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View Diary: Mercenaries, war, and my childhood (368 comments)

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  •  great response kos (none)
    Well Kos, I almost feel the need to apologize for starting the diary that lead to all this shit. I think you made some good points. Sure the screw you might have been harsh, but so is the fact that there are over 20,000 mercenaries operating in Iraq, making them the second largest partner in the coalition of the willing. I hope that these recent events will lead to more knowledge of this aspect or this war. I think that you are correct that these deaths should definatly rank below those that did not choose this battle. (yes people join the military to earn money, would anyone do it for free? but that doesn't mean that they choose which battles to fight... mercs do.) My biggest issue, though perhaps not well articulated was the label of "civilian" or "contractor" or civilian contractor" to me it is complete bullshit. makes em sound like humanitarian aid workers or something, which they weren't. anyway my apologies for the shit storm that may have been created, but i was encouraged by the discussion that it has led to. i hope that it will lead to better labels in the future as well. "civilians" being killed would lead to unfounded outrage, "private armed mercenaries" would put it in better context.

    Compassionate Conservative means never having to say you're a dumbass.

    by gregonthe28th on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 05:23:20 PM PST

    •  Mercenaries or contract workers? (none)

      When you give the number 20,000 "mercenaries" in Iraq, are you including the truck drivers, cooks and maintenance people hired by Halliburton and such? Because these are not combat personnel, and do not fit the description of "mercenary" in the manner you are using it.

      You are complaining that there is a division and a half of mercenaries over there fighting as infantry! I don't believe it!

      In the last 30 years most of the support functions including cooking, truck driving, building maintenance, plumbing, etc. on US bases has been contracted out to civilians so that the guys in uniform need not be distracted from learning to fight. Now that they are in Iraq, it makes sense that the contracted-out functions still need to be done, and need to be done by contractors. <h1>These contracted out functions are not being performed by mercenaries!</h1> Mercenaries are hired to fight, not to be plumbers or drive trucks. Unless you have a new definition of Mercenary.

      •  from what i've read (none)
        i may be exaggeratting some numbers.. i may be slightly misinformed... but from what i've read guys like Bremmer are not guarded by US troops, they are guarded by private security. I also read that the Green Zone is now being guarded by private security. Perhaps the number I quoted does include some of the support personel, apologies for the confusion, but the fact is there's a lot of guys over there doing "private security" that aren't cookin pork and beans.

        Compassionate Conservative means never having to say you're a dumbass.

        by gregonthe28th on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 06:49:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Security vs. military (none)

          Bremer is employed by the Department of State, which does not have its own military organization the last I heard. Possibly they could use Marines, like in Embasseys, but I really doubt that the Marine Corps has enough trained security specialists to fill the needed jobs in Iraq for the Department of State. That is a police job, not a combat function.

          So what do you do? Retrain a bunch of Marines for a job the Marine Corps will not need to perform in five years (bad career move for a good marine), or hire already trained security specialists?

          DynCorp hired and paid the police who were in Bosnia training the new police force. They got experienced policemen, usually retired, offered them a job for a few years, and that is it. You properly contract out rarely needed skills used during peak periods.

          If you have real heartburn over private security people, perhaps I should point out that there are approximately 2 and 1/2 private security guards in the US for each commissioned policeman. There would be even more if the policemen didn't work as security guards as second jobs.

          Most of you guys are reacting to a hollywood image of paramilitary mercenaries that has very little to do with reality. So is Kos, although his reaction includes living through a nasty guerrilla war with paramilitaries and militias. This is mixed with the fact that almost none of us here think that we should have been in Iraq in the first place.

          All I am saying is - Sort out what is real from what is not, and what is necessary from what is not. Then find the real targets to go after. If you find a "Mad Mike" Hoare or a Rambo running squads, platoons or companies of infantry Mercenaries in combat or combat sweeps, then by all means go after them. But is you have heartburn over the fact that the State Department is hiring private security to guard Bremer and his civilians, I simply don't think you have any real complaint.

          We didn't need to go into Iraq in the first place. Bush/Cheney/Rumsfelt were all simply idiots blinded by ideology and unwilling to recognize the reality they faced. But now that we are there, getting out without doing a great deal more damage to Iraq, to our counter-terrorist goals, and to the US in general isn't as simple as simply telling every American to get into their trucks and head for the ships all at once.

          Similarly, I don't think that the civilian cooks, plumbers, carpentars and truck drivers are dangerous mercenaries. We did the same thing in Viet Nam, but we mostly hired local nationals. That took longer, and required a local government in place to even partially work. If we (God Forbid!) remain in Iraq much longer, then the US nationals will be quickly replaced with much cheaper local nationals. [More international outsourceing of American jobs, of course.]

          The contractors doing security simply aren't a major part of the problem. Not that I have seen any evidence of, anyway. Changing the mix of military to contractors does not solve any part of the essential problem of getting us out of Iraq, stopping the fighting there and leaving a stable Iraq behind us.

          Let me say it again for clarity! All I am saying is - Sort out what is real from what is not, and what is necessary from what is not. Then find the real targets to go after. Civilian contractors guarding Bremer and his staff are not the kinds of Rambos and loose cannons that need a whole lot of effort to prevent.

    •  It just occurred to me....... (none)
      these guys truly are the "Coalition of the Billing" aren't they?

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