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View Full Version : Senators Object to use of mercenaries in Iraq


EricaLubarsky
04-29-2004, 05:03 PM
This one isnt politically charged toward anyone. It's actually an interesting issue. It's scary that we would have mercenary forces outside the control of civilian leadership. Is privatizing our army and informations systems the future?

U.S. Relying on Private Security in Iraq (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/international/AP-Iraq-Private-Security.html)
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: April 27, 2004
Filed at 2:43 p.m. ET


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some days, private security guards in Iraq look simply like well-armed rent-a-cops. Other days, they look like soldiers engaged in full-bore combat.

That blurring of lines between active-duty soldiers and contracted security personnel is causing unease in Congress, as violence continues to rise in Iraq. Some lawmakers worry that private security forces operate too far outside U.S. military control -- and laws. And experts wonder what would happen if a contractor did something tragically wrong, like shoot an Iraqi child.

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Thirteen Democrats wrote Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld this month to argue that providing security in a hostile area is a classic mission for the military.

``It would be a dangerous precedent if the United States allowed the presence of private armies operating outside the control of a governmental authority and beholden only to those that pay them,'' wrote the Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

In Iraq, they said, the private armies need proper screening and supervision, or they could increase Iraqi resentment.

Roughly 20,000 private security contractors from dozens of companies operate in Iraq under contract with the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-led governing body in Iraq, plus the Defense Department and other U.S. agencies. Thousands more are on assignments for the United States and others worldwide, including in Afghanistan, taking on jobs like guarding officials, protecting buildings and supply convoys, and training police and soldiers.

Inside the Pentagon, some see these private security contractors as a smart way to plug holes left by post-Cold War downsizing and the added demands of the war on terror. Indeed, many of the security contractors once were in the military, including retired Special Forces and Navy SEALs, who can be dispatched quickly into a variety of missions.

As the violence swells, the contractors have evolved into supplemental forces and taken on risks as they find themselves in shootouts or targets of the insurgency.

Citing security concerns, defense officials won't talk about the rules covering contractors' use of force. Although experts say the policy can vary by contract, private contractors generally are allowed to fire in self-defense but not to fire first.

Even so, they have been involved in several firefights from Mosul in the north to Najaf in the south, and at least a handful of security contractors have died.

``It's the Wild West,'' said Peter Singer, an expert on the privatized military industry and a foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington.

The use of independent security firms has been growing for a decade. But the issue has exploded into the public consciousness with the pictures of two private security contractors' charred bodies hanging from a Fallujah bridge. Four contractors died in the attack.

The hazards have their advantages. Private personnel sometimes get paid $1,000 a day or more for the riskiest assignments. Defense experts contend nevertheless that they are cheaper in the long term than troops, who rely on the government to support their families and provide benefits.

Information on their contracts is murky at best. The Coalition Provisional Authority will provide few details on the contractors or their agreements.

Many of the contracts were thrown together quickly as the U.S.-led coalition tried to establish its presence in Iraq, leaving vague lines of authority, unclear responsibilities and muddled channels of communications with the U.S.-led coalition. As a result, experts say, rules governing the private personnel can vary depending on how their contracts are written.

It's unclear, for example, what would happen if a private contractor killed an Iraqi child, said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va.

According to a Coalition Provisional Authority directive, non-Iraqi private security contractors, working for the coalition or its partner countries, are not subject to Iraqi law but that of their home states.

``I am certain that the potential flexibility is an attraction,'' Thompson said.

It's also unclear how much the U.S. government is spending on private security contractors. However, the Coalition Provisional Authority's inspector general has said companies hired to rebuild Iraq are spending an estimated 10 percent to 15 percent of their money to secure workers and projects. The figure could climb to 25 percent if the unrest continues.

Further complicating the situation, the coalition, contractors and Iraqi leaders are still negotiating what authorities these armed civilians will operate under when the coalition turns over political control to the Iraqis on June 30. A defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the rules are expected to be worked out next month.

The official and a spokesman for Blackwater USA, the security company that lost the four contractors in Fallujah, said the lines of communication and relationships between the contractors and U.S. authorities also are not yet formal, although guidelines are being developed.

For now, Blackwater spokesman Chris Bertelli said that means contractors often lack the benefit of intelligence shared among regular U.S. military forces, on top of limitations placed on the types of weapons they can use. ``You do your best to secure all the intelligence you can get your hands on,'' he said.

FishForLunch
04-29-2004, 07:07 PM
They want the USMilitary to do the mundane oil well, school rebuilding security, instead of going after insurgents. I feel these senators are hoping to spread our forces so thin guarding installations and pipelines, that we will not be able to effectively purse the insurgents. What else do we expect from the democratic senators, all they do is complain, and hope that we fail in Iraq.

EricaLubarsky
04-29-2004, 08:00 PM
Originally posted by: FishForLunch
They want the USMilitary to do the mundane oil well, school rebuilding security, instead of going after insurgents. I feel these senators are hoping to spread our forces so thin guarding installations and pipelines, that we will not be able to effectively purse the insurgents. What else do we expect from the democratic senators, all they do is complain, and hope that we fail in Iraq.

you know that is bullshit. No senator ever wanted an American boy or girl dead over there and no senator ever wanted a failure. There is a legitimate concern over the use of mercenary forces in Iraq.