Mercenaries Second Largest Force In Iraq, Outnumber British Troops
Mercenaries make the second largest occupation force in Iraq, outnumbering even the biggest U.S. ally, Britain.
varying estimates place between 20,000 and 40,000 'civilian contractors' currently occupying Iraq alongside coalition troops. Ex-military commandos armed with M4 rifles are battling the Iraqi resistance as part of a private contracting force, many of them hired by the U.S.-led occupation authority. Among the companies, Erinys was charged with guarding Iraqi oil fields, while Northrop Grumman subsidiary Vinnell, MPRI and Nour USA had been training and equipping the new Iraq army.
Mercenaries Second Largest Force In Iraq: Report
WASHINGTON, April 18 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) - Mercenaries make the second largest occupation force in Iraq, outnumbering even the biggest U.S. ally, Britain.
About 15,000 personnel from private military firms (PMFs) are operating in Iraq, according to the estimation of Peter Singer, author of "Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry," reported Agence France-Presse (AFP) http://sg.news.yahoo.com/040418/1/3jkqf.html Sunday, April 18.
Ex-military commandos armed with M4 rifles are battling the Iraqi resistance as part of a private contracting force, many of them hired by the U.S.-led occupation authority, he said.
Among the companies, Singer added, Erinys was charged with guarding Iraqi oil fields, while Northrop Grumman subsidiary Vinnell, MPRI and Nour USA had been training and equipping the new Iraq army.
Claude Salhani, International Editor of United Press International (UPI) http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20040416-060438-4847r explains that the term civil contractors in nothing more than a replica of the now outdated term mercenaries.
"In other wars, such as in Africa's colonial conflicts during the late 1950s and early 1960, these civilian contractors were simply called mercenaries.
"In today's more politically correct world, the term mercenary has been sidelined for the more acceptable PC 'civilian contractor'."
While Singer put the number of these modern mercenaries at about 15,000 personnel, Salhani pushed the number up between 20,000 to 40,000.
In a report to the Internet news magazine Salon.com, Singer said that at least 30 to 50 (of the mercenaries) were killed in action in Iraq.
"It is more a coalition of the billing than of the willing," he asserted.
Since the personnel were not army, lawmakers and the American people were largely unaware of the scale of the private companies' role, Singer said.
That role was shockingly highlighted when four Blackwater USA employees were ambushed March 31 in the resistance bastion of Fallujah.
Bodies were shown to millions on television being pulled out of a burning vehicle, hacked by angry Iraqis, dragged behind a car and strung up on a bridge.
The mutilation prompted condemnation from Muslim scholars, the practice being banned by Islam under any circumstances, even at war.
Media reports referred to the four Blackwater employees as "civilians".
A Blackwater spokesman, Chris Bertelli, said the group had 450 people in Iraq, most armed with the 5.56 mm M4 rifle.
Blackwater has 21-million-dollar contract with the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to guard U.S. administrator Paul Bremer and five outposts, he said.
It also has private contracts, details undisclosed, such as protecting the convoy that was ambushed in Fallujah.
"Almost all of them are weapon-carrying," Bertelli said.
Employees there - many ex-Navy SEALs or Army Rangers - were restricted to rifles of a caliber up to 7.62 mm.
Bertelli confirmed an account of an April 5 firefight in Najaf, where Blackwater commandos fought resistance fighters for hours, firing thousands of rounds, to defend the CPA outpost.
Blackwater "employees" train for Iraq missions in North Carolina
Blackwater used helicopters from the Bremer detail to re-supply its commandos with ammunition, he said.
But junior and field ranks in the military were starting to question the role of such "outsourcing," Singer added.
The private firms were integral to the operation (occupation), but not within the military, and there were no standard operating procedures to guide them or ensure smooth cooperation, he asserted.
Private military firms, for example, did not have full or timely access to military and CIA intelligence or to U.S. army communications, weapons, protection, and rescue operations.
"The lack of formally shared information on current threats and ongoing or planned operations is a crucial missing link," Singer wrote.
He quoted one executive as saying the lack of information meant contractors were "flying blind, often guessing about places that they shouldn't go."
In a report published April 14, the Telegraph India paper reported that "scores of Chilean ex-commandos, many trained by Americans during the notorious U.S.-supported dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, are being hired to guard sensitive Iraqi installations and provide security for authorities created by Washington's viceroy in Baghdad, Paul Bremer.
It quoted Gary Jackson, president of Blackwater USA, as having confirmed the recruitment saying: "We scour the ends of the earth to find professionals: the Chilean commandos are very, very professional and they fit within the Blackwater system...This is not the Boy Scouts'. "
"A first group of 60 Chilean mercenaries recruited from Santiago are now guarding Baghdad airport. Lured by salaries of up to $1,000 per day, serving commandos and special forces are leaving the Chilean army to work as mercenaries in Iraq, "said the Telegraph India.
Citing Chilean media reports, the newspaper said that Chilean Defense Minister Michelle Bachelet is investigating complaints that Blackwater violated Chilean laws on use of weapons by private citizens by providing paramilitary training for these mercenaries at its camp in North Carolina.
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