Janes Defence Weekly reported a while ago that the Iraq security contract held by Tim Spicer’s Aegis was up for renewal on 10 April.
Industry sources who spoke to Jane’s suggested that only a limited
number of major players – UK firms such as ArmorGroup or US companies
such as Blackwater or DynCorp – would be equipped to take on such a
large contract. The incumbent Aegis Defence Services is also submitting
a bid. (Janes)
It all went very quiet after that until last Saturday, when the Washington Post revealed that the existing contract was being extended by six months while rival firms Blackwater and Erinys challenged their exclusion from the procurement process.
The protests come at a time when members of Congress are demanding
more scrutiny of private security contractors. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio),
of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, said she has been
frustrated in attempts to seek information about Aegis Defense
Services, a British firm that holds the current security contract in
Iraq. She has requested an audit of the firm by the Special Inspector
General for Iraq Reconstruction.
"When [the Defense Department] refuses to provide information that should be public, I am — what’s the word? — incensed," she said.
The special inspector general has agreed to launch an audit, said spokeswoman Denise Burgess (Washington Post)
Meanwhile, Jeremy Scahill, author of a new book on Blackwater, has warned that the Democrats are selling out to the Bush administration on the wider issue of mercenaries in Iraq.
Even if the President didn’t veto their legislation, the Democrats’
plan does almost nothing to address the second largest force in Iraq —
and it’s not the British military. It’s the estimated 126,000 private
military "contractors" who will stay put there as long as Congress
continues funding the war.
The 145,000 active duty U.S. forces are nearly matched by occupation
personnel that currently come from companies like Blackwater USA and
the former Halliburton subsidiary KBR, which enjoy close personal and
political ties with the Bush administration. Until Congress reins in
these massive corporate forces and the whopping federal funding that
goes into their coffers, partially withdrawing U.S. troops may only set
the stage for the increased use of private military companies (and
their rent-a-guns) which stand to profit from any kind of privatized
future "surge" in Iraq. (TomDispatch)