Finished: Save the Last Bullet For Yourself: a soldier of fortune in the Balkans and Somalia by Rob Krott, 2008, 9781932033953.
I was not entirely sure what to make of this or what to think of Krott. In the end I decided to not interpret his actions and thoughts into any moral discussion but take the book for what it is, an adventure story. An entertaining book.
Krott joined the Army at seventeen and over several years, into his early twenties, advanced through the Army, finished college, deployed to Korea, took several Army training courses, attended Harvard, and did anthropology research in Africa. This book does not give a clear timeline of all of Krott's travels overseas, his jobs, his girlfriends, his gunfights and his many pals and acquaintances. During that time Krott also wrote for Soldier of Fortune magazine and became somewhat well known among that community.
After leaving the Army Krott was 26-years-old and bored with civilian life. He quit his job with the federal prisons to join the Croat Army as a foreign volunteer. Krott's was next hired by a civilian contractor to hire, train, and manage native Somalias (living in the U.S.) to work as translators in Somalia in '93. After Somalia he returned to Croatia and joined a different unit.
Along the way Krott tells plenty of stories about Army buddies, mercenary buddies, nuttiness, idiots, and bureaucratic mayhem. I took three main things away from the book:
1 - Mercenaries are not. There is usually no money in the work. The people who show up are adventurers. Some are there to fight for what they believe in. Some are just there to fight.
I suppose the recent dependence on contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan has radically changed the business. Pay is much better (hell, everyone in the U.S. is footing the bill) and they can hire capable and trained people.
2 - Most Croats, Serbs, and Bosnians were clueless about military operations. Joe Sacco showed some of that. Their organization and skill was no different than me grabbing a rifle from the basement, throwing on surplus camouflage, and going out to fight. Krott and other experienced soldiers were best used when they developed and led infantry training. How do you walk through the woods? How do you use a machine gun? Where do you use a machine gun? How attack? How defend?
3 - I forgot the third one.