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Privatization of War is the Quiet Revolution in Military Affairs


Guest Lisa Askew
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Guest Lisa Askew

I was listening to talk radio about the Privatization of War. The show talked about how war is the new business model. Companies like Aegis, Haliburton, and Blackwater are each making billions of dollars slowly taking over the role of our armed forces. These new mercenary companies do not have to take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. In adddition this companies do not have to publically report their finances to anyone in the United States.

 

I wonder if our government will just replace our troops with private mercenary forces in the future.

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Guest Peter W. Singer

The forces that drove the growth of the private military industry seem set in place. Much like the Internet boom, the PMF bubble may burst if the current spate of work in Iraq ever ends, but the industry itself is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Governments must therefore act to meet this reality. Using private solutions for public military ends is not necessarily a bad thing. But the stakes in warfare are far higher than in the corporate realm: in this most essential public sphere, national security and people's lives are constantly put at risk. War, as the old proverb has it, is certainly far too important to be left to the generals. The same holds true for the CEOs.

 

http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2007/0927m...ontractors.aspx

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Warning that outsourcing military functions to private contractors would lead to “the privatization of war”, the Chairman of the five-member UN working group on the use of mercenaries as a means of impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, José Luís Gómez del Prado, today suggested that an optional protocol to the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries be drafted to address the growing use of private security firms in conflict areas.

 

The U.N. Security Council and General Assembly have opposed the use of mercenaries, but the hiring of foreign soldiers by one country for use in another is barred only for the 30 nations that ratified a 1989 treaty against the practice. The U.S. and Iraq are among the many states that didn't sign.

 

Mentioning an incident in Iraq on 16 September involving employees of a private security firm, under contract with the United States State Department, in which a number of Iraqi civilians were killed, Mr. Prado said, “the new modalities of mercenarism” pointed to a “very flourishing industry of military and private security companies” that had been absorbing “traditional” mercenaries. Some employees who had been in Iraq told the working group how they had been armed with automatic rifles and, sometimes, anti-tank weapons, and had moved in unmarked vehicles with tinted windows. An extremely fine line separated them from active combat, Mr. Prado said, adding that “the outsourcing of military functions (in conflict and post-conflict zones) by transnational companies was leading to the privatization of war”. He added: “This new phenomenon raises, to the international community, serious political, legal and human rights problems related to the use of force by non-State actors, as well as the lack of transparency and oversight with which they operate.”

 

The report to be delivered this month said companies had hired former soldiers and policemen, but it charged that some of those had become "private militarily armed soldiers."

 

In Chile, the experts were told that recruits were given military training by private companies in the United States, Jordan or Iraq and "eventually performed military functions."

 

The panel said that many Peruvians also had been recruited to work in Iraq and Afghanistan as security guards and that at least 1,000 remained in Iraq.

 

Gomez del Prado said security companies had hired recruits from other countries, including Spain, Portugal and elsewhere in Europe as well as Russia and South Africa.

 

"I don't know if they work for Blackwater, but all these private security companies they are recruiting from all over the world — from the Philippines, from Fiji," he said.

 

Once the guards are in areas of armed conflict, immunity granted under national laws to private security personnel can easily lead to uncontrolled behavior, the report said, with "these private soldiers appearing only to be accountable to the company which employs them."

 

A joint U.S.-Iraqi panel has been created to review the practices of security companies in Iraq, and Congress has opened inquiries into the role of the contractors. Multiple U.S. investigations are looking into the fatal shooting involving Blackwater workers.

 

Blackwater, the largest U.S. security firm working in Iraq for the State Department, said its guards fired in response to an armed attack. Iraqi officials say 17 civilians were killed.

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Guest human_*

You are mixing apples and oranges here. These contracts are out to protect diplomats, or people trying to get to work. Or to re-build the infrastructure i.e. such as police, fireman, administrative,utilities.

 

The war WILL be handled by the Military.

 

However law, I do agree with you on this “lack of Administrative training in dispensing the contracts, and also reviewing the contracts performance".

 

 

http://www.ftleavenworthlamp.com/articles/...d_news/dod2.txt

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Warning that outsourcing military functions to private contractors would lead to “the privatization of war”, the Chairman of the five-member UN working group on the use of mercenaries as a means of impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, José Luís Gómez del Prado, today suggested that an optional protocol to the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries be drafted to address the growing use of private security firms in conflict areas.

 

The U.N. Security Council and General Assembly have opposed the use of mercenaries, but the hiring of foreign soldiers by one country for use in another is barred only for the 30 nations that ratified a 1989 treaty against the practice. The U.S. and Iraq are among the many states that didn't sign.

 

Mentioning an incident in Iraq on 16 September involving employees of a private security firm, under contract with the United States State Department, in which a number of Iraqi civilians were killed, Mr. Prado said, “the new modalities of mercenarism” pointed to a “very flourishing industry of military and private security companies” that had been absorbing “traditional” mercenaries. Some employees who had been in Iraq told the working group how they had been armed with automatic rifles and, sometimes, anti-tank weapons, and had moved in unmarked vehicles with tinted windows. An extremely fine line separated them from active combat, Mr. Prado said, adding that “the outsourcing of military functions (in conflict and post-conflict zones) by transnational companies was leading to the privatization of war”. He added: “This new phenomenon raises, to the international community, serious political, legal and human rights problems related to the use of force by non-State actors, as well as the lack of transparency and oversight with which they operate.”

 

The report to be delivered this month said companies had hired former soldiers and policemen, but it charged that some of those had become "private militarily armed soldiers."

 

In Chile, the experts were told that recruits were given military training by private companies in the United States, Jordan or Iraq and "eventually performed military functions."

 

The panel said that many Peruvians also had been recruited to work in Iraq and Afghanistan as security guards and that at least 1,000 remained in Iraq.

 

Gomez del Prado said security companies had hired recruits from other countries, including Spain, Portugal and elsewhere in Europe as well as Russia and South Africa.

 

"I don't know if they work for Blackwater, but all these private security companies they are recruiting from all over the world — from the Philippines, from Fiji," he said.

 

Once the guards are in areas of armed conflict, immunity granted under national laws to private security personnel can easily lead to uncontrolled behavior, the report said, with "these private soldiers appearing only to be accountable to the company which employs them."

 

A joint U.S.-Iraqi panel has been created to review the practices of security companies in Iraq, and Congress has opened inquiries into the role of the contractors. Multiple U.S. investigations are looking into the fatal shooting involving Blackwater workers.

 

Blackwater, the largest U.S. security firm working in Iraq for the State Department, said its guards fired in response to an armed attack. Iraqi officials say 17 civilians were killed.

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You are mixing apples and oranges here. These contracts are out to protect diplomats, or people trying to get to work. Or to re-build the infrastructure i.e. such as police, fireman, administrative,utilities.

 

The war WILL be handled by the Military.

 

However law, I do agree with you on this lack of Administrative training in dispensing the contracts, and also reviewing the contracts performance".

http://www.ftleavenworthlamp.com/articles/...d_news/dod2.txt

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

This is a much larger issue than you may realize. Many in politicians in Washington think our military is the problem, not the solution. Instead of bringing a larger force in the beginning we brought a smaller one, with more civilian contractors. About 50,000 private contractors are currently working on security and military missions in Iraq. With too many chefs in the kitchen a mess was made. Now we are are cleaning up that mess and Americans think our military is not capable of completing its objective. Even worse, these private security contractors can escape responsibility for alleged misconduct. There does not appear to be any clear legal authority to prosecute Blackwater for the recent event in Baghdad, or the operational command to prevent such incidents in the future.

 

At the time of the Fallujah incident, Blackwater was taking over operations from a British security company, Control Risks Group. The project manager for the British company states that Blackwater did not use the opportunity to learn from the experience gained by CRG on this operation, leading to inadequate preparation for taking on this task.” The company's incident report states that Blackwater was informed that Control Risks Group twice rejected the mission because of unacceptable security risks, reporting: Blackwater were informed that we had turned this task down and the reasons why were given.

 

Prior to the Blackwater team's departure, two of the six members of the team were cut from the mission, depriving both security vehicles of a rear gunner. These personnel were removed from the mission to perform administrative duties at the Blackwater operations center. Blackwater had a contract dispute with a Kuwaiti company, Regency Hotel & Hospitality, over the acquisition of armored vehicles for the Blackwater team. Blackwater officials instructed its employees to “string these guys along and run this thing into the ground, because if we stalled long enough they (Regency) would have no choice but to buy us armored cars, or they would default on the contract, in which case the contractor who hired Regency might go directly to Blackwater for security. According to a Blackwater employee, Blackwater's contract paid for armor vehicles, but management in North Carolina made the decision to go with soft skin due to the cost.

 

One day before the Fallujah attack, Blackwater's operations manager in Baghdad sent an urgent e-mail to Blackwater headquarters in North Carolina with the subject line : Ground Truth. The e-mail stated: "I need new vehicles. I need new COMs, I need ammo, I need Glocks and M4s. …I've requested hard cars from the beginning. …Ground truth is appalling."

 

Because they were without maps and the mission had not been sufficiently planned, the Blackwater personnel arrived at the wrong military base the day before the attack, where they were forced to spend the night. A witness at the military base assessed that the mission that they were on was hurriedly put together and that they were not prepared.”

 

http://oversight.house.gov/documents/20070927104643.pdf

 

Previously undisclosed information reveals (1) Blackwater has engaged in 195 'escalation of force' incidents since 2005, an average of 1.4 per week, including over 160 incidents in which Blackwater forces fired first; (2) after a drunken Blackwater contractor shot the guard of the Iraqi Vice President, the State Department allowed the contractor to leave Iraq and advised Blackwater on the size of the payment needed “to help them resolve this”; and (3) Blackwater, which has received over $1 billion in federal contracts since 2001, is charging the federal government over $1,200 per day for each protective security specialist employed by the company.

 

http://oversight.house.gov/documents/20071001121609.pdf

 

I can go on here, but I think you are getting my point without being to winded on the subject.

 

I was taught the key to a good military is its chain of command. Our military is trained to protect our assets. They have been doing a great job for years in this function. You go to every embassy around the world and you will see marines guarding our diplomats. An additional point is our soldiers have better communication with our commanders on what to do and not do. Private mercenaries report to their managers outside the military chain of command on critical situations. An example of this how the mercenaries engage in protective intelligence, looking for surveillance by enemy combatants and trying to foresee potential threats. Thus these private mercanaries enter a combat phase of their job scope and can legitimately be called hired guns.

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Guest human_*

It's 50,000 people, and the link below should better help you understand the scope of which you are implying; That the military be the only ones providing such services? Or am I wrong in understanding your argument?

 

http://www.defensetech.org/archives/003779.html

 

Oh!!!!!! and I almost forgot; It's only 42 security firms working in iraq "I could be off plus or minus 4 firms".

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This is a much larger issue than you may realize. Many in politicians in Washington think our military is the problem, not the solution. Instead of bringing a larger force in the beginning we brought a smaller one, with more civilian contractors. About 50,000 private contractors are currently working on security and military missions in Iraq. With too many chefs in the kitchen a mess was made. Now we are are cleaning up that mess and Americans think our military is not capable of completing its objective. Even worse, these private security contractors can escape responsibility for alleged misconduct. There does not appear to be any clear legal authority to prosecute Blackwater for the recent event in Baghdad, or the operational command to prevent such incidents in the future.

I can go on here, but I think you are getting my point without being to winded on the subject.

 

I was taught the key to a good military is its chain of command. Our military is trained to protect our assets. They have been doing a great job for years in this function. You go to every embassy around the world and you will see marines guarding our diplomats. An additional point is our soldiers have better communication with our commanders on what to do and not do. Private mercenaries report to their managers outside the military chain of command on critical situations. An example of this how the mercenaries engage in protective intelligence, looking for surveillance by enemy combatants and trying to foresee potential threats. Thus these private mercanaries enter a combat phase of their job scope and can legitimately be called hired guns.

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It's 50,000 people, and the link below should better help you understand the scope of which you are implying; That the military be the only ones providing such services? Or am I wrong in understanding your argument?

 

http://www.defensetech.org/archives/003779.html

 

Oh!!!!!! and I almost forgot; It's only 42 security firms working in iraq "I could be off plus or minus 4 firms".

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The problem with contractors is very simple: They don't (apparently) fall under the military code of justice, Iraqi law, or US civilian law. Or any law at all. Thats the crucial point always avoided by their apologists. The worst that can happen to a contractor suspected of a serious crime is they lose their job and get fined several thousand dollars. The US contractor that allegedly murdered the Iraqi VP was fired from Blackwater, and has gotten a job with another company in Iraq.

 

This quote came from the page you posted. This is the the biggest problem I have. There is no chain of command. Its sad, because now the Defense Department does not want to set up a logistical infrastructure to deal with these private firms. Granted there are many private contractors doing a fine job out there, but the current policy standards by the State Department is way to low for these firms. If a soldier was to commit the crimes that some of these contractors have done that soldier would end up breaking stones at Fort Leavenworth. Its not fair that these people are not accountable for their crimes. A bad review is not good enough. If an individual breaks the law then they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Public relations go down the toilet when contractors forget how to be professional. Waving weapons in non military vehicles and pointing them a middle class locals just might start pissing people off. The Iraqi government got quite angered by the Black Water debacle.

 

Second point. There are more private contractors handling security in this war than any previous. I would not have much of a problem if the Iraqi government was paying for them. But, this is not the case. The American taxpayer is paying for them. And guess what.... there is no financial accountability for these firms. It almost like winning the lottery for these companies. Its no wonder that the Canadian Loonie is stronger the Dollar. Our country is 7 trillion dollars in debt. THAT IS MORE THAN THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS EACH ONE OF US OWES. God help us if the dollar falls to the price of a PESO.

 

The only way we can have accountability on this issue is for all firms that work for United States taxpayers show complete transparency in all work they do for us. NO MORE BLANK CHECKS. NO MORE GUNSLINGERS. All firms the work for the United States taxpayers should consider it a honor to serve our country with the highest standards.

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