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IRAQ: MERCENARIES MOUNT OFFENSIVE
Retention of key combat personnel is being eroded by far better money offers from federally hired "private security companies" -- as their executives insist they be called. Once on board and back in the private sector of dangerous military operations in Iraq, these highly trained fighters and specialists can make up to a quarter of a million dollars or more (most of it tax-free) in a year's worth of salary -- certainly better than Army pay.
Why use mercenaries
One obvious reason the Pentagon and Bush administration warriors like the idea of mercenaries who don't draw much attention is that it allows them to pretend we have far fewer war fighters on the ground in Iraq than we really do. If any mode of operation makes it easy to fudge the figures or cloud the costs, the Bush White House and Pentagon like it.
Army chief of staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker said in a Kansas City speech over the weekend there are now 138,000 American troops on the ground in Iraq, and that plans to keep such a force there until 2009, if need be, are already drawn up. That number swells when you consider all the private armed gunmen.
There are a couple of dire conclusions here.
One -- It's going to be quite difficult in the near future to appeal to a sense of duty and patriotism in young Americans, as we have for two centuries when it came to fighting wars, when on the other hand we are using pure monetary gain as the main cudgel in keeping our people on the battlefield and showing up at boot camp.
Two -- This dangerous conundrum is merely a symptom of a larger and more deadly cultural problem: corporate greed. For the Iraq war, when you think about it, is being conducted by the Bush administration on the same crippling and wrongheaded strategy that has become so popular with the big business greedheads who are ruining our economy and the nation for their own personal gain: drastically downsize the workforce to free up billions of untrackable dollars, then outsource the vital production services to like-minded privateers, whether they be American or foreign.
Oh, and while you're at it, close down scores of military bases, shipyards and airfields in the name of economy, promise false savings, and ruin local economies across the nation.
Do American citizens and taxpayers get screwed in the end? Of course.
Do our leaders of government care? Of course not.