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Posted by on Mar 21, 2007 in Politics, War | 9 comments

The Military, The Monetary & The Mercenary

iraq_fallujahcontrs032007.jpg

2004: Murdered civilian contractors hang from a bridge in Fallujah

Did you know that there are almost as many civilian contractors (120,000) in Iraq as troops (130,000)? And that 800 have been killed and more than 3,300 hurt doing jobs normally handled by a U.S. military stretched to the breaking point because of the Bush administration’s wretched management of the war?

Most of these civilians work for mega-firms like Halliburton and Wackenhut. They cook meals, do laundry, deliver supplies and work on construction projects and make infrastructure repairs.

A smaller number work for private security companies like Blackwater USA, which touts itself as “The most comprehensive professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping and stability operations company in the world” with a mission “To support security, peace, freedom, and democracy everywhere.”

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  • superdestroyer

    One note about the civilian employees. It looks like a pyramid. At the top are a few hundred U.S. government civil servants who are the contracting officers representatives. Below them are the few thousand U.S. citizen employees of companies like KBR, Bechtel, etc. Below them are the tens of thousands of host and third country nationals who actually do most of the work. They are from all over the world but especially countries like Pakistan or Baghladesh.

  • Superdestroyer:

    Good point, and I should have mentioned that. There has, in fact, been some controversy about the manner in which some third-world workers are treated.

  • superdestroyer

    I think part of the problem is that countries like Pakistan do not have workman’s comp programs. I doubt if KBR could find a company that would write workman’s comp insurance of third country nationals.

    A reason for the use of contractors is that Congress caps the total number of military and the total number of civil servants. To make up the difference, they use contractors. The idea really started in the first gulf war when companies in Saudi Arabia began to support the military with things like trucks. This cause the military to begin to do away with things like cooks, mess sergeants, laundry units, mail units etc. It was just faster and easier to use a contractor.

    In Bosnia the idea expanded when Dyncorp (now CSC) become the main “contengiency” contractor for the Department of Defense. KRB took over that contract from Dyncorp in 2000 (during the Clinton Administration). That is the main reasons why KBR is the 20 billion dollar contractor in SWA.

  • domajot

    I’m so glad this topic has been brought out in the open. I became concerned after wathching a Conressional hearing over a year ago.
    In particular, there was no clear, unified answer about who is responsible for rules of conduct. In fact, those testifying for contractors seemed bewildered by the question. Whether they even coordinate guidelines with the military seemed to depend on and vary among different companies, localties and military officers in the area.

    With each layer of subcontractors, the picture gets fuzzier and more out of control.

    It’s shocking to think that a whole shadow army is operating as a US representative without real supervision or a clear line of responsibility.

  • liberalhawk

    “They cook meals, do laundry, deliver supplies and work on construction projects and make infrastructure repairs”

    why the hell would we go to the expense of recruiting and training US soldiers to cook meals and do laundry?

    This policy seems smart, Im not sure what the problem is.

  • liberalhawk:

    I read somewhere that a big reason was:

    A U.S. military stretched to the breaking point because of the Bush administration’s wretched management of the war.

    Oh, gee! That was in the opening paragraph of my post.

  • Kevin H

    Aye, I generally don’t sign on to the Halliburton conspiracy theories, but it is disconcerting to me that these groups can act with a level of secrecy that does not even allow senior government officials to peer behind the curtain.

    For an interview on Blackwater that might have too many conspiratorial undertones, but certainly has some interesting info, take a listen.

  • Pyst

    Armed mercinaries in a war zone = murdered? Just saw that, and proceeded to scratch my head a bit…and no it isn’t dandruff hehe.

  • Entropy

    Not sure what the point of this post was. Yes, there are a lot of contractors in Iraq. Not all of them make $150k a year. Those that do are worth the money. And the “employees” work on a contractual basis – they are not salaried or hourly workers in many cases. When the contract ends, they often loose their jobs. So while $150k a year may sound like a lot, it’s really not.

    The US military has always used “contractors” though in times past they used to be called auxiliaries.

    And I think the people who continually criticize the no bid contracting system have no clue about what a morass federal contracting is. If the military needs base support next week or next month, it can’t afford to wait a year for the federal contracting system to work through all the paperwork. And anyway, how many companies can do what Halliburton can do? Pretty much just Halliburton depending on the specific support required. They are the Microsoft, Apple and Unix of military support in a combat zone.

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