The Bush administration has shown itself more than willing to call in Blackwater in place of U.S. troops.
In Aug. 2003, the Bush administration awarded
Blackwater a $21.3 million contract to guard then Amb. Paul Bremer. The average senior special operations officer makes $50,000 a year from the U.S. government. Employees in private security firms in Iraq often make more than $1,000 a day from government contracts. This arrangement is “depleting the ranks of the special forces,” luring them into lucrative private jobs.
Some military analysts initially welcomed the administration’s private security arrangement with Blackwater because it allowed “regular military troops to concentrate on fighting.” But Blackwater’s new proposal would shift some of the fighting to the private sector, further diminishing the role of the all-volunteer army."Iraqi Facts:
In March of 2004, it was reported that Blackwater had flown a group of about 60
former Chilean commandos, many of who had trained under the military
government of Augusto Pinochet, from Santiago to its training camp in North
Carolina. From there they were taken to Iraq.
In an interview with the Chilean newspaper La Tercera, a former Chilean army
officer, Carlos Wamgnet, 30, who was going to Iraq, said: "We are calm. This mission
is nothing new for us.
"In the end, this is an extension of our military career."
John Rivas, 27, a former Chilean marine, said the work in Iraq would provide a "very
good income" that would allow him to support his family.
"I don't feel like a mercenary," he added. (3)
According to Gary Jackson, President of Blackwater USA,
"We scour the ends of the earth to find professionals - the Chilean
commandos are very, very professional and they fit within the Blackwater
system." he added, "We have grown 300% over each of the
- past three years
and we are small compared to the big ones'
"We have a very small niche market, we work towards putting out the cream
- of the crop, the best." (3)
The privatisation of security in Iraq has been growing as the US seeks to reduce
its commitment of troops. Since private companies pay experienced special forces
personnel far more than the armed services, a decline in re-enlistment has
resulted amongst the most highly trained troops. This has created a cycle where
the private firms are continually taking over more duties once done by "regular"
According to Jackson,
"The US military has ... problems," he said. "If they are going to outsource
tasks that were once held by active-duty military and are now using private
contractors, those guys [on active duty] are l
- ooking and asking, 'Where is
the money? (3)
Frontline: Watch the full program:
Read the transcipt:
"The quality and range of services KBR provides to soldiers is impressive, but cost is a real issue. An audit by the U.S. Government Accountability Office of dining hall costs for one four-month period alleges KBR charged $88 million dollars for meals they never served. And Pentagon audits allege that KBR overcharged $108 million for fuel and billed the government $1.8 billion in other unsupported costs. The Pentagon terminated the fuel contract. As for meals, KBR says workers prepared food that just wasn't consumed. And the unsupported 1.8 billion, KBR says, is a paperwork issue that's being resolved."
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] Retired military say, "You know, our soldiers don't need three flavors of ice cream. They don't need lobster," or "They don't need cordon bleu. What they need is a safe, secure environment."