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Thread: Matters Blackwater (Merged thread)

  1. #41
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    ...and second amendment contrarians think there is no such thing as militia's in the United States.

  2. #42
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    ...and second amendment contrarians think there is no such thing as militia's in the United States.
    One does have to wonder if John Hawkwood is their eponymous founder <wry grin>. Still and all, given their scope, are they a militia, a TNC along the lines of Executive Outcomes, or something entirely different.

    Marc
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  3. #43
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Blackwater Losses

    Another_Black_Day_For_Blackwater

    By ROBERT Y. PELTON
    www.iraqslogger.com
    01/23/07

    Blackwater USA contractors are reeling from the loss of five
    colleagues and a Little Bird helicopter in Baghdad today. IraqSlogger
    has the exclusive details.

    At 10:30am Baghdad time today a Blackwater PSD was escorting a State
    Dept official to anministry meeting in Baghdad. The convoy began to
    take small arms fire. They called for backup and the Blackwater quick
    reaction force team responded from the Green Zone. They were also
    ambushed by machine gun fire from the left and right. They limped back
    to the Green Zone with two blown out tires. There were violent attacks
    on two more Blackwater QRF teams and insurgents took a number of
    casualties.

    Blackwater dispatched their Little Bird helicopters to provide aerial
    cover and suppressing fire. Blackwater has three Boeing Little Birds
    (similar to Hughes 500) base out of the Green Zone that carry two
    pilots and two door gunners each. The two door gunners hang out of the
    rear doors of the helo with SAWs (Squad Automatic Weapons) designed to
    provide suppressing fire.

    Once the Little Birds engaged the insurgents, one door gunner was
    killed and the rotor blades were damaged, and it returned to base.
    Another Little Bird was shot down instantly killing all four aboard.
    The shoot down was instaneous and no radio call was sent before
    impact. The former 160th pilots are famous for their low-level, high
    speed flights above Baghdad's rooftops. A tactic designed to avoid
    small arms fire.

    Then four Blackwater mobile teams were sent to recover the downed
    helicopter. In addition a U.S. QRF was dispatched. An Army Apache
    helicopter and a Stryker company came upon the downed helicopter. The
    weapons had been stripped but the bodies were intact. Some of the
    Blackwater pilots were the same pilots who served in Somalia during
    the infamous "Black Hawk Down" incident.

    The five dead mentioned include the one door gunner and the entire
    crew of the relief Little Bird.

    Blackwater has had a string of unfortunate incidents including most
    recently the murder of an Iraqi security guard by one of its employees
    while drunk on December 24th, an air crash of one its Casa 212
    aircraft in Bamyian Valley in Afghanistan and the infamous murder of
    four of its employees in Fallujah in 2004 by insurgents.

    Ansar al Sunna has claimed responsibility for the downing of the
    Little Bird but there is no confirmation of this claim.
    This came in on the intelligence share forum on AKO this morning. We have discussed PMCs before on this site. I sympathize with the employees who were lost in this incident and their families. However, I still strongly question the wisdom of building private direct action military capacity outside normal channels of government command and control.

    Best

    Tom

  4. #44
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
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  5. #45
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Does anyone know if and where the following info is available:

    1. Is there an entity other than the Dept. of Labor that tracks the number of civ. contractors killed and wounded in Iraq?
    2. How accurate are the Dept. of Labor stats?
    3. Some of the wounds are probably serious, does anyone track the quality of treatment these people receive?

    I agree with the Tom about it being unwise to rely so heavily on civilian contractors; but, for whatever reason, they are putting themselves on the line and they should be looked after.

  6. #46
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default The wisdom of building private direct action military capacity

    Tom, a good pen, if I may say so.

    You brought with you (10 years ago) a relatively simple and safe self-imposed ROE policy. We had no need to prove ourselves, we were more concerned with survival, and rightfully so.

    You said to me early on, "go in with a spirit of acceptance, not judgement, things will more than likely work better". Well, you did have few at our favorite restaurant before that statement, but I recall it to this day !

    You would later tell me to be careful - but you did that a lot !

    When the Sozias Director (former Israeli LTC) came to snatch his blue flag, we would laugh, but we could see his experience in his words and jestures. He was indeed more than sufficiently trained and experienced to later make such absurd statements, and prepared to back them.

    We would later see what inexperience does. A dumb attack was what I thought with perceptive folks all around us. They were however dealing with the FAZ (Zairian Armed Forces), not Iraq.

    Indeed, an unfortunate incident with more US losses.

    Regards, Stan

  7. #47
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default 4 Americans in Iraq Crash Shot in Head

    24 January Associated Press - 4 Americans in Iraq Crash Shot in Head.

    Four of the five Americans killed when a U.S. security company's helicopter crashed in a dangerous Sunni neighborhood in central Baghdad were shot execution style in the back the head, Iraqi and U.S. officials said Wednesday.

    A senior Iraqi military official said a machine gunner downed the helicopter, but a U.S. military official in Washington said there were no indications that the aircraft, owned by Blackwater USA, had been shot out of the sky. Two Sunni insurgent groups, separately, claimed responsibility for the crash.

    In Washington, a U.S. defense official said four of the five killed were shot in the back of the head but did not know whether they were still alive when they were shot. The defense official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record...

  8. #48
    Council Member sgmgrumpy's Avatar
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    Default civ. contractors killed

    1. Is there an entity other than the Dept. of Labor that tracks the number of civ. contractors killed and wounded in Iraq?
    The only one I know of that is even close to being accurate. I am told the numbers are actually much higher.


    http://icasualties.org/oif/Civ.aspx

  9. #49
    Council Member Danny's Avatar
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    Default But I have to ask ...

    It is tragic, this loss of civilians. But I would like to pose the simple question, "what do the losses have to do with whether firms like Blackwater are used at all?"

    In other words, you can question the wisdom of the use of contractors, or you can justify their use. But the connection of the two issues (a) the use of them, and (b) potential or actual losses, elludes me.

    It is either justified or not, regardless of the losses incurred - it would seem to me. Or perhaps I am missing the point. Perhaps this is simply a convenient opportunity to mention your general reluctance to use contractors, regardless of the fact that they sustained losses today.

    T'would be a fairly significant change. Contractors are in significant use today in Iraq. In fact, it would seem that they have had relatively few casualties given the high usage (not to belittle the tragedy of the losses at all, just making statistical observations). It might be an informative statistic to know just how many contractors there are at any one time, compared with casualty rate. Then, compare this with Marines, Soldiers, etc.

  10. #50
    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Wasn't there something in the news not too long ago that will place these types of security personnel under the UCMJ? Blackwater is another example of the new face on today's battle front. Apparently, Blackwater et al brings a certain amount of hatred against them from the enemy. You see, the enemy gets to execute these guys and the counterinsurgency gets hammered for far less offenses. Nevertheless, a successful counterinsurgency has to maintain a higher standard than the insurgency. Why is it that America always has to fight ruthless people. I think the last somewhat civilized and professional military we went up against was the Germans.

    I wonder what people working for a company like Blackwater are going to do on their own for the execution, if true, of their fellow employees? I can understand shooting down the chopper in a fight but to murder the wounded really pisses me off. I realize that Blackwater folks are professionals but do you think they will exact some revenge?
    Last edited by Culpeper; 01-25-2007 at 01:09 AM.

  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danny
    ....Contractors are in significant use today in Iraq. In fact, it would seem that they have had relatively few casualties given the high usage...
    There are more "contractors" KIA/WIA in Iraq than you hear about in the headlines - partly because the stories get buried, partly because often they are not Americans. Just recently Unity Resources Group, a company with which I have some contact, lost three personnel in an ambush in Baghdad - but although the principal was a US citizen (also killed), none of them were.
    Quote Originally Posted by Culpeper
    Wasn't there something in the news not too long ago that will place these types of security personnel under the UCMJ?
    Washington Post, 15 Jan 07: New Law Could Subject Civilians to Military Trial
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-25-2007 at 01:26 AM.

  12. #52
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Use and Losses Are Connected

    In other words, you can question the wisdom of the use of contractors, or you can justify their use. But the connection of the two issues (a) the use of them, and (b) potential or actual losses, elludes me.
    The linkage is quite simple: if the US government decides it is necessary to put armed forces on the ground, then the US government needs to equip train and deploy US government forces to do that job. Contractors are offered as a "cheap" or "short term" fix for what are often self-created shortfalls. Sustained use of PMCs is hardly cheap or short term--and those self-created gaps remain gaps.

    As for losses, the seemingly invisble use of contractors--especially in a direct action mode--only gets pulled aside when losses like this occur. Contract direct action forces are used in this manner because their losses are less an issue in Congress.

    This was in the case in using mercs in Africa, especually the Congo.

    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 02-02-2007 at 01:51 PM.

  13. #53
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    These men operate under DoS/DS/WPPS regulation. They are trained, vetted, and fall under control of federal agents/agencies. It is cheaper to deploy former SPECOPS/COMBAT ARMS/LE personnel for specific mission sets that in many cases are at/or below their skills levels to augment missions that are above the skillsets of federal agents trained for low/medium security risk environments. It is cost effective to deploy them short term, than to recruit, train, maintain, retire a federal agent.

    To refer to these men as mercenaries or purely as civilians is inaccurate. Most of these men are former TF160, Ranger Regiment, and SPECOPS. They share the ideology, motivation, and adherance to tradition of their uniformed counterparts.

  14. #54
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default Intro

    zdfg, since your location show Kabul, would you care to share a short introduction?

    If you are currently working contract security, your views would certainly be appreciated when the subject of PMCs comes up. As you have seen, the SWC has a forum dedicated specifically to PMCs, and we need members from that field.

    If you aren't comfortable posting much in the open, please PM me or SWJED, and we will check things out and "certify" you as a real-deal BTDT.

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    Default Hello

    Certainly. PM sent regarding background.

  16. #56
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Greetings, ZDFG !

    To refer to these men as mercenaries or purely as civilians is inaccurate.
    I was picked up by DoS/PM/WRA (Weapons Removal and Abatement) years back to work under RONCO with Humanitarian Demining. They were adamant about required skills and especially military background. Language abilities would be a plus.

    I know several folks out of DS, most are or were cops, special agents and almost always former military officers and NCOs.

    Welcome Aboard !

    The linkage is quite simple: if the US government decides it is necessary to armed forces on the ground, then the US government needs to equip train and deploy US government forces to do that job. Contractors are offered as a "cheap" or "short term" fix for what are often self-created shortfalls.
    On the other hand, Tom hits a sore point (he does that often). Once in place and other than a monthly paycheck, training, follow-on training and needed (relatively significant and yes, expensive) equipment never showed. Keep it cheap one said to me from the onset.

    Regards, Stan

  17. #57
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Greetings ZDFG

    Anything I said above or anywhere else is not targeted at the individual, ZDFG, when it comes to PMCs. My target is again the decision maker who makes a decision to:

    A. Accept risk in manning and equipment

    B. When that risk proves severe, fill it as a shortfall with contractors

    C. AND DOES NOT BEGIN TO ADDRESS THE ORIGINAL NEED WITH LONG TERM SOLUTIONS

    When that last block gets checked, it becomes a self-licking ice cream cone, one with potentially great effects elsewhere. For instance, your listing of qualifications highlights one clear effect: creating these type PMCs sucks talent out of the standing forces.

    I am not unfamiliar with decisions like this: I am at least partially responsible for one of the strangest use of PMCs in recent history: that of the UNHCR hiring a PMC drawn from the armed forces of a host nation to protect NGOs from genocidal maniacs on the territory of the host nation.

    Why am I responsible? Because I thought of it and set events in motion.

    Was it a short term fix? Yeah, as in placing a bandaid on a sucking chest wound.

    Did it address --or allow someone else to address--the origin of the problem when it went from "short term" to "long-term"? Yes and No.

    Yes in that it kept a lid on open violence against NGOs and that was my intent.

    No in that neither the UN nor the key international players in the crisis were willing to take effective action until it was too late.

    The result: the Rwandan Civil War morphed iinto what has been called the "African World War" and killed at more than 3 million people in the process (not counting those slaughtered in the genocide).

    Best

    Tom

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    Default PMC versus Mercs

    Tom,

    I share your concerns, but don't come to the same conclusion. What is wrong with solutions that make sense economically? If it is cheaper to use Blackwater and other PMCs to do critical fringe work like provide VIP security, why not? For the most part they are better trained and not encumbered by the military bureaucracy. We all feel for those and their families who are lost in this fight, but they understand the hazardous nature of their work, and unfortunately sometimes that risk comes to fruition. Of course it makes the news, then everyone starts second guessing the wisdom of employing them, but if their mission was providing security for the Dept of State, it is better that they provide it, then pulling our Special Ops types from the field to do it. It appears to me to a functional compliment to our manning strategy.

    When a contractor commits a crime, as those mentioned above, they definitely need to get hammered, or hurts all of us. If that isn't happening, then it needs to get fixed ASAP.

    We're fighting networked enemies with a hierarchical bureacracy, so if we can incorporate (pun intended) more flexibility in our approach I'm for it (however the problems you mentioned need to be addressed). I think some of our ideas on security are outdated. A private security company out of S. Africa did outstanding work in Sierra Leone, probably saved hundreds, if not thousands of lives, because they "had" the flexibility to act, while bureaucratic militaries sat on the side lines. However, do to fears of "mercenary" operations with all the old connotations, they were forced to pull out, and as anticipated the Gangs went on a murdering rampage.

    I know you frequently mention the situation in Rwanda, would you have objected to a PMC if they could have saved thousands of lives?

    This is a subject that governments need to reconsider. PMC's are highly practical and can save thousands of lives around the world, where professional militaries are simply prohibited from going due to their states' political processes. It really confuses what is right and what is wrong, but I'm a simple guy, if you can save lives with a PMC, then use them. What is key is the P "Professional".

    Bill

  19. #59
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default

    Hi Bill,

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    This is a subject that governments need to reconsider. PMC's are highly practical and can save thousands of lives around the world, where professional militaries are simply prohibited from going due to their states' political processes. It really confuses what is right and what is wrong, but I'm a simple guy, if you can save lives with a PMC, then use them. What is key is the P "Professional".
    As ZDFG probably noted, I'm one of the people who doesn't see a distinction between PMCs and mercenaries. Having said that, I actually don't have a problem with governments hiring mercenaries (outside of those raised by Machiavelli in The Art of War) in the abstract. I do have a problem wth the way a number of the current contracts appear, and let me emphasize the word "appear", to be constructed in such a limited manner. You mentioned the Sierra Leone case with Executive Outcomes. That was a good example of what could be done with mercenaries and, barring international pressure against them, the would have been able to guarantee security.

    My complaint is not with mercenaries per se, as ZDFG notes, many are very well trained and highly disciplined. In fact, they are probably better trained, on the average, than many national army troops. My complaint is with the term PMC and some spurious attempt to create a new categorical term for mercenaries.

    Marc
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    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
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  20. #60
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    Thanks to those who offered a welcome. I'm happy to participate in these types of debates.

    One of the major distinctions between contractors and the traditional usage of mercenararies is that PMC's are generally banned from participating in DA (Direct Action). This does not extinguish their right to defend themselves from death or grevious bodily harm, or prevent the same to another person.

    The other major distinguishing difference is that the majority of the PMC's share citizenship with the host entity. An American guarding a gate at an American military base overseas under contract, should in no way be viewed differently than a DoD police officer, under color of authority, at a base in New Mexico. This is common on a number of CONUS posts, and an argument could be made as to why they are needed when a large MP/FPO contingent could be made available. Money, and mission requirements, length of training ramp up, length of perishable assignments, reliability. A guy with all that, now making XXX number of dollars a day, performing a subset a task order he was originally performing under less well paying, sometimes more demeaning circumstances also does not fit the traditional mercenary image. This person very well may have more loyalty to the nation, they simply serve under a different 'branch' for lack of a better term.

    Furthermore, high threat VIP protection in the middle east has taken off as an artform, and niche all it's own. Contractor support was secured because certain available assets were judged unprepared.

    Initially, there may have been some chest thumping about plausibility-deniability warriors, but that was short lived. The Wild West atmosphere died quickly under the strain from media scandals like Abu Ghraib.

    Pentagon is pushing to bring DoD contractors under UCMJ, and FM's and doctrine are being developed to isolate DoD contractors under hierarchical chains of command that report to national authorities.

    Strictly looking at this from the viewpoint of armed contractors. Support contractors are a different group altogether. Much like the distinction between combat arms and combat support. Mutually supportive, but apples and oranges.

    Forgive my rambling, it's dark, I'm cold, and tired.
    Last edited by zdfg; 02-04-2007 at 05:39 PM.

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