Iraq contractor shootings too common to count

The Associated Press has an interesting report on mercenaries in Iraq which suggests that incidents like the trophy video episode are still routine:

In late 2004, the Reconstruction Operations Center (ROC) opened in Baghdad. Its purpose was to track movement of contractors and military troops around the country and to keep records of violent incidents.

Participation, however, is voluntary.

Military leaders say the government should demand that contractors report their movements and use of weapons. Last year, officials of the 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad told visiting GAO auditors that lack of coordination continued to endanger the lives soldiers and contractors. Private security details continued to enter battle zones without warning, the military leaders said. In some cases, military officers complained they had no way of communicating with private security details.

Many large contractors say their guards coordinate with the ROC, and file "after-incident reports" of shooting episodes. But government auditors in Iraq reported last year that some contractors said they stopped detailing such shootings because they occurred so often it wasn’t possible to file reports for each one. (PA)

Given that ROC is run by Aegis, this state of affairs surely raises
some questions about how well Tim Spicer’s company is performing  on its
very lucrative contract.

The private military boom is not restricted to Iraq, as Blackwater author Jeremy
Scahill points out in an excellent piece on New York Indymedia:

Empowered by their new found prominence, mercenary forces are
increasing their presence on other battlefields: in Latin America,
DynCorp International is operating in Colombia, Bolivia and other
countries under the guise of the “war on drugs” — U.S. defense
contractors are receiving nearly half the $630 million in U.S. military
aid for Colombia; in Africa, mercenaries are deploying in Somalia,
Congo and Sudan and increasingly have their sights set on tapping into
the hefty U.N. peacekeeping budget (this has been true since at least
the early 1990s and probably much earlier). Heavily armed mercenaries
were deployed to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,
while proposals are being considered to privatize the U.S. border
patrol. (Indypendent)

One aspect of this expansion may yet be Aegis analyst Dominick Donald’s proposal that private military companies should target work currently done by humanitarian aid agencies.






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