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PMCs and Entrepreneurs Applied capitalism. Making money in the war zone, and the issues that go with it.

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Old 09-21-2007   #101
Steve Blair
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Then maybe someone should try nailing the accountability to DOS and see how fast they can scamper for the darkness....
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Old 09-21-2007   #102
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sgm - If you think contracting is out of control on the DoS/DoD side, I suggest avoiding what is going on in the intel side, in all the alphabet soup agencies: DIA, CIA, NSA, etc.

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Over the past six years, a quiet revolution has occurred in the intelligence community toward wide-scale outsourcing to corporations and away from the long-established practice of keeping operations in US government hands, with only select outsourcing of certain jobs to independently contracted experts. Key functions of intelligence agencies are now run by private corporations. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) revealed in May that 70 percent of the intelligence budget goes to contractors.

For all practical purposes, effective control of the NSA is with private corporations, which run its support and management functions. As the Washington Post's Walter Pincus reported last year, more than 70 percent of the staff of the Pentagon's newest intelligence unit, CIFA (Counterintelligence Field Activity), is made up of corporate contractors. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) lawyers revealed at a conference in May that contractors make up 51 percent of the staff in DIA offices. At the CIA, the situation is similar. Between 50 and 60 percent of the workforce of the CIA's most important directorate, the National Clandestine Service (NCS), responsible for the gathering of human intelligence, is composed of employees of for-profit corporations.
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Old 09-21-2007   #103
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Ah Yes,

The Spy who Billed Me!

You gotta watch those intel types. They are sneeky
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Old 09-21-2007   #104
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Yup, Ms. Hillhouse wrote the NATION article - an excellent piece of work. I'm still struggling to see the upside of doing all this stuff in the private sector. Seriously, are we saving that much money?
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Old 09-21-2007   #105
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Default PMCs and accountability

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Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
We created our reliance on PMCs - this is a self-inflicted GSW. There should be no surprises that contracting out the nation's interests can result in consequences other then we had intended.
Agreed, Rob. But I want to point to one horrific example of what has happened with a too strong reliance on mercenaries, especially when there is no form of accountability: the Thirty Years War and, in particular, the Massacre at Magdeburgh.

I know, at the moment it is a false analogy, but it keeps cropping up n my mind as a worst case scenario and, quite frankly, with not a darn thing happening to reign these people in and make them accountable it is, in my cynical opinion, becoming much more likely. We have already seen the reactions of many Iraqi's to the actions of PMCs being uncontrolled and, in many cases, unpunished. This is an IO winfall for AQI and any other insurgent group. And, more importantly, let me just note that incidents like this one and others actually make a Jihad quite legal in even the most mainstream forms of Sunni Islam.

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Even so - PMCs will probably still be seen on the battlefield. They have made their value on the world market known - and there are others who will contract their services.
Quite true but, with respect Rob, it is in some ways irrelevant, at least in the sense that we can take it as a given for the future. What is of primary importance now and in the future is getting mechanisms that hld them accountable for their actions.

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I am not defended what happened, but when we talk about UCMJ and all the other DOD rules, you also have to find out or know what type of contract the individuals are operating under. DOS never has, and never will allow DOD to control what they do. It’s like a bad marriage.

Everyone is focused on this particular BW incident and forgetting or at least maybe not knowing that these particular BW folks are operating under a DOS WPPS Diplomatic Security which is NOT a DOD contract. They work for State Department, so labeling them as military contractors is not an accurate designation but of course the media seems to jump on that terminology. They are performing duties what normally would be filled by Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Special Agents.
Does this mean that they have some form of diplomatic immunity? Even if that is the case, there is precedent for expulsion and requesting the originating nation to lay charges. This happened in Canada a while back with a Russian diplomat who killed someone in a car "accident" (BA content of .02+). I suspect there are other precedents for it as well.

To my mind, this means that the people involved in this incident should be expelled and indicted in the US under US law. As sgmgrumpy noted, there are private "security" details in the US - I can just imagine how US citizens would react to some of them randomly firing into traffic!

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To me, the question is where do we go from here? I'd also add that even if we decide to fill our own holes - a process that a few years at the very minimum to fix (in a perfect world), goes beyond recruiting - toward competition with the PMCs to retain some of our best trained mid level folks, and to some degree relies on the political leadership to authorize, fund and equip the increase in manpower, and relies on the American public to volunteer on a much larger scale for service.
I definitely think you're right about that, Rob. Hmm, I really don't know US military policy as well as I should, but aren't officers available for recall after they leave? Would it be feasible (or even possible ) to add a rider to the legislation/admin rules (whatever) to he effect that if hey are engaged in "civilian" employment in a battlezone they, as individuals, are subject to the UCMJ?

Marc
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Old 09-21-2007   #106
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Hi Tequila,

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Originally Posted by tequila View Post
Yup, Ms. Hillhouse wrote the NATION article - an excellent piece of work. I'm still struggling to see the upside of doing all this stuff in the private sector. Seriously, are we saving that much money?
My gut guess is that it all depends on how you are doing your accounting. If you bear no fiscal responsibility for IO disasters or cleaning up the messes they are leaving, then yes, it does make fiscal sense. If, on the other hand,you have to account for cleaning up the messes, then I don't see how it makes sense.
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Old 09-21-2007   #107
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I'll but defend DIA, where most of the services lend out their soldiers, keep said soldiers in promotion limbo by placing them within 71L (administration for the uninitiated), and about the point they become productive, their gone, or frustrated into leaving. I retired

There's no where left to go but DA civilians, and even they won't stay for peanuts.

Then there's the analysts (somewhere in the basement). They need at least three masters, two languages, 10 years of experience (anywhere will do) and absolutely no sunshine (windows).

I recon all those available Blackwater dudes will be lookin' for a DC job
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Old 09-21-2007   #108
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marct View Post
I definitely think you're right about that, Rob. Hmm, I really don't know US military policy as well as I should, but aren't officers available for recall after they leave? Would it be feasible (or even possible ) to add a rider to the legislation/admin rules (whatever) to he effect that if hey are engaged in "civilian" employment in a battlezone they, as individuals, are subject to the UCMJ?

Marc
I believe this is the case for officers, but EM are not subject to recall (one of the reasons Calley was the only one ever really put on trial for . That would just shift the PMC hiring targets a bit.

It was hinted at earlier, but I think the best way to hit these bastards is in the wallet. Kick 'em out, levy substantial fines/penalties, turn them over to local authorities in some cases (and this one certainly sounds like one of those cases), and block them from future employment with US governmental agencies.
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Old 09-21-2007   #109
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Rob, that is an excellent post, sir!

Dumb question time (I haven't asked one in a while). Do civilians embedded with the military fall under UCMJ rules?
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Old 09-21-2007   #110
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
I believe this is the case for officers, but EM are not subject to recall (one of the reasons Calley was the only one ever really put on trial for . That would just shift the PMC hiring targets a bit.
Okay, I really didn't know if it was for both. If that's the case, then you're right, it would just shift the hiring targets. Drat!

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Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
It was hinted at earlier, but I think the best way to hit these bastards is in the wallet. Kick 'em out, levy substantial fines/penalties, turn them over to local authorities in some cases (and this one certainly sounds like one of those cases), and block them from future employment with US governmental agencies.
Steve, I agree that at the institutional level this would work, and I would certainly recommend proceeding along those lines, but I don't think it would work at either the individual level, for IO or for building a "rule of law". Individuals who commit these types of crimes must be held personally accountable for their actions.

I would suggest, as an immediate response, that a joint Iraqi, MNF and State department investigative unit be established to investigate and determine the appropriate legal recourse for any future incidents. I would also hope that a specific legal code be established for the operation of PMCs where they are not covered by other codes. Furthermore, I believe that if at all possible, and I'll admit it may not be possible in some cases, I would like to see punishment meted out in the country and specific local in which the incident happened, otherwise any claims we are making about helping to establish a rule of law are invalidated on their face.
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Old 09-21-2007   #111
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marct View Post
I would suggest, as an immediate response, that a joint Iraqi, MNF and State department investigative unit be established to investigate and determine the appropriate legal recourse for any future incidents. I would also hope that a specific legal code be established for the operation of PMCs where they are not covered by other codes. Furthermore, I believe that if at all possible, and I'll admit it may not be possible in some cases, I would like to see punishment meted out in the country and specific local in which the incident happened, otherwise any claims we are making about helping to establish a rule of law are invalidated on their face.
I'm very much in favor of handing them over to local authorities or if that's not possible conducting any proceedings in the same area as the incident. My comments weren't directed as much at the IO level as they were the institution, so I didn't mentioned some of the things you brought up (great points, btw). We do need legal codes and transparent proceedings to show host nations that those things do work and do get done with as much impartiality as possible (something we are not always very good at, admittedly), but I think you also need to smack the companies in the wallet to really get their attention.
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Old 09-21-2007   #112
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Let me make a few points. But first let me say that I am by no means a Blackwater apologist. I have enough friends in the industry to know that Blackwater has some significant issues.

1)Is there an official report of an official investigation by US forces out there somewhere that I have missed? So far I have seen a lot of media reports, many of which are based on Iraqi reporting. I have been here long enough to know that uncorroborated Iraqi reporting is not the gold standard for accurate unbiased reporting. If this was a military unit would we be piling on or would we be saying that we should wait for the results of the official investigation?

2)I hear a lot of really huge numbers for the number of "Private Military Contractors" here but I don't hear anybody in the MSM trying to make the distinction between the actual military contractors, who are, by far the minority and the support contractors, the cooks, clerks, mechanics, truck drivers etc, many of whom never even leave the FOB.

3)My feelings about the use of contractors fall along these lines. First of all, they take a lot of the support functions that we would normally do which frees us up to focus on operations, which contractors are most definitely not doing. Often times they do these functions better than their military counterparts because that is all they do. In the military we have a lot of crap that we have to do in addition to our main job.

4)I believe that contractors will save us a lot of money in the long run. Once we leave Iraq or at least severely reduce our footprint those contracts begin to dry up. Once the contract is done then it's done. We don't have to worry about it anymore whereas if you swell the ranks with all the service-members you need to perform all of these functions then you will still have them after the need is gone. Yes, we pay many contractors more money than we pay their military counterparts but we do not train them, nor do we feed, house, and clothe them back in the states. We don't worry about their career progression or education. When we are done with them we let the contract run out and that's it. Anybody who lived through the draw-down of the mid-nineties knows the immense ass-pain that the Army went through to reduce the troop totals after the cold war. I don't want to ever do that again.

Just my .02USD.

SFC W
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Old 09-21-2007   #113
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
Rob, that is an excellent post, sir!

Dumb question time (I haven't asked one in a while). Do civilians embedded with the military fall under UCMJ rules?
Apparently so, according to Peter W. Singer.

I don't think Blackwater falls under these rules or any DoD regulations since their primary contract is with the DoS, as in this particular incident.

Quote:
...

Over the past year, the military has issued a series of "fragos," or fragmentary orders, designed to impose greater accountability on security contractors operating under Defense Department contracts. Blackwater was not covered because it reported to the State Department.

The new rules included procedures for the registration of weapons and streamlined the reporting of shooting incidents. The U.S. military's director of security for the Green Zone, where approximately three dozen private security firms are based, has conducted sweeps that netted hundreds of unauthorized weapons.

The military also required companies to obtain operating licenses through the Interior Ministry to operate legally in Iraq. The licenses added another layer of accountability: Licensed companies were given colorful numbered decals to attach to the sides of their armored vehicles, clearly identifying them as belonging to a security firm.

...

None of the new orders applied to Blackwater, which has received $678 million in State Department contracts since 2003 and operates under the department's authority.

"I'm not gonna go chasing after non-DoD organizations, going, 'Uh, you didn't submit an incident report for this,' " said Maj. Kent Lightner of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who monitors shooting incidents involving private security contractors under Defense Department contracts ...
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Old 09-21-2007   #114
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Contractors for services are a slightly different proposition from the gun-toting PMCs that sparked a great deal of this discussion. As I mentioned in another post some time back, the Army has used teamsters and other contract employees for the majority of its history. In most cases they worked with transportation issues or scouting/translation. In those cases they were considered post employees and could be fired by the quartermaster and/or the post commander with no notice. In Vietnam PAE did a great deal of support work as well. The issue here is that contractors are now being used in a direct combat (or close to direct combat) role with no real oversight and a great deal more firepower than they had in the past.

Part of the reason for any sort of pile-on is the record of the PMCs in general (which has been rather to very trigger-happy). If that starts getting in the way of accomplishing the mission, then you have to look at it. But with the number of high-end political players who use PMCs, I'm not sure you'd see an official investigation for some time. And even then official investigations are not always without bias.
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Old 09-21-2007   #115
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
1)Is there an official report of an official investigation by US forces out there somewhere that I have missed? So far I have seen a lot of media reports, many of which are based on Iraqi reporting. I have been here long enough to know that uncorroborated Iraqi reporting is not the gold standard for accurate unbiased reporting. If this was a military unit would we be piling on or would we be saying that we should wait for the results of the official investigation?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
Part of the reason for any sort of pile-on is the record of the PMCs in general (which has been rather to very trigger-happy). If that starts getting in the way of accomplishing the mission, then you have to look at it. But with the number of high-end political players who use PMCs, I'm not sure you'd see an official investigation for some time. And even then official investigations are not always without bias.
Uboat, I think you have raised a really good point, but I have to ask a counter question: given that these particular employees are DoS, is the military even allowed to investigate them? The quote that Tequila tossed up certainly seems to imply that they a) aren't empowered to do so and b) are under a lot of pressure not to do so. Baring the (unlikely) chance that State will, what are we left with but an Iraqi investigation?

Furthermore, if part of the mission is to stand up an Iraqi government that operates by rule of law, I don't think that we can afford to dismiss their investigation out of hand. Yes, I know that there have been a lot of problems with them in the past, but I think that this incident is generating enough interest Stateside that they are going t keep their investigation fairly transparent.

Marc
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Old 09-21-2007   #116
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I just came across this in the LA Times

Quote:
As for the corporations so eagerly lapping up the contracting dollars, there's no conspiracy -- it's just the good old profit motive. If the White House wants to sell off U.S. foreign policy, someone's going to buy it. Prince, the former Navy SEAL who founded Blackwater, is straightforward about his company's goal: "We're trying to do for the national security apparatus what FedEx did for the Postal Service."

Since FedEx rendered the post office irrelevant for all but the most trivial forms of mail, this means you can kiss our national security apparatus goodbye.
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Old 09-21-2007   #117
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Pardon me if I don't get excited about anything that Prince says. As I stated earlier, it is well known that Blackwater has some significant issues and Prince is at the root of those problems. That said, there are a lot of good guys working for BW. I am not anymore willing to throw the contractors who are the center of this incident under a bus than I am to throw the Marines at Haditha under a bus, based on media reports.

Quote:
Contractors for services are a slightly different proposition from the gun-toting PMCs that sparked a great deal of this discussion. As I mentioned in another post some time back, the Army has used teamsters and other contract employees for the majority of its history. In most cases they worked with transportation issues or scouting/translation. In those cases they were considered post employees and could be fired by the quartermaster and/or the post commander with no notice. In Vietnam PAE did a great deal of support work as well. The issue here is that contractors are now being used in a direct combat (or close to direct combat) role with no real oversight and a great deal more firepower than they had in the past.
I am sure that most of the people on this board are aware of the difference between the armed and unarmed contractors. I wasn't trying to insult anyone's intelligence. I was just making a point about the huge numbers being thrown around by the MSM. When John Q. Public hears that there are 100,000 "PMCs" running around Iraq he immediately thinks that there are 100,000 thousand armed mercenaries running buck wild in Iraq and that just isn't the case. To my knowledge there are NO PMCs being used in a direct, or even near direct combat roles. We aren't outsourcing warfighting. Most of the armed contractors are engaged in security operations.

SFC W

Last edited by Uboat509; 09-21-2007 at 08:47 PM.
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Old 09-21-2007   #118
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tequila View Post
Quote:
New Reasons To Prosecute Civilian contractors now might be punished for disrespecting an officer, disregarding an order
...
If private individuals want to do military jobs for profit in war zones on behalf of the U.S. government, then they should agree to fall under the same laws as U.S. soldiers, he said.

I agree completely. This is as it should be. If a civilian is over there doing COIN operations, is embedded with and doing the same things as or is supporting military personnel, and is under the same leadership, then he should be punished for the same things as the military guys are. It's just as important for the civilian to obey orders as it is for the Army/Marine guy.

Quote:
“We’re deeply concerned that the broad and arbitrary application of the UCMJ imposes a whole range of behavioral requirements” on contract employees, Soloway said.
So what? Soloway makes no sense. A civilian should show just as much respect and have the same willingness to follow his leader wherever he goes, just as anyone else in the military would do. If not, then don't go into a conflict zone and work along side them. Stay home and be a desk jockey if it causes that much concern.
JMHO
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Old 09-22-2007   #119
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Default Aaaarrrgg! Need more fire!!

Blackwater employees are under investigation.



Quote:
WASHINGTON - Federal prosecutors are investigating whether employees of the private security firm Blackwater USA illegally smuggled into Iraq weapons that may have been sold on the black market and ended up in the hands of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, officials said Friday.
Quote:
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh, N.C., is handling the investigation with help from Pentagon and State Department auditors, who have concluded there is enough evidence to file charges, the officials told The Associated Press. Blackwater is based in Moyock, N.C.

Quote:
In Saturday's editions, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that two former Blackwater employees — Kenneth Wayne Cashwell of Virginia Beach, Va., and William Ellsworth "Max" Grumiaux of Clemmons, N.C. — are cooperating with federal investigators.

Quote:
The News & Observer, citing unidentified sources, reported that the probe was looking at whether Blackwater had shipped unlicensed automatic weapons and military goods to Iraq without a license.
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Old 09-22-2007   #120
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Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
To my knowledge there are NO PMCs being used in a direct, or even near direct combat roles. We aren't outsourcing warfighting. Most of the armed contractors are engaged in security operations.

SFC W
Given that the there is no front in this war and engagement may be initiated anywhere at any time by the opposition I am not clear on the distinction between warfighting and security operations. Anyone with a weapon (or even just their bare fists) should be subject to some form of rules of engagement and punishable if they use excessive force. If the DoS have armed employees who are operating outside the law (isn't that a fair definition of a terrorist?) they should be culpable for allowing that situation to develop and the buck should stop with the Secretary of State.
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