Pte contractors constitute the 2nd-largest "force" in Iraq

#1
here
Los Angeles Times said:
Our mercenaries in Iraq
The president relies on thousands of private soldiers with little oversight, a disturbing example of the military-industrial complex.
By Jeremy Scahill, JEREMY SCAHILL is a fellow at the Nation Institute and the author of the forthcoming "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army."
January 25, 2007

AS PRESIDENT BUSH took the podium to deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday, there were five American families receiving news that has become all too common: Their loved ones had been killed in Iraq. But in this case, the slain were neither "civilians," as the news reports proclaimed, nor were they U.S. soldiers. They were highly trained mercenaries deployed to Iraq by a secretive private military company based in North Carolina — Blackwater USA.

The company made headlines in early 2004 when four of its troops were ambushed and burned in the Sunni hotbed of Fallouja — two charred, lifeless bodies left to dangle for hours from a bridge. That incident marked a turning point in the war, sparked multiple U.S. sieges of Fallouja and helped fuel the Iraqi resistance that haunts the occupation to this day.

Now, Blackwater is back in the news, providing a reminder of just how privatized the war has become. On Tuesday, one of the company's helicopters was brought down in one of Baghdad's most violent areas. The men who were killed were providing diplomatic security under Blackwater's $300-million State Department contract, which dates to 2003 and the company's initial no-bid contract to guard administrator L. Paul Bremer III in Iraq. Current U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who is also protected by Blackwater, said he had gone to the morgue to view the men's bodies, asserting the circumstances of their deaths were unclear because of "the fog of war."

Bush made no mention of the downing of the helicopter during his State of the Union speech. But he did address the very issue that has made the war's privatization a linchpin of his Iraq policy — the need for more troops. The president called on Congress to authorize an increase of about 92,000 active-duty troops over the next five years. He then slipped in a mention of a major initiative that would represent a significant development in the U.S. disaster response/reconstruction/war machine: a Civilian Reserve Corps.

"Such a corps would function much like our military Reserve. It would ease the burden on the armed forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them," Bush declared. This is precisely what the administration has already done, largely behind the backs of the American people and with little congressional input, with its revolution in military affairs. Bush and his political allies are using taxpayer dollars to run an outsourcing laboratory. Iraq is its Frankenstein monster.

Already, private contractors constitute the second-largest "force" in Iraq. At last count, there were about 100,000 contractors in Iraq, of which 48,000 work as private soldiers, according to a Government Accountability Office report. These soldiers have operated with almost no oversight or effective legal constraints and are an undeclared expansion of the scope of the occupation. Many of these contractors make up to $1,000 a day, far more than active-duty soldiers. What's more, these forces are politically expedient, as contractor deaths go uncounted in the official toll.

The president's proposed Civilian Reserve Corps was not his idea alone. A privatized version of it was floated two years ago by Erik Prince, the secretive, mega-millionaire, conservative owner of Blackwater USA and a man who for years has served as the Pied Piper of a campaign to repackage mercenaries as legitimate forces. In early 2005, Prince — a major bankroller of the president and his allies — pitched the idea at a military conference of a "contractor brigade" to supplement the official military. "There's consternation in the [Pentagon] about increasing the permanent size of the Army," Prince declared. Officials "want to add 30,000 people, and they talked about costs of anywhere from $3.6 billion to $4 billion to do that. Well, by my math, that comes out to about $135,000 per soldier." He added: "We could do it certainly cheaper."

And Prince is not just a man with an idea; he is a man with his own army. Blackwater began in 1996 with a private military training camp "to fulfill the anticipated demand for government outsourcing." Today, its contacts run from deep inside the military and intelligence agencies to the upper echelons of the White House. It has secured a status as the elite Praetorian Guard for the global war on terror, with the largest private military base in the world, a fleet of 20 aircraft and 20,000 soldiers at the ready.

From Iraq and Afghanistan to the hurricane-ravaged streets of New Orleans to meetings with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger about responding to disasters in California, Blackwater now envisions itself as the FedEx of defense and homeland security operations. Such power in the hands of one company, run by a neo-crusader bankroller of the president, embodies the "military-industrial complex" President Eisenhower warned against in 1961.

Further privatizing the country's war machine — or inventing new back doors for military expansion with fancy names like the Civilian Reserve Corps — will represent a devastating blow to the future of American democracy.
 
#2
The basic problem in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, wherever, is that US and particularly UK governments will not face reality - that you cannot hope to turn around a country without very large occupation forces. This failure is all the more damning, because US and UK did actually successfully stabilise dozens of countries from Europe to the Far East in the aftermath of WW2 - because they happened to have sufficient force levels in each location to allow the civic structures to be rebuilt without disruption from gangsterism or power-grabs.

The civilian defence contractors are simply filling a gaping void left by the incompetence of governments. It is indeed deeply unsatisfactory - you only have to go to Baghdad to understand that a profit-making company that recruits in the (often unsavoury) security industry is having a detrimental local effect compared to disciplined line soldiers from western democracies. The presence of armed contractors also frequently undermines attempts to rebuild national legal governance - the local population accepts that a foreign occupying army has an international legal status and can operate under ROE agreed at governmental level, whilst armed civilian contractors operate in a legal grey area that is shared with sectarian militias and armed criminals.

Even when dealing with law-abiding private security companies, there is an acute dilemma for the countries where they are incorporated or based: on the one hand they do help fill in gaps that the government cannot cover - eg protecting reconstruction developers or NGOs - but in order to do so they have to be allowed to acquire quasi-military firepower. To survive and operate in Iraq at present (Afghanistan to follow), the security companies need to up-gun to armoured vehicles, armed helicopters, MMGs and HE weapons (ie grenades, mortars and RPGs) - most of which are prohibited by national and host governments, or contra to the spirit of international treaties restricting weapons sales.
 
#3
4(T) said:
The basic problem in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, wherever, is that US and particularly UK governments will not face reality - that you cannot hope to turn around a country without very large occupation forces. This failure is all the more damning, because US and UK did actually successfully stabilise dozens of countries from Europe to the Far East in the aftermath of WW2 - because they happened to have sufficient force levels in each location to allow the civic structures to be rebuilt without disruption from gangsterism or power-grabs.

The civilian defence contractors are simply filling a gaping void left by the incompetence of governments. It is indeed deeply unsatisfactory - you only have to go to Baghdad to understand that a profit-making company that recruits in the (often unsavoury) security industry is having a detrimental local effect compared to disciplined line soldiers from western democracies. The presence of armed contractors also frequently undermines attempts to rebuild national legal governance - the local population accepts that a foreign occupying army has an international legal status and can operate under ROE agreed at governmental level, whilst armed civilian contractors operate in a legal grey area that is shared with sectarian militias and armed criminals.

Even when dealing with law-abiding private security companies, there is an acute dilemma for the countries where they are incorporated or based: on the one hand they do help fill in gaps that the government cannot cover - eg protecting reconstruction developers or NGOs - but in order to do so they have to be allowed to acquire quasi-military firepower. To survive and operate in Iraq at present (Afghanistan to follow), the security companies need to up-gun to armoured vehicles, armed helicopters, MMGs and HE weapons (ie grenades, mortars and RPGs) - most of which are prohibited by national and host governments, or contra to the spirit of international treaties restricting weapons sales.
My bold

Absolutely correct. A very good friend of mine was among the first troops into Osnatraz in 1945 and he said for weeks afterwards there were troops on every street corner and in the streets picking up suspects and if necessary shooting them if they tried to bolt for it. Not only did thy have sufficient force levels, they were prepared to use them as well.

Unpleasant and not very British (to some peoples minds!) but we didn't build an Empire by being polite. I also seem to recall a programme on German TV about 20 odd years ago about an attempted German POW breakout from a Cage near Cologne. T Atkins opened fire and killed them.
 
#4
I think this is a very interesting debate, especially since there are shortfalls in the equipment we get, whereas contracters get the kit they need to do the job.

Add to that UK contractors get £300-£400 pd in IRAQ and it becomes attractive to soldiers to work for them.

Of course where this all sits in any legal framework is the real debate,

Abu Grahib looked awfully like conditioning in preperation for debriefing, and the civilian contractors were heavily involved, yet escaped any mention.

Can a gonernment use a contractor to do that which its own forces cannot do? Certainly there is anicdotal evidence that Blackwater has undertaken combat ops in BAGHDAD.

This area is only going to grow IMHO and to what extent isnt really being considered in government.
 
#5
Papa_Lazarou said:
Can a gonernment use a contractor to do that which its own forces cannot do? Certainly there is anicdotal evidence that Blackwater has undertaken combat ops in BAGHDAD.
Hell Yes! (to quote our septic cousins).

They are called mercenaries and they are a damned economical way to fight a dirty war, especially when deniability is important.

I personally think that the 'Private Contractors' should outnumber military personnel 5 to 1, and have lots of guns, rockets, helichoppers, tanks and anything else the commercial sector can afford.

They can jump in, slot the pain-in-the-arrse ragheads AND rebuild to boot - all paid for by the oil profits they are currently tying to grab at the expense of the lives of British and US personnel.

After all, this is a commercial venture anyway, or am I just being way OTT cynical?
 
#6
Puts on tinfoil hat...

Reminds me of SciFi books I used to read in my mis-spent youth; a prevailing theme was of huge, multinational corporations with more power than governments and more money than God. These MegaCorps had their own laws, paramilitary police, spooks and Military Forces.

Of course, we're not there yet. But big business has more muscle to flex every year.

As for the Civilian Reserve Corp...be afraid. Be very afraid. How long before Blair decides to try the same thing here? After all, we already have a Scottish DEA and a British FBI. :plotting:
 
#7
I went over to Blackwater's place last year (f*cking impressive by the way). Most of the Instructors there are happy to chat about their Merc trips to sunny places. I could even recognise those happy go lucky southern boys on certain bits of footage on YouTube!
 
#8
From what little I saw of them some very switched on and well equipped outfits and some very cowboy outfits .One lot was trying to recruit from our fp company .Nesscary evil possibly otherwise guess theyd be more stabs stagging on for kbr etc.
 
#9
Werewolf said:
Puts on tinfoil hat...

Reminds me of SciFi books I used to read in my mis-spent youth; a prevailing theme was of huge, multinational corporations with more power than governments and more money than God. These MegaCorps had their own laws, paramilitary police, spooks and Military Forces.

Of course, we're not there yet. But big business has more muscle to flex every year.

As for the Civilian Reserve Corp...be afraid. Be very afraid. How long before Blair decides to try the same thing here? After all, we already have a Scottish DEA and a British FBI. :plotting:
I can just see battalions of airsofters turning up for it. :roll:
 
#11
From various tales I have heard probably a few airsofter walts talked themselves into jobs as pmcs scary thought.
 
#14
AndyPipkin said:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZDcTDetTS4
Aaaaannnnnnd aaaaahhh come in me pants again and it was ooovvverrrrrr . . . . before it began!!
 
#15
papa lazarou please tell me which company you are on about that gets what it wants ! most of the equipment me get is bobbins to say the least. has improved in last couple of years but at the end of the day we work for "shareholders" and it all costs to get the kit in and if we didnt like it then go home! there was always someone just out of the mob (with right experience) that could take the place. o and yanks squaddies jsut couldnt quite get round to seeing what the unio jack meant as they are quite keen on blue on blue the tossers
 
#16
tomahawk6 said:
Some 770 contractors have been killed in Iraq.
Where are your figures from?

I had the impression that the PMC boomtimes were over. There's certainly a lot less recruiting than there was two or three years ago.

Out of interest, does anyone know of any reliable calculations (either UK or US) of how much it costs to use a contractor as opposed to a trained soldier? Lots of variables to take into account - you don't have to train contractors or keep them on the books indefinitely, but they will cost you while they're there.

I sometimes wonder how much of the success of PMCs is due to their marketing and connections in govt. I'm not surprised that corporations use them for convoy protection etc but I find it odd that FCO, DfID, etc use them rather than the Army. After all, anti-ambush drills and force protection can be done by a normal Inf unit rather than needing ex-SF types... and before anyone says, "it frees up manpower"... then don't cut your Inf Bns, you wallies! doh
 
#17
Yellow_Devil said:
tomahawk6 said:
Some 770 contractors have been killed in Iraq.
Where are your figures from?
I was asking for a site giving contractor cas a couple of weeks ago, and was pointed to this one:

http://icasualties.org/oif/Civ.aspx

but their estimate is currently 387 dead, and I dunno how authoritative the numbers are.

There was also a US new article about the subject not long back; as I recall it, the author was forecasting steady growth in this sector. That would be logical, esp if Condi Rice does respond to pressure and start upping the numbers of US Govt development/aid workers in Iraq.

If I can find it, I'll post a link.
 
#18
As I promised in my previous post. From another thread, on 28 Jan

hansvonhealing said:
'Stonker' recently asked for figures of the civilian contractors killed in Iraq...See here:
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4505235.html

Jan. 28, 2007, 12:41AM
Contractor deaths in Iraq nearing 800
Laboring in a war with no discernible front line, more than 770 civilian contractors have died in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion began in March 2003.
..But their names are left off the Pentagon's Iraq casualty rolls.

If they were counted, the U.S. military's official casualty figures — 3,063 as of Friday — would be 25 percent higher.
...Besides those killed, another 7,761 civilian contractors had been injured in Iraq as of Dec. 31, the Labor Department said.


Read it, its very revealing.
These figures give you a killed:wounded ratio of 1:9.7, compared to 1:7 for US and UK military.

I wonder what their life insurance premiums are like?
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#19
Sierra Leone/Freetown was saved from the RUF by a PMC. They did this whilst the country was flooded with armed UN troops who stood by and did nothing to protect the country or its people.

For the UN troops to do nothing whatsoever to keep the peace, it cost 10 times as much and took thousands more troops than it did for a tiny number (100-150) mercenaries to stomp all over the insurgents and bring peace. The mercenaries were in SL on the invitation of the SL governmnet (elected) because Freetown was going to fall.

The rest of the world aka the UN kicked off and forced the SL gov. to cancel the contract as it was 'wrong' for mercs to be used.

in the next couple of years, the place was flooded with 15,000 UN troops who were supposed to keep the peace. However, during this time, 10's of thouands of civilians were murdered or had limbs chopped off and it wasn't until UKSF and Paras went in to rescue some UK soldiers that the rebels were flattened again. During this op. the UN forces did their best to hinder UK forces who were chasing down the West Side Niggaz in the jungle. Some UN units were even selling arms and ammunition to the rebels who were a bunch of alcoholic, murdering junkies. As a matter of interest, the UN troops that were providing the ammunition to the rebels were muslims from Jordan.

Where the international community and the UN did nothing to prevent civilian deaths, a small British PMC did an incredibly effective and efficient job.

Remember the Balkans anyone? What did the UN aka the international community do their? Nothing. It was left to NATO, and only then because it was too big a job for PMC's.

PMC's can provide a very effective service for a fraction of the cost of full scale military forces and are not hampered by public oppinion when it comes to gettng the job done.
 
#20
Yellow_Devil said:
tomahawk6 said:
Some 770 contractors have been killed in Iraq.
Where are your figures from?

I had the impression that the PMC boomtimes were over. There's certainly a lot less recruiting than there was two or three years ago.

Out of interest, does anyone know of any reliable calculations (either UK or US) of how much it costs to use a contractor as opposed to a trained soldier? Lots of variables to take into account - you don't have to train contractors or keep them on the books indefinitely, but they will cost you while they're there.

I sometimes wonder how much of the success of PMCs is due to their marketing and connections in govt. I'm not surprised that corporations use them for convoy protection etc but I find it odd that FCO, DfID, etc use them rather than the Army. After all, anti-ambush drills and force protection can be done by a normal Inf unit rather than needing ex-SF types... and before anyone says, "it frees up manpower"... then don't cut your Inf Bns, you wallies! doh
a lot of the time we are used in FCO type contarcts because we are usually the only lads on the ground that have B6 armoured vehicles . usually also teams use low profile especially in baghdad as is shit deep in vehicles and is easier to move around without attracting the unwanted attention. as for casualtys , many are hidden from the press because a private company runs the intelligence and they try to keep casualtys away from the press.
 

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