Cost of the War in Iraq
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10/1/05

Private Soldiers? Mercenaries? or just Security Contractors in Iraq? You decide.

Some bloggers who began writing about the private companies who provide "security" in Iraq, calling them Mercenaries or private Soldiers. Other so-called center-right who are actually far-right bloggers hammered them for it, saying that they are just security guards. It has been reported that next to the US, Private Contractors are the largest military or paramilitary force in Iraq. More in number than our greatest ally Great Britain. Other sources say Private security firms are now the third largest international contributor of forces to the war effort in Iraq -- after the U.S. and British troops. Either way, it's a subject that needs to be addressed.

Some of the contractors are British companies, some American, and probably some from other countries as well. They have been used to do interrogations, guard shipments, both military and civilian convoys and installations, even the Army Corps of Engineers is guarded and escorted by paramilitary troops from a private British contractor. It has been reported by soldiers accused of torturing prisoners were ordered to do so by private contractors prior to interrogations to be performed by them.

To show you the issue of private company soldiers we'll call them guard our US Army Corps of Engineers instead of troops from the US military, Click here and watch the videos

In "Private Warriors," FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith travels throughout Kuwait and Iraq to give viewers an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at companies like Kellogg, Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, and its civilian army. KBR has 50,000 employees in Iraq and Kuwait that run U.S. military supply lines and operate U.S. military bases. KBR is also the largest contractor in Iraq, providing the Army with $11.84 billion dollars in services since 2002. Blackwater Security Consulting -- whose four employees were viciously killed and their corpses mutilated by a mob in Fallujah, Iraq -- is one of a growing number of private security contractors that are hiring veterans for jobs previously assigned to the military.

If Andy Melville, a project manager with Erinys in Iraq is correct, private warriors could become more prevalent in Iraq. "Americans would like to withdraw troop members," says Melville. "And perhaps it is part of their policy to reduce troop members and replace them with private security contractors."

Some of the things I find particularly disturbing are;

1. This information isn't shared with the public in a transparent manner. You only hear a "security guard" did this or that or was killed, etc. When you are hiring ex-special forces and ex-military personnel to conduct military or paramilitary operations, they are not "security guards" they are "mercenaries". mer·ce·nar·y ( P ) Pronunciation Key (mûrs-nr) adj. "Motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain." "Hired for service in a foreign army." adj 1: "marked by materialism" [syn: materialistic, worldly-minded] 2: "used of soldiers hired by a foreign army" [syn: mercenary(a), "freelance"(a)] 3: "profit oriented"; "a commercial book"; "preached a mercantile and militant patriotism"- John Buchan; "a mercenary enterprise"; "a moneymaking business" [syn: mercantile, moneymaking(a)] n : "a person hired to fight for another country than their own" [syn: soldier of fortune]

2. This trend toward privatization also troubles me. Look at the definition above. Do we want "a moneymaking business", "profit oriented", "freelance", Company like Haliburton's KBR who is "Motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain" replacing our military or even guarding our military installations? As a corporation they are sworn to do whatever is best for the bottom line for their investors. What happens if they get a better offer? Our soldiers who enlist in the military are not sworn to the bottom line, they are sworn to protect our country. These multi-national corporations can be trusted as far as you would trust Bernie Ebbers, Kenneth Lay, The Tyco Boys, and other executives with one hand in the cookie jar, so if you expect these companies would overlook profit in favor of Patriotism, then I think you are naive.

3. Military analysts say the private security arrangement allows regular military troops to concentrate on fighting. But they are concerned that the lucrative pay offered by private contractors -- often more than $100,000 a year -- is depleting the ranks of the special forces.

For those of you who will say they are well-coordinated with the military, let me point you to This Article from CorpWatch.

For those of you who might think these mercenaries are no threat to obtaining peace in Iraq, How about This Article from MSNBC? or This Article from the Washington Post?

Anyway, for those of you who believe that absolutely anything our government decides to do must be the right thing to do, no article, no video, no audio report, not even a club to the side of the head is going to convince you that anything is wrong with anything, so you just go on with your head buried in the sand or in . . . well wherever.

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