Blackwater USA Thesis

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Blackwater

The Private Contractor Dilemma

During the course of the war in Iraq, the United States has seen many of its allies remove their troops from Iraq. By itself, the United States military would be unable to fight the war and bring stability to the region as it is does not have the requisite number of troops on the ground and those troops are not adeptly trained for all of the dangerous tasks involved. The definitive number of troops is determined not by need but by executive and congressional orders, which do not allow greater numbers for support and/or security troops which creates an essential gap in services for troops and for the cause of securing individuals, groups and even supplies. The answer to this gap has been to provide for such services through private contracts and in doing so the dire need calls for such contracts to be closed bids, where the contract is not offered to the best provider or the provider who offers the best return on the investment it is simply offered to an individual corporation that is most likely to be able to provide the service as rapidly as possible. These services range from cooking and maintenance services for U.S. troops and equipment to prison guards and/or trained security staff for high profile Iraqi civilian officials.

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Although many Americans still visualize the U.S. military as a monolithic force of uniformed personnel only, the reality is far different. Due to federally imposed personnel limitations for the armed forces and the need for specialized skills in the modern high-tech military, (5) hundreds of activities once performed by the military are now privatized and outsourced to thousands of civilian contractors.

Addicott 323)

TOPIC: Thesis on Blackwater USA Assignment

American investigative journalist, Jeremy Scahill, with an expertise in private military companies, informs that such tasks include the protection of diplomats and other dignitaries that require highly-specialized training to the simple delivery and cooking of meals for the troops in a chaotic, unpredictable war-zone (Scahill 28, 150). The resignation to provide less that perfect services to military personnel and equipment, such as that which is pointed out by the documentary program "Iraq for Sale" is only one serious aspect of the problems that can occur when large bodies have no oversight beyond their own supervision. (Greenwald) the real danger is not the frustrating concern of unclean laundry or less than "clean" water provided to troops but situations where privately contracted personnel have the power and authority to use arms against anyone who they believe to be a threat, regardless of the consequences of their actions. If military personnel were responsible for the actions taken by some contracted individuals there would be actions taken against them, and sanctions would be swift and public to deter such "mistakes" in the future. While in the case of armed security personnel hired and trained by private contractors the goal has been to minimize transparency regarding incidence and in some cases spirit unruly, trigger happy individuals out of the country before the company has to answer for their actions. (Broder 4)

Blackwater

Many of these security related contracts have been met by a large multinational multi-million dollar corporation known as Blackwater USA. In Iraq in fact Blackwater holds the largest share of security contracts, sharing the remainder with two other companies. According to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Blackwater has twice as many shooting incidence reported as the other two contractors combined, and many of those are incidences where Blackwater staff fired the first shot, often from a moving vehicle, without stopping, identifying or helping wounded individuals. (Broder 4) the Blackwater corporation is a large private securities company that boasts employment many ex-military officials among others and to date has received over 500 million dollars in DOD contracts for their security work in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places of high security need in the world. The company and its "trained" contractors serve without the requisite military oversight and many call them a private "mercenary" army. (Greenwald) Blackwater and other companies actions have caused a myriad of issues and controversies due to the lack of oversight and the near-total immunity bestowed upon these companies as a result of the nature of their contracts and those signed by the contracted individuals who sign on to do the work that Blackwater has contracted with the Department of Defense to do.

Addicott 323) Lack of accountability through traditional open bidding systems, that allow for comparison of offerings and even costs has created a limited set of contractors all playing by the varied rules of their specific contracts with limited accountability to employees and/or the people they serve, demonstrates a difficult and fundamentally flawed aspect of the ideal of provision of services by private companies.

Addicott 323) Additionally many cases have been reported where private security personnel conducted themselves in a manner that did not meet the requirements or guidelines of their contracts, including but not limited to firing offensively and fighting in conjunction with U.S. troops. (Broder 4) in the specific case of Blackwater these factors, lack of supervision, lack of continuity and allowable secrecy have led to a number of incidents where Blackwater employees produced preemptive rather than defensive gunfire, which is in violation of their contract and a clear abuse of power as well as several incidences where private innocent civilians were killed as a result of Blackwater employee fear, lack of support, lack of training and especially lack of accountability for their actions. (Broder 4).

The Congressional committee report mentioned earlier would also like to call attention to the fact that though the number of soldiers may be reduced by privatization, private services such as security are far more costly than they would be if they were provided by the military.

Using Blackwater instead of U.S. troops to protect embassy officials is expensive. Blackwater charges the government$.I,222 per day for the services of a private military contractor. This is equivalent to $445,000 per year, over six times more than the cost of an equivalent U.S. soldier. In total, Blackwater has received over $1 billion in federal contracts from 2001 through 2006, including more than $832 million under two contracts with the State Department to provide protective services in Iraq. (Waxman 3)

Despite countless incidence of report and violations of contracts according to democrat house representative, Henry Waxman CA, Blackwater still remains unpunished; rather, it receives even more lucrative contracts (Waxman). These actions have led to the deterioration of the relationship and the increase in the level of distrust between the Iraqi population and the United States military.

Demand for Change

Many contract companies would like to see continuity of contract as well as the development of stricter oversights on the part of the U.S. government, to help ensure that their good work is not discounted by the rouge actions of a few overzealous contractors.

Interestingly, a number of contracting firms have come out in support of greater oversight and regulation of their activities by their own government and the United Nations, if necessary. Bergner, supra note 16, at 56. These firms would "like checks on everything from adequate training to human rights violations. They'd like to see their more rash competitors lose their contracts. They'd like to legitimize the work, to remove the remaining stigma that their own men are rogues, mercenaries."

Addicott 325)

The U.S. people, the congress, the military and many others internationally and domestically share this regard for the need to develop better systems to control such actions, as regardless often lack of U.S. military uniforms in some cases the contractors still represent the U.S., and when doing so against the rules of human rights and dignity do not represent us well.

If no changes are made, then more of our taxes will continue to go to Blackwater and their contractors will continue to recklessly slaughter innocent people and increase distrust in Americans by Iraqi civilians. If this situation happened in America, it would be completely unacceptable and mercenaries would be court-martialed without question. Are Iraqi lives worth less than American lives? To correct the situation of unnecessary slaughter, one solution is to strip the private contractors of their immunity so that they must finally face the consequences of their actions. The Senate the Stop Outsourcing Security Act S. 2398 proposes to completely eliminate private security forces from military campaigns and instead limit privitised support forces only to non-military, i.e. non-combatant support services. (S 2398). Reasons given in the bill include the cost of services but also include the importance of oversight for issues of force that challenge the military and may even be prolonging the war in Iraq "The use of private security contractors for mission critical functions undermines the mission, jeopardizes the safety of American troops conducting military operations in Iraq and other combat zones, and should be phased out." (s 2398).

Many Blackwater contractors working on the streets in Iraq heavily armed and are extremely unpopular among Iraqis. The extensive use of contractors in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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