were responding to newspaper ads placed by George Nayor, the restaurant owner, who described himself as a U.S. citizen and the local representative of a Washington-based security company.

Nayor's ads do not name the firm. He also declined to identify it or other company officials, saying they did not want publicity. Despite the lack of details, he said, his cell phone has been ringing so frequently with queries that he barely has had time to brush his teeth.

"This is the future of global security," said Nayor, who has accepted applications from 300 Salvadorans and hopes to sign up at least 1,000 by May. He said the first 12 to 24 would go to Iraq this month, and that his company would soon begin recruiting in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, Chile and other Latin American countries where many people have military experience.

One recent morning, the first group of applicants to arrive at George's included two members of the Salvadoran army's special forces, who spent seven months in Iraq earlier this year as part of a 380-member military unit in the U.S.-led coalition.

"You could sweat your whole life and never make this much money," said Mario Antonio Sanchez, 32, a special forces sergeant who said he earned $280 a month. Sanchez said that if he was accepted, he would quit the army and sign a six-month contract for at least $2,400 a month. "In our country everybody is just trying to survive. We do this because we need to," he said.

Domingo Hector Navarro Lopez, 39, spent 13 years in the Salvadoran military. He said he was tired of trying to get by on his $158-a-month salary as a security guard. After his wartime experience in his own country, he said, he was not frightened by all the violence in Iraq.

"I thank God for this opportunity to go to Iraq," he said, waiting for his interview with Nayor.

Nerio already speaks nostalgically about Iraq. Gazing at a snapshot of himself with fellow Salvadoran guards on the banks of the Euphrates River, he said he wished he were still there.

Back home in his mud-brick hut on the slopes of the San Salvador volcano, with no running water and a single electrical wire keeping a couple of light bulbs burning, he said he had no idea how he would pay for his hernia operation. He would like to go to the United States to work, but said he fears that his best shot at a better life may have been in Iraq.

"That was my only chance," he said.

Special correspondent Michelle Garcia in New York City contributed to this report.
vsvo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2004, 08:03   #2
Quiet Professional
NousDefionsDoc's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: LA
Posts: 1,653
Same same article in the Colombian papers.

Salvadorans and Colombians are the Brits and South African mercs of the new century. They make good troops - great work ethic and nothing to lose. Good helo pilots too.

I'm so proud...
Somewhere a True Believer is training to kill you. He is training with minimal food or water, in austere conditions, training day and night. The only thing clean on him is his weapon and he made his web gear. He doesn't worry about what workout to do - his ruck weighs what it weighs, his runs end when the enemy stops chasing him. This True Believer is not concerned about 'how hard it is;' he knows either he wins or dies. He doesn't go home at 17:00, he is home.
He knows only The Cause.

Still want to quit?
NousDefionsDoc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2004, 19:49   #3
CRad's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Loup City NE
Posts: 419
That's an interesting article. Thanks for posting it.
Chance favors the prepared mind. Louis Pasteur
CRad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2004, 20:32   #4
Area Commander
vsvo's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: No. VA, USA
Posts: 1,095
No prob CRad.

NDD, where I work on the outer edge of DC is a Salvadoran enclave. Everyday I see the work ethic and attitude you mentioned. Whether it's because they need to send money home or are just trying to make it, these folks work HARD.
vsvo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-23-2004, 15:12   #5
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Florida
Posts: 1
Question Re: Salvador and such

Itresting article, allow me to establish some truth to that. In 1986 I was tasked to travel to South America to train some of Columbian militia. In the group recieving training were several Salvadoran soldiers. The mission of the element in which I was involved in aided in the basic CQB and other tactics. The US Gov. recieved financial aid for thier services. The fact that some of these migrant and alien militia are fleeing to help the US may help us and possibly harm all in one. Something we should keep our eyes on quite carefully.
Jay Anthony Canals
7th SFG
Veteran USA Sgt. E-5
[FONT=Lucida Sans Unicode]De Opresso Liber
Hunter65 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2005, 08:09   #6
Quiet Professional
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Virginia
Posts: 36
Mercenary is now a growth industry. Good on the people of the 3rd world willing to take the risk for a better quality of life.

"in memory of our God, our religion, and our freedom, and our peace, our wives and our children.”
Archer06 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2014, 16:21   #7
Quiet Professional
Kasik's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 158
No doubt

No doubt some PRAL and GOE veterans working privately now
"Do not look upon this world with fear and loathing. Bravely face whatever the gods offer." - Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido
Kasik is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2014, 20:20   #8
The Reaper
Quiet Professional
The Reaper's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Free Pineland
Posts: 24,785
Holy Necropost, Batman!

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - President Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

De Oppresso Liber 01/20/2025
The Reaper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2014, 08:37   #9
Quiet Professional
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Newnan, Georgia
Posts: 371
Good for the El Slavadorians! All we ever hear about El Salvadorian immigrants is their ties to MS-13. Great to hear some positive portrayls coming out. That is so stereotypical, most have a strong sense of family and as mentioned earlier one hell of a work ethic.
TrapperFrank is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:00.

Copyright 2004-2022 by Professional Soldiers
Site Designed, Maintained, & Hosted by Hilliker Technologies