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Soldiers And Fortune , Who's calling the shots in Iraq?

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G_j Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-04 09:58 PM
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Soldiers And Fortune , Who's calling the shots in Iraq?

Soldiers And Fortune

Barry Lando is a former CBS producer of 60 Minutes, and has also contributed to CBS News, Time magazine and Time-Life.

Who's the United States' major ally today in Iraq? Hint: it may not be part of the "Coalition of the Willing." You might instead label them the "Brotherhood of the Extremely Well Paid": mercenaries working for private security firms in Iraq. Estimates of their number run from 5,000 to 15,000. And while no one really knows how many there are, thousands more are due to join them.

At this extremely critical time, when ill-conceived military action can degenerate into disastrous religious outbursts, who is calling the shots? That question is only now beginning to draw some attention.

For instance, two of the most violent actions in recent days in Iraq were not what we thought they were. A bloody attack by hundreds of Iraqi militia on the U.S. government's headquarters in Najaf last week was defeated not by valiant U.S. soldiersas the press first was led to believebut by eight mercenaries from a private American security firm.

According to The Washington Post, that company, Blackwater Security Consulting, even called in its own helicopter to rescue a wounded Marine and re-supply its own men when the U.S. Army failed to show up.

And those four "contractors" who were torn apart in Fallujah a few days earlier? Not hapless civilians, it now appearsthey were also hired American mercenaries, also working for Blackwater Security. It currently has some 450 guards working in Iraq, and it is only one of manywhich makes Blackwater alone larger than many of the national contingents that comprise the Coalition.

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harper Donating Member (699 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-04 10:12 PM
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1. Excellent article
Edited on Sun Apr-18-04 10:13 PM by harper
Thanks for posting it. I think this question of private security contractors is going to become a big issue. I know I have lots of questions about just how many are in Iraq etc.

I thought this excerpt from the article was very timely...

"Last week, seven powerful U.S. senators, including Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton, sent a letter to Donald Rumsfeld asking some pretty basic questions about those private companies, including how big their combined army really is.

"It would be a dangerous precedent," they wrote, "if the United States allowed the presence of private armies operating outside the control of governmental authority and beholden only to those who pay them."

I think Ike Skelton, who is the ranking democrat on the House Armed Services Committee and is a big supporter of the military has also written to Rumsfeld asking about the mercenary force in Iraq. Should be interesting to see Rummy's answer.

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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-04 11:00 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. I heard there were about 14,000 mercenaries (private contractors)
in Iraq. I've forgotten how many of those are armed and how many do other jobs.
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-04 10:56 PM
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2. Here are excerpts from one particularly revealing webpage

Company Name: DS VANCE IRAQ

Products and Services:Security and Intelligence Services including General Security, Convoy Protection, Close Protection and Asset Protection. Elite Special Forces personnel run offices in Baghdad and Sulaymanyah.

. . .

Our international specialists and/or local security staff provide the following range of security services:
- Executive close protection (CP) and crisis response.
- Executive escort cross border from Jordan or Turkey into and out of Iraq
- Convoy protection specialists for cross border and in-country convoys

. . .

DS Vance Iraq has a strategic local partnership that enables us to provide:
- Support and sponsorship from key decision makers connected to and working in the Governing Council of Iraq
- Business intelligence - unique local knowledge and connections in Iraq
- Security intelligence direct access to confidential intelligence sources
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G_j Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-18-04 11:11 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. I wonder what "Security intelligence" is exactly
-Security intelligence direct access to confidential intelligence sources

as these people are not under direct authority of the "coalition". They could be working for a corporation.
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