Private Enterprise

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Today's Washington Post describes a rather interesting sort of privatization:

Under assault by insurgents and unable to rely on U.S. and coalition troops for intelligence or help under duress, private security firms in Iraq have begun to band together in the past 48 hours, organizing what may effectively be the largest private army in the world, with its own rescue teams and pooled, sensitive intelligence.

Many of the firms were hired by the U.S. government to protect its employees in Iraq. But because the contracts are managed by the Coalition Provisional Authority and the coordination between the CPA and the U.S. military is limited, and by their accounts inadequate, the contractors have no direct line to the armed forces. Most of the firms' employees are military veterans themselves, and they often depend on their network of colleagues still in uniform for coordination and intelligence.

"There is no formal arrangement for intelligence-sharing," Col. Jill Morgenthaler, a spokeswoman for the U.S. military command headquarters in Baghdad, said in an e-mail in response to questions. "However, ad hoc relationships are in place so that contractors can learn of dangerous areas or situations."

NEXT: It's Rocket Science

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  1. Hmmm… every day it sounds like Iraq is getting closer to any given David Drake novel for Baen. Yeech.

  2. Any armchair international lawyers? How does a contract for a private contractor by a military occupational power and authorizing the use of deadly force differ in legality from the old “letters of marque and reprisal”? What’s the legal status of contractors who end up shooting someone? Who’s got jurisdiction: MP’s and a court martial; CPA investigators and administrative judge; or Iraq police and judge?

  3. The key passage for me is:

    “After hours of calling the U.S. military and [Coalition Provisional Authority]for backup, Blackwater sent in its own helicopters — twice — to ferry ammunition in and carry a wounded Marine to safety, according to U.S. government and industry sources familiar with the incident.”

    It sounds like 500 Blackwater employees could do the job of a whole division. Though I’m wary of a private army operating in the U.S., I think I’m in favor of sending private troops to fight our battles abroad. (Which is not to say that I was in favor of the Iraq war.)

  4. This was all predicted by Robert Heinlein.

  5. Recruitment activities, from personal experience, is quite significant now.

  6. Some would call our volunteer Army mercenaries.
    So are these much higher-paid folks mercenaries’ mercenaries?

    That’s how bureaucracies get going, eh?

  7. These, in the day when heaven was falling, the hour when earth’s foundations fled…

  8. Every article I read on Iraq sounds like a total cluster fuck. What the hell happened to the good news?

    It looks like the post-war occupation has relied heavily on the good will of the Iraqis. Is hope a plan?

  9. These guys do a better job for less money than equivalent government forces.

    I say we outsource the whole war to professionals.

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