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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-23-2007, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
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Mercenaries 'R' Us

Mercenaries 'R' Us
By Bill Berkowitz, AlterNet
Posted on March 24, 2004, Printed on April 23, 2007
AlterNet: Mercenaries 'R' Us
With the casualty toll ticking ever upward and troops stretched thin on the ground, the Bush administration is looking to mercenaries to help control Iraq. These soldiers-for-hire are veterans of some of the most repressive military forces in the world, including that of the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and South Africa's apartheid regime.

In February, Blackwater USA, a North Carolina-based Pentagon contractor, began hiring former combat personnel in Chile, offering them up to $4,000 a month to guard oil wells in Iraq. The company flew the first batch of 60 former commandos to a training camp in North Carolina. These recruits will eventually wind up in Iraq where they will spend six months to a year.

"We scour the ends of the earth to find professionals -- the Chilean commandos are very, very professional and they fit within the Blackwater system," Gary Jackson, the president of Blackwater USA, told the Guardian.

While Blackwater USA is not nearly as well known as Halliburton or Bechtel -- two mega-corporations making a killing off the reconstruction of Iraq -- it nevertheless is doing quite well financially thanks to the White House's war on terror. The company specializes in firearm, tactics and security training and in October 2003, according to Mother Jones magazine, the company won a $35.7 million contract to train more than 10,000 sailors from Virginia, Texas, and California each year in 'force protection.'

Business has been booming for Blackwater, which now owns, as its press release boasts, "the largest privately-owned firearms training facility in the nation." Jackson told the Guardian, "We have grown 300 percent over each of the past three years and we are small compared to the big ones. We have a very small niche market, we work towards putting out the cream of the crop, the best."

The practice of using mercenaries to fight wars is hardly new, but it is becoming increasingly popular in recent years. During the first Gulf War, one out of every 50 soldiers on the battlefield was a mercenary. The number had climbed up to one in ten during the Bosnian conflict. Currently there are thousands of Bosnian, Filipino and American soldiers under contract with private companies serving in Iraq. Their duties range from airport security to protecting Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Apart from Chile, the other popular source for military recruits is South Africa. The United Nations recently reported that South Africa "is already among the top three suppliers of personnel for private military companies, along with the UK and the US." There are more than 1,500 South Africans in Iraq today, most of whom are former members of the South African Defense Force and South African Police.

According to the Cape Times, among the South African companies under contract with the Pentagon are Meteoric Tactical Solutions, which "is providing protection and is also training new Iraqi police and security units," and Erinys, a joint South African-British company, which "has received a multimillion-dollar contract to protect Iraq's oil industry," the Cape Times reported.

The recruitment of its citizens, however, isn't making either the Chilean or the South African governments happy. The Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act prohibits South African citizens from direct participation as a combatant in armed conflict for private gain. Michelle Bachelet, Chile's defense minister, has ordered an investigation into whether such recruitment is legal under Chilean laws. Bachelet also was troubled by stories that soldiers on active duty are leaving the company to sign up as mercenaries.

It is also only a matter of time before U.S. soldiers grow unhappy with the presence of mercenaries in their midst. The high salaries and shorter terms of employment offered to mercenaries will inevitably make a serious dent on the military's budget. As Blackwater's Jackson acknowledged in the Guardian, "If they are going to outsource tasks that were once held by active-duty military and are now using private contractors, those guys [on active duty] are looking and asking, 'Where is the money?'"

Raenette Taljaard, a member of the South African Parliament, describes the ubiquitous reach of this "booming cottage industry" of private security companies:

"In addition to becoming an integral part of the machinery of war, they are emerging as cogs in the infrastructure of peace. US-allied military officials and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan are quickly becoming familiar with the 'brand services' provided by companies."

In the era of globalization, war has become just another industry to be outsourced.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-01-2007, 03:28 AM Thread Starter
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I am surprised that the Blackwater Inc. U.S.A. issue has received so little attention or outrage.
This is an American military / mercenary organization, made up by soldiers for hire from all over the World, seemingly above National and International laws, under contract to the U.S. Goverment, and said to be modelled after the Nazi SS.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-01-2007, 05:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Teutone
I am surprised that the Blackwater Inc. U.S.A. issue has received so little attention or outrage.
This is an American military / mercenary organization, made up by soldiers for hire from all over the World, seemingly above National and International laws, under contract to the U.S. Goverment, and said to be modelled after the Nazi SS.
Who said they are modeled after the SS? I think that is goofy.

First, the SS were not mercenary. They were loyal only to Adolf Hitler and through him, Germany. I don't think pay alone would suffice to induce the terrific war fighting zealotry of the Waffen SS, making them probably the most feared units of significant size in WWII. Also, The extreme butchery of some SS units simply has no parallel in modern western civilization. They would have been great Al Qaedistas, though.

A closer analogy strictly in terms of tactical use in war would be Army Rangers or Marines, in the sense that they were the spear tip in almost all offensive action. This is so different from a mercenary army that it defies reason to equate them.

What am I missing, here?

B

PS In full disclosure, I have had dealings with some Blackwater guys who were hired to (1) guard particular dwellings or company assets in NOLA, post-Katrina. and (2) hired to establish a security zone around the area affected by Hurricane Rita. Both stayed in place until local LE or NG forces could get organized -- a couple of weeks or so at most. The guys I met were all late 20's to mid 30's and lightly armed. They were just like cops in demeanor -- polite and direct. I know one guy who left a SF unit and was recruited to work on a security detail in Iraq. He made more in a week than he got paid in a year by the military and the work was far less dangerous. He said the biggest drawback was the lack of back-up. With military there's this huge machine following you around the world. Nothing with civilian contractors.

Last edited by Botnst; 05-01-2007 at 05:41 AM.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-01-2007, 05:47 AM
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Blackwater = Waffen $$
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-01-2007, 06:16 AM
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Waffen SS was a national army while Blackwater supplies guards-for-hire.

I'm willing to be educated, here. Tell me where I missed the similarities?

B
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post #16 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-01-2007, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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Command structure perhaps?

As a foot note: The Waffen SS (not to be confused with KZ guards etc.) were a superior fighting force. Throughout the War, and in the Ardennes fighting, it took something like an 8 or 9 to 1 advantage by the Allies to conqer them.

Another aside: Years ago in Germany two Friend got married. He the son of a former Waffen SS officer, she the daughter of a garment manufacturer.
Neither parent attended the wedding, but the groom now runs the business.
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post #17 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-01-2007, 08:04 PM
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Command structure perhaps?

As a foot note: The Waffen SS (not to be confused with KZ guards etc.) were a superior fighting force. Throughout the War, and in the Ardennes fighting, it took something like an 8 or 9 to 1 advantage by the Allies to conqer them.

Another aside: Years ago in Germany two Friend got married. He the son of a former Waffen SS officer, she the daughter of a garment manufacturer.
Neither parent attended the wedding, but the groom now runs the business.
Waffen SS command structure was not by term contract, was it? I do not believe that Blackwater has a loyalty oath to the company president, but I could be wrong. I'd love to see evidence of that as it would instantly convert me to your argument!

Concerning the elan and training of the Waffen SS, no question they were the finest professional army on Earth at the time.

B
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