tagged w/ Blackwater Worldwide
New assessments of U.S. war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan suggest that the total force commitments there are approaching a level comparable to the Vietnam War, if military contractors are included in the tally.
At its peak, the U.S. effort in Vietnam involved more than 500,000 personnel. As of September this year, a total of about 280,000 U.S. military members were deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and neighboring countries.
The Iraq and Afghanistan totals, however, do not include people hired to work for the U.S. military as cooks, drivers and security guards, or in other support roles. Such jobs were largely filled by military personnel in Vietnam, meaning comparisons between the wars can be deceptive. With contractors included, a total of 522,230 personnel are engaged in the overall U.S. war effort from the Middle East to Afghanistan, according to a report released this week by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), using data from September 2009.
The increased use of military contractors, according to the CRS report, "frees up uniformed personnel to perform combat missions." In addition, contractors can be hired and deployed relatively quickly and may provide expertise that is in short supply within the uniformed military services. Plus, it saves money. "Hiring contractors only as needed can be cheaper in the long run than maintaining a permanent in-house capability," the CRS noted.
Among the areas where contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan now provide services are construction, food service and transportation. Mostly gone are the days when soldiers did KP duties (kitchen patrol) in the mess hall or worked as truck drivers. Armed contractors are even performing sensitive security roles.
"They'll be providing perimeter security at a forward-operating base," says Moshe Schwartz, a CRS researcher. "They will [also] be providing convoy security, protecting convoys that are moving throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, and personal security details, where they'll be involved in protecting individuals that are moving from point to point."
During the Vietnam War, there was just 1 outside contractor for about every 8 uniformed U.S. military members. These days, the ratio is about 1 contractor to 1 service member. The 30,000 new U.S. troops headed for Afghanistan will likely be accompanied by 26,000 to 56,000 contractors, according to the CRS report.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121590071New assessments of U.S. war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan suggest that the total... more
Former top executives at Blackwater Worldwide say the U.S. security contractor sent about $1 million to its Iraq office with the intention of paying off officials in the country who were angry about the fatal shootings of 17 civilians by Blackwater employees, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Four former executives described the plan under the condition of anonymity, the newspaper said.
Iraqis had long complained about ground operations by the North Carolina-based company, now known as Xe Corp. Then the shooting by Blackwater guards in Baghdad's Nisoor Square in September 2007 left 17 civilians dead, further strained relations between Baghdad and Washington and led U.S. prosecutors to bring charges against the Blackwater contractors involved.
The State Department has since turned to DynCorp and another private security firm, Triple Canopy, to handle diplomatic protective services in the country. But Xe continues to provide security for diplomats in other nations, most notably in Afghanistan.
The former executives told the Times that the payments were approved by the company's then-president, Gary Jackson. They did not know if he came up with the idea.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/10/blackwater-said-to-approv_n_352980.htmlFormer top executives at Blackwater Worldwide say the U.S. security contractor sent... more
"No word on the fryer yet," says Tyrrell, who’s currently investigating its whereabouts."No word on the fryer yet," says Tyrrell, who’s currently... more
The U.S. State Department has agreed to stop protecting employees of Blackwater and other American contractors in Iraq from prosecution in Iraqi courtsThe U.S. State Department has agreed to stop protecting employees of Blackwater and... more
"OTAY MESA – Amid growing controversy, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said this week that he won't allow Blackwater Worldwide to open its Navy training facility in Otay Mesa until the plan goes through the city's public review process.
The company has leased a 61,600-square-foot warehouse in a business park three blocks from the U.S.-Mexico border near Brown Field. It is installing a shooting range, a simulated Navy ship and classrooms, and hopes to begin operating in June.
On Monday, Sanders told his development services director, Kelly Broughton, that Blackwater's permits, which had been issued by city staff, will require more scrutiny than the staff-level review.
Broughton then sent a letter to Blackwater vice president Brian Bonfiglio stating that “no certificate of occupancy will be issued” until the company's plans are approved by the San Diego City Council and Planning Commission.
Sanders' action was prompted by a legal opinion issued Friday by San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre that found problems with Blackwater's permits.
Immediately after reading Aguirre's opinion Friday, Sanders said he would issue a stop-work order. That order was not issued because the mayor subsequently decided a better move would be to place additional conditions on Blackwater before it could move into the property, said George Biagi, a spokesman for the mayor.
Blackwater spokesman Mike Neil responded yesterday in a letter urging Broughton to reconsider relying on what he called Aguirre's “fatally flawed” legal analysis.
Blackwater obtained its permits in March for interior improvements. The site was zoned for a vocational school, and city staff members decided that Blackwater's training qualified. The permits were obtained through Southwest Law Enforcement and Raven Development Group, affiliates of Blackwater.
Aguirre's opinion was that the City Council must approve the use of firearms and that the Planning Commission must determine whether Blackwater's facility is a vocational school.
Neil said Blackwater's own analysis shows that the company is entitled to occupy the Otay Mesa facility and that a delay could jeopardize Blackwater's long-standing contract with the Navy to train sailors in anti-terrorism tactics. A delay also could damage the company's business reputation and “cause harm to national security.”
In March, Blackwater abandoned a proposal for an 824-acre center in Potrero, citing tests that showed gunfire would exceed local noise standards.
Some of the activists who opposed the Potrero plan now are involved in blocking the Otay Mesa proposal by circulating petitions, holding rallies and speaking in public comments at San Diego City Council meetings. ""OTAY MESA – Amid growing controversy, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said... more