PBS Frontline on Mercenaries

America’s PBS has produced an excellent documentary on the role of private contractors in Iraq. The programme, Private Warriors, aired in the US on 21 June and can be viewed on the internet in Windows Media Player and Realplayer formats.

The programme includes an interesting passage on an Aegis Defence Services briefing in Baghdad:

STEVEN L. SCHOONER, George Washington University: We have tens of thousands of armed contractors in Iraq defending the Green Zone, defending military, defending contractors in and around the area, but they’re not part of the military command structure.

MARTIN SMITH: Professor Steven Schooner is an expert on military contracting.

STEVEN SCHOONER: They 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.

MARTIN SMITH: Reform has been put on hold. Private security guards are a fact of life here. Coalition authorities have tried to improve coordination between security contractors and the military, but ironically, they turned to the private sector for help.

PETER SINGER: We developed the classic Kafkaesque solution, which is we have a problem of outsourcing and coordinating outsourcing, and that we’ve done too much outsourcing and we don’t have a control over it. So what would be the solution to it? Let’s outsource the solution.

AEGIS SECURITY BRIEFING: Of reported attacks, IEDs featured strongly, with a relative increase in the use of IDF in Baghdad and in northern Iraq.

MARTIN SMITH: A British security company, Aegis, was hired for $300 million to help coordinate and track all security teams operating in Iraq, as well as to protect the Green Zone.

AEGIS SECURITY BRIEFING: —was assassinated in a drive-by yesterday—

MARTIN SMITH: Every morning at their command center, called the ROC, they brief other security company representatives.

AEGIS SECURITY BRIEFING: We had a three-vehicle PSD—

MARTIN SMITH: The problem is that participation is voluntary.

AEGIS SECURITY BRIEFING: —at which point, the suicide bomber moved in down the slip road alongside the vehicle and detonated.

MARTIN SMITH: And even companies that participate are still outside the military chain of command.

AEGIS SECURITY BRIEFING: Seven IED attacks around the city, also a few mortar attacks.

MARTIN SMITH: Most reps we spoke to said the ROC has failed to establish order in the industry.

AEGIS SECURITY BRIEFING: All right. Thank you for being here today. And as always, be safe, but if necessary, be lethal. Have a great day.






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