Private security contractors (PSC's) are being utilized around the globe for military related purposes. One such contractor is Blackwater USA. Blackwater USA is the self proclaimed, "most comprehensive professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping, and stability operations company in the world" (www.blackwaterusa.com). In short, they provide training and solutions aimed at supporting security, peace, freedom, and democracy anywhere on the planet (www.blackwater.usa.com). Recently, Blackwater has been involved in projects related to Iraq and in New Orleans. So what is wrong with companies like Blackwater and Bechtel (British based contractor)? Why doesn't the United States government use them more often? They seem to be confident in their reliability and more importantly, their goals are very reasonable. The fact is, there are a number of aspects that must be considered when determining whether or not it would be beneficial to use these contractors. These topics include reliability (keep in mind Blackwater is not the only company being referred to), cost, past relations, personnel, and reasons for using private contractors in the first place rather than our government military and law enforcement agencies. The use of private security contractors, although a liability more than an asset, poses a number of issues in regards to future military endeavors.
It is estimated that about 15,000 to 20,000 troops are currently deployed in Iraq working under private security contractors. Many of these men have former combat training and experience with branches of the military such as the Navy Seals. In general, the PSC's tend to take on high risk tasks such as protecting convoys or high ranking government and military officials. These roles were once fulfilled by traditional military units. The reasoning for this transition from military to PSC's is that the government employed troops (such as the marines) can take on positions that are more important. However, the high risk jobs taken on by the PSC's do not come at a cheap price. It is not uncommon for an employee of these companies to make up to $100,000 a year or even $1,000 for a single days work. The argument proposed to justify the payment of these high wages is that in the long run, the government saves money because they do not have to provide benefits or pension plans for these troops. If many of these men are former military employees are they not receiving these pension plans anyways? And more importantly, those plans are made for a reason. When it comes down to it, these men are at high risk. If they die while working in the field for a PSC, will their families receive the insurance they deserve? For some of the larger contractors such as Blackwater USA or Dynocorp, the answer may be yes. However, there are hundreds of contractors out there that are working in high risk environments, many of which are not even based in the United States (such as Bechtel). I am positive that they are not all organized and structured like the larger organizations we here about in the news from time to time. We are paying tax dollars for a military. We are sending thousands of troops overseas to fight terror and secure the world from weapons of mass destruction. Why not utilize these assets to the fullest? The reliability and effectiveness of such private security contractors have been brought into question many times. PSCs have contracts from the government valued at billions of dollars, but are American tax dollars being wasted? In an infamous example of failure on the part of a PSC, Halliburton the giant energy firm once headed by current Vice President Dick Cheney and which has a contract valued over $13 billion has been accused of several misconducts. Halliburton is accused of overcharging for gasoline and charging for services not rendered, among other accusations, to the amount of some $1.8 billion. Furthermore, the question of...
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