Private security guards in Iraq and Afghanistan.


    Weary special forces quit for security jobs
    By David Rennie in Washington and Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
    (Filed: 31/03/2004)
    Exhausted American and British special forces troopers, the West's front line in the war on terrorism, are resigning in record numbers and taking highly-paid jobs as private security guards in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Senior US commanders are so alarmed that they have held emergency meetings to agree new deals on pay and conditions for the men.
    Men from the SAS in Britain and Australia and America's Delta Force are said to be weary after almost 30 months of nearly continuous service since the September 11 attacks.
    Gen Bryan "Doug" Brown, head of the US special operations command, summoned his commanders to Washington for a crisis meeting last week. He told the Senate armed services committee that the retention of special forces had become "a big issue".
    US special forces troopers earn up to 30,000 but are being offered packages of 60,000 to 120,000 to work in combat zones.
    For SAS soldiers earning 250 a week in Iraq, the lure of up to 1,000 a week is easily understood. The most experienced men in the most dangerous jobs are reported to be making 5,000 a week.
    The manning crisis comes as Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, pushes the military to use special forces more and more widely, favouring them over conventional forces, for their speed, small scale and ability to operate in complete secrecy with only minimal legal oversight.
    Gen David Grange, a retired army Ranger, Green Beret and member of Delta Force - the elite, top-secret unit modelled on the SAS - told The Telegraph yesterday that family pressures were also taking their toll on his former colleagues.
    "In my Vietnam platoon two people were married. Now it's maybe 60 per cent. Even if special forces are wild characters, with high divorce rates, there's still enormous pressure from families. They've been away more or less continuously since September 11 and wives are asking, 'Where the hell are you?' "
    The war on terrorism has placed unprecedented strains on special forces. Gen Grange said: "The US army alone has people in 120 countries.
    "A lot of those people are special forces - counter-drug, counter-insurgency or counter-terrorism - as well as our own insertions."
    The US government is also increasingly privatising its most sensitive missions, hiring defence contractors for such tasks as guarding Paul Bremer, the Iraq occupation chief, or Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, or heading overseas to train foreign militaries.
    Peter Singer, author of Corporate Warriors, a study of such privatisation, said the US defence department was the largest client for such private security contractors, paying companies large sums to supply them with former special forces whose training was paid for by US taxpayers.
    Gen Grange said special bonuses were now being paid to special forces for overseas deployment and hazardous duty. But money was never the key factor for many of his comrades, he said. "In the private sector you don't have the brotherhood or the sense of duty and country."
    Though many of Gen Grange's missions remain secret, he conceded that special operations offered greater excitement than private work.
    "Going out to destroy something or capture or kill someone - those have to be government or military missions unless you're a mercenary or doing something illegal."
    Green Berets and other special forces receive 18 months' training in combat and survival skills, including airborne and amphibious warfare, and are also required to learn at least one foreign language. They may apply only after six to eight years in the military. Army Rangers are also counted as special forces, specialising in seizing airfields and ports.
    The precise number of US special forces is shrouded in secrecy, though an overall figure of between 49,000 and 66,000 is quoted for Special Operations Command.
    However, Jennifer Kibbe, an intelligence specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, said such large numbers included administrative and support personnel. "What they call 'trigger pullers' is more in the vein of 10,000," she said.
    British officials say more than 300 soldiers have left the armed forces in the past six months to take up lucrative jobs with private companies such as Olive Security, Armour Security, Global and USDID. The problem goes beyond elite special forces. There are more than 160 British former paratroopers working in Baghdad, where the Coalition Provisional Authority has hired a battalion of Fijian soldiers to guard money deliveries to banks.
    More than 500 former Gurkhas, working for Global Logistics Security, are guarding buildings for the CPA.
  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   pickledpepperRN
    Outsourcing the war
    By Neil Arun BBC News Online

    The brutal murder in the Iraqi town of Falluja of a team of American security men by a frenzied mob has focused attention on the private security contractors operating in the country.

    For the US press, this image bore grim echoes of an earlier mission gone wrong.
    In 1993, an angry crowd paraded the battered remains of an American special-forces soldier through the streets of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
    But in the 11 years since that US raid in Mogadishu ended in disaster, a telling difference has emerged - the men who died in Falluja this week were civilians, not soldiers.
    They were the employees of Blackwater, one of many privately-owned firms taking over the conflict-zone security work that was once the preserve of soldiers.

    Partner in war
    What were they doing in Iraq?
    Blackwater declined to be interviewed by BBC News Online, but a press release issued by the firm said it is "a US government subcontractor providing convoy security for food deliveries in the Falluja area".
    Defence experts have described Blackwater as a formidable player in the field of private firms that serves America's security needs in the "war on terror".

    Bodyguards trained by Blackwater protect the top US administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer.

    In Afghanistan, the firm's employees have provided security to countless foreign civilians involved in the post-war reconstruction effort.

    'Helicopter' tower
    The firm's sprawling training facility has even been used by the US military and FBI, according to former soldier John Roos, who now edits the Armed Forces Journal.
    It is this "state-of-the-art" complex in North Dakota that most impressed Mr Roos, whose publication rents the site for an annual gathering.

    He told BBC News Online the ranch is a soldier's dream, catering for almost every type of combat situation.
    "They outfit their people with the best weapons, the best equipment," he said, describing how no expense is spared in testing new technology - often to destruction.
    He offered an example of how a contract to train US coast guards in the fight against drug-smuggling led to the construction of a special tower alongside a small lake.
    In training, operatives would take up positions on the tower before taking aim at a moving target on the water.
    The object of the exercise, according to Mr Roos, was to simulate a helicopter raid on a boat carrying narcotics.

    Flying high
    Blackwater's priority, he says, is to improve its logistics - in particular, the ability to deploy its personnel at speed, anywhere in the world.
    It already has access to at least one helicopter and is "looking around for a fixed-wing airplane".

    In an interview with the Guardian newspaper in March, Blackwater Security chief Gary Jackson spoke of how the firm "has grown 300% over each of the past three years".
    He also confirmed that the firm had recently recruited scores of commandos from Chile for work in Iraq.

    Short-term, high-risk
    Typical recruits to firms like Blackwater are elite soldiers that have retired from military special-operations units.

    The risks are high, but so are the salaries, drawing in men who have seen action in hotspots around the world.
    The swelling ranks of private security staff in Iraq is said to total over 10,000 and includes Fijians, Nepalese Gurkhas, Englishmen, Americans, Serbs, Bosnians and of course, some Iraqis.

    According to Mark Whyte, from UK-based company, Pilgrims Security, most of these men are not directly employed by the firms, but are rather hired as freelance "consultants".

    The contracts are usually short-term and responsibility for any risks taken - and for paying taxes - rests with the individual.
    Violence in the balance
    According to Dr David Capitanchick, a UK-based expert, security firms are set to prosper in the current climate.

    As far as governments are concerned, "mercenaries are low-risk" fighters, he said.
    The public knows that, unlike regular soldiers, private guards are usually very highly paid. Faced with casualties such as the recent deaths in Falluja, said Dr Capitanchick, "people tend to say - well, that's the risk they take".
    Thus as the perceived threat against foreigners working in conflict zones increases, the demand for private protection will remain healthy.
    But, warns Mr Whyte, that logic too has its limits.

    If the violence truly gets out of control, the foreign civilians involved in reconstruction will begin to pull out - and the client-base for the security firms could well dry up.
  4. by   BRANDY LPN
    I didnt read the entire article just skimmed it, but thought I would throw in here that my FIL left today to go over there as a contracted civilan making 30,000$ for a 90 day contract. Also, my DH's uncle has been over there for the better part of two years training the police forces in Iraq and Bosnia making 100,000$ per year. My nephew is thinking this may be what he does between HS and college this summer and he will put the 30,000 towards college instead of joining the military and getting a GI bill. And my DH has been mumbling about going also and plans on using the $$ to pay off and remodel our home. LOL ahhh a male free life, just joking, I hope they go in turns or something (or stay here safe and sound).
  5. by   pickledpepperRN

    Mercenaries 'R' U.S.
    Bill Berkowitz
    04.02.04 -

    On March 31, four retired Special Operations forces employed by the private security firm Blackwater Security Consulting were ambushed, killed, and their bodies mutilated in Fallujah.
    According to the San Francisco Chronicle, an estimated 15,000 "private security agents" are currently operating in Iraq. With the U.S. casualty toll ticking ever upward, and its troops stretched thin on the ground, the Bush administration is looking to mercenaries to help control Iraq. These soldiers-for-hire are veterans of some of the most repressive military forces in the world, including that of the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and South Africa's apartheid regime.

    In February, Blackwater USA, a North Carolina-based Pentagon contractor, began recruiting "former commandos, other soldiers and seamen" from Chile, offering them up to $4,000 a month "to guard oil wells against attack by insurgents," the Guardian reported. The company "flew a first group of about 60 former commandos, many of who had trained under the military government of Augusto Pinochet, from Santiago to a... [large] training camp in North Carolina," wrote Jonathan Franklin, reporting from Santiago, Chile.

    These recruits will eventually wind up in Iraq, where they will spend six months to a year: "We scour the ends of the earth to find professionals -- the Chilean commandos are very, very professional and they fit within the Blackwater system," Gary Jackson, the president of Blackwater USA, told the Guardian.
    Michelle Bachelet, Chile's defense minister, told Franklin that she was concerned about "whether paramilitary training by Blackwater violated Chilean laws on the use of weapons by private citizens," and she "ordered an investigation." Bachelet also was troubled by stories that "people on active duty were involved." According to Franklin, "Many soldiers are said to be leaving the army to join the private companies."

    While Blackwater USA is not nearly as well known as Halliburton or Bechtel -- two mega-corporations making a killing off the reconstruction of Iraq -- it nevertheless is doing quite well financially, Gary Jackson said. "We have grown 300% over each of the past three years and we are small compared to the big ones. We have a very small niche market, we work towards putting out the cream of the crop, the best." The company was founded in 1998, and at the time, it was like playing "roulette, [it was] a crapshoot," Jackson, the former Navy seal, told Mother Jones reporter Barry Yeoman. "Their investment paid off," Yeoman wrote. "Since the attacks of September 11, the company has seen its business boom -- enough to warrant a major expansion of its training facility this year.

    'To contemplate outsourcing tactical, strategic, firearms-type training -- high-risk training -- is thinking outside the box,' Jackson said. 'Is this happening? Yes, this is happening.'"
    Blackwater USA specializes in firearm, tactics and security training and is comprised of five companies; Blackwater Training Center, Blackwater Target Systems, Blackwater Security Consulting, Blackwater Canine, and Blackwater Air (AWS), and has been doing business with the Department of Defense, Department of State, and Department of Transportation, in addition to local and state entities from around the country, multi-national corporations, and countries from all over the globe.

    According to an April 2003 PRWeb press release, "Blackwater's 5,200 square acre facility located in Moyock, NC... is the largest privately-owned firearms training facility in the nation and contains state of the art firearms ranges and training apparatus." Yeoman described the facilities as "a remote tactical training camp, [located] in a swamp 25 miles from the world's largest naval base." In October 2003, the company inked an estimated $35.7 million contract "to train more than 10,000 sailors from Virginia, Texas, and California each year in 'force protection,'" Yeoman reported. While there are always a number of high-profile events on Blackwater's schedule, this year's World SWAT Challenge & Conference -- scheduled for mid-May -- is being touted as "The One SWAT Event You Can't Afford to Miss." The conference, which will be held at the company's training facility in Moyock, is being organized by law enforcement "special ops experts who have been there themselves."

    In addition to "special ops" conferences and weapons trainings, for the stay-at-home warrior the company offers a full array of gear including tee-shirts, ball caps, gym shorts, mugs, and license plates with the Blackwater logo.

    According to the Web blog Spark, "In recent years, the presence of military contractors in U.S. wars and military operations has increased significantly.

    During the Persian Gulf War of 1991, one in every 50 people on the battlefield was an American mercenary, fighting under a contract. In Bosnia in 1996, that ratio was one in 10."
    Currently there are thousands of soldiers under contract with private companies serving in Iraq. "Squads of Bosnians, Filipinos and Americans with special forces experience have been hired for tasks ranging from airport security to protecting Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority," The Guardian's Franklin reported. Chile isn't the only country from which private companies have recruited mercenaries for Iraq. According to the South Africa newspaper, The Cape Times, "More than 1,500 South Africans are believed to be in Iraq under contract to various private military companies." The United Nations recently reported that South Africa "is already among the top three suppliers of personnel for private military companies, along with the UK and the US." The Cape Times' Beauregard Tromp writes that "The Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act, passed in July 1998, prohibits South African citizens from direct participation as a combatant in armed conflict for private gain. Such engagement includes recruitment, training, or financing and applies to South Africans acting outside the country as well."

    Institute for Security Studies military analyst Henri Boshoff told Tromp that it appeared most of the South Africans in Iraq were former members of the South African Defense Force and South African Police. "The guys over there are walking a thin line, close to contravening the Foreign Military Assistance Act," he added. According to the Web site of the South African-based Democratic Alliance, the private companies appear to be working in Iraq "in contravention of South African law." South African law states that all security companies working outside the country must register with the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), headed by Minister of Education Kader Asmal. "So far," according to Tromp, "two companies, Meteoric Tactical Solutions and Grand Lake Trading 46 (Pty) Ltd, have submitted applications to operate in Iraq." Meteoric Tactical Solutions "is providing protection and is also training new Iraqi police and security units," while another company, Erinys, a joint South African-British company which has failed to register with the government, "has received a multimillion-dollar contract to protect Iraq's oil industry," the Cape Times reported.
    Earlier this year, an Erinys employee was killed when a car bomb exploded at a hotel where South Africans have been staying. Raenette Taljaard, a member of the South African Parliament, recently wrote in YaleGlobal Online that this new "booming cottage industry" of private security companies -- which includes companies like Kroll, Armor, Control Risks, Rubicon and Global Risk -- "boast of a whole range of specializations and hail from a range of countries but, together, they provide all the services normally carried out by national military forces, including intelligence, military training, logistics and security. "In addition to becoming an integral part of the machinery of war, they are emerging as cogs in the infrastructure of peace. US-allied military officials and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan are quickly becoming familiar with the 'brand services' provided by companies. "But the battlefield is not merely another arena for business, and the profit motive may distort security strategy decisions. The expansion of services performed by civilian entities raises several concerns: the lack of transparency and oversight common to their operations; the performance of companies motivated by profit, not national foreign policy or security interest; and revolving-door-style nepotism and conflicts of interest. All these are concerns that grow ever more urgent as mega-corporation-style military companies diversify even further." The high salaries and shorter terms of employment that private companies are offering mercenaries could cause the U.S. military and the militaries of other countries to face severe personnel shortages. "If they are going to outsource tasks that were once held by active-duty military and are now using private contractors, those guys [on active duty] are looking and asking, 'Where is the money?'" Gary Jackson told Franklin.
    (c) 2004 Working Assets Online. All rights reserved
  6. by   NurseHardee
    Brandy, I hope all your relatives come back safe, too. But let me slip just one little comment in here....

    What disturbs me about what you have to say, is that you have absolutely no doubts or questions about the morality of all this?! It is strictly a money thing. I have had plenty of similar conversations with nurses with a military background before, and it is this very same moral blindspot that they seem to have that always strikes me so glaringly.

    Let's turn this around some, shall we, Brandy? Ask your relatives and yourself how you guys would all feel, if you were half starved and mainly unemployed,and then highly paid mercenaries from Iraq and Bosnia came over to a base of military foreigners on the outskirts of your city? Their job? To train a group of locals to be your policemen for you!

    Nurse Hardee
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    Quote from BRANDY LPN
    I didnt read the entire article just skimmed it, but thought I would throw in here that my FIL left today to go over there as a contracted civilan making 30,000$ for a 90 day contract. Also, my DH's uncle has been over there for the better part of two years training the police forces in Iraq and Bosnia making 100,000$ per year. My nephew is thinking this may be what he does between HS and college this summer and he will put the 30,000 towards college instead of joining the military and getting a GI bill. And my DH has been mumbling about going also and plans on using the $$ to pay off and remodel our home. LOL ahhh a male free life, just joking, I hope they go in turns or something (or stay here safe and sound).