NEO-LIBERALS HAVE WORKED TO PRIVATIZE THE MILITARY HARDER THAN BUSH/CHENEY. SO, WHEN YOU LISTEN TO ONE FEEL OUR PAIN AND NOT SHOUTING OUT AGAINST ALL OF THIS POLICY....IT IS PROGRESSIVE PROPAGANDA. THEY ARE NOT DEMOCRATS!
Regarding the WYPR's voice out to Van Hollen on military cuts:
HELLO!!!!!!!! THE PROBLEM IS PRIVATIZATION OF US MILITARY!
'The Clinton administration's "Reinventing Government" initiative promised to downsize it by shifting functions to contractors as a way cut costs and improve efficiency. Later under George Bush, private companies got to compete for 450,000 government jobs, and in 2001, the Pentagon's contracted workforce exceeded civilian DOD employees for the first time'.
First, I listened to Van Hollen remorse about the treatment of Vets and outraged at this austerity that would have vets with 1% COLA raises each year and no access to health care as premiums, co-pays, and deductibles would keep vets from accessing most care. Haven't heard Van Hollen say anything about recovering trillions of dollars in defense industry fraud or the dismantling of all that is public with the Veteran's Administration. Haven't heard a thing from Van Hollen over the suggestion that after freezing wages of teachers and other public sector workers that they too were to get 1% increases, and lastly, Van Hollen said nothing about Social Security monthly payments being gutted of hundreds of dollars because the FED manipulates the inflation numbers to make what is 3-4% inflation look as if it is near zero. So, Van Hollen is surrounded by people getting only 1% pay raises and yet....it is this one that hurts.
All of this is happening of course in the State of Maryland....Van Hollen's neo-liberal state. It is neo-liberals who are allowing massive fraud to go without recovery making the public and a manufactured 'austerity' pay down the debt of tens of trillions stolen from the American people.
There is a greater concern in this conversation that Van Hollen is not telling you....the cuts to the defense industry is not only about gutting veterans benefits just as neo-liberals in Maryland are gutting all public sector wealth....it is about the fact that hundreds of thousands more public military staff are being let go. Remember, I wrote a while ago that today's US military is over 70% private military contractors all of which operate with impunity overseas without government oversight. The further downsizing of public military troops does not tell Americans the over side of the coin. Congress passed laws that allow foreign citizens to serve as US military in the nation's where US global corporations have investments so as to protect them overseas. So, Americans are having fewer and fewer public military troops accountable to them as corporate military contractors protecting corporate interests are taking most of the US military budget and is subsidized by global corporations. WHAT COULD GO WRONG WITH THAT? WELL, YOUR MILITARY NO LONGER WORKS FOR WE THE PEOPLE....IT WORKS FOR CORPORATIONS.
HOW TPP IS THAT????
Of course Van Hollen knows all of this as he comes on media and feels the pain of vets being thrown under the bus by Obama and neo-liberals after Bush and neo-cons forced them to fight in military tour after tour after tour.....all the time knowing they were going to take all of what was due to these vets. MARYLAND IS DOING THIS NOW SO THIS IS NOT A REPUBLICAN ISSUE....IT IS NEO-LIBERAL/NEO-CON. Wouldn't you think the goal of making the US military completely privatized and working for US global corporations would be shouted by democratic pols? NOT IF THEY ARE NEO-LIBERALS RUNNING AS DEMOCRATS!
Below is a great overview of the goal of transferring our public military over to private military contractors. You can see how, with no oversight these military contractors are stealing trillions of dollars in fraud and now have more alliance to the global corporation for which it fights than to a sovereign nation called the US. HOW TPP IS THAT?????? This is a long article so please continue down to the last few articles.
Outsourcing War: The Rise of Private Military Contractors
Contributed by Stephen Lendman on Tue, 2010/01/19 - 6:37pm
Outsourcing War: The Rise of Private Military Contractors (PMCs) - by Stephen Lendman
In The Prince, Machiavelli (May 1469 - June 1527) wrote:
"The mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous, and if anyone supports his state by the arms of mercenaries, he will never stand firm or sure, as they are disunited, ambitious, without discipline, faithless, bold amongst friends, cowardly amongst enemies, they have no fear of God, and keep no faith with men."
In an August 11, 2009 Global Research article titled, "The Real Grand Chessboard and the Profiteers of War," Peter Dale Scott called Private Military Contractors (PMCs) businesses "authorized to commit violence in the name of their employers....predatory bandits (transformed into) uncontrollable subordinates....representing....public power in....remote places."
True enough. Those performing security functions are paramilitaries, hired guns, unprincipled, in it for the money, and might easily switch sides if offered more. Though technically accountable under international and domestic laws where they're assigned, they, in fact, are unregulated, unchecked, free from criminal or civil accountability, and are licensed to kill and get away with it. Political and institutional expediency affords them immunity and impunity to pretty much do as they please and be handsomely paid for it.
So wherever they're deployed, they're menacing and feared with good reason even though many of their member firms belong to associations like the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA) and the British Association of Private and Security Companies (BAPSC). Their conduct codes are mere voluntary guidelines that at worst subject violators to expulsion.
When IPOA wanted Blackwater USA investigated (later Blackwater Worldwide, now Xe - pronounced Zee) for slaughtering 28 Iraqis in Al-Nisour Square in central Baghdad and wounding dozens more on September 16, 2007, the company left the association and set up its own, the Global Peace and Security Operations Institute (GPSOI), with no conduct code besides saying:
"Blackwater desires a safer world though practical application of ideas that create solution making a genuine difference to those in need (by) solving the seemingly impossible problems that threaten global peace and stability."
Blackwater, now Xe, makes them far worse as unchecked hired guns. Wherever deployed, they operate as they wish, take full advantage, and stay unaccountable for their worst crimes, the types that would subject ordinary people to the severest punishments.
In his book "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army," Jeremy Scahill described a:
"shadowy mercenary company (employing) some of the most feared professional killers in the world (accustomed) to operating without worry or legal consequences....largely off the congressional radar. (It has) remarkable power and protection within the US war apparatus" to practice violence with impunity, including cold-blooded murder of non-combatant civilians.
Employing Mercenaries - A Longstanding Practice
Called various names, including mercenaries, soldiers of fortune, dogs of war, and Condottieri for wealthy city states in Renaissance Italy, employing them goes back centuries. In 13th century BC Egypt, Rameses II used thousands of them in battle. Ancient Greeks and Romans also used them. So didn't Alexander the Great, feudal lords in the Middle Ages, popes since 1506, Napoleon, and George Washington against the British in America's war of independence even though by the early 18th century western states enacted laws prohibiting their citizens from bearing arms for other nations. Although the practice continued sporadically, until more recently, private armies fell out of favor.
Defining a Mercenary
Article 47 in the 1977 Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions provides the most widely, though not universally, accepted definition, based on six criteria, all of which must be met.
"A mercenary is any person who:
(a) is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;
(b) does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities:
(c) is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of the Party;
(d) is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;
(e) is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and
(f) has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces."
This Article's Focus and Some Background
This article covers the modern era of their resurgence, specifically America's use of private military contractors (PMCs) during the post-Cold War period. However, the roots of today's practice began in 1941 in the UK under Captain David Stirling's Special Air Service (SAS), hired to fight the Nazis in small hard-hitting groups. In 1967, he then founded the 20th century's first private military company, WatchGuard International.
Others followed, especially during the 1980s Reagan-Thatcher era when privatizing government services began in earnest. As vice-president, GHW Bush applied it to intelligence, and then defense secretary Dick Cheney hired Brown and Root Services (now KBR, Inc., a former Halliburton subsidiary) to devise how to integrate private companies effectively into warfare.
The Current Proliferation of PMCs
According to PW Singer, author of "Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry:"
Included are companies offering "the functions of warfare....spanning a wide range of activities. They perform everything from tactical combat to consulting (to) mundane logistics....The result is that (the industry) now offers every function that was once limited to state militaries."
Warfare, in part, has been privatized so that "any actor in the global system can access these skills and functions simply by writing a check."
In the 1991 Gulf War, the Pentagon employed one PMC operative per 50 troops. For the 1999 Yugoslavia conflict, it was one for every 10, and by the 2003 Iraq War, PMCs comprised the second largest force after the US military.
They've also been used in numerous civil wars globally in nations like Angola, Sierra Leone, the Balkans throughout the 1990s, Papua New Guinea, and elsewhere. From 1990 - 2000, they participated in 80 conflicts, compared to 15 from 1950 - 1989.
Singer cites three reasons why, combined into "one dynamic:"
1. Supply and demand
Since the Cold War ended in 1991, the US military downsized to about two-thirds its former size, a process Dick Cheney, as defense secretary, called BRAC - Base Realignment and Closure, followed by privatizing military functions. But given America's permanent war agenda, the Pentagon needed help, especially because of the proliferation of small arms, over 550 million globally or about one for every 12 human beings, and their increased use in local conflicts.
2. Changes in the conduct of war
Earlier distinctions between soldiers and civilians are breaking down, the result of low-intensity conflicts against drug cartels, warlords and persons or groups aggressor nations call "terrorists," the same ones they call "freedom fighters" when on their side for imperial purposes.
High-intensity warfare also changed, so sailors aboard guided missile ships, for example, serve along side weapons and technology company personal, needed for their specialized expertise.
In addition, the combination of powerful weapons and sophisticated information technology let the Pentagon topple Saddam with one-fourth the number of forces for the Gulf War. This strategy can be just as effective in other conventional warfare theaters, depending on how formidable the adversary, but it doesn't work in guerrilla wars - the dilemma America faces in Afghanistan, earlier in Iraq and still now as violence there is increasing.
3. The "privatization revolution"
Singer calls it a "change in mentality, a change in political thinking, (a) new ideology that" whatever governments can do, business can do better so let it. The transformation is pervasive in public services, including more spent on private police than actual ones in America. And the phenomenon is global. In China, for example, the private security industry is one of its fastest growing.
By privatizing the military, America pierced the last frontier to let private mercenaries serve in place of conventional forces. Singer defines three types of companies:
1. "Military provider firms"
Whatever their functions, they're used tactically as combatants with weapons performing services formerly done exclusively by conventional or special forces.
2. Military consulting companies
They train and advise, much the way management consulting firms operate for business. They also provide personal security and bodyguard services.
3. Military support firms
They perform non-lethal services. They're "supply-chain management firms....tak(ing) care of the back-end, (including) logistics and technology assistance...." They also supply intelligence and analysis, ordnance disposal, weapons maintenance and other non-combat functions.
Overall, the industry is huge and growing, grossing over $100 billion annually worldwide, operating in over 50 countries. By far, the Pentagon is their biggest client, and in the decade leading up to the Iraq War, it contracted with over 3,000 PMCs, and now many more spending increasingly larger amounts.
A single company, Halliburton and its divisions grossed between $13 - $16 billion from the Iraq War, an amount 2.5 times America's cost for the entire Gulf War. The company profits handsomely because of America's commitment to privatized militarization. More about it below.
Since 2003, Iraq alone represents the "single largest commitment of US military forces in a generation (and) by far the largest marketplace for the private military industry ever."
In 2005, 80 PMCs operated there with over 20,000 personnel. Today, in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, it's grown exponentially, according to US Department of Defense figures - nearly 250,000 as of Q 3, 2009, mostly in Iraq but rising in Afghanistan to support more troops.
Not included are PMCs working for the State Department, 16 US intelligence agencies, Homeland Security, other branches and foreign governments, commercial businesses, and individuals, so the true total is much higher. In addition, as Iraq troops are drawn down, PMCs will replace them, and in Afghanistan, they already exceed America's military force.
According to a September 21, 2009 Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report, as of June 2009, PMCs in Afghanistan numbered 73,968, and a later year end 2009 US Central Command figure is over 104,000 and rising. The expense is enormous and growing with CRS reporting that supporting each soldier costs $1 million annually, in large part because of rampant waste, fraud and abuse, unmonitored and unchecked.
With America heading for 100,000 troops on the ground and more likely coming, $100 billion will be spent annually supporting them, then more billions as new forces arrive, and the Iraq amount is even greater - much, or perhaps most, from supplemental funding for both theaters on top of America's largest ever military budget at a time the country has no enemies except for ones it makes by invading and occupying other countries and waging global proxy wars.
Efforts to do so have been fruitless despite the General Assembly trying in 1989 through the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries. It took over a decade to get the required 22 signatories, but neither
America or other major PMC users were included.
An earlier effort also failed when in 1987 a special UN rapporteur was established to examine "the use of mercenaries as a means of impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination." It was largely ignored, and a 2005 effort won't likely fare better under a working group for the same purpose. Nor will industry associations functioning more for show than a commitment to end bad practices that will always go on as long as rogue firms like Xe and others like it are employed.
Singer noted how PMCs have been involved in some of the most controversial aspects of war - from over-billing to ritual slaughter of unarmed civilians. Yet none of them have ever been prosecuted, convicted or imprisoned, an issue Singer cites in listing five "dilemmas:"
1. Contractual ones - hiring PMCs for their skills, to save money, or do jobs nations prefer to avoid. Yet unaccountability injects a "worrisome layer of uncertainty" into military operations, opening the door to unchecked abuses.
2. PMCs constitute an unregulated global business operating for profit, not peace and security when skilled killers are hired - former Green Berets, Delta Force soldiers, Navy Seals, and foreign ones like the British SAS.
3. Conducting public policy as serious as war through private means is worrisome, including covert operations to avoid official oversight and legislative constraints.
4. Moving private companies into the military sphere creates disturbing gray areas. PMCs can't be court martialed, and international law doesn't cover them. Further, operating in war zones makes them even less accountable as who can prove their actions weren't in self-defense, even against unarmed civilians.
5. Increasing PMC use also "raises some deep questions about the military itself." How do you retain the most talented combat troops when they can sell their skills for far greater pay? Also consider the uniqueness of the military.
"It is the only profession that has its own court system, its own laws; the only profession that has its own grocery stores and separate bases;" its own pensions and other benefits for those staying around long enough to qualify. So what happens when it's transformed into a business with profit the prime motive? Simple - more wars, greater profits. The same idea as privatizing prisons - more prisoners, fatter bottom line.
Another consideration is also worrisome. Given America's imperial ambitions, global dominance, permanent war agenda, and virtual disregard for the law, public distrust is growing for politicians who never earned it in the first place.
Given the Pentagon's transformation since 1991, the number of services it privatized, and America's permanent war agenda, what will conditions be in another decade or a few years? How much more prominent will PMCs be? How much more insecurity will result? How soon will it be before hordes of them are deployed throughout America as enforcers in civilian communities outside of conflict zones, with as much unaccountability here as abroad? What will the nation be like if it happens?
In his book, "Halliburton's Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War," Pratap Chatterjee describes a company tainted by bribes, kickbacks, inefficiency, corruption and fraud, exploitation of workers as near-slaves, and other serious offenses, yet operates with impunity and sticks taxpayers with many billions of dollars in charges.
Before spun off in 2007, KBR won the bulk of Iraq contracts as part of Halliburton, many of them no-bid. Earlier from 2002 to March 2003, it was involved with the Pentagon in planning the war and its role once it ended - the one co-founder George Brown claimed Lyndon Johnson described in the 1960s as a "joint venture (in which) I'm going to take care of politics and you're going to take care of the business side of it." Fast forward, and nothing's changed.
In a February 19, 2009 article, titled "Inheriting Halliburton's Army," Chatterjee writes how their employees are in "every nook and cranny of US bases in Iraq and Afghanistan," yet stateside operations yield additional billions in revenue. He describes their "shoddy electrical work, unchlorinated shower water, overcharges for trucks sitting idle in the desert, deaths of KRB (its former subsidiary) employees and affiliated soldiers in Iraq, alleged million-dollar bribes accepted by KBR managers, and billions of dollars in missing receipts, among the slew of other complaints" that got wide publicity since the beginning of the Iraq war.
He explains that since it got a 2001 contract to supply US forces in combat theaters, KBR grossed over $25 billion. It then got new contracts under Obama, leading Chatterjee to ask: "How did the US military become this dependent on one giant company?"
Tracing its history since the 1960s, he noted its connection to Lyndon Johnson, its profiteering from the Vietnam War, again under Ronald Reagan, then more under GHW Bush and Dick Cheney, his defense secretary who accelerated the Pentagon's privatization agenda, then headed the company as CEO. Bill Clinton continued it, hiring KBR in 1994 to build bases in Bosnia, later Kosovo, and run their daily operations.
Then under Bush/Cheney, outsourcing accelerated further, so today there's one KBR worker for every three US soldiers in Iraq. They build base infrastructure and maintain them by handling all their duties - feeding soldiers, doing their laundry, performing maintenance, and virtually all other non-combat functions.
Despite its abusive practices, KBR is such an integral part of the Pentagon that Chatterjee asks "could Obama dismiss (its) army, even if he wanted to?" Not at all so expect KRB's $150 billion 10-year LOGCAP contract (the Army's Logistics Augmentation Program - beginning September 20, 2008) to continue, and KBR's army to remain on the march reaping billions from the public treasury as the nation's largest PMC war profiteer.
PMCs Under Obama
In February 2007, Senator Obama introduced the Transparency and Accountability in Military Security Contracting Act as an amendment to the 2008 Defense Authorization Act, requiring federal agencies to report to Congress on the numbers of security contractors employed, killed, wounded, and disciplinary actions taken against them. Referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee, it never passed.
Then in February 2009 as president, Obama introduced reforms to reduce PMC spending and shift outsourced work back to government. He also promised to improve the quality of acquisition workers - government employees involved in supervising and auditing billions of dollars spent monthly on contracts. Even so, PMCs are fully integrated into national security and other government functions, as evidenced by the massive numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan alone.
Earlier, PMCs were at times used in lieu of US forces. As mentioned above, they helped General Washington win America's war of independence. Later the war of 1812, and in WW II the Flying Tigers fought the Japanese for China's Chiang Kai-Shek. In the 1960s and early 1970s, they were prominent nation builders in South Vietnam. From 1947 through 1976, the CIA's Southern Air Transport performed paramilitary services, including delivering weapons to the Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s.
In 1985, the Army's LOGCAP was a precursor for more extensive civilian contractor use in wartime and for other purposes. It's involved in pre-planned logistics and engineering or construction contracts, including vehicle maintenance, warehousing, base building abroad, and a range of non-combat functions on them.
The Clinton administration's "Reinventing Government" initiative promised to downsize it by shifting functions to contractors as a way cut costs and improve efficiency. Later under George Bush, private companies got to compete for 450,000 government jobs, and in 2001, the Pentagon's contracted workforce exceeded civilian DOD employees for the first time.
In 2002, under Army Secretary Thomas White, the military planned to increase its long-term reliance on contracted workers, a plan known as the "Third Wave" after two earlier ones. Its purposes were to free up military manpower for the global war on terror, get non-core products and services from private sources so Army leaders could focus on their core competencies, and support Bush's Management Agenda.
In April 2003, the initiative stalled when White resigned, among other reasons for a lack of basic information required to effectively manage a growing PMC force, then estimated to be between 124,000 - 605,000 workers. Today, more precise figures are known and for what functions, but a lack of transparency and oversight makes it impossible for the public, Congress, the administration, or others in government to assess them with regard to cost, effectiveness, their services, whether government or business should perform them, and their effect on the nation for good or ill, with strong evidence of the latter.
The 2008 Montreux Document is an agreement obligating signatories with regard to their PMCs in war zones. Seventeen nations ratified it, including America, Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and China, pledging to promote responsible PMC conduct in armed conflicts. Divided in two sections, its first one covers international laws binding on private contractors, explains states can't circumvent their obligations by using them, requires they take appropriate measures to prevent violations, address them responsibly when they do, and take effective steps to prevent future occurrences.
The second section lists 70 practices for helping countries fulfill their legal obligations, including not using PMCs for activities requiring force, implementing effective control, using surveillance and sanctions in case of breaches, and regulating and licensing contracted companies, that in turn, must train their personnel to observe the rules of law.
Given the obvious conflicts of interest, self-regulation won't work. Unchecked, combatant PMCs are accountable only to themselves, operating secretly outside the law - for the Pentagon as an imperial tool.
Given Obama's permanent war agenda and how entrenched PMCs have become, expect little constructive change, save for tinkering around the edges and regular rhetorical promises, followed by new fronts in the war on terror and even greater numbers civilians and soldiers for them.
Then add hundreds more billions diverted from vital homeland needs to enrich thousands of war profiteers, addicted to sure-fire blood money, and expecting plenty more ahead. They'll get it unless enough public outrage demands an end to this madness before it's too late to matter.
Some Final Comments
On January 13 (on antiwar.com), Jeremy Scahill reported that Representative Jan Schakowsky (D. IL and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence member):
"is preparing to introduce legislation (Stop Outsourcing Security Act - SOS) aimed at ending the US government's relationship with Blackwater and other armed contracting companies."
Originally introduced in 2007 but not passed, Schakowsky says:
"The legislation would prohibit the use of private contractors for military, security, law enforcement, intelligence, and armed rescue functions unless the President tells Congress why the military is unable to perform those functions. It would also increase transparency over any remaining security contracts by increasing reporting requirements and giving Congress access to details about large contracts."
Meanwhile on January 12, 2010, a coalition of groups opposed to Blackwater called on Congress to investigate why criminal charges against the company were dismissed on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct. They also want to "pull the funding on war profiteers like Blackwater (and) stop them for good."
It's a tall order given how entrenched they are and expanding. In Haiti, for example, reports say Blackwater is there providing security, an indication perhaps of more contingents to follow, from them and other armed contractors, "authorized to commit violence in the name of their employers."
Stephen Lendman is Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we see both Clinton and now Obama are working as hard as they can to hand almost all of the US military off to private military contractors. The 'austerity' cuts neo-liberals and neo-cons are using to pay for the massive corporate fraud of trillions of dollars are a continuation of that privatization. More and more cuts of public troops and what would have been their benefits as more and more private contractor troops are hired overseas. Your military tax dollars are going to a defense industry budget to pay for the US hiring of African citizens to protect US global corporate interests in Africa. This isn't just the fight against terrorists....this is the protection of oil fields, banking systems, industrial factories. This army works for corporations and not me and you.
I THINK MOST AMERICANS FIND THIS OUTRAGEOUS AND UNACCEPTABLE YET YOU DO NOT HEAR ONE PEEP FROM NEO-LIBERALS! They simply have to pretend to feel our pain as they work to see this all implemented!
This article from 2005 does not include Obama as the one above does....but it does show that Clinton era is when this process grew. It is important to know that as Secretary of State, Hillary moved Bill's military privatization forward with Obama.
DON'T YOU THINK VAN HOLLEN AND MARYLAND POLS WOULD BE SHOUTING OUT ABOUT THIS AS THE PROBLEM!
What do private military contractors do?
Frontline PBS 2005
Doug Brooks, the president of the International Peace Operations Association, an association of private contractors, describes three categories of companies: logistical support firms, private security firms, and private military companies. The private military companies provide combat forces for hire. These types of companies, such as the now-dissolved South African company Executive Outcomes, are rare and none of them are currently operating in Iraq.
+ When did the relationship between private contractors and the military take off?
"You're talking about an industry that really didn't exist until the start of the 1990s," says Peter Singer, the author of Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry. "And since then, it's grown in size, in monetary terms to about $100 billion worth of revenue a year. In geographic terms, it operates in over 50 different countries. It's operated on every single continent but Antarctica."
Singer says three trends coalesced during this time that drove the industry's growth: the end of the Cold War, which led to military downsizing not only in the U.S., but around the world; a global increase in smaller conflicts; and the ideological shift towards privatizing government functions in general. The Pentagon's use of private contractors has increased dramatically between the two Gulf wars: During the first Gulf War in 1991, there were 50 military personnel for every one contractor; in the 2003 conflict the ratio was 10 to 1.
+ How many private security firms are working in Iraq?
No one knows the exact number of private security contractors that rushed into Iraq following the war. In April 2004, in response to a request from Congress, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) compiled a list of 60 different firms employing a total of 20,000 personnel (including U.S. citizens, Iraqis and third-country nationals).
Before handing over power to the newly elected Iraqi government in January 2005, the CPA established "Memorandum 17," a notice that called for all private security companies operating in Iraq to register by June 1 and established an oversight committee led by Iraq's Ministry of the Interior.
According to Lawrence Peter, a former CPA official and the director of the Private Security Company Association of Iraq, as of June 21, 2005, 37 security contractors have registered with the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior. One is awaiting approval, and at least 18 additional security companies are in the process of registering.
+ Who is employed by the private contracting firms in Iraq?
Here is a breakdown of the numbers:
50,000 support/logistics contractors
These are civilians hired by KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary which holds the military's logistical support contract. They work as weathermen, cooks, carpenters, mechanics, etc. Most are from Third World countries and the majority are Filipinos.
20,000 non-Iraqi security contractors
Of these, 5-6,000 are British, American, South African, Russian or European; another 12,000 are from Third World countries, such as Fiji, Colombia, Sri Lanka, and India.
15,000 Iraqi security contractors
Most of these were hired mainly by the British security firm Erinys to guard Iraq's oil infrastructure.
40-70,000 reconstruction contractors
Hired to rebuild Iraq. Some are Iraqis, but they're mostly from the U.S. and dozens of other countries and employed by companies such as General Electric, Bechtel, Parsons, KBR, Fluor and Perini.
+ How much do private contractors get paid?
Money is a prime motivator for those working in Iraq. Guards for private security firms can typically make between $400 and $600 per day. Guards employed by Blackwater, a high-profile American company that guarded Ambassador Paul Bremer, the former head of the CPA, are paid up to $1000 per day.
+ How many contractors have been killed in Iraq?
The exact number is not known; not all companies report casualty numbers. In June 2005, when the film originally aired, Erinys said it had lost three employees on its contract with the Army Corps of Engineers, and an additional 16 employees who were killed guarding Iraqi oil infrastructure. KBR, which employs over 50,000 in the region, told FRONTLINE that 65 of its employees, including 16 truckers, have been killed since the beginning of the war.
Update: In November 2005, Knight Ridder obtained insurance-claim statistics from the Department of Labor and reported 428 civilian contractor deaths and 3,963 other casualties. However, the story quoted two companies -- Halliburton and L-3 Communications -- as saying their casualty figures were higher than those reported by the Labor Department for their companies.
+ Given the continuing violence and dangers facing contractors, are the companies having problems hiring?
So far, no. The private companies can increase salaries to correspond with need, and as yet, there haven't been recruitment problems.
+ What are some advantages and disadvantages of hiring private contractors?
The number one reason cited for using private contractors in Iraq is the same reason driving arguments for privatizing other government functions: Outsourcing saves taxpayer money because private firms in a competitive market can do the job more efficiently and at a lower cost. Critics question how money is saved if firms must pay employees higher wages to attract them to work in Iraq, but defenders point out that a) firms can hire and fire based on a surge capacity; b) that employees from non-Western countries can be paid lower wages; and c) that companies don't have to pay all the long-term benefits that are required of the military.
Critics also argue that financial efficiencies are lost when companies subcontract with other companies, as is typical of the private contractors operating in Iraq.
No definitive studies on the cost-effectiveness of military outsourcing have been done yet.
+ Read more on the debate over cost-effectiveness.
One of the major disadvantages of using private contractors in Iraq is that they operate outside of the military chain of command, with two consequences. First, if a situation becomes too dangerous, individuals can halt operations or break their contracts and leave. For example, after an incident on April 9, 2004, in which a 19-truck KBR convoy was ambushed -- six drivers were killed, one was taken hostage, and one is still missing -- FRONTLINE was told that scores of KBR truckers refused to drive until security improved and hundreds of contractors left the country. For weeks, the military was left with dwindling stores of ammunition, fuel and water.
+ Read this July 2005 GAO report on the continuing challenges in getting capable private security contractors, coordinating their working relationship with the U.S. military and tracking the costs of these forces. (pdf file)
Another consequence of contractors being outside the military command structure is the lack of coordination on the battlefield. As Steven Schooner, an expert in government contracting, explains, "[Contractors and the military] don't communicate in the same networks. They don't get the same intelligence information. And so, when things begin to develop quickly, there's an awful lot of people around with weapons who have important tactical responsibilities who don't have the same information and aren't getting the same messages from the tactical leadership." This problem was evident on March 31, 2004, when four contractors working for the private security firm Blackwater were ambushed and killed while escorting a convoy in Fallujah. Marine Col. John Toolan, who at the time was in command of the region including Fallujah, told FRONTLINE that not only did he not know the Blackwater contractors were in the area, but that their deaths forced him to set aside his initial strategy for quelling the insurgency in the area when he was forced to invade the city and find the killers.
In order to remedy the coordination problem, the CPA contracted with another private security firm, the British company Aegis, to coordinate and track all the security teams operating in Iraq through a Reconstruction Operations Center (ROC). But participation is voluntary and because they want to maintain their competitive advantage in the marketplace, some companies are loathe to share information with another company. A July 2005 report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the ROC had improved coordination between the military and the security contractors, but it also suggested two problems remain. First, there were still incidents when security personnel approached military convoys or checkpoints, and second, upon deployment to Iraq, many military personnel were not aware of security personnel operating within the country.
+ Is the use of private contractors leading to a "brain drain" from the U.S. military?
This is an argument of some critics, who say private security firms are poaching highly trained Special Forces soldiers with salaries that are two to four times what they can earn in the military. According to a report from the British-American Security Information Council, "Reportedly, exhausted American and British Special Forces personnel are resigning in record numbers and taking highly-paid jobs as private security guards in Iraq and Afghanistan." The Pentagon has responded by offering cash bonuses of up to $150,000 for Special Forces to reenlist.
Brooks of the IPOA acknowledges that the industry's growth has created a new market for Special Forces soldiers. However, he argues that the temporary nature of the security industry is unlikely to draw those who didn't already want to leave the military. "How long is Baghdad going to last? How long is there going to be demand for these services? It's not a career-ending decision," he says. "You have to think if you're about ready to leave Special Forces it makes sense. If you're in it for a career, then there's no point in leaving just to do one or two years of personal security work.
+ What is the legal status of private contractors in Iraq? Are they accountable under U.S. or Iraqi law?
One of the real problems in regulating all private contractors is their somewhat ambiguous legal status. As Singer wrote in a March 2005 article in Foreign Affairs, "Although private military firms and their employees are now integral parts of many military operations, they tend to fall through the cracks of current legal codes, which sharply distinguish civilians from soldiers. Contractors are not quite civilians, given that they often carry and use weapons, interrogate prisoners, load bombs and fulfill other critical military roles. Yet they are not quite soldiers, either."
In June 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority handed down Memorandum 17, which grants foreign contractors immunity from Iraqi law while working within the boundaries of their contracted tasks. The memo placed private contractors under the legal authority of the workers' home countries. In June 2004, one day before the CPA transferred sovereignty in Iraq to the interim Iraqi government, Paul Bremer signed a revised version of Memorandum 17, which stipulates that the rule remain in effect until multinational forces are withdrawn from Iraq or until it is amended by Iraqi lawmakers.
U.S. government contracts worth $50 million or more with private companies must be reported to Congress, and the companies must comply with the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which regulates the import and export of arms material and services. But, for example, of the 60 known private security companies operating in Iraq, only eight worked directly for the CPA; the rest are subcontracted to provide protection for the primary contractors or even other subcontractors. When companies are not contracted directly to the government, they are accountable only to the contractor whom employs them.
Companies that contract with the Pentagon are required to follow a set of rules known as the Defense Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS). DFARS governs all aspects of contract enforcement, from accounting procedures to use of government property, and contains a section on "Contractor Standards of Conduct" covering proper behavior and a hotline for reporting improper conduct. DFARS was amended on June 6, 2005, to hold contractors working to provide support to U.S. forces deployed overseas accountable under U.S. and international laws as well as those of the host country. It also permits contractors to carry weapons at the discretion of the military commander.
American private contractors are also subject to the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA), which allows for the prosecution of civilians employed by or accompanying the military while overseas and was signed by President Bill Clinton in October 2000. MEJA has been criticized for loopholes, which came to attention after reports surfaced of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. Although private contractors stand accused in a series of lawsuits filed in U.S. courts by former detainees, the companies might not be liable under MEJA because the law deals only with contractors employed by the Department of Defense. As of June 2005, the only person to be prosecuted under MEJA was Latasha Lorraine Arnt, who in February 2005 was sentenced to eight years in prison for killing her husband, a military policeman stationed at a U.S. Air Force Base in Turkey.
+ Have any contractors been prosecuted for misbehavior in Iraq?
No, according to Peter Singer. However, there have been civil lawsuits filed against some of the PMCs; for example, the families of the four Blackwater guards killed in Fallujah are suing for wrongful death.
+ What about allegations against Halliburton/KBR?
KBR has inspired a cottage industry of critics charging undue political influence -- as its parent company Halliburton was formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney -- and financial fraud. The company has been the subject of numerous audits: One by the U.S. Government Accountability Office of dining hall costs for one four-month period alleges KBR charged $88 million for meals it never served. And Pentagon audits allege that KBR overcharged $212 million for fuel and billed the government $1.8 billion in other unsupported costs. The Pentagon terminated the fuel contract. As for meals, KBR says workers prepared food that just wasn't consumed. And the unsupported $1.8 billion, they say, is a paperwork issue that's being resolved.
But for all the controversy, there are many in Wall Street and in Washington who believe KBR is making only a slim profit, and that they've simply been overwhelmed by the military's needs and failed to adequately track costs.
You can see why neo-liberals paint Kirsten Gillibrand as the next Hillary.....SHE IS AS NEO-LIBERAL AS IT GETS. THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL PARTY/NEO-LIBERALS MEDIA LOVES GILLIBRAND!
Remember, it is Harry Reid as Senate leader who appoints the heads of these committees. You do not have a raging privatization without these people.
United States Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel
Kirsten Gillibrand, New York, Chairwoman
Kay Hagan, North Carolina
Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut
Mazie Hirono, Hawaii
Tim Kaine, Virginia
Angus King, Maine
Lindsey Graham, South Carolina, Ranking Member
Saxby Chambliss, Georgia
Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire
Roy Blunt, Missouri
Mike Lee, Utah
Carl Levin, Michigan
SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE.
Carl Levin, Michigan, Chairman
Jack Reed, Rhode Island
Bill Nelson, Florida
Claire McCaskill, Missouri
Mark Udall, Colorado
Kay Hagan, North Carolina
Joe Manchin, West Virginia
Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire
Kirsten Gillibrand, New York
Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut
Joe Donnelly, Indiana
Mazie Hirono, Hawaii
Tim Kaine, Virginia
Angus King, Maine
If you know Pelosi and Hoyer are neo-liberals and the DCCC is controlled by neo-liberals .....you know Van Hollen is right there. Now, if you were on the House Budget Committee and Deficit REduction Committee the first thing you would do as a democrat...
SHOUT LOUDLY AND STRONGLY THAT ALL OF THE NATIONAL DEBT WAS CREATED BY MASSIVE CORPORATE FRAUD AND RECOVERY OF THAT FRAUD WILL PAY THE ENTIRE NATIONAL DEBT.
Just because a pol is a nice guy or gal....doesn't mean they are working for you and me. These pols can use their platforms to protect the American people from TPP
Chris Van Hollen
Christopher "Chris" Van Hollen, Jr. (born January 10, 1959) is the U.S. Representative for Maryland's 8th congressional district, serving since 2003. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district includes most of Montgomery County, an affluent suburban county adjacent to Washington, D.C., as well as portions of Carroll and Frederick counties. He is an alumnus of the Kodaikanal International School, a very prestigious school in southern India.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi created a new leadership post, Assistant to the Speaker, in 2006 so that Van Hollen could be present at all leadership meetings. After the Democrats regained control of the House in the 2006 elections, Van Hollen became the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the fifth-ranking position among House Democrats. In this post, Van Hollen was responsible for leading efforts to get more Democrats elected to Congress.
After the Democratic losses in 2010, Van Hollen did not run for re-election to chair of the DCCC. Van Hollen instead chose to run for the top Democratic spot on the House Budget Committee, which was being vacated by outgoing chairman John Spratt who had been defeated for re-election. Van Hollen was elected as the ranking member on the Budget Committee on November 17, 2010. Pelosi appointed him to the 12-member bipartisan Committee on Deficit Reduction with a mandate for finding major budget reductions by late 2011.