Private Armies, Public Debate Redux
One of the most intense contracting stories of our time -- because it includes bullets, guns and money -- remains Blackwater USA's role in Iraq.
Today, my colleagues Steve Fainaru and Sudarsan Raghavan report on more incredible details about the recent street battles fought between the quasi-military, US-based security firm and Iraqi security forces. This stuff is almost too much to believe. Yet it's an all too real a part of modern warfare.
A new report from the State Department "depicts an afternoon of mayhem that included a car bomb, a shootout in a crowded traffic circle and an armed standoff between Blackwater guards and Iraqi security forces before the U.S. military intervened."
The two-page report, a "first blush" account obtained by The Post, "raises new questions about what transpired in the intersection."
Brookings writer Peter W. Singer, who has been examining the role of military contractors for several years, meanwhile has a new paper that argues armed contractors have actually hindered efforts to subdue insurgents.
It's a provocative argument. It comes amid scrutiny of Blackwater and the dozens of private security forces that operate side-by-side with American warfighters in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world.
Here's what he calls his new paper: Can't Win with 'Em, Can't Go To War without 'Em: Private Military Contractors and Counterinsurgency. He contends that "the U.S. government needs to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate its use of private military contractors, especially armed roles within counterinsurgency and contingency operations."
Singer, a Brookings senior fellow and director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative, has a gloomy vision of private armies. "If we judge by what has happened in Iraq, when it comes to private military contractors and counterinsurgency, the U.S. has locked itself into a vicious cycle," says Singer. "It can't win with them, but can't go to war without them."
Money, guns and war? There's a burgeoning industry, to be sure. Seems Singer thinks that might not be such a good idea in the longrun. What do you think?
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: former military | September 28, 2007 8:11 AM
Posted by: Reinhard Schumann | September 28, 2007 8:45 AM
Posted by: LALAQ | September 29, 2007 2:32 AM
Posted by: Mair1 | September 29, 2007 9:00 AM
Posted by: Doubtom | October 1, 2007 12:34 PM
Posted by: Olivia | October 2, 2007 4:18 PM
Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2007 11:11 AM
Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2007 3:38 PM
Posted by: Chachi | October 5, 2007 12:41 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.