2007 June 16 Saturday
Private Contractors Fight Parallel War In Iraq

A growing portion of the war in Iraq is getting privatized.

BAGHDAD -- Private security companies, funded by billions of dollars in U.S. military and State Department contracts, are fighting insurgents on a widening scale in Iraq, enduring daily attacks, returning fire and taking hundreds of casualties that have been underreported and sometimes concealed, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials and company representatives.

While the military has built up troops in an ongoing campaign to secure Baghdad, the security companies, out of public view, have been engaged in a parallel surge, boosting manpower, adding expensive armor and stepping up evasive action as attacks increase, the officials and company representatives said. One in seven supply convoys protected by private forces has come under attack this year, according to previously unreleased statistics; one security company reported nearly 300 "hostile actions" in the first four months.

The full article is long and provides many interesting details.

In order to hide the scope of the violence the casualty figures for private security services weren't reported at all for years and now they are only partially reported.

After a year of protests by Wayne and logistics director Jack Holly, a retired Marine colonel, the casualty figures were included. In an operational overview updated last month, the logistics directorate reported that 132 security contractors and truck drivers had been killed and 416 wounded since fall 2004. Four security contractors and a truck driver remained missing, and 208 vehicles were destroyed. Only convoys registered with the logistics directorate are counted in the statistics, and the total number of casualties is believed to be higher.

Since many contractors are not Americans (e.g. 500 Kurds who guard a large depot near Baghdad) the cost per soldier is probably much lower in many cases.

One British security company that guards one third of all non-military convoys has lost more people than all but 3 of the countries in the coalition.

The U.S. Labor Department reported that ArmorGroup has lost 26 employees in Iraq, based on insurance claims. Sources close to the company said the figure is nearly 30. Only three countries in the 25-nation coalition -- the United States, Britain and Italy -- have sustained more combat-related deaths.

That is just one of the security companies supplying mercenaries. When you hear about other countries which supposedly make the US presence in Iraq into a big coalition operation keep in mind that the mercenaries combined probably do more security work and fighting than Italy. With the Brits scaling back their Iraq presence the private military outfits probably are doing more than British soldiers as well.

The use of private armies comes at a cost to liberty: If governments estranged from their people can raise the money to hire private armies then the need for willing citizens to serve in militaries ceases to place a restraint on the actions of elites. The elites who want a single world government and the gradual weakening of state sovereignty have got to be looking at the performance of private armies in Iraq and wondering whether they'll serve as key elements of a new world order.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 June 16 11:06 PM  Mideast Iraq Costs

Ned said at June 18, 2007 5:16 AM:

Private (i.e., mercenary) armies have a long and fascinating history, extending back into ancient times. The use of mass conscription armies, pioneered by Napoleon and vigorously pursued in the 20th century, eclipsed the use of mercenaries, but they may be making a comeback. There's nothing inherently wrong with them. Interesting to see where this goes.

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