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WAR: US utilizing private soldiers in Iraq

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posted on Jun, 11 2004 @ 04:45 AM
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The United States military is supplementing its presence in Iraq with over 10,000 private contract soldiers, according to a recent report from Jane's Defence News. These men and women are performing many important tasks, from training the Iraqi army and police forces, to guarding high-ranking officials. It is even reported that civilians operated weapons systems such as the Predator and Global Hawk UAVs during the initial invasion.
 

Bush's secret army - The USA hires contract soldiers to fight in Iraq (Subscription required for full story)


After the US government, who is the biggest single military contributor to the occupation of Iraq? Not Britain - as official figures claim - but private military companies. Over 10,000 men and women perform various jobs under contract to the military in Iraq we have been told. Furthermore, official US government figures indicate that out of a total US$85bn allocated by the USA for military operations in the Middle East this year, over a third will go to private contractors. A reality check: this figure is greater than the defence budgets of most countries.

The use of private soldiers, or mercenaries, has been relatively commonplace throughout history, from the Hessians fighting with Great Britain in the US Revolution, to the notorious French Foreign Legion. So while there is precedent for the use of private soldiers during war, why would the US need to use anyone but it's own soldiers?

In the case of the UAV maintainers and operators, this is understandable - these systems were designed by civilian companies (Northrop Grumman developed the Global Hawk, and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems developed the Predator), and employees of these companies should know these systems the best. Similarly, one would expect for a police force to be trained by police men and women, not by army personnel. It also certainly makes sense for civilian bodyguards to be used to protect the lives of people like Paul Bremer, as regular soldiers are not trained for high-profile client protection.

Of the greatest concern is the claim in the last paragraph of the article (non-subscriber):

A US-based company is providing patrols throughout Iraq and its arsenal ranges from M4 assault rifles to 20mm cannons mounted on its own helicopters.

Regular soldiers would be much more appropriate for mounting operational patrols, not private civilians. While most of them are very likely ex-military, and all are certainly volunteers, the job of the military is to protect private citizens. There should be no need for putting citizens in harm's way, unless the military is seriously crippled in terms of manpower. Perhaps private soldiers are cheaper to field than regular military? If so, are we witnessing a shift in the military force paradigm? Will future battles be fought primarily by private, not public, soldiers? Who sets policy when the enforcement of that policy is placed in private hands?

[edit on 6-11-2004 by Valhall]




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