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MrDoolittle

Winning Hearts & Minds Pt.371

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I don't think that you or anyone else has the right to speak to a situation so far r4emoved from it.

That means the entire US Administration (based in Washington), the US armed forces command for that theatre (based in Quatar?) and YOU (as well as me!) should "stop talking our of our asses'" because we don't "truly understand." Sorry, that approach is impractical, dangerous, and in contravention of your precious 1st amendment rights to free speech.

 

What if I read the first hand reports from 200 observers, a diplomatic status report by the Coalition Authority, and intelligence reports of all the spooks?...would I then have the right to speak to the situation? Would I truly understand?

 

What if I worked over there, in one community, doing one job, for 12 months? Spoke to just a handful of Iraqi's who can speak English and are willing to speak openly and fairly to me? Would I then be more informed opinions than the guy reading the reports from all over the country, from a variety of sources and biases?

 

Hey, it is your choice who you want making decisions over there. A guy getting shot at who sees just one part of the picture, or the guy with access to a shitload of info. It was interesting that Fisk at one point said that he was actually pretty closed off to the rest of the world and other news about Iraq, so admitted that he actually knew less about some stuff than the interviewer who was sitting outside of the country. Anyway, as I said, your choice... I value seeing Telenut's perspective because it is so unique and different than a lot of what is out there, but it is definately not the only perspective, and it is definately not the "truth" (which is unattainable in this situation).

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I don't think that you or anyone else has the right to speak to a situation so far removed from it.

 

Careful now. Everyone has the right to speak about a situation. Just not to claim to be an authority on it.

 

Remember, lots of "I think" or "I feel" statements. wink.gif

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I think correct me if I am wrong, that we have ambasadors and poloticians that have spent their entire careers travceling all over the whole world. they talk out of their asses and so do you and so do I. And you can sure have a good time. but don't sit in your living room with your joe shmo job and think tjhat you have any real understanding as to any situation other than yours and when your morgatge is due. You can imagine, you can be empathetic to a situation. but you never truely KNOW until you have had an experience. Yes I realize I am not the most logical person in the world and telle_nut or someone else could make the point I am so sloppily trying to make, much better than I am.

 

look at it this way, how would you like some one who have never climbed telling you how you should climb?

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look at it this way, how would you like some one who have never climbed telling you how you should climb?

Leo Fender wasn't much of a musician, nor a builder. Yet, he revolutionized the guitar.

 

Sometimes it takes somebody out of the loop and removed from the trenches of the paradigm to lend a fresh perspective and offer up creative solutions.

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look at it this way, how would you like some one who have never climbed telling you how you should climb?

Leo Fender wasn't much of a musician, nor a builder. Yet, he revolutionized the guitar.

 

Sometimes it takes somebody out of the loop and removed from the trenches of the paradigm to lend a fresh perspective and offer up creative solutions.

he wans't much of a musician? or he didn't play at all, had never seen a guitare? there is a diference here. the fender guy wasn't sitting arround his living room bitching about what other people were or were not doing. He had an idea and made it happen. that is a posative reaction. If someone here has a solution to the issue we are discussing I hope the run for office and sove the whole thing. Truely I do.

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tele_nut's professional expertise is practical security. he may have opinions about other topics but a) he has no known proven record in dealing with these topics, and b) he is a direct participant to events in iraq and his opinion should be considered in that light. as such his testimony is no more than a data point in the entire set necessary to form an idea of the iraqi situation. how much weight you want to give his opinion is a personal choice that is hopefully based on objective considerations but don't expect everyone to follow suit.

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tele_nut's professional expertise is practical security. he may have opinions about other topics but a) he has no known proven record in dealing with these topics, and b) he is a direct participant to events in iraq and his opinion should be considered in that light. as such his testimony is no more than a data point in the entire set necessary to form an idea of the iraqi situation. how much weight you want to give his opinion is a personal choice that is hopefully based on objective considerations but don't expect everyone to follow suit.

 

...spoken like a true intellectual leftist. A real academic you are, j_b. rolleyes.gif

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I don't think that you or anyone else has the right to speak to a situation so far removed from it.

 

That applies to you too. Unless you've spent time over there, you are in no more of a position to judge whether tele_nut is accurate or full of shit than anyone else, by your own logic. Doesn't that mean you should "STFU" too?

 

As far as rights go, we all have the right to say whatever the hell we want, whetherwe're full of shit or not. cantfocus.gif

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I have to admit that my initial reaction to the posts I read this morning upon waking up was poor and knee jerk.

 

Allison's asshole statement typifies everything that I was trying to dissuade people from believing or going into that direction. Don't hate people that have chosen to live hard lives. It is with the utmost respect for the freedoms of this country that they (I) go to these places. Not because they were duped, or wanted college money, or had nowhere else to go. Some kids simply feel the pull of the thing in itself.

 

When I was a young NCO and new soldiers came to my unit I stressed to them that the reason they were in the military was to fight and if need be kill or be killed. I saw no reason to hide this fact from them. Almost to a man they understood and faced up to the task when the time came. It was this bond that allowed us to continue on sometimes. and share in the very real hardships we had to often face. Sometimes not as intense as combat, but often more routine.

 

Freezing in the dead of winter in a cold hole, knowing that many of my peers enjoyed the freedoms of College, access to beautiful girls, education, good food, a dry bed. I rarely found however that I envied them much. When I came home it was a nonstop question and answer period of "Where have you been? What did you see? You did what from a helicopter?" etc, etc, etc.

 

Many of the men and women in the military are certainly ready to come home. Enjoy some of the good things they left behind. Make a new start on their lives. Put this experience behind them. But it will always be a part of them no matter what. It may make some of them scary and icky because they have had to face things that many of us will never have to see or face. Years from now they may wake up terrified of something that can no longer harm them. They have had to face up to demons at the very edge of their fears. I did my time in the military working for peanuts and answering to every G.E.D. with a set of stripes and every bachelors degree with a bar on their hat. I earned my place in many ways. Volunteering and being proactive is one of those ways I felt I could make a difference. I wanted to see firsthand what we were doing and not be spoon fed my psyche thru a TV straw.

 

Alpine climbing is more terrifying sometimes than any combat, and many of you don't hesitate to throw yourselves in the mix. You are brave men and women for doing this and you are drawn to it the way a moth is drawn to flame. It can burn you up. You go up there because you have to know for yourself. Reading an account or being told firsthand is not the same. There are selfish reasons involved in everything. Climbing is also a selfish activity. I cringe when I hear about some of my friends with children doing hard climbs. I wonder if something is wrong with them. I try to talk some of my friends out of some of the things they are doing in climbing before it gets them. This past year it got one of them. If you climb you have it inside you too. It is a morbid curiousity that causes you to lead out where no crack lies ahead. You already have the mindset. Some are just posturing, like Allison, but I will let that one go now.

 

I had considered the content of my post after hearing of the death of these 4 men in Fallujah and I decided that I would go ahead and let my gut reactions come out. It is easy to butcher a post and leave it empty and politically correct. Some people voiced concerns that we are going to be allowed to run free and we can do as we please over there. This is simply not the case. I answer to the highest authority in Iraq. I have mentioned on this board before that I am on the close protection detail for L. Paul Bremer the senior US Administrator in Iraq and as such I have to answer to Diplomatic Security Services of the Department of State. What I wanted to convey was that yes, I get angry over there. Yes, I disagree with policy. Yes, I see the downside to Iraq. Yes, I see that Bush has butchered almost every ounce of goodwill we were handed after 9/11, yes I failed to make the connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda. So what, I am as informed as any of you and now more so because I took my questions into the form of action and went straight to the source. I feel compelled to pass this along or I would be exactly what some of you think I may be. I am not a mercenary and when the time is right I will come home and carve another niche for myself in the regular world. As usual I will have to hold alot of things inside because many like Allison would never understand. Why waste breath? But for those that have an interest and all politics aside, I am simply trying to project some things to you that I see and make me feel the way I do.

 

Daily it is a question of whether we will be alive to see our loved ones again or climb another mountain ever. I have shared my thoughts about the Iraqi's several times on this board and I think most of the things I have said are positive and upbeat. I understand that most people are just like you and I. They want what we want. Peace, prosperity, a brighter tomorrow. I understand, and that's why I went.

 

I woke up at 2 in the morning and laid there most of the night sort of sick to my stomach wondering who the 4 guys might be and wondering if I knew them. I have only seen 2 of the names, and I did not know them, but all the same these men were in the same outfit as me. Knowing this, it just makes the sense of vulnerabilty that much more real. My wife worries all the time, my family and friends often wonder if I am dead or alive. This is the reality of these types of jobs. They are demanding professions certainly not made for the everyday person. I do not expect everyone to understand. Most of the guys I work with think it is a complete waste of my time to argue this stuff over the internet with liberals who clearly don't want us there. I disagree. I came back to CC.com to rectify some wrongs and to pass along some enlightenment about the current situations from a unique perspective. A soldiers life is about 1/10th as interesting. I know. I have been on both sides of the fence.

 

Anyway, I have said way too much probably. I had wanted to come back to CC.com and make a positive difference this time instead of spraying hateful psychology down around the ears of the uninitiated. I do climb almost all the time when I am home, but felt like there was too much information about how, when, why, pictures this, photo op that. I felt like it was destroying my sense of what the mountains and what being in them was about. I stopped commenting on them or writing TR's or posting pics. I am rebuilding another website that should be out next year called http://vaultedsky.org. If anyone is interested I will be posting writings there pertaining to Iraq along with some pictures and many AVI videos I have taken of heliborne raids and various dignitary missions I have been on. To everyone who had something positive to say and stood up for me on this post I appreciate it and I stand by you too. For those that disagree, that is what this country is founded on. The right to disagree. I believe in that too. Don't villianize the men in the arena though. They deserve better than that kind of armchair scrutiny.

 

I skied from just over 11,000 feet today on Mt. Shasta. I forgot my crampons. The sun was out and it was fairly cold with a strong breeze.

 

Tele

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April 1, 2004; 8:40 a.m. EST

 

 

"We grieve today for the loss of our colleagues and we pray for their families. The names of the victims will not be released out of respect for their families.

 

"The graphic images of the unprovoked attack and subsequent heinous mistreatment of our friends exhibits the extraordinary conditions under which we voluntarily work to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people.

 

"Coalition forces and civilian contractors and administrators work side by side every day with the Iraqi people to provide essential goods and services like food, water, electricity and vital security to the Iraqi citizens and coalition members. Our tasks are dangerous and while we feel sadness for our fallen colleagues, we also feel pride and satisfaction that we are making a difference for the people of Iraq.

 

A Memorial Fund has been established to support the victim's families of the March 31, 2004 Fallujah attack. All memorial gifts will be documented and appropriately acknowledged with due regard to the wishes of the donor and the nature of the contribution. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims

 

Please Mail the contributions to:

Memorial Fund

PO Box 159

Moyock, NC 27958

 

Please Make checks Payable to:

Memorial Fund

 

Please no cash contributions.

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"If you can say one thing about the muslims, you can say that they don't tolerate apparent injustices to other muslims." ....unless of course these injustices are being perpetrated by their fellow Muslims.

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Gads, don’t lump mine in w/ Doolittle’s statement! I really don’t know who’s cutting your checks. It could be anybody. My point was the same as your own: the desire for murderous revenge is perfectly natural. Whether it’s reasonable is another question. Still, I think you’ve shown us the problem with the “proximity makes for a more objective pov” argument. Afa the “war being about the bling” goes… Dood, I learned that from you.

 

My bad. blush.gif

 

Like I said I sort of woke up and read a few things and knee jerked. Bad post, bad response. Ski mountaineering cleared my head today.

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fw: 2 pages worth of posts and this is all you found to say? hellno3d.gif

on another note, you are either a very slow learner or clueless; in my experience, most people learn rather quickly how to avoid embarrassment ...

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I find Tele_Nut icky and scary.

 

I'm a little late here, but I find Marylou's comments just wrong. TN is doing a good job of describing things from his perspective, which just happens to be a lot closer to the action in Iraq than any of ours. I don't always agree with what TN says, but I think it's downright offensive and narrow minded to discount his oppinion's the way Ml does.

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This isn't really on topic and yet it is. There was a time when life was slower and guys would gather around the water cooler at work, or maybe the pub on the way home each day, or perhaps at the coffee shop in the way to work. They would talk politics. People would digest the news they read that morning, work it over and make up their minds about how they felt about it. It gave them a basis to decide how they wanted to vote at election time. People used to vote in larger numbers than today.

 

At some point people got busier and busier and there was less time to talk. People only get out to the Pub occasionally nowadays. And something called political correctness was introduced. People decided they didn't want to risk offending coworkers in the office, so politics became off limits. So it came about that people only found it safe to talk about fashion and music and entertainment. Politics and governance got shoved aside, and simultaneously people started forgetting to vote.

 

People started saying things like, "well they are all alike", and "what difference does it make if I vote, anyway". But then along came something called the Internet and CC.com. This pent up demand to talk about politics and law and the interaction among nations is resulting in what we call "spray", but which to one way of thinking is actually MORE important that the climbing talk. It serves a very valuable purpose.

 

I have seen in the two short years that I have been here how people have evolved in their ability to advance a reasoned argument. Look at Muffy. Her early posts were what I would call "fluff". In the last year, she has shown much more confidence and a willingness to jump into the middle of serious arguments. While her spelling hasn't really improved much, her ability to express ideas has blossomed.

 

I am starting to ramble, but I just wanted to say that all these pages of blah, blah, blah, are really good for our country and shouldn't just be discounted as "worthless" spray.

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One Iraqi's thoughts on the matter:

 

"Thursday, April 01, 2004

 

Crime and punishment.

-

What happened in Fallujah yesterday, when foreigner contractors were killed and disfigured, was more than I could take. I felt extremely angry, disgusted frustrated and desperate. What was worse is that it’s not the first time, nor do I feel it will be the last. There was nothing I could say to explain it, and in fact I don’t want to, nor do I expect anyone to understand. However it made me think a lot trying to understand why such things happen and how to respond to them.

 

If I was living outside Iraq, I probably wouldn’t bother this much and I would settle with saying that evil exists everywhere in the world and that we shouldn’t generalize this, which is true, but since I live with evil next door, I can’t satisfy with just concluding. I find myself forced to look for answers that may help to stop this madness and to put this country on the right track. I’m not stupid enough to think that I can do it alone, of course, but at least I can do my part, joining those who went there before me, and waiting for others to do the same.

 

Before going further, I’d like to say that we still have to work our minds while we combat evil and should never surrender to anger alone. There are many criminals involved in this terrible crime on different levels. There are those who preformed the attack (the terrorists), there are those who disfigured and cut the bodies of the victims, (the savages) and there are those who cheered the process, (the disgusting potential criminals) and last but not least the Arab media who celebrated that horrible event and kept showing those scenes again and again. All these should be punished according to their crime.

I’m not going to bother myself with the reasons behind the crimes committed by the terrorists and the savages, and I think we all know the motives of the Arab media, which I have deleted from my list forever and will never watch again. They’re serving the terrorists goal by terrorizing both the coalition people and the Iraqis who cooperate with them and they want to create and promote hatred and distrust between the Arab Muslim world and the west, and discourage those who don’t carry such hatred on either part, all in the favor of the dictators who finance them. These should not be dealt with as journalists; they are a disgrace to this honorable profession.

The only people that I think should be punished less severely are those kids and teenagers who were cheering that terrible act. These are just children who never heard a voice other than that of the mullahs and Saddam’s propaganda, which is still working with no less efficiency, thanks to Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia. They probably haven’t seen any place other than their poor miserable town. Still they should be taught a hard lesson.

The problem with many Iraqis is that they still don’t understand the meaning of freedom, as some of them look at the present situation and the semi absence of punishment as an opportunity to do whatever they want, as was shown by the last riot in Basra lately (which I know that it was carried by a group of professional criminals who claim to be an Islamic She’at group, who are supported and financed from Iran in the obvious hope of starting a civil war or at least a considerable disturbance, and should be dealt with seriously). These people should be lectured about that and when this fails they should be forced to follow the law and respect human life and values. They should know that the absence of a sovereign government does not mean the absence of law.

 

The CPA should by now have distinguished Iraqis who are cooperative and willing to build a new Iraq, and those who are just not satisfied with them or just have some complains, from those who are (immune to reform) and they have dealt with the second group quite patiently and wisely and gained many allies. Now it’s time to deal with the third group and this should be done firmly. We have the tapes that show the faces of most of those who took part in committing and celebrating that crime and I’ve heard that the CPA is already following them and I hope this will be done soon, but I must add that even those who were just cheering, should be arrested, sentenced to prison for a long period and that this should be shown on the Iraqi TV and all the media, so that the others, especially those who fear the terrorists should learn to fear the law if they can’t respect it.

I for my part have decided, instead of cursing the darkness to light a candle that I know very well it may burn me and my family. I’ll report anyone I even suspect of cooperating or knowing something about the terrorists. And to those who might wonder why this should be a risk, I think the answer is that-despite the great improvement in their performance and ethics- there’s still a considerable number of corrupted members on the IP and even agents for the terrorists and one just wishes to be lucky not to contact the wrong guys, and even the CPA is not a very promising alternative, since they need hard solid evidence, which is quite good in natural circumstances, but unfortunately not available most of the time, and just for the record, this is not the first time I do this. I think they need to be more hard on those who are strongly suspected on committing or helping terrorist attacks, so that the people who turn them in will not fear their revenge once they are released, which happened many times. I’m not calling for violence like that of Saddam’s, I’m calling for enforcement of law and justice and I’m ready to do my part. We are going through a very critical period and strict punishment should be applied to those who try to hinder the development or further disturb an already unstable situation.

 

Anyhow, my life and my family’s are not more precious than those of all the victims of terror, and I’ve already sent messages to the CPA of all the information I have about people I have strong suspicions about, and who are supposed to be my people and some of them are actually related to me or consider me a friend or a neighbor but simply I don’t consider them so anymore, not until they denounce terrorist activities and stop cheering them as resistance, as my friends and my family are those who help me and the Iraqi people and whish the best for me and for Iraq. In case that will not work I’ll take the risk of going to the IP. The reason is why I’m doing this now and not before is because I don’t have solid evidences and it’s almost impossible to contact the coalition forces directly, but I’m also SICK of living with fear and I’m sick of getting, with all the good Iraqis and Muslims, the blame because of these terrorists and barbarians, because this only serves the terrorists plan, that is to block any way of communication and understanding between Muslims and others, and they use comments made by westerns in such times to show the other Muslims that hatred is eternal between them and all the others.

 

This is not between Isalmists and the west, not between Saddam loyalists and America this is between good and evil, light and darkness and I can’t sit and watch or explain anymore. You can say, “Nuke Mecca” or “nuke Fallujah” and you can chose the Spanish government’s attitude and submit to terror, or you can join us (Iraqis and coalition) in fighting dictatorship, terrorism and their-no less evil and damaging- propaganda machine. I call for serious measures upon such channels that provoke hatred and celebrate terror and show it as a heroic action. I say, “‘nuke’ Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia, the terrorists and all dictators in the world. It’s either us or them”. The evil TV channels should be prevented from entering Iraq and spew their poisons into the minds of simple people. They’re more dangerous than the terrorists themselves and no rigid concepts such as ‘freedom of speech’ should stop us here. This is not journalism, its terror propaganda.

 

I don't think there's a need to change the coalition strategy in Iraq in a radical way, it's a very good one, but needs some fine adjustments. I think what should be done is that we go on with our plans to build a new free and democratic Iraq and show the people the benefits and beauty of freedom, but at the same time we should deal firmly with those who act only in response to hatred and fear and have no respect for any law or human values, in other words people who made it necessary that every country should have an efficient law system supported by a powerful police to make sure that law is respected and to punish, and even eliminate when it’s necessary, those who don’t fit in the society.

 

We have suffered enough to get our freedom, thanks to our friends who sacrificed much to achieve their peace and ours, and we can’t turn back and we will never accept slavery again. No, better to die free than live as slaves for our fears.

 

By Ali"

 

http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/

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Telle, thank you for proving me correct in what I was so poorly trying to say.

 

and CBS, I have always been willing to stick my foot in my mouth arround here. I did so ALOT when I first started posting.and I continue to do so when I feel passionate about something.

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tele;

 

Once again, thanks for your insights into a world many of us will never know or see. As someone I consider my friend, your presence over there brings the impacts of the events in Iraq a little closer to home for me. Stay safe, there are people here at home who worry for your safety and wish peace of mind on your loved ones while you are away.

 

'Til we climb together again, brother.

 

Greg_W

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Great thread. This is what I love about this site.

 

telenut, you and I probably don't have much in common politically, but I think your experiences and perspective have added a lot to the discussion on this board. It's good to have a reasoned military viewpoint from someone who has clearly given it some thought... so thanks for putting it out there.

 

Bad news about the crampons - last time I skied off shasta it was bulletproof down to about 8k and I started to wonder if maybe AT isn't such a bad idea...

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Telenut, can you please elaborate for us why it is necessary to use private contractors for military activities? I am having trouble understanding why well-trained individuals who were obviously highly valued members of our armed forces are now performing similar duties through a shadowy intermediary. For anyone who has concerns about our government's conduct in the Middle East, it suggests questionable motives.

 

Please understand that I ask this question with all due respect for your and your comrades. Although I regret our country's decision to conduct this war, I grieve for all who have made the ultimate sacrifice and for their families.

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The short and non-nuanced answer is apparently good old fashioned economics - these guys are among the best at what they do, and they can make a lot more money doing it in the private sector.

 

From today's NYT -

 

Private U.S. Guards Take Big Risks for Right Price

 

By JAMES DAO

Published: April 2, 2004

 

MOYOCK, N.C., April 1 — Nestled inconspicuously amid the pinelands and horse farms of northeastern North Carolina lies a small but increasingly important part of the nation's campaign to stabilize Iraq.

 

Here, at the 6,000-acre training ground of Blackwater U.S.A., scores of former military commandos, police officers and civilians are prepared each month to join the lucrative but often deadly work of providing security for corporations and governments in the toughest corners of the globe.

 

On Wednesday, four employees of a Blackwater unit — most of them former American military Special Operations personnel — were killed in an ambush in the central Iraqi city of Falluja, their bodies mutilated and dragged through the streets by chanting crowds.

 

The scene, captured in horrific detail by television and newspaper cameras, shocked the nation and outraged the tightly knit community of current and former Special Operations personnel. But it also shed new light on the rapidly growing and loosely regulated industry of private paramilitary companies like Blackwater that are replacing government troops in conflicts from South America to Africa to the Middle East.

 

"This is basically a new phenomenon: corporatized private military services doing the front-line work soldiers used to do," said Peter W. Singer, a national security fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington who has written a book on the industry, "Corporate Warriors" (Cornell University Press, 2003).

 

"And they're not out there screening passengers at the airports," Mr. Singer said. "They're taking mortar and sniper fire."

 

The Associated Press identified three of the victims as Jerry Zovko, 32, an Army veteran from Willoughby, Ohio; Mike Teague, a 38-year-old Army veteran from Clarksville, Tenn.; and Scott Helvenston, 38, a veteran of the Navy.

 

Blackwater declined to identify the dead men, but issued a statement: "We grieve today for the loss of our colleagues and we pray for their families. The graphic images of the unprovoked attack and subsequent heinous mistreatment of our friends exhibits the extraordinary conditions under which we voluntarily work to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people."

 

Though there have been private militaries since the dawn of war, the modern corporate version got its start in the 1990's after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

 

At that time, many nations were sharply reducing their military forces, leaving millions of soldiers without employment. Many of them went into business doing what they knew best: providing security or training others to do the same.

 

The proliferation of ethnic conflicts and civil wars in places like the Balkans, Haiti and Liberia provided employment for the personnel of many new companies. Business grew rapidly after the Sept. 11 attacks prompted corporate executives and government officials to bolster their security overseas.

 

But it was the occupation of Iraq that brought explosive growth to the young industry, security experts said. There are now dozens, perhaps hundreds of private military concerns around the world. As many as two dozen companies, employing as many as 15,000 people, are working in Iraq.

 

They are providing security details for diplomats, private contractors involved in reconstruction, nonprofit organizations and journalists, security experts said. The private guards also protect oil fields, banks, residential compounds and office buildings.

 

Though many of the companies are American, others from Britain, South Africa and elsewhere are providing security in Iraq. Among them is Global Risks Strategies, a British company that hired Fijian troops to help protect armored shipments of the new Iraqi currency around the country.

 

Blackwater is typical of the new breed. Founded in 1998 by former Navy Seals, the company says it has prepared tens of thousands of security personnel to work in hot spots around the world. At its complex in North Carolina, it has shooting ranges for high-powered weapons, buildings for simulating hostage rescue missions and a bunkhouse for trainees.

 

The Blackwater installation is so modern and well-equipped that Navy Seals stationed at the Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base in Norfolk, Va., routinely use it, military officials said. So do police units from around the country, who come to Blackwater for specialized training.

 

"It's world class," said Chris Amos, a spokesman for the Norfolk Police Department.

 

In Iraq, Blackwater personnel guard L. Paul Bremer III, the head of the civilian administration, among their other jobs. Around Baghdad, the Blackwater guards, most in their 30's and 40's, are easily identified, with their heavily muscled upper bodies, closely cropped hair or shaven heads and wrap-around sunglasses. Some even wear Blackwater T-shirts. Like Special Operations Forces, they use walkie-talkie earpieces with curled wires disappearing beneath their collars and carry light-weight automatic weapons.

 

In the northern city of Mosul, where Mr. Bremer met with about 130 carefully vetted Iraqis on Thursday, Blackwater guards maintained a heavy presence, standing along the walls facing the Iraqi guests with their rifles cradled. More than once, Iraqis and Western reporters moving forward to take their seats in the hall were abruptly challenged by the guards, with warnings that they would be ejected if they resisted.

 

The company also received a five-year Navy contract in 2002 worth $35.7 million to train Navy personnel in force protection, shipboard security, search-and-seizure techniques, and armed sentry duties, Pentagon officials said.

 

The rapid growth of the private security industry has come about in part because of the shrinkage of the American military: there are simply fewer military personnel available to protect officials, diplomats and bases overseas, security experts say.

 

To meet the rising demand, the companies are offering yearly salaries ranging from $100,000 to nearly $200,000 to entice senior military Special Operations forces to switch careers. Assignments are paying from a few hundred dollars to as much as $1,000 a day, military officials said.

 

Gen. Wayne Downing, a retired chief of the United States Special Operations Command, said that on a recent trip to Baghdad he ran into several former Delta Force and Seal Team Six senior noncommissioned officers who were working for private security companies. "It was like a reunion," General Downing said.

 

Sheriff Susan Johnson of Currituck County, N.C., where the entrance to Blackwater is situated, said several of her deputies had been lured away by the company to work overseas.

 

"It's tough to keep them when they can earn as much in one month there as they can in a year here," Sheriff Johnson said.

 

But critics say the rapid growth of the industry raises troubling concerns. There is little regulation of the quality of training or recruitment by private companies, they say. The result may be inexperienced, poorly prepared and weakly led units playing vital roles in combat situations. Even elite former commandos may not be well trained for every danger, those critics say.

 

Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois, has also argued that the United States' growing use of private military companies hides the financial, personal and political costs of military operations overseas, since the concerns face little public scrutiny.

 

In particular, Ms. Schakowsky has objected to administration plans to increase the number of private military contractors in Colombia, where three American civilians working for a Northrup Grumman subsidiary have been held hostage by Marxist rebels for more than a year. The three were on a mission to search for cocaine laboratories and drug planes when they were captured.

 

"I continue to oppose the use of military contractors who are not subject to the same kind of scrutiny and accountability as U.S. soldiers," Ms. Schakowsky said last week. "When things go wrong for these contractors, they and their families have been shamefully forgotten by their American employers."

 

Eric Schmitt, in Washington, and John F. Burns, in Baghdad, contributed reporting for this article.

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excerpts from article--Private firms take on more military tasks

 

"It's a way to dodge political costs," says Mr. Singer. "For example, US troops can't get involved in civil war or with groups that have human rights problems ... so this is a way to go around that," he says.

 

Moreover, he adds, "it's a way to avoid the public costs when things go wrong," citing the little-publicized example of ex-US military workers being held captive today in Colombia. "You can imagine the outcry if three American soldiers were being held captive," he says.

 

http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0402/p03s01-usmi.html

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The short and non-nuanced answer is apparently good old fashioned economics - these guys are among the best at what they do, and they can make a lot more money doing it in the private sector.

 

Maybe I didn't make my question clear. Obviously, the former soldiers working for these companies are making vastly more money than when they were in uniform. My question is why the U.S. government is pursuing this approach. If the individuals actually doing the work are making five or ten times what they make in uniform, and if the companies setting this up are making a big profit, then isn't it far less cost-effective than using the regular military? Are these guys doing things the regular military can't do? Or shouldn't do? And if that is true, is our government responsible for what they do or not? After all, our troops are in Iraq. The contractors are not infiltrating in secret some country that we are not openly at war with. If telenut is still following this, can you explain how our military effort benefits from this strategy?

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The military IS conducting the types of operations they excel in which are large scale combat/logistics operations.

 

The contractors are of several varieties. Contractors providing security for PRIVATE companies such as Bechtel (construction). The bottom line is effected by the amount of money they invest to protect their people with private security contractors. No one in their right mind is operating in Iraq without security. This is not and should not be the militaries responsibility. These are contracts that the COMPANY creates and honors. Not the government. Some of these contracts are referred to as "supporting coalition efforts" which is sometimes true since everything over there is related to rebuilding in one form or another.

 

Then there are government contracts such as agency contracts, DoD, State Department, etc. These contracts are much rarer and the personnel selected for these contracts are often of a higher caliber. These are not the guys being referred to as "Cowboys". These are the heavy hitters with big time resumes. Blackwater has many of these types of contracts.

 

Soldiers are not the most highly qualified to perform many of these operations. Take a former Special Ops soldier with 10 years of military covert ops experience ( a search and destroy-body count type stuff), give him 5 years of on the job police training (a thinking job with empathy for civilians-MUCH RESTRAINT) or other specialized medical (technically proficient), communications (technical proficiency), etc in the private sector (self motivated), more maturity (have you been around many young troops lately? ANNOYING AS HELL) and alot of motivation (good pay) and you have the machine that most of the people assume soldiers are. Regular soldiers often are not that highly qualified. Soldiers are often eager to do their time and move on (attrition). I think what you are seeing is a shift towards an even more dangerous/effective type of paramilitary unit than the average active duty entity. Many of these same people will probably metatastasize

 

If someone gets into this type of work they have essentially volunteered once again which is something the average soldier did not do. If most civilians were so motivated they would be joining the military and moving themselves into the food chain. Fear of dying is deterring them or political reservations. Fact of the matter is that in any business as your talents increase so does your value to the corporation. Most of these guys are working where they are because they have made it to the top of the food chain. The economics trickle back down into the economy.

 

Some of your questions border on me disclosing some things that could be considered an OPSEC violation.

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