Private Military Firms and a post 2011 Iraq

 
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Private Military Firms and a post 2011 Iraq

As everyone has seen over the past week, President Obama plans to honor the agreement that will have all US military personnel out of Iraq by the end of the year, but what comes after that?  Although I don’t usually use “Truth-Out” as a source, their article (though heavily nuanced) has a pretty good encapsulation of what we might see: 

Speaking from the White House, President Barack Obama announced today that all US troops in Iraq would be withdrawn by the end of the year. The final drawdown will leave behind thousands of private security contractors and State Department employees….

Between 4,500 and 5,000 private security contractors will remain in Iraq to protect two US consulates and the embassy in Baghdad, according to Denis McDonough, Obama's deputy national security adviser.

The State Department will have 16,000 civilian employees on the ground in Iraq and is preparing for its largest overseas operation since the end of World War II, according to a Washington Post report.

The Washington Post article talks more about the role that the State Department will be playing in a post-Military Iraq, comparing it charitably with the Marshall Plan:

The State Department is racing against an end-of-year deadline to take over Iraq operations from the U.S. military, throwing together buildings and marshaling contractors in its biggest overseas operation since the effort to rebuild Europe after World War II.

Attention in Washington and Baghdad has centered on the number of U.S. troops that could remain in Iraq. But those forces will be dwarfed by an estimated 16,000 civilians under the American ambassador — the size of an Army division.

And what is the scope of what these folks will be doing?  Well, pretty diverse:

The list of responsibilities the State Department will pick up from the military is daunting. It will have to provide security for the roughly 1,750 traditional embassy personnel — diplomats, aid workers, Treasury employees and so on — in a country rocked by daily bombings and assassinations.

To do so, the department is contracting about 5,000 security personnel. They will protect the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad plus two consulates, a pair of support sites at Iraqi airports and three police-training facilities.

The department will also operate its own air service — the 46-aircraft Embassy Air Iraq — and its own hospitals, functions the U.S. military have been performing. About 4,600 contractors, mostly non-American, will provide cooking, cleaning, medical care and other services. Rounding out the civilian presence will be about 4,600 people scattered over 10 or 11 sites, where Iraqis will be instructed on how to use U.S. military equipment their country has purchased.

 

So, are we just taking out military folks, and just replacing them with ex-military folks that have gone on to work for the Private Military Firms?  Yeah, that’s about it.  Remember that the stumbling block for the Obama plan to keep between 3-5,000 folks in Iraq was the immunity issue with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).  Baldly stated, this meant that US Troops who committed an illegal act in the country was immune from being charged by the host country, and would rather be charged by the United States, back here.

However, contractors come with their own set of problems.  For instance, how might a civilian contractor employed by the State Department be eligible for diplomatic immunity?   A great article at CNN lays out some of the intrinsic problems:

For years, thousands of civilian contractors have worked in Iraq operating in a variety of military and support functions. But they have always lacked the same criminal immunity from Iraqi laws that the U.S. military enjoys under existing agreements between the two countries. And for the most part, they operated under the purview of the Defense Department.

While contractors would be subject to the Iraqi criminal justice system as they always have, ambiguities will still exist as to how they would also be held accountable under U.S. law if a situation similar to the 2007 incident involving contractors working for Blackwater (now operating as Xe Services) were to occur.

The issues surrounding their presence in Iraq are likely to become only more complex when U.S. troops do pull out and leave the oversight of the entire contracting force to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

"What the State Department does is diplomacy, and you're going to have the State Department managing contractors that are going to be flying helicopters, driving MRAP's, medevac-ing wounded personnel," Richard Fontaine, and expert on contracting issues with the Center for a New American Security, told CNN.

 

It will be interesting to see how all that shakes out.  Essentially it is accepted that War in Iraq is over, but if you simply switch out contractors for the military, it begs the question if anything has changed.  Despite the obvious up-front cost of contractors, in the long run, the costs are mitigated by the fact that a cook or trigger-puller for a private military firm doesn’t have the extensive train-up costs and retirement benefits that their military brethren have.  Of course, when you pay a guy $200,000 a year (like the DynCorps guys on Karzai’s protective detail were getting) you don’t as much have to look forward to your retirement as you do when you are only making 50k.

Posted in the burner | 36 comments
 
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Comments

Very interesting angle. This is going to continue to be an intersting topic in the world political scene. PMCs are nothing new (see also: East India Company) but it certainly raises questions about the purpose of military assets and where they differ from equivalent commercial assets.

The U.S. could not obtain a status of forces agreement which was acceptable to the current administration so are pulling out our troops. I find this much more acceptable than accepting a status of forces agreement that basically throw the troops on the "mercy" of local courts and citizens with the understanding that the troops could buy their way out of jail by paying off the complainant. In the Philippines, where such an agreement existed, it was not uncommon for a sailor, Marine or soldier to be placed on "legal hold" for months or even years which prevented that person from "going home" until the person filing the legal complaint was satisfied, meaning paid off. Of course I watched as several officers were whisked out of the P.I. immediately for fear they would be placed on legal hold after some action which could have resulted in such by the locals. Needless to say the enlisted personnel were not granted such safety. If the people working for PMCs wish to take such a risk that is their right but to order a military person into such a predicament without benefit of protection is not acceptable.

The U.S. could not obtain a status of forces agreement which was acceptable to the current administration so are pulling out our troops. I find this much more acceptable than accepting a status of forces agreement that basically throw the troops on the "mercy" of local courts and citizens with the understanding that the troops could buy their way out of jail by paying off the complainant. In the Philippines, where such an agreement existed, it was not uncommon for a sailor, Marine or soldier to be placed on "legal hold" for months or even years which prevented that person from "going home" until the person filing the legal complaint was satisfied, meaning paid off. Of course I watched as several officers were whisked out of the P.I. immediately for fear they would be placed on legal hold after some action which could have resulted in such by the locals. Needless to say the enlisted personnel were not granted such safety. If the people working for PMCs wish to take such a risk that is their right but to order a military person into such a predicament without benefit of protection is not acceptable.

Mercenaries are a time-honored tradition and an honorable line of work. We used indigenous mercs in 'Nam and they have existed on the African continent forever, so what's the big deal. These folks are willing to risk their lives for money in times and places where it's not appropriate to send out troops. It has worked for France and Spain in their foreign legions and I see no reason why we should not use every resource at our disposal to further our goals.

I agree with what you say to a point and that is why should my hard earned tax dollars be spent on some boys and girls that want to continue to play soldier. I also strongly object to the use of merc's to guard US Government property especially that 105+ acre clusterf**k that is the new US Embassy in Iraq (talk about a gross abuse of taxpayer dollars)> The protection and, if necessary, the defense the Embassies of the US has always resided with the members of the USMC who can do the job at a much higher level at a far lower cost that some fella whose own loyalty depends on the timely receipt of his paycheck.

Besides, it works in an election year to say we are bringing our troops home when in essence we are just paying more for the same protection with no accountability. This is the Military's job. Don't piss on me and tell me it is raining.

"so what's the big deal."

The big deal RadioResearch is that the President's claims to draw down troops in Iraq is only a half-truth. This article merely points this simple fact out. The article doesn't say there is anything wrong with that necessarily it's merely pointing out what to many wouldn't otherwise be known.

No difference except these mercenaries cost a whole lot more than our military guys. Who does the State Department think it is fooling?

$200,000.00 a year ?
I'll go play soldier money
RIO

I have two close friends that have and still working in several of the war torn area's since 2004. Yes, they are making good money and both are retired Military. One retired as a SGTMG from Delta Force and the other was a retired LTC from an elite groupe. Your must remember they are doing somethings that the Military sector's are not allowed to do. VIP escorts from their country they are woking in to protection's for private business or USA intrest in the area. My Delta Force friend was wounded by US Forces when they got in a cross fire between the Bad Guy's and the Good Guy's when a 20 MM round hit the windshied killing one contracter in the back seat and knocking my friend out from the hit and blowing his left ear drum out. He was airlifted to Germany for futher treatment and he returned after a few months at home. Yes, the need to fill the gap to allow the Military to do their job even though they do not have the same fire support and backup as the Military. No job's in the USA under Obama so why not go for the Gold and make a living after servering 20 plus years in the Military with not much of a retirement check. These two friends were doing the things in their days with the military and was not being paid for it. Know is the time for payback in what you know best.

So, the MAIN reason most Americans that I know including myself want to get out of Iraq is because of the cost. Okay, WHO is paying for the PRIVATE security forces??? This sure seems like a BAIT-AND-SWITCH for the American Tax payers. Sinc this type of secirity force cost more than 50 times the cost of our armed forces the American tax payer with not be paying more and NOT less ! ! ! Make them (
Iraq and Oil Companies) pay for it ! ! ! ! ! ! !

the average military man cost 1 million a year, contractors cost 500 thousand. The private firms usually do pay for the security. these guys are actually bettet trained than the military

Ahhhh, care to guess who WON'T be billed for this? Yup, the same folks who DIDN'T pony up to pay back the cost of the war, but who is floating on lakes of oil: IRAQ! Again, the Obummer shell gain in action: the taxpayer is SCREWED, again!

I think it is great that the troops are coming home. This is long overdue, If contractors take over to protect, secure and fight it is fine by me. Sadly, many average Americans are still stuck on the politics and not interested in getting my Brothers in Arms home. We have been there long enough. This was not a battle that we needed to fight.

Well, this is interesting. The US funding mercenaries. Iraq and Iran have been fighting for hundreds of years and we think we are going to solve the problem with a few mercenaries and a couple of months. Wow are we naive.

The Us government cannot provide a better jobs for them and there's no choice but to carry guns for VIP's. It is nice to have a Military Scrapbook in Iraq to be able show in Details the effect of war of human beings.

This kinda reminds me back in the early 70's... SF to depart Thailand, but all they did was take off their green berets and wear field caps.

This will be temporary, because the void will be filled by Turkey and Iran. There are more mercenaries in America protecting drug shipments right now. Look at the Texas and Mexican borders, and the infiltration of gang violence into the border cities. Who cares about someone making 200,000 in Iraq, while the Iranian and Turkish intel follow their every move. There's more poblems right here in the US, with the outsourcing of jobs and the insourcing of political greed, in an attempt to sell out our nation.

Your absolutely right. Want to make L.A. safe, Hire all the gangs there to work in Iraq. L.A. safe, Iraq no worse for the wear. There will be more non America merc.'s there within 6 months if that is not already the case.

How long will it take before a rescue mission is placed in action (if ever). Keep your finger on the button and not the ballot (button). It will happen where Iraqi civilians are beheaded that worked for the State Department and the embassy building will be an Alamo.

Notakeanoblama is correct. Had he thrown in the religious element and the Kurds & Suni that live there... Just wait, the Alamo will look like a picnic compared to what will happen in Iraq around the embassy. So which is better? Our Military or paid ex Military to do the job that no one else wants. Quality or quantity? I can only hope that ones that are doing the job are supported and not left to Iraq BS. They are Americans or her Allies.

Which would you prefer the Evil you know or the Evil you don't
The only easy day was yesterday.

My six year experience in the AOR has been State Dept security is the second layer to the host nation security detail as a first layer perimeter. The Embassy will have a robust USMC presence for interior perimeter and a US ARMY Quick Reaction Package for emergencies. The Green Zone will be the Ft Apache of 2012-2013. The State Dept will then fold up pull out or ask for increased millitary presence.
This story is not going to end well.

Your ignorance of current operations is overwhelming. Let's just say your "six year experience" has gone stale and leave it at that.

Using "Using State Department" and "Security" in the same sentence is funny. I was mil from 03-08 and now have contracted in both AOs, and DoS wouldn't know security if it was up their butts kicking field goals. As for the robust USMC force mentioned, that is hardly the case. There is less than a platoons worth of MSG there and all they do now is watch cameras and control the magnatron master lock switch. All of the security is either done by third country nationals (gurka) and expats, from entry control points to pedestrian walk ways. Even the emergency package you speak of is consisted of all contractors. The posts are right about some things though, it is cheaper to keep a contractor on ground; even though the pay is great, than a mil type, but that should be common knowledge by now. I say let them have it, they're all grown men. As far as the doomsday scenario happening, where the walls are being overrun and men are dying by the hundreds at the embassy, thats pretty laughable. If you have been following events and TTPs over here, attacking installations is not exactly these fellas strong suit. Regards to the vets.
RLTW
"Haji don't surf"

To all who lay this cycling of US military forces for private contarctors at the feet of the Obama Admin.: we have been doing this from the inception under Bush--those Blackwater security contractors who were ambushed in Fallujah in 2004 whose deaths ended up triggering the massive reduction of Fallujah were working with (Vice President Cheney's) Halliburton. It's been the approach we've taken all along, for better or for worse. I think it was a greater shame that the US military was placed at risk in the revenge operation than the loss of those civillian contractors. Hey, sorry guys, but when you are not a member of the "national army" , the political fallout of your being paid to be put in harm's way are lessened...which is why, as has been noted, the French and Spanish Foreign Legions and the British East India Company Armies existed--For better or for worse, nobody can say that it's unprecedented. And yeah, the politicos can always play the shell game --in this case the "Shell" game...and I'm not saying it's a happy solution, just a practical one, consiering that a lot of those contactors will be paid by the oil companies as well. Does the taxpayer ultimately pay the bills? Undoubtedly, but to me it's all emblematic of the nature of this military adventure we've been on., and Obama can claim, as politicians from Disraeli to Francisco Franco have in the past, that at least we're not "using up our young men" to defend commerce...or empire..

Ummm... as noted in other comments. It seems to me the risk is false accusations and blackmail... in addition to assassination.

how do you goby get a job at the private military firms .54 army 1976/1983 WILLIEALLEN98@YAHOO.COM

Take all your "Death Row" inmates, "Lifers", Rapist, Murders and other low life in prison and form a division of so called recruits and ship them all off to Iraq. Pay them a wage so that a portion of the money they earn goes for restitution to the victims families. It reduces the over crowding in prison, helps reduce the debt that this country is enduring to cover the cost of each inmate, and the private firms have enough employees for their mission.

Why should we pay mercenaries to protect their country? They should hire their own merc's.

MacMurray... did you even read the article or anyone else's comments at all?

ROUND UP ALL THE ILLEGAL'S TRAIN EM UP SEND THEM FOR A 4 YEAR SERVICE AT LEAST TWO BEING ON THE FRONT AND THE ONES THAT LIVE GIVE THEM CITIZENSHIP WE ALREADY GIVE THEM EVERYTHING ELSE FREE LET THEM EARN THE AMERICAN WAY

Early on we were told that oil revenue would would be used to retutrn some of US founds for war,?? so they want us to leave or do not? we keep paying to protect investments? where has the oil money been going? somewhere someone is lining thier pockets and we (the new lower class) are getting shafted. Hey if they want private security so be it. If you jump both feet deep into a pile of S__t you should of known when you go to get out it's going to stink big time!

Just love all the comments from the ever intelligent anonymous.

Yeh, isn't he cute?

They reap the profits while the taxpayer pays the deficit

If information were soeccr, this would be a goooooal!

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.