BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Merc-O-Rama, Part II

Yo ho.

Not gonna bitch about gas prices here in Hollywood. ($2.77 - $2.85 - everywhere.)

Bike riding has Gives one a new perspective on the mean streets of La La Land.

Saw (2) different Gandalfs working the sidewalk in front of the Chinese Theater this past weekend.

Memo to the Spongebob Guy: Take another pass at your costume.


Now, a few weeks ago, I posted the following story about the "outsourcing" of MERCS in Iraq:

Worry Grows as Foreigners Flock to Iraq's Risky Jobs

Actually, the headline should've read, "Foreign Mercs working in Iraq...for US COMPANIES"

On your dime.
WASHINGTON — For hire: more than 1,000 U.S.-trained former soldiers and police officers from Colombia. Combat-hardened, experienced in fighting insurgents and ready for duty in Iraq.

This eye-popping advertisement recently appeared on an Iraq jobs website, posted by an AMERICAN ENTREPRENEUR who hopes to supply SECURITY FORCES for U.S. contractors in Iraq and elsewhere.
"Security Forces" = Mercs.
If hired, the Colombians would join a swelling population of heavily armed private military forces working in Iraq and other global hot spots. They also would join a growing corps of WORKERS from the developing world who are seeking higher wages in dangerous jobs, what some critics say is a troubling result of efforts by the U.S. to "OUTSOURCE" its operations in Iraq and other countries.

In a telephone interview from Colombia, the entrepreneur, Jeffrey Shippy, said he saw a booming global demand for his "PRIVATE ARMY," and a lLUCRATIVE BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY in recruiting Colombians.

Shippy, who formerly worked for DynCorp International, a major U.S. security contractor, said the Colombians were willing to work for $2,500 to $5,000 a month, compared with perhaps $10,000 or more for Americans.
There's gold in them thar hills.

CUT BACK TO this weekend.

Phenomenal NY Times piece on the bigger MERC STORY in Iraq.


It's an absolute MUST MUST READ, people. There might be over 25,000 mercs, er, "private security forces," fighting, er, "providing security" in Iraq.

Right now.

The firms employ, in Iraq, a great number of armed men. No one knows the number exactly. In Baghdad in June, in a privately guarded coalition compound in the Green Zone, I talked with Lawrence Peter, a paid advocate for the industry and -- in what he called a ''private-public partnership'' -- a consultant to the Department of Defense on outsourced security. He put the number of armed men around 25,000.

(This figure is in addition to some 50,000 to 70,000 unarmed civilians working for American interests in Iraq, the largest percentage by way of Halliburton and its subsidiaries, doing everything from servicing warplanes to driving food trucks to washing dishes.)

But the estimates, from industry representatives and the tiny sector of academics who study the issues of privatized war, are so vague that they serve only to confirm the chaos of Iraq and the fact that -- despite an attempt at licensing the firms by the fledgling Iraqi Interior Ministry -- no one is really keeping track of all the businesses that provide squads of soldiers equipped with assault rifles and belt-fed light machine guns.
Good times.
Peter's best guess was that there are 60 companies in all. ''Maybe 80,'' he added quickly, mentioning that there were any number of miniature start-ups. He continued: ''Is it a hundred? Possibly.''

Triple Canopy now has about 1,000 men in Iraq, about 200 of them American and almost all the rest from Chile and Fiji. Its rivals include British firms that draw from the elite units of the U.K. military and outfits that draw from South African veterans of the wars to save apartheid. Australians and Ukrainians and Romanians and Iraqis are all making their livings in the business. Many have experience as soldiers; some have been in law enforcement. The firms guard the huge American corporations struggling to carry out Iraq's reconstruction. The private gunmen try to hold the insurgents at bay so that supplies can be delivered and power stations can be built. And companies like Triple Canopy shield American government compounds from attack. With guns poking out from sport utility vehicles, they usher American officials from meeting to meeting. They defend the buildings and people whom the insurgency would most like to reach.

Throughout his time as head of the C.P.A., L. Paul Bremer III, whom the insurgency may well have viewed as its highest-value target, was protected by a Triple Canopy competitor, Blackwater USA.

Private gunmen, according to Lawrence Peter, are now guarding four U.S. generals.

Triple Canopy protects a large military base. And throughout Iraq, the defense of essential military sites like depots of captured munitions has been informally shared by private soldiers and U.S. troops.

If the 25,000 figure is accurate, the businesses add about 16 percent to the coalition's total forces.

Yet it is hard to discern who authorized this particular outsourcing as military policy. No open policy debate took place; no executive order was publicly issued.

And who is in charge of overseeing these armed men?

One thing is sure: they are crucial to the war effort. In April 2004, within a few months of Triple Canopy's arrival in Iraq, its men were waging a desperate firefight to defend a C.P.A. headquarters in the city of Kut. The Mahdi Army had launched an onslaught.
PLEASE read the whole piece.

It covers the awesome amount of money mercs can make in Iraq, the screening process (or lack thereof), the ridiculous amount of cash the CPA threw at the "private security companies" during Paul Bremer's time in Baghdad, and the growing role of mercs in this war.

Who are doing the same things our soldiers and Marines used to do...


"Bet we're paying a lot less for those services."



I'd like to remind you - that Cheney & Rumsfeld - have been working on ways to PRIVATIZE PARTS OF THE MILITARY (thus creating BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES for their friends) since the NIXON ADMINISTRATION.

And here we are.


If you're in the business of war...

"You've got to have war to make money."

If you don't have war?

"You've got to create your own 'opportunities.'"

That's the problem.

"No it's not."


More later...


  • Horrifying reminder of privatization run wild.

    Two pop culture links on this story ring in my head:

    "Private gunmen, according to Lawrence Peter, are now guarding four U.S. generals."

    This makes me think of all the bounty hunters Vader hired in "Empire Strikes Back." The admirals were uneasy, but the Emperor's main man saw the value of 'mercs' and what they could do for the imperial forces.

    2. The whole story makes me think of a Warren Zevon song (God rest his soul).

    Disgusting, absolutely disgusting, and brought to you by the same people who are offended if federal dollars are used to provide sex education or contraceptives. "No, no - if you can't practice abstinence, don't worry, we'll just hire your kids later as mercs so they can die for us."

    By Anonymous Nick, at 9:20 AM  

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