Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Doncha Think It's Time We Started Calling 'Em What They Really Are? MERCENARIES!

What with down-sizing, and out-sourcing, and what-so-ever else you want to call it, it turns out that there are now about 2/3 as many 'foreign contractors' doing *ICORP* "bidness" in Iraq as there are soldiers, sailors, and marines: According to WaPo today, as many as 100k 'contractors,' vs about 140k 'troops.'

That term 'contractors' is an intentionally misleading one, imho. It permits the US ICORP operation to disguise--and at need, to disclaim--a lot of shady business. Contractors do a lot of the dirty work in Iraq, for which they get splendidly remunerated: Enough, actually, to tempt seasoned troops to abandon the Army/Marines and join up with the likes of Blackwater and others. And to become MERCENARIES: Soldiers who sell their military skills to the highest bidder. Mercenaries also are drawn from the ranks of the failed or obsoleted para-military organizations the US has so long suppported over the years, in Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Salvador, Nicaragua, Angola, and elsewhere.

(Addendum @ 2:40 pm: It is my understanding that mercenaries are NOT covered by the 'laws' of war, such as the Geneva Accords. It stands to reason that they should be afforded approximately the same treatment as pirates on the high seas, and for essentially and effectively the same offenses. Humane treatment (?!?) is the reserved for those who wear the uniforms and preserve the appearances of national purpose.)

Census Counts 100,000 Contractors in Iraq
Civilian Number, Duties Are Issues

By Renae Merle Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 5, 2006; Page D
There are about 100,000 government contractors operating in Iraq, not counting subcontractors, a total that is approaching the size of the U.S. military force there, according to the military's first census of the growing population of civilians operating in the battlefield.

The survey finding, which includes Americans, Iraqis and third-party nationals hired by companies operating under U.S. government contracts, is significantly higher and wider in scope than the Pentagon's only previous estimate, which said there were 25,000 security contractors in the country.

It is also 10 times the estimated number of contractors that deployed during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, reflecting the Pentagon's growing post-Cold War reliance on contractors for such jobs as providing security, interrogating prisoners, cooking meals, fixing equipment and constructing bases that were once reserved for soldiers.

Official numbers are difficult to find, said Deborah D. Avant, author of the 2005 book "The Market for Force: The Consequences of Privatizing Security," but an estimated 9,200 contractors deployed during the Gulf War, a far shorter conflict without reconstruction projects. "This is the largest deployment of U.S. contractors in a military operation," said Avant, an associate professor at George Washington

In addition to about 140,000 U.S. troops, Iraq is now filled with a hodgepodge of contractors. DynCorp International has about 1,500 employees in Iraq, including about 700 helping train the police force. Blackwater USA has more than 1,000 employees in the country, most of them providing private security. Kellogg, Brown and Root, one of the largest contractors in Iraq, said it does not delineate its workforce by country but that it has more than 50,000 employees and subcontractors working in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. MPRI, a unit of L-3 Communications, has about 500 employees working on 12 contracts, including providing mentors to the Iraqi Defense Ministry for strategic planning, budgeting and establishing its public affairs office. Titan, another L-3 division, has 6,500 linguists in the country.

*ICORP*: Invasion Conquest Occupation Rape and Pillage

(Addendum ii: I think I recall there was a piece recently in The Nation around the subject, too. About the families of the four Blackwater 'contractors' killed and desecrated in Fallujah last year, which events became the causus belli for the destruction of that city and the slaughter of thousands of Iraqis. The families are suing Blackwater for breech of contract in the conditions that led up to the killing of the four men and the subsequent images which spawned such outrage back home.)

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