Iraq - contractor news and Private Military Companies

Private Military Companies do a good job in Iraq

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Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#1
Well, probably not news to most people.....following up Rocketeer's piece on Blackwater I had a look at the Frontline website at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/

Thought this little piece might be of interest:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/warriors/

Unfortunately, this crap Media browser wouldn't let me view the programme itself but in the associated pages I came across this:

KBR, Halliburton's engineering and construction subsidiary, has been asked to perform nearly $12 billion worth of services in Iraq, where it is the military's main supplier. The company, which operates over 60 sites throughout Iraq and Kuwait, has shipped and delivered 500 million gallons of fuel and 100 million pounds of mail. KBR employs 50,000 in the region, including 13,000 Americans as well as lower-paid workers from the Philippines, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Sixty-five KBR employees, including 16 truckers, have been killed since the beginning of the war.

The company has performed most of its nearly $12 billion worth of work in Iraq under two military contracts: the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) contract valued at an estimated $8.5 billion so far, and the $2.5 billion Restore Iraqi Oil (RIO) contract.

Under the terms of the 10-year LOGCAP contract, which KBR won in December 2001, KBR provides logistics and infrastructure support for U.S. forces worldwide, including building U.S. Army camps and providing services including food service, laundry, sanitation and utilities.

In July 2004, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office released an audit of the LOGCAP contract which investigated a dispute between KBR and Pentagon auditors regarding $88 million in charges for food in KBR dining facilities that was never served. A Halliburton spokesperson says the dispute was due to "interpretive differences in billing approaches," and that KBR was contractually required to be ready to feed a specified minimum number of soldiers. In April 2005, Halliburton announced that it had reached an agreement with the Army over the billing charges: The Army would pay KBR $1.176 billion while retaining $55.1 million of the $200 million it had withheld during the dispute. KBR agreed to negotiate adjustments to its contracts with subcontractors, and the Army changed portions of KBR's contracts to "firm fixed price," as opposed to the previous "cost-plus" contracts that would have given KBR a percentage of profit above the cost of the contract.

In March 2003, on the eve of the war, the Army Corps of Engineers and KBR secretly signed the controversial no-bid, emergency RIO contract under which the company would restore Iraqi oil infrastructure that would presumably be damaged during the war, as well as import and distribute fuel in Iraq.

An October 2004 Pentagon audit of the RIO contract alleges that KBR overcharged $108 million for fuel expenses. According to an account in Fortune Magazine, in one example the audit described as "illogical" KBR's claim that it spent $27.5 million shipping to Iraq liquefied gas it had purchased in Kuwait for $82,100. KBR executive Charles "Stoney" Cox, who directed the RIO project in Kuwait and Iraq, testified before Congress that "KBR did everything possible to ensure the Army's requirements were met at the lowest possible cost, " and that the security situation in Iraq and the high cost of logistics drove up the fuel costs. A Halliburton spokesperson told FRONTLINE: "For all but two weeks of the 11-month fuel mission, KBR was specifically directed by the Army to purchase particular amounts of gasoline and other fuels from Kuwait." In December 2003, the Pentagon terminated the RIO contract.
Now there are plenty of people on here who have worked with KBR - or slept in the Temporary Deployable Accommodation which they put up for the British Army in Iraq, so I'm guessing not much of this is actually news......but I'm also guessing that the amount of CASH involved may be new to some folk.

oh, and just in case Neo and his like start pouring scorn on this bunch as Euro lefty fags it may be worth noting their provenance:

Since January 1983, FRONTLINE has served as American public television's - PBS - flagship public affairs series. Hailed upon its television broadcast debut as "the last best hope for broadcast documentaries," FRONTLINE's stature over 20 seasons is reaffirmed each week through incisive documentaries covering the scope and complexity of the human experience.

(...this wooden spoon is mine you say ? Wow, thanks, I'll treasure it....) 8)

Lee Shaver
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#2
Ah the solecism of replying to one's own post......whatever.

In the response to the programme aired by Frontline in April, this letter in their postbag caught my eye....
Dear FRONTLINE,
Excellent program. Since returning from Iraq in February of 2004, I have been surprised at the lack of public discourse on the employment of so many private security contractors in Iraq.

I am an active duty Army officer, and I returned from a deployment to Baghdad in February 2004. I believe in the mission of our armed forces there. That said, I still have difficulty containing my anger and frustration when I think back to what I witnessed with respect to the private security contractors in Iraq.

Please don't misunderstand me: many are skilled professionals who faithfully execute their assigned missions. Some are less professional and more reckless. My problem is not with the character of the individuals who make-up the private armies, but with their status and the decision that made them hired guns for the US government. Regardless of their level of professionalism or competence, they are essentially mercenaries, specifically prohibited under international conventions to which we are a party. As such, as mercenaries, their mere existance on the battlfield constitutes a slap in the face to every professional officer and soldier/sailor/airman/marine in uniform.

Beyond their murky legal status, the real problem is that they are not truly (read: legally) accountable to anyone in uniform or government. The military sets strict guidelines for their employment of deadly force, but there is no one there to watch them. They shoot and kill Iraqi nationals almost daily, but even to report an incident is entirely voluntary on their part. No one outside of their company keeps track of their ammunition expenditures or their "body count."

Additionally, I am afraid that some Americans are under the mistaken impression that we (the military) are incapable of completing given missions without the assistance of private contractors. This is patently false. I could give examples all day long of how our equipped, trained, and certified cooks were relegated to "counting heads" at the entrance to a mess hall, paid for the US Army and operated by Halliburton/KBR. Or how we flew construction workers and engineers over from the States, gave them military construction equipment and then had the trained military engineers and contruction specialists/seabees pull perimeter security while the civilian contractors did a worse job than the military would have done for some astronomical price.

Fundamentally, people have to understand that the decision to contract out these services is just that: a choice, and it is increasingly driven, not by cost-benefit analyses, but by ideology. There are some who genuinely believe that the private sector will always outperform government, and therefore we should rely on private solutions, even to public problems.

And that's fine for sidewalk improvement or running the local water treatment plant, but too many Americans have given their lives for a new Iraq for our government to contract out our national security to the lowest bidder.


Captain, US Army
[ name supplied to Frontline]
Coppell, TeXas
I'd be interested to hear other views from those who have been in theatre more recently ?

Le Chevre
 

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