Archive for contractors – Page 2

Shallow Thoughts: What are our service members worth?


Today's Shallow Thought:

I listened as the TV news dee jay told me how relieved members of our military are that their paychecks won't be delayed, now that a government shutdown has been averted.  I listened as the news dee jay reminded me that many of those same people would have been in real trouble if they would have had to wait even an extra week or two, because they're strapped, and wouldn't have been able to afford food, rent, or house payments.

And then I wondered why our military has to fret and hand wring about that when private contractors get paid so handsomely for their work. And I wondered why we don't pay our service members more, so that if they were to have to endure a shutdown, they could be less concerned than they were this week.

And maybe we'd even recruit more men and women if they knew that, you know, they would be more amply rewarded for their hard work and bravery.

Then I had to stop listening to the TV news dee jay, because my blood pressure was undoubtedly rising to unsafe levels.

That was today's Shallow Thought. Thank you for wading in.


US report: Private contractors at record in Afghan war


Because Blackwater (my Blackwater for Dummeez Primer is at that link) has worked out so well:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The number of private security personnel working for the US military in Afghanistan rose to 18,919 at the end of last year, the highest level used in any conflict by the United States, a congressional report said.

The Congressional Research Service report said that the number of private security contractor personnel in Afghanistan has more than tripled since June 2009.

The firms provide security across violence-wracked Afghanistan to groups ranging from foreign militaries and embassies to non-governmental organizations to media companies.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai isn't a fan of private contractors like Blackwater Xe WhateverTheyCallThemselvesNow.  In his opinion, they "loot and steal, have links to criminal groups and might even fund insurgents." This report should greatly reassure him, then.

Our State Department is spending zillions on a bunch of thugs, yet our own military gets paid a fraction of what Blackwater makes, all while Blackwater and their ilk are draining people from our armed forces so that they can increase their salaries.

That doesn't sound like the American Way to me.


Use of Contractors Added to Chaos of Iraq War, Trove of Documents Shows


Just a brief FYI post:

Via an e-mail alert from the New York Times:

A huge archive of documents from the Iraq war, released by WikiLeaks, shows a multitude of shortcomings with the military's reliance on private contractors. The contractors lacked coordination with coalition forces and often shot with little discrimination -- and few if any consequences -- at unarmed Iraqi civilians, Iraqi security forces, American troops and even other contractors, stirring public outrage.

The documents also portray the long history of tensions between Kurds and Arabs in the north of Iraq and reveal the fears of some American units about what might happen after American troops leave the country by the end of 2011.

I've written about our reliance on private contractors (like Blackwater) many a time, and for good reason. Why our State Department still has them under contract is beyond many of us.

Additionally, Greg Mitchell just tweeted: "The New York Times analysis for what WikiLeaks logs on Iraq mean for Afghan war--tribal cooperation, not surge, was the key."

And with that, I'm off to record Tim Corrimal's radio show.


Afghan government starts to close private security firms, including Blackwater


The Afghan army and police are going to have to get busy re-e-eal fast if private contractors are on their way out. Trouble is, Afghan officials say they're "hobbled by a lack of education, drug abuse and corruption."

Gee, that's funny, so is Blackwater. Well, maybe not the education part, but who knows:

The Afghan government said Sunday it has started dissolving private security firms in the country by taking steps to end the operations of eight companies, including the firm formerly known as Blackwater and three other international contractors. [...]

Karzai's original decree gave an exemption to companies used to guard the compounds of international embassies or organizations, and Omar said the disbanding process does not apply to these organizations. It was unclear what this means for companies on the list that also have contracts to guard U.S. government installations or other diplomatic missions.

Omar said the government was focused on security companies who are providing protection for highways or convoys, not those training Afghan forces or guarding embassies.

FYI: Here is my Blackwater for Dummeez primer for a refresher course on who those thugs are.