More than 100 private security companies in Iraq: undermining mission, behaving like trigger-happy cowboys
Posted by gasweek on 17 October, 2007
According to United States Defence Department figures, there were more than 100 private security companies operating in Iraq, with more than 180,000 personnel, reported The Advertiser (11/10/2007, p. 13).
Military outsourcing in Iraq described as an addiction: The US had effectively outsourced much of the occupation and security of Iraq. Brookings Institute scholar Peter Singer, in an open letter to US Defence Secretary Rober Gates, described the military outsourcing as “an addiction”. “The blunt truth is that while contractors are carrying out valuable roles, their overall effect has been to undermine the Iraq mission and the wider fight against terrorism,” he wrote in The Washington Post. “Worst of all, we have outsourced the most important core function of our Government: to fight and win the nation’s wars. The US Government needs to go back to the drawing board on its use of private military contractors, especially regarding important armed roles in Iraq and future operations. These should again be handled by the Government. …Focused only on their contract, the private firms’ standard practices include driving their convoys up the wrong side of the road, ramming civilian vehicles, tossing smoke bombs and opening fire with machine-guns as warnings.”
Cowboy attitude making things worse: David Homer had first-hand experience of that cowboy attitude. He worked for Crescent Security Group, a company based in Kuwait City, and said that after being attacked with a roadside bomb in a town north of Baghdad, Crescent employees fired their automatic weapons pre-emptively whenever they passed through the town. “I know that I personally never saw anyone shoot at us, but we blazed through that town all the time,” said Homer, 55, a truck driver from California. “Personally I did not take aim at one person. But I don’t know what everybody else did. We’d come back at the end of the day, and a lot of times we were out of ammo.” Homer quit after one of Crescent’s Iraqi employees fired a machine-gun and hit what appeared to be two members of the Iraqi National Guard. “Let’s get the f— out of here,” Homer quoted the team leader as saying before the Crescent team drove off. “‘That was my last mission,” Homer said. “I wasn’t over there to wreck somebody’s life. There was too much cowboying going on. I really didn’t know if we had made things worse over there. More than likely we did; that was my feeling.”
The Advertiser, 11/10/2007, p. 13