Contractor involved in Iraq shooting got job in Kuwait

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by aquajet, Oct 4, 2007.

  1. aquajet macrumors 68020

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    #1
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    Good luck getting the Justice Department to enforce the law. The latest news indicates they condone torture and refuse to investigate and bring to justice the profiteers who have stolen nine billion dollars in Iraq. And now it's beginning to appear as if private American citizens can get away with murder. All of this reminds me of the bumber sticker I saw a few days ago -- "Thank you to the US Military and Pres Bush for our FREEDOM."
     
  2. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #2
    At this point, I'm guessing it doesn't even surprise anyone anymore. There aren't even going to be people coming in here to defend this, because there is no defense. This is such a cluster**** there's not much else to say.
     
  3. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #3
    Too little too late. The damage these mercenaries have done to the "hearts and minds" of Iraqis over the past 4+ years is too late to undo.

    Do you suppose the people of Fallujah have a version of "never forget" in their lexicon?
     
  4. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #4
    You can badmouth "mercenaries" all you want (and there are a great deal of legitimate complaints to make), but the fact of the matter is they are indispensable.

    The army is neither qualified nor intended to fill all the security roles that are simply a necessity with the current situation - and while it's true that firms like Blackwater are very profitable, their employees work in an incredibly hazardous environment.

    None of that excuses the behavior of the individual mentioned in the original post (who should be held responsible under US law IMHO), and I want to add my voice to all those calling for more oversight, regulation and so forth. They may be independent security firms, but what they does reflects on their country of origin as surely as if they were US military.

    But they fill a need that nobody else can, at least for the moment. And while their collective public record is spotty, most security firms and most of their employees are highly professional and have saved lives on numerous occasions.

    Frankly, I blame Congress for their lack of oversight. What the hell was oversight committee doing before? Hoping there would never be any incidents?
     
  5. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #5
    "Indispensable"? How so? "Bush" could have an "army" of any "size" he desired right now.

    The fact that he is too "politically chicken" to take the steps "necessary" to win the "defining struggle of our times" shows all too well the "problem" with your "statement".

    This is simply "outsourcing" so that more of these Republic donors get a "return on their investment". Private "mercenaries" cost more than actual "soldiers". Thats not what I call "smart".

    How dare you "attack" the "integrity" of our "troops" like that? Calling them "unqualified" is a direct "attack" on every person who has ever "served" in "uniform".

    Now that we've "dispensed" with the ritualized "you don't agree with me therefore you must hate the troops" salvo, why do you feel that the "military" is not "qualified" to protect people? Is that not one of the "functions" they perform very well?

    Private "contractors" are only "indispensable" because the "political courage" is not "there" to provide a "fighting force" of sufficient size to wage this "clash of civilizations".

    Bush "explicitly" set up the rules so "these guys" couldn't be touched legally. They are "immune" from prosecution in Iraqi "courts". They are not "covered" by the UCMJ. US civilian "courts" had no "jurisdiction".

    And the "Bush administration" was warned that using "these people" this way would "create" exactly the situations we see now. 5 years of "these guys" flaunting their "unaccountable status" in front of "US military" and "Iraqi civilians" has caused "irreparable harm" to the "mission" of our "troops".

    Think about how pissed off "certain demographics" within our political community get about foreign "diplomats" ignoring parking tickets around the UN. Now "imagine" that instead of ignoring parking tickets, they were getting "drunk" and killing American "citizens" without consequence. You think Iraqis don't feel the same way?
     
  6. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    That is simply not true.

    They are indispensable for for the same reason our troops should not be there now - the US military trains soldiers for combat. Providing security for VIPs is a totally different thing. I'm not sure you understand the difference...combat troops used in this role would pose a danger to themselves and civilians.

    I don't understand what this means.


    I'm not going to argue about the corruption associated with the awarding of contracts for Iraq to politically connected companies, but that doesn't change the fact that a need for paramilitary security forces exists in Iraq. The US army cannot and should not occupy the entire country, and yet US officials (as well as officials from many other nations) do need to travel to various places not within our troops' areas of operation. The US Military is not authorized to send personnel to these places, and no local option exists - would you send people (who are obviously desirable targets) out unprotected?

    Nope. Armies are designed to defeat opposing armies. US soldiers do get some training in "peacekeeping", but the highly individualized missions that security firms undertake falls well outside the normal training of US soldiers. They are simply not trained to evaluate and respond to the types of threats security personnel must deal with. Only certain SWAT. special forces or anti-terror units receive this level of training, which is why most security personnel are retired special forces soldiers.


    Not totally true. The Bush Administration has allowed major abuses to occur, and has done nothing to improve governmental oversight of the situation. But the status of private security companies has not changed that much in several decades - we're simply following a bad precedent. saying that Bush "set up the rules" is pure rubbish. I oppose the Bush Administration myself, but if you're going to attack someone you would do well to make sure your accusations are factual, otherwise you're not much better than he is.

    Iraqis are furious that we've invaded. They're furious we're still there. They blame us for the sectarian violence situation. They are furious that civilians are being killed.

    I ask you three simple questions:

    Do you think that the US military (or indeed any military) is capable of taking over the job of the independent security firms now in Iraq?

    Do you think we need private security firms to protect areas in need of security that exist in areas devoid of coalition military presence?

    I think we all agree that more oversight is required to prevent tragic incidents like the one that triggered this discussion. Do you think we should make private security firms answerable to the Iraqi justice system as it exists now? How about coalition military personnel?
     
  7. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #7
    When a general takes a trip somewhere does he take Blackwater employees, or does he take military troops? What does this tell you about the ability of US troops to provide security?

    The problem isn't that the military isn't skilled in this field, it's that there aren't enough troops. If we had enough troops, we could easily provide security details for whomever we wished.

    Now, this isn't a substitute for those who do not deserve US troops for security. For those people, private security guards are a good option, but those security guards should in no way be seen as working for or speaking for the US.

    I'm referring to a draft. If this truly is a clash of civilizations, or the defining struggle of our times, or any of that crap they spew, why are we not occupying that entire goddamn country? Because TPTB know that's political suicide. IOW, they are too chicken to pony up the resources to do what they claim we MUST do in order not to be forced to pray to Mecca five times a day at the point of a gun.

    Where is the US military not authorized to go within Iraq? You'll have to substantiate that claim, I have not heard anything to that effect -- and indeed I think the 'wingers around here would be raising holy hell if our military was being prevented from doing whatever the hell the Bush administration wants it to do.

    US officials should be protected by people who are sworn to uphold the Constitution. Officials from other nations should provide their own security. If that is in the form of private security, I don't care. They're not acting in my name.

    You are confusing "peacekeeping" or police work, with "providing security". Military forces are quite good at providing secure spaces when they need to.

    I'm not sure what you refer to when you say "the types of threats security personnel must deal with". Being shot at? Being blown up? Sweeping houses and surrounding areas for traps or ambush points? Watching for suspicious behavior?

    Now, are they trained in police work? Riot control? Interrogation? No, that's the job of peacekeepers.

    You really should know what the hell you are talking about before you accuse me of promulgating falsehoods and calling what I say "rubbish". Otherwise you're no better than you claim I am.

    So tell me, O Wise One... when was Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 17 issued? "Several decades" ago, as you claimed? Or under the Bush administration, as I claimed.

    What does that say about someone who attacks a person with false accusations again?

    It's that obvious huh?

    No. But not for any lack of training, only from a lack of personnel.

    Anything of importance to "we" should be protected by people who have sworn allegiance to "us". Not by people whose allegiances are to a few.

    I don't think we should have anything to do with private security firms. We're outsourcing the work that the military used to do itself. And it's not costing us any less for the privilege. It just helps the pro-war crowd promote the myth that we only have 175,000 troops or so in country, when in reality the number is above a quarter million.

    Regardless, my sole point to which you took so much exception is that this oversight is too little, too late. Had we taken these steps from day one, we might not be in this situation. I can guarantee you that Iraqi civilian interaction with private security guards is far less pleasant than their interactions with American troops, on the whole.
     
  8. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #8
    Generals rarely take trips that place them outside the main body of their command. Their security detachments are usually composed of special forces or other specially trained troops - the same kinds of people that make up Blackwater's employee roster.

    I disagree, at least partially - just having more troops doesn't meant anything, as not all troops are created equal. Many soldiers spend most of their time peeling potatoes or driving a truck. I'm not belittling the support role but those "troops" are not trained to provide high-risk security details, and they actually make up a large portion of our armed forces. The problem is that we're in over our head generally, and even with a very large professional army we are forced to rely to some extent on private security firms to meet all the security demands in Iraq.

    There are a lot of gray areas though - for example, US-based multinational companies (don't we all love them) with interests in Iraq require security, and the US military does not (usually) touch this sort of situation. So they make use of firms like Blackwater. Now, you have a US company staffed at least partially by Americans and protected by Americans who happen to all be ex-US military. How on earth (no matter how hard they try) can they not be seen as representing America at least at some level?

    Without a draft we'd never have the necessary numbers. And even if we did, as the numbers of troops rose their individual quality would necessarily decline, leading to more incidents and a general stirring up of the population that could only be stopped by either pulling out altogether or through a violent purge of all those even casually suspected of insurgency - a politically and morally untenable position.

    I don't know exact troop dispositions, but if you look at a map of Iraq and consider the number of US troops there, it will occur to you that we do not have enough troops to station a self-sufficient force in every town and city. Also, it has been policy for some time to withdraw from relatively quiet areas and avoid placing units in heavily populated areas (where the chance of civilian casualties during an ambush is high).

    The most dangerous thing you can do during a war in which a regular army faces a guerilla force is to divide your army and feed it to the guerillas in dribs and drabs. This is a sure way to get people killed - both soldiers and civilians caught in a big firefight. Instead, we keep our regular forces massed, using them for raids on insurgent weapons caches, safehouses or executing large patrols. Smaller, highly-trained units (usually special forces) are trained to operate independent of the main force for recon, intellignece gathering, search and rescue, and VIP security. But these units are much fewer in number than the "regular" troops trained to operate in larger groups and in a more conventional manner.

    But they are acting in your name if they are operating under the auspices of the UN. Private security firms are often employed by US officials because they are the best at what they do, and they are chosen precisely because they do not operate under the same rules of engagement as the military. It's a pragmatic decision.

    Military forces are good at "securing" spaces, yes - by killing or capturing the enemy. But you are confusing conventional warfare with security. Firms like Blackwater are trained to survive and protect their VIPs in situations where no form of immediate backup is available, and the possibility of civilian casualties is high should any kind of firefight develop from an assassination attempt/ambush etc. They are trained to avoid a general firefight if possible, at the same time defending themselves and their VIP as necessary as they extract themselves from the threat.

    It goes without saying that they operate in a climate of extreme risk. In the same situations, regular troops have often panicked, lost unit cohesion and shot at anything that moved, while at the same time exposing themselves to the enemy through uncoordinated retreat.

    Let's not make this personal, because it isn't, at least on my part. If I disagree with you it's for a reason, which may or may not turn out to be right. But there's not need to be sarcastic. I'm not going to continue a discussion if it's going to turn into a flamewar.

    At any rate, CPA order #17 has long precedent, a precedent that goes back to the use of mercenaries during the Revolution in the American Colonies - and much, much longer than that in Europe. Precedents also exist in the status of combatants from neutral nations during WWI, the Spanish Civil War and WWII, to name the most prominent examples. People fight all the time in places where they are not subject to local legal authority. The difference is that today the number of private military firms or security organizations is greater than ever before, and modern news and communication media put them in the public eye.

    But the situation in Iraq is not at all without precedent. The Bush Administration and Congress (including the Dems) have been far too lax in oversight IMHO, but this has been a worldwide issue for some time now - the US is not the only country employing private firms by a long shot. Again, I'm not saying that we have the best possible system, but it is far from unprecedented.

    Again, not all troops are the same. You can't just look at the number of troops in Iraq and assume they are all capable of any given task. See the discussion of this earlier in my post.

    A laudable position, but not pragmatic I'm afraid. Do you own a car? Use plastics? Then you're depending on oil infrastructure (in Iraq and elsewhere) that suffers massive security problems and is NOT defended by the US military, at least not completely. Besides, back in '03 Bush took your logic, twisted it around a bit, and rode it into Iraq in the first place.

    175,000 combat troops. That's an important distinction to make. You can't have an army composed entirely of combat troops - they'd have no means of transportation, communication, command, medical support or equipment supply.

    And like I said before, I would argue that this isn't necessarily a job the "military used to do itself". Private, mercenary or irregular military units working in parallel with regular armies are a very old precedent in warfare.

    I think one reason the Iraqi experience with private security might be less pleasant is that, as I said before, they operate in situations of extreme risk, beyond what the military would generally find acceptable. Even if they execute their missions successfully 99% of the time, when something goes wrong it usually goes very, very wrong in such circumstances, and one can be assured the media will ride it for all it's worth. As usual, you never hear the good news. Apparently it's only newsworthy when somebody screws up.

    As far as oversight goes, I agree it's too little - but never too late. If we can institute reforms that save even one life and prevent one tragic incident it was time well spent. Hopefully this Blackwater incident will cause at least some reform to be implemented.
     
  9. SMM macrumors 65816

    SMM

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    #9
    I will badmouth them and they are not indispensable as they exist today. Private companies, operating within a war-zone, do need to provide for their own security. However, that is not something the American taxpayers should foot the bill for, and those companies come under the jurisdiction of the local government. If they act with ruthless abandon, they are accountable to someone. To suggest (as the WH does) they are not accountable to the the US Congress, and/or the Iraqi Government, is giving them free reign to operate without answerability. We have seen how well this has worked.

    During the Vietnam war, we did not need Blackwater to provide security. American forces were quite capable of accomplishing this mission. They are still capable of doing it. Perhaps, you are not familiar with MP's? Part of their mission is to provide physical security for civilian personnel and provide physical security for various installations. Each branch of the military have these units, although the Navy usually assigns this to the Marines. This has been a very workable situation in past wars. The main difference in this one is, it is being managed by idiots.

    Blackwater is a two-fold way to hose the American citizen. First, it allows Billions of dollars of additional profiteering to go into the pockets of the far-right companies, like Blackwater and Haliburton. Secondly, it disguises the actual troop commitment we currently have in Iraq. It is not the ~160,000 troops, most believe we have. It is getting closer to the 500,000 troops we had at the peak of the Vietnam war! Hello, anyone recognize that fact?
    .
     
  10. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #10
    Ok, let's make it easy. When John McCain went to Baghdad, who did he have for protection?

    We are forced to rely upon them because those in charge have set it up to be that way. If TPTB wanted, they could change that with the stroke of a pen, and a few years to catch up with that mandate.

    Don't try to tell me that it's an inevitibility that private contractors provide these services. Until very recently in historical terms, armies have largely been self-reliant beyond the point of departure.

    Is CocaCola representing you? Does Apple represent you? You specified US officials. I'm saying if they are US government officials, there should be US military protecting them. I don't give a crap who protects US businesspersons any more than I give a crap who protects Britany Spears. She doesn't represent the US, and neither do they.

    Except they could all be charged under the UCMJ if they are all military. With private contractors, they cannot.

    That has absolutely nothing to do with your original point. Let's refresh:
    You are changing the goalposts as we debate, hardly a fair practice. I ask again - just where exactly is the US military NOT AUTHORIZED to go within Iraq? Don't tell me where we aren't, or why it doesn't make sense to station troops too broadly, or in any particular area. That's just a distraction. Where are we not authorized to go?

    So you're saying we don't send patrols made up of small groups of "regular forces" out into the streets of Baghdad every day? We don't expect those patrols to provide security for themselves? What do you think our troops are doing over there? Sitting within walled compounds, waiting for someone to give the "all clear" signal?

    No, they're not. They're acting in the name of the UN, if that's who is employing them. Private security firms are hired by US officials because there aren't enough troops to provide equivalent security. And if US officials are choosing contractors because they like the fact that contractors can shoot first and not bother asking questions later... well that tells you something about those officials.

    Good Lord! What do you think military folks do? When a Marine sniper team heads off, do you think they are not prepared to survive when no form of immediate backup is available? When the Army trains soldiers in urban combat, do you think they don't mention that "the possibility of civilian casualties is high should any kind of firefight develop"?

    Ah yes. Our regular troops aren't good enough, so we need private contractors? Is that really what you're trying to say here? You really don't have much faith in US troops, do you?

    If you didn't want this to get personal, perhaps you shouldn't have baselessly referred to what I said as rubbish, nor insinuated that it was a falsehood. Ok?

    Which is all well and good, but you disputed (in a rude and personal fashion), my claim that Bush's government specifically set up the rules in this situation such that private contractors were specifically exempt from prosecution by Iraq's governement. Precedent notwithstanding, I was correct in my statement; which you then proceeded to ridicule. Then you got up on your high horse and said how much you didn't want this to be personal.

    Of course it's not without precedent. Mercenary armies have been around forever, and have always caused trouble. I did not make any claim that this war was unique, nor that mercenaries have never found a way to make trouble before. All I said was that Bush's people specifically worked to make these private contractors exempt from Iraqi law. That is not in dispute, SFAIK.

    No, they're not the same. I never argued that they were. Harping on this point is a complete red herring.

    I have no idea what you are talking about here. Am I or my car a US official? Does my car represent the US when it is abroad?

    And the part about Bush in '03... that makes no sense at all.

    Combat troops huh? My understanding is that for every combat troop with boots on the ground, there are nine others in supporting roles. By no stretch of the imagination can you say there are 175,000 combat troops in Iraq. You can say that there are 175,000 troops in Iraq, but that is misleading because it doesn't count the number of private contractors under pay by the Dept. of Defense.

    Mercenaries have traditionally been used to augument combat forces, not to provide things like food and fuel. It's an important distinction.

    I'm beginning to think you have no clue about the military. Private contractors go where the risks are too high for the military? I know some military folks who would take great exception to that swipe at their bravery.

    And please, let's not get this "the media only gives us the bad news" whine. Of course they do. That's not a new development, nor is it a surprise. Do the media here report that a cop saved a woman's life? No, they only report when a cop goes nuts and kills 6 people. That's the media. Trotting out that old canard here does not help your argument one bit.

    I mean too late in terms of our Iraq strategy of winning hearts and minds, not in the overarching scheme of things. Of course it's never too late to save victims of the next war.

    But I'm speaking specifically in terms of our relationship with the Iraqi population. For them, a little accountability and perhaps a belated conviction-on-a-lesser-charge punishment will not bring them around to our side.
     
  11. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #11
    A much larger force than almost any individual would be granted, and one which is not sustainable on a regular basis nor sound from a strategic point of view; I'm sure you are aware of the furor his security detail caused in the press when it was discovered how large it was. Are you advocating we detach 100 troops and four helicopters for every security mission being undertaken? You can go on as much as you want about how the administration understates our military presence, but I can assure you it isn't big enough to do that.

    It's not inevitable that contractors are required to provide these services, but these services are precisely what these contractors are designed to provide, and they are in demand all over the world. To claim that the use of contractors is clearly a case of corruption over all other concerns just sounds like conspiracy theory.

    At any rate, the military in Iraq is self-sufficient from a security point of view. The contractors we are discussing almost always operate on behalf of VIPs who can not claim US military escort - it could be an NGO, corporate or even private party.

    I think that's a totally naive viewpoint. You can't seriously think that what American corporations or high-profile individuals say or do doesn't reflect on the nation in many quarters. If a private security guard, who is an American, working for an American firm, kills a civilian in Iraq, do you think his/her relatives will say "killed by private individuals working for a multinational"? I think it will sound more like "murdered by Americans".

    They wouldn't have to be, if we had proper oversight - and I've never asserted that we did. But you presented it as a possible solution, and I refute it - we can't just "get" more troops...you said

    You are saying that they are too chicken to do something that's ludicrous? It's a strawman argument.

    You're attacking me on an issue of semantics, but I don't see any substance; Perhaps you've mistaken my meaning. The US military is stationed around Iraq in bases with defined areas of operation. The units exist within a certain order of battle or disposition. One of the points you keep hammering on is that our military is large enough to meet any potential security needs. I assert that Iraq is too big to occupy the way we are trying to do it, and that you can't just look at the overall numbers and assume we can send this number of soldiers here and that number of soldiers there willy-nilly. I agree that we have the requisite numbers of troops trained for security needed by the US military for internal use, but I disagree that the military can or should take over all or even most of the security needs being dealt with by contractors, as they do not have the resources or mandate for this work. You pointed that out yourself.

    These patrols are not at all the same thing as the kind of missions that contractors execute. They are intended to be higher profile and have recourse to substantial backup forces from the rest of their unit. They are also not designed to provide security to an individual or small group, but are instead designed to discourage or interdict hostile behavior across a large area with regular, daily patrols. Contractors are generally intended to be low-profile, often do not have any direct back-up, and perform a single mission at a time, sometimes in areas with little or no coalition or Iraqi military presence.

    If they are acting under the auspices of the UN, they are acting in your name as a US citizen, since the UN acts as a representative of all member nations, and your representative government participates intimately in the decision-making of that body. We all bear some responsibility for what the UN does, whether you agree with their actions or not.

    Which is it? Are they choosing them because of the lack of alternatives or for some nefarious reason? You can't have it both ways.

    Mentioning the obvious possibility of civilian casualties is a far cry from training troops for the kinds of security missions contractors might undertake. A marine Sniper team does occupy a forward position during conventional combat, but a Marine sniper team consists of two individuals trained for reconnaissance and engaging targets at range from a concealed location - again, a fundamental difference from VIP security details (though a sniper team could form a component of a security detail). You are insinuating that most soldiers could perform what is a highly specialized task - and that is not correct.

    Soldiers are not effective at performing tasks they are not trained for. You must use the correct tool for the job. I have plenty of faith in troops executing a mission they are used to performing and have been prepared for.

    See below...

    I apologize if I offended you with my choice of words, which were not intended as a personal attack. If you make heavy use of sarcasm in your posts you should expect a strong response, though I'd rather not let the discussion stray from the issues to personal one-upmanship and I do not seek to make personal attacks. If you doubt the sincerity of my desire to keep this civil then there's an end to the discussion, since it would be useless to continue.

    I think I made a fairly clear point. To review the sequence of the argument:

    In the earlier post referred to I stated, as I have again several times since, that the US military has the raw numbers troops so that they could in theory cover all necessary security needs, but most of these troops are regular combat or support troops not trained for VIP security. It is not a simple lack of personnel. There's no army on earth that employs the number of security specialists required by the current situation.

    I was attempting to point out that your interests do not lie strictly along lines of official US political/military activities. You are a US citizen and therefore a consumer in our economy, an economy largely dependent on foreign imports. All the petroleum-based products you use come from a market fundamentally effected by events in the middle east, and all of our economic interests in that region become a part of your interests as a result, unless you do not consume any petroleum-based products.

    A significant portion of the oil infrastructure and all corporate personnel related to the petroleum industry in that region are protected by private security firms. Therefore you not only have a stake in those operations, you help bankroll them.

    You said

    Bush thought the same thing, meaning to him that the large oil reserves of Iraq (and the Middle East in general), of great importance to himself and his cronies (and also noting our dependence on oil), were best protected by our own military or other entities answerable to himself. This was the unspoken logic of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    Last time I checked globalsecurity.org or watched C-SPAN I think we had 160,000 combat troops in Iraq, and approximately 175,000 in theater (meaning the Persian Gulf). Those are the numbers I hear from those sources.

    I think private contractors should not be lumped in with combat troops because they do not operate together and their status is very different. It would not be fair to the military to inflate their troop numbers with contractors they have absolutely no jurisdiction over.

    Hardly a swipe at anyone's bravery - I know several veterans and to a man they describe the level of risk for security contractors they've encountered as "insane". One of my best friends, a Marine stationed near Haditha in 2006, personally witnessed an incident where a UK-based security contractor had a detail cut down by an ambush. The Marines were not authorized to enter the city, and could not interfere. One man, badly wounded, escaped the town by stealing a car and made it to the Marines' position. The bodies of the others were never recovered, and a number of civilians were killed in the initial bombing.

    I am not yet convinced your statements about the structure, deployment and role of our military are based on facts, so I suppose we are equal in that regard.

    I mentioned it because your opinions of security contractors seem informed by the media, which portray them in a universally negative light. Successful missions that prevent incidents are something you seem not to believe in, and I think that your opinion is skewed.

    Agreed. That war is lost, at least for the present. Winning them back will require time and much political work, with only judicious use of the military if a solid mandate is present for its use.

    I will not defend this Blackwater incident, which was (if the balance of reports are true) despicable and perpetrated by a few individuals. There is a fine line between private security contracting and for-hire paramilitary units often designated by the unsavory term "mercenaries". I continue to assert that private firms are a fact of life, and that far more than a "necessary evil", they can function as a true asset and are totally necessary in many situations.

    The Bush Administration, by neglecting to oversee these contractors with the proper rigor (in an attempt to streamline their use and - likely in some cases - to reward political allies), has allowed for both the abuse of the system and also abuses by contractors themselves. While some contractors discharge their duty admirably events prove that the situation is currently a very undesirable one.

    I argue against specific contractors and the way the Bush Administration deals with them, but I say that if you claim we can simply dispense with them you are either are wrongly informed or ignoring the realities of the situation.
     
  12. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #12
    @ Lord Blackadder

    Historically, the United States used mercenary units in very limited numbers. In World War II, the only example I remember is the Flying Tiger units in China—who were actually former US military personal flying under a secret mission—and the number of small 'privateer' vessels that helped either ship goods to the British or defending the coast-line from wolfpack subs.
    In Vietnam, contractors were limited to certain specific missions especially the oddball CIA missions including those in Laos.

    On the surface, Blackwater troops make a very good addition to the US operation in Iraq. They can cover VIPs and guard installations leaving combat troops to do their own particular job.
    However, Blackwater—and other combat-ready contractors—does several things which may be helping to lose this war:
    1. Since the Blackwater troops aren't subject to UCMJ, they cannot be prosecuted for any action. At the very least it appears that these troops at above the law, at the very worst it appears that they are and can kill Iraqis without punishment. That this has actually happened on numerous occasions.
    2. Blackwater troops helped to acerbate the situation in Fallujah by failing to follow their own guidelines about crew operations.
    3. Blackwater troops help to cloud the number of combat troops that the Iraq War requires and because they can be used in 'black' operations just makes it all the more likely that they will be used in such a way.
    4. Blackwater helps to draw good personnel away from the US forces, possibly creating shortages that we can't afford.

    Blackwater is fulfilling a vacuum created by Rummy's failed policies. When someone said we needed 500,000 troops, a significant portion of the 150,000 contractors could have stayed home.
     
  13. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    LaLaLand, CA
    #13
    Don't forget that sometimes, those they actually are fighting with can't tell the difference between Blackwater and our actual troops, so when they pull stuff like this, it only makes it harder for us. Especially if the contractors aren't held to any standard or punished for wrong doing. As said, winning hearts and minds my ass.
     

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