Blackwater to train Iraqis [w/ UPDATE] Email Print

Facing mounting opposition to the War at home and  Iraqi requests for a timetable for a draw-down of US forces, Pentagon and Administration officials have begun to float the idea that it might be time to start turning the debacle over to the Iraqis. Lately reports of both US and British troop reductions have appeared in the press. Iraqi President Talabani recently stated that British troops could leave by the end of 2006 and that the Iraqis should be ready to take over in the southern provinces around Basra by that time. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi has echoed the same sentiment in regards to US troops.

It would appear from these reports that the training of Iraqi forces has been far more successful then we had previously believed.

Perhaps, as has been par for the course with this administration, there's something they have neglected to tell us.  

What could possibly have changed the situation on the ground so drastically?  In one word: Blackwater.

With talk of possibly cutting our forces by 50,000 to 60,000 by the end of next year, it's interesting to note that Blackwater Security is in the mist of a massive recruiting campaign for what they call "a multi-phase, multi-year contract in Iraq"

In its October 2005 e-mail newsletter "Blackwater Tactical Weekly" (archived here), Blackwater listed job opportunities in Iraq for a number of positions ranging from trainers and Coordination Officers who would "serve as the primary liaison between Iraqi officials, Coalition Forces, and US Government officials." to Project Managers with "15-20 years supervisory operational experience."

A careful reading of the job descriptions and requirements reveals just how large this program might turn out to be. Blackwater is looking for:

 "highly qualified, subject matter experts for several overseas opportunities. Applicants for the following positions:

  • Must be US Citizens
  • Have a current security clearance
  • Must have extensive experience in high-threat environments in such countries as Iraq and Afghanistan"

VIP Protection Trainers

Blackwater USA is looking for highly qualified, subject matter advisors and trainers to assist in the training of Iraqi security personnel. Individuals will be expected to liaison between Iraqi, Coalition, and US government officials. General Requirements:

    • Must have a valid U. S. Passport

    • Must be in good health and able to travel overseas

    • Former/retired US Department of State diplomatic Security Services; or

    • Former/retired US Secret Service or equivalent

    • Must have a minimum of three (3) years of working high level, high threat, and overseas protection detail assignments

Training Department Head

Blackwater USA is seeking a highly qualified manager to oversee training being conducted in Iraq. This manager will be responsible for a wide spectrum of financial and logistic reporting as well ensure that the training is being conducted as required by the contract. This position will support a multi-phase, multi-year contract in Iraq. General Requirements:

    • Must have a valid U. S. Passport

    • Must be in good health and able to travel overseas

    • Must have a minimum of three (3) years of working high level, high threat, and overseas protection detail assignments

    • Must have experience in leading and managing a training cadre of highly specialized trainers and advisors

Coordination Officer

 The Coordination Officer will serve as the primary liaison between Iraqi officials, Coalition Forces, and US Government officials.  This individual will fill a key position that will be critical to the transition of management of training and camp programs to the Iraqi government. General Requirements:

    • Must have a valid U. S. Passport

    • Must be in good health and able to travel overseas

    • Must have served in a leadership position for five (5) years as member of a military or police special operations · Must have excellent command of the Arabic Language

    • Must have at least three years experience of working with both Military and Department of State in special police and protective service operations

Program Manager

An experienced Program Manager to oversee a complex and intensive training contract in Iraq. The Program Manager will be responsible for a large cadre of instructors, Iraqi students, and base support operations.

General Requirements:

    • Must have 15-20 years supervisory operational experience and training in Military and/or Police special operations

    • Must be in good physical health

    • Availability to work overseas for extended periods of time

With extensive backgrounds in both the military and State Dept. required by some of these jobs it appears that Blackwater will be taking on a much more expanded roll in the "transition period".  To my eye it appears that they will be setting up a quasi, shadow diplomatic corps, along with having a larger military presence in Iraq.  

The outsourcing and privatization of military functions has long been a cornerstone of the Cheney/Rumsfeld doctrine. It now appears that they will be taking it one step further. As US troops are marched out the front door of Iraq to quell discontent at home and abroad, our new privately owned army will be sneaking through backdoor.

Update [2005-11-27 20:56:26 by Duke1676]:

Two stories just in:

'Trophy' video exposes private security contractors shooting up Iraqi drivers

Daily Telegraph

A "trophy" video appearing to show security guards in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi civilians has sparked two investigations after it was posted on the internet, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.


The video, which first appeared on a website that has been linked unofficially to Aegis Defence Services, contained four separate clips, in which security guards open fire with automatic rifles at civilian cars. All of the shooting incidents apparently took place on "route Irish", a road that links the airport to Baghdad.


In one of the videoed attacks, a Mercedes is fired on at a distance of several hundred yards before it crashes in to a civilian taxi. In the last clip, a white civilian car is raked with machine gun fire as it approaches an unidentified security company vehicle. Bullets can be seen hitting the vehicle before it comes to a slow stop.

There are no clues as to the shooter but either a Scottish or Irish accent can be heard in at least one of the clips above Elvis Presley's Mystery Train, the music which accompanies the video.

and this:

from the, LA Times on the death of Col. Westhusing one of the Army's leading scholars of military ethics, a full professor at West Point who volunteered to serve in Iraq to be able to better teach his students. He was found dead with a single gunshot wound to the head at his base outside of Baghdad . . .an apparent suicide.

Westhusing's task was to oversee a private security company, Virginia-based USIS, which had contracts worth $79 million to train a corps of Iraqi police to conduct special operations.

[I]n May, Westhusing received an anonymous four-page letter that contained detailed allegations of wrongdoing by USIS.

The writer accused USIS of deliberately shorting the government on the number of trainers to increase its profit margin. More seriously, the writer detailed two incidents in which USIS contractors allegedly had witnessed or participated in the killing of Iraqis.

In e-mails to his family, Westhusing seemed especially upset by one conclusion he had reached: that traditional military values such as duty, honor and country had been replaced by profit motives in Iraq, where the U.S. had come to rely heavily on contractors for jobs once done by the military.

It looks like some of our worst fears are being confirmed

( Additional research provided by The IraqFact Working Group:nydem25)


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This is one of the key factors that led to the fall of the Roman Empire, and I'm surprised more people don't comment on it. When an empire gets overextended and can't recruit, it relies on mercenaries, first domestic and then foreign.

Pretty soon, I bet, we'll be seeing that requirement for a US passport dropped. For a couple of these job listings, there really can't be that many people qualified (Secret Service experience, State Department security experience?).

by SusanG on 11/26/2005 10:57:37 AM EST

of privatizing military functions are varied.

  1. The drain it puts on the "real" military. After spending vast amounts of time and money to train these most highly qualified personnel, they lose them to the private sector which can afford to pay the higher salaries in part because they don't have those training expenses.

  2. Oversight issues. To who do these private armies really answer. They can be deployed simply through a business contract. Unlike the "real" military, which in theory is answerable to the Congress, these private armies can work independently of civilian control.

  3. Accountability issues. Who sets the rules of engagement and mission objectives for this new army? I fear it will be the boardrooms of their employers, or worse it will be determined in secret, deep in the bowels of the Pentagon or Langley.

4.Transparencey issues. Will the American people be made at all aware of what is being done in their name. Although there have alway been black-opps and secret armies, this trend seems to greatly increase the possibility for action on a much larger scale flying under the radar.

Lastly there is question of motivations and consequences. I am of the mind that our current leadership, Rummy and the Dick in particular, have demonstrated with their mismanagement of Iraq that they in some way veiw this privatized army as mitigater for failures. They really didn't have to "win" the war, or even plan effectively for it since if they were to fail, they could simply privatize the whole matter over time and not worry about answering to the American people. Simply claim victory where there is none and replace the regular army with a private one that can continue the fight indefinitely until the desired outcome is reached. This seems to be the current plan.

by Duke1676 on 11/26/2005 12:59:41 PM EST

last paragraph more? If one of the "goals" of the Iraq invasion was to show American "might and right", so to speak, how does the use of Blackwater help advance that goal?

All it takes to fly is to hurl yourself at the ground... and miss. (Douglas Adams)

by scoophound on 11/29/2005 12:15:30 PM EST

Although after years of listening to the shifting rationales given for this war, it's still not clear way we are there. I think we can safely assume that money was a prime motivator for some. For others it was some sort of experiment in empire building.

It is in that light that the privatization advances their goals.

I believe that in Cheney's case the privatization itself may even have been the actual goal. He has been a proponent of outsourcing military functions since his days at DOD in the first Bush administration.

It seems at this point that the Neocon ideologues provided the theoretical justifications for war to test their notions of Pax Americana. The business interests were simply looking for way to test their ideas about maximizing defense spending in a post Cold War age of a smaller "more efficient" military.

It is here at the nexus of the Rumsfeld Doctrine and Cheney's Big-Oil interests and Defense Industrialists that the Iraq war plan was formed.

I believe that the contractors were to be the "ace in the hole" for operation.

If Rumsfeld and Cheney were right, Saddam would fall quickly, the Iraqi people would be "liberated", oil deals could be cut, defense contracts signed with our new ally, and the flow of money into the pockets of what Bush calls "his base" would begin.

If Rumsfeld was wrong, and the war could not be "won" by his new smaller "high-tec" modern army, the contractors could come in and do the real dirty work required. (Allowing defense contractors to run the war privately from that point on. They would now be receiving payments on both ends; those already appropriated for the "regular" military and more for this new private enterprise)

The same would be true if the Neocons were wrong and we were not greeted with flowers.

As for the boys in the Star Chamber like Carlyle and Haliburton the contractors provide a win -win situation. They make money whether we "win" or "lose"

That situation explains, in my opinion, why the planning and execution of the war were so feeble from the start. WE didn't have to "win" in order for the people pulling the real strings to win.

Bush can now begin to pull out troops to appease public sentiment, while replacing them with a modern Raj system whereby the Iraqis will be our Sepoys and the contractors their leaders.


by Duke1676 on 11/29/2005 04:54:20 PM EST

times, and I do believe that, where Cheney and Rumsfeld are concerned, you nailed it...Blackwater and all.

Congratulations. For me, trying to get a handle on the administration's thinking(?) is like shooting at fog with a shotgun.

Perhaps your approach, one piece of fog (Kagan, Wolfowitz, Ledeen, Feith, etc) at a time would be easier than trying to figure out how the marriages of their ideologies resulted in this ruinous entanglement.

Thank you again for the time you took answering the question. And I'm very interested in how you see the other pieces of my fog.

All it takes to fly is to hurl yourself at the ground... and miss. (Douglas Adams)

by scoophound on 11/29/2005 06:25:31 PM EST

While the motivations of Cheney and Rumsfeld are somewhat easy to discern, I'm sometimes at a loss when trying to figure out the motives of some of the other players. Over time I think I'm starting to settle in on the notion that there are three main "groups" shaping this policy:

1.    The "industrialists" comprised of the defense industry, big-oil and other business interests represented by the Cheney/Rumsfeld wing.

2.    The "ideologues" represented  by the true Neocons like Wolfowitz, Feith, Bolton, Kristol, Kagan and the rest. They were looking to foster a "new world order" in which America would become the dominant political and economic power in the post Cold War world. Their vision of that new world seems revolves around some sort of "utopian benevolent empire" that could bring stability to a chaotic world created by the power vacuum created by the fall of communism.  

3.    The "Reaganite regressives" who make up the bulk of the Republican Party (and to some extent conservative Democrats like Joementum). Their philosophy in both foreign and domestic affairs seems to be shaped more by the experiences of the sixties and the Vietnam era than the issues of the present. In their domestic agenda they wish to turn back the clock on the social changes that came out of that period. In foreign policy, the failures in Vietnam still seem scar their psyches. They seem to have a need to, for once and for all, effectively project American power to "redeem" the nation for the failures of Vietnam (and to some extent Korea). The debacle in Somalia, the USS Cole, Beirut, the African Embassy bombings, and to some extent, Saddam's continued presence in Iraq, seemed to only confirm their notion that America had somehow gone on the wrong path during the 60's and 70's and they were obligated to set that path straight. I think that they believe that it would only be through the successful use of military power that they could exorcise the demons of the past. It was in light of these feelings that I feel they were so willing to suspend disbelief in order to believe that Iraq and Osama were interchangeable. They needed an enemy to fight...but even more so it had to be an enemy that was "traditional" or "concrete" like Saddam rather than the nebulous specter of bin Laden or "terrorists". They wanted to see results,  a nation defeated....something they could put their fingers on and say " see this time we really won".

I think it is the convergence of these three factions that brought on this war. To some extent I can understand some of these differing motivations, but I must admit, the Neocons still have me baffled to some extent, only because their ideas just seem so far-fetched and almost irrational. I've read their work, and still honestly can't see the logic in it.  But maybe in time it will become a little clearer.      

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