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Thread: Matters Blackwater (Merged thread)

  1. #61
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Money, and mission requirements,

    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.
    Evening ZDFG !

    It would appear (perhaps because I already do much the same under a DoS program) that PMC's remain attractively cheaper than their Active Duty counterparts, and for some time now remain largely unknow, both alive and dead. Kind of sad !

    I however agree that some control mechanism such as the UCMJ should be employed for the good of all.

    This person very well may have more loyalty to the nation, they simply serve under a different 'branch' for lack of a better term.
    I concur with you wholeheartedly. Retired now for more than a decade, I am no longer content with GI grumbling, and feel quite good about being an American and absolutely hate the term "expat" !

    Regards, Stan

  2. #62
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi ZDFG,

    Quote Originally Posted by zdfg View Post
    Thanks to those who offered a welcome. I'm happy to participate in these types of debates.
    I'm glad you're here and participating, too . I far prefer getting information from people on the ground that the media or "official" reports - it's always more "real".

    Quote Originally Posted by zdfg View Post
    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.
    I note that you are using the term "generally". I would have to assume, then, that there are cases where PMCs are used in DA - the more "traditional" role as it were. Again, let me reiterate that I am not, in principle, opposed to this at all. I am, however, curious as to the flexibility of PMC units based around their contracts.

    Quote Originally Posted by zdfg View Post
    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.
    Let me just say, and I do say this with respect, that I have to disagree with you on this. Let's take Afghanistan as an example. An American contractor, guarding a gate may be the same as a DoD police officer in CONUS, but are they the same as a member of a national army in a NATO deployment? The practice of using non-forces personnel in home nations bases is, I would suggest, different from using non-forces personnel in combat zones.

    I think that the key to this difference lies in two areas. First, what any individual nation choses to use in its home area is up to them, and troops from other nations accept that under a "guest right" basis - the old, "when in Rome...". But in the field when the operation is run by the alliance (e.g. Afghanistan) and not a single country (as in Iraq)? In that type of a situation, I would expect that the loyalty of the contractor would be to their employer first, their country second, and the alliance third. I could easily be wrong on this, but that would be my expectation.

    Second, I would have to question the legal limitations and code under which PMCs operate. The oft touted idea that PMCs will be brought under the UCMJ does not, to my mind, make exact sense if they are not national army troops involved in DA (I could certainly see it if they were involved in DA, although, even there, I would have problems in an alliance situation). Let me take an extremely simplistic example: certain charges that may be brought under the UCMJ and non-existant under the military justice codes of other nations in NATO (rules on alcohol and homosexuality come to mind). Why should a contractor, working in an alliance situation, be subjected to the US UCMJ?

    I'm bringing this second point up for a fairly simple reason. What if you had a contractor who was not ex-US military? Should they be operating under, what to them, would be a completely foreign military code? Would it not maken more sense to attempt to create a Code that was acceptable to all members of the alliance involved? BTW, lest you think that this is unrealistic, such a code has been developed in the past for both the Condottieri and for the Landsknechts.

    Quote Originally Posted by zdfg View Post
    This person very well may have more loyalty to the nation, they simply serve under a different 'branch' for lack of a better term.
    You may well be correct in his; I really have no way of knowing, and I would be really interested to see what you have to say on this topic. It strikes me that you are thinking of PMCs, at least in this instance, as mor of limitanii than legionnaire. Do you see this as a major trend?

    Quote Originally Posted by zdfg View Post
    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.
    I think you are absolutely correct in this; and the same applies in Mexico and Columbia where kidnapping is an art form. Would you think that a VIP security contractor should come under the UCMJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by zdfg View Post
    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.
    But still an interesting test case in a lot of ways .

    Quote Originally Posted by zdfg View Post
    Forgive my rambling, it's dark, I'm cold, and tired.

    Always glad to hear you ramble .

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  3. #63
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    In my opinion, it is a GOOD thing that the military is losing its most talented members to PMCs due to better pay, working conditions and less bull####. The military needs to change those very things, vis-a-vis its most talented members. Perhaps a "talent drain" will cause the political types to force the military to change the archaic and wasteful way it conducts business.

    The way things stand, vast amounts of incompetent non-contributors are grossly overcompensated, while the competent contributors are underpaid and treated like crap.

    I do not see how the current "top-down" system will ever make good use of "transformation".

  4. #64
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Economic Sense

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    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.

    ....Bill
    Bill

    On PMCs and contractors in general, I see the 60,000 or so contractors on Iraq as economic insanity; 4 years does not a "short-term solution make".

    On wisdom of PMCs doing the undoable, maybe just maybe in the name of the United Nations, OAS, OAU that makes sense. But in the name of the United States? We take oaths as Soldiers, Diplomats, and even Civil Servants to represent, sustain, and defend the Constitution. Our government is one of deliberate pollitical debate; we do not engage in private wars or wars as private enterprise. If we need PMCs or whatever you call them to fill in such missions. maybe just maye that mission is not ours.

    As for Rwanda, aside from actively recruiting an Israeli-Zairios merc force on the ground, I also met with a Brit company that did our local security forces in Kinshasa and was looking at the mission in the camps. The senior rep in Zaire was Sam Melessi and I bumped into him and a Brit on the UN L-100 flight from Kigali to Nairobi. They were bidding on a camp contract; I asked Sam if he was going to be able to shoot folks as necessary. He responded that the ROE would be "liberally" interpreted.

    If Sam's mission or the Israeli-Zairios force that actually got the mission had had the capacity to disarm the camps, then maybe, Bill, I would look on it as a success. They did not; the camps became another self-licking ice cream cone of contractors, NGOs, and UNHCR spenidning millions and millions of dollars to sustain 1 million bloody handed "refugees."

    In contrast we had a force on the ground that could have taken on the mission--UNAMIR 2--but we as the world community lacked the will to use it. Later, the US and the UK would actually be in the process of finally doing something when the Rwandan military resolved the camp situation but sparked an even greater war.

    As for niches in dip protection; again that is a self-licking ice cream cone. We justify the need to fill the need rather than addressing the origin of the need. If we have too many folks that need this sort of escort we have 2 options: reduce the numbers requiring the escort/protection or two increase the number of USG tranied escorts. Put the money into a sustained program versus a "short-term" fill that seems to only expand.

    Best

    Tom

  5. #65
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Blackwater Brass Forms Intelligence Company

    21 February Virginian-Pilot - Blackwater Brass Forms Intelligence Company by Bill Sizemore.

    Cofer Black, vice chairman of Blackwater USA, announced Tuesday the formation of a new CIA-type private company to provide intelligence services to commercial clients.

    The executive roster for the new venture, Total Intelligence Solutions, is loaded with veterans of U.S. intelligence agencies, including two other Blackwater officials.

    A spokeswoman for Total Intelligence said there is no corporate affiliation with Blackwater, the Moyock, N.C.-based private military company, but the new firm clearly has a Blackwater stamp...

    Blackwater's primary specialties are tactical training and security, but it is no stranger to the intelligence world. The 10-year-old company's first security contract, awarded in 2002, was for a classified operation. In his book "Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror," author Robert Young Pelton identified the company's client as the CIA.

    The concept of marketing intelligence services to commercial clients is not new, Pelton said Tuesday, but the new venture represents "a continuing evolution in what Blackwater's doing."...

  6. #66
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Pentagon Investigates Blackwater's Expense Tab

    20 February Virginian-Pilot - Pentagon Investigates Blackwater's Expense Tab by Bill Sizemore.

    A two-year investigation has finally begun to shed some light on the trail of taxpayer dollars that paid for Blackwater USA's famously ill-fated security mission in Fallujah, Iraq, in March 2004...

    Blackwater was at the bottom of a four-tiered chain of contractors. The Moyock, N.C.-based company says it billed the next company up the chain $2.3 million. At the top of the chain was KBR, a subsidiary of Vice President Dick Cheney's former employer, Halliburton Co

    Now the Pentagon has calculated that by the time KBR got around to billing the government, the tab to the taxpayers for private security work had reached $19.6 million...

    Last week, federal investigators identified $10 billion they said has been squandered in the war because of contractor overcharges and unsupported expenses. More than a quarter of that amount, $2.7 billion, was charged by Halliburton.

    Because of the Fallujah ambush and its fallout, Blackwater is center stage in a case study of the booming, multi layered world of wartime contracting and whether the safety of America's private soldiers takes a back seat to corporate profits...

    Double-billing by security contractors is another concern of congressional investigators. A January 2005 audit of a different Blackwater contract, with the State Department, found that Blackwater was charging the government separately for "drivers" and "security specialists," who were in fact the same people.

    The audit also found that Blackwater was improperly including profit in its overhead costs, resulting "not only in a duplication of profit, but also a pyramiding of profit because, in effect, Blackwater is applying profit to profit."...

  7. #67
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Nothing pisses me off quicker than tying Halliburton to VP Cheney. Or the phrase "corporate profits".

    I think it's time we started talking about the obscene "government profits" by "excessive and duplicative taxation and regulation".

    Or the obscene "media profits", caused by republishing old news as new news.

  8. #68
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default

    Certainly a natural progression, given BW's network of contractors around the world. Outside of money, I'm ever so curious as to what other intangibles are making them so successful, compared to folks like MPRI. Or is it mostly hyped capability that still relies on getting the right people in after contract award?

  9. #69
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    Default a guess

    Blackwater is networked with the special operations community and can frequently get the best people who are already well trained and vetted. MPRI used to focus on rank (or status) instead of skills. Although I worked with MPRI in Africa and was more than a little impressed at the talent they brought to bare on the problem; however, MPRI was (I don't know currently) more focused on preparing for peacekeeping and peace enforcement missions, not providing security and venturing into the dark side. Two different missions, unless MPRI has changed their focus. I do know they were bought out (they kept their title MPRI) by another Co, and that they have migrated into recruiting and ROTC, who knows what else?

  10. #70
    Council Member wierdbeard's Avatar
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    Default RFI for POC info

    If anyone has a POC for the HR dept of TIS I would appreciate it. I'd like to see what may be available on the outside since re-enlistment time is here...

  11. #71
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Internet Page...

    Total Intelligence Solutions - should find at least some type of HR link there...

  12. #72
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    I'm wondering how the issues of accountability and oversight work in terms of private intelligence. Does anybody have more info on this?

  13. #73
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default MPRI HR Jobs

    Hey wierdbeard !
    Here's MPRI's very comprehensive listing:

    http://mpriweb.mpri.com/IIF/Jobs/jobsummary.html

    The HR Department maintains a database of professionals for consideration against future MPRI requirements. Acceptance into MPRI's database is not automatic. To be considered, please complete an Individual Information Form (IIF). You will be notified via email if your form has been downloaded into the database. A search of the database for potential skill set matches is accomplished as new contract requirements are received.
    Regards, Stan

  14. #74
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default U.S. Security Contractors Open Fire in Baghdad

    27 May Washington Post - U.S. Security Contractors Open Fire in Baghdad by Steve Fainaru and Saad al-Izzi.

    Employees of Blackwater USA, a private security firm under contract to the State Department, opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days last week, and one of the incidents provoked a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

    A Blackwater guard shot and killed an Iraqi driver Thursday near the Interior Ministry, according to three U.S. officials and one Iraqi official who were briefed on the incident but spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation. On Wednesday, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle in which the security contractors, U.S. and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were firing in a congested area...

  15. #75
    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by War Hammer View Post
    Ater the Rhodesians lost, many of them joined the South African Defense Forces (SADF). They influenced the SADF special forces concepts, counter-insurgency and warfare tactics. South Africa’s counter-insurgency policy wasn’t exactly successful either. Probably because they didn’t learn anything from the failure of the Rhodesian experience. They continued to use the failed practices that their Rhodesian brothers taught them.

    I think the same could be said of the SADF and military oriented solutions to the counter-insurgency strategy of South Africa.

    It is true that many of the Rhodesians did join the SADF. It is also equally true that most of them did not stay for all that long. There is an abundance of evidence to support this claim.

    The claim that they had a large effect on strategy is unsubstaniated. They did have an effect on TTP, but The RSA grand strategy was well and truly decided before Rhodesia 'fell'. Any half decent read of the publically available material shows that the 'Total Strategy' was well and truly in place before '79 / '80.

    One also needs to distinguish between the willingness to incorporate willing and available troops at the tactical level (which, cynically could be viewed as newly stateless, and hence [especially when compared to RSA white conscripts from Stellenbosch or Capetown] 'cannon fodder') and adoption of Rhodesian strategy.

    In fact, it would be fair to say that at the highest levels of the apartheid era white minority government in South Africa that Smith and the Rhodesians were regarded as strategically naive, albeit useful buffers to the 'frontline' states.

    The minority South African's ultimately failed strategically for pretty much the same reason that the Rhodesians did - a lack of strategic rectitude. We all know of the importance of 'legitimacy' in COIN. There was never any hope (in anyone truly awake) that a policy such as apartheid would , in the long run, be acceptable. There is evidence to suggest that, in the end, the leadership of the SADF came to an awareness of this, and were fighting to buy time in order to allow the politicians time to realise this and negotiate an appropriate end to the 'insurgency'.

    Arguably, the current nation of the Republic of South Africa is proof that they were at least successful in this aim.

    This, perhaps, introduces one of frequently unexplored / under discussed 'truisims' of COIN 'victory' (I also include in this category rectitude and multiple interagency lines of operations) - ''compromise'. But, I digress.... that is another thread .. one day.

    In summary, the role of Rhodesians in the RSA COIN strategy can be very easily overstated. (If you have any further doubt, do some research on how the Boers running the aparthied era minority government truly viewed 'rooineks' or (don't have the afrikaans word at hand) 'salt dicks'.

    PS an interesting point for Australians, we have a federal act of parliament, The Foreign Incursions Act that makes it a crime against Commonwealth Law for an Australian Citizen to be a mercenary. It would be interesting to see how this would play out in the courts if an Aussie citizen was to be employed by Blackwater in their 'Brigade' in a foreign country,
    Last edited by Mark O'Neill; 05-27-2007 at 11:23 PM. Reason: spelling

  16. #76
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Perhaps the best evidence of South Africa's cynicism with regards to Zimbabwe's white population can be seen in its support for the "Super ZAPU" insurgency in Ndebeleland which specifically targeted white Zimbabwean farmers.

  17. #77
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    Default Blackwater by Jeremy Scahill

    I just finished reading Scahill's Blackwater. Is anyone else familiar with the book? I'm looking for some general feedback regarding the accuracy of Scahill's reporting/research and depiction of Blackwater USA. Also, does the ultimate fate of Executive Outcomes have any bearing on U.S. PMCs? For those out there with boots on the ground experience, what are the major positives/negatives of the privatization of services in combat zones?

  18. #78
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    Default Black Water

    I've spent just over three years in Iraq as a security contractor and have read Scahill's book. My critical observations are he complains about Black Water's revenues without considering expenses, he doesn't take into consideration what a soldier actually costs to deploy long term versus a contractor and how many troops are actually needed to replace a single contractor and he doesn't provide any suggestions as to how to provide security for private orgnanizations in a war zone.

  19. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by Menning View Post
    I just finished reading Scahill's Blackwater. Is anyone else familiar with the book? I'm looking for some general feedback regarding the accuracy of Scahill's reporting/research and depiction of Blackwater USA. Also, does the ultimate fate of Executive Outcomes have any bearing on U.S. PMCs? For those out there with boots on the ground experience, what are the major positives/negatives of the privatization of services in combat zones?
    Just posted on this in another thread, but I'd really recommend Robert Young Pelton's Licensed to Kill. Deals heavily with Blackwater, and also has a couple chapters on Executive Outcomes, Sandline, and the implications of PSCs vs. PMCs.

    Could read Singer's book too, although Erik Prince criticizes him as having "very soft hands." But he would, I suppose.

  20. #80
    Council Member bismark17's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blackwater

    Jeremy Scahill also has some video up on youtube. He appeared to me to be very slanted against the company and it's ownership.

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