It’s All About the Contracts

In a follow-up to yesterday’s story about the WikiLeaks document dump, the New York Times describes how the independent contractors hired to prop up the military effort actually fouled things up —

The archive, which describes many episodes never made public in such detail, shows the multitude of shortcomings with this new system: how a failure to coordinate among contractors, coalition forces and Iraqi troops, as well as a failure to enforce rules of engagement that bind the military, endangered civilians as well as the contractors themselves. The military was often outright hostile to contractors, for being amateurish, overpaid and, often, trigger-happy.

Contractors often shot with little discrimination — and few if any consequences — at unarmed Iraqi civilians, Iraqi security forces, American troops and even other contractors, stirring public outrage and undermining much of what the coalition forces were sent to accomplish.

Be sure to read the whole thing. One point the article does not make is that these “contractors” were paid a great deal more for doing things soldiers used to do, which is one reason the bleeping war cost so much.

22 thoughts on “It’s All About the Contracts

  1. I’ve made this point before, and I’ll make it again. We have ‘outsourced’ routine military tasks to private contractors.
    Things as simple as KP, all other food services, laundry, basic base security, are not handled anymore by newly trained, or still in training, troops, but sub-contractors hired by huge contracting companies like Xe, Halliburton, etc., where, what we once paid slightly more than minimum wage for a new soldier to perform, is now done by a person hired by these companies, which charge 2,3 4, or more times more than the government would pay a soldier – and the worker receiving minimum wage here, if lucky; far below that when the same jobs are done in other countries. What a beautiful profit margin!!!
    So, everytime one of your intellectually, morally, and emotionally stunted Republican friends talks about privatizing everything, ask them why we pay 4 times to a ‘Private company” to have someone there perform the same job a “Private” could do? That’ll shut them the FU for awile…
    As for killing other people, well, this just removes our President, politicians, and Generals and Admirals one more step away from taking any responsibilities for attrocities.
    Nothing to see here. Move on…..

  2. Nobody counts “contractor” bodies, and when “cpntractor” is mentioned, the gullible public thinks guys building roads and schools.
    Orwellian to the max…..

  3. Another f*ckup for outsourcing. More asshole MBAs undermining American institutions in the name of lazy slogan-and-buzzword thinking and short-term profit.

  4. Hell, we don’t need to be there, much less contractors, and hired guns. By we I mean the military

  5. Contractors are mercenary soldiers; nothing more nothing less. It is a crime that they were paid so much more than the real soldiers. This should be changed. Of course, no more war would be best.

  6. “One point the article does not make is that these “contractors” were paid a great deal more for doing things soldiers used to do, which is one reason the bleeping war cost so much”

    No shit Sherlock, I think the dump in relation to the up coming election means more. Has Assange sold out? I mean the news (66,000 civilians). Seems a bit slight.

  7. uncledad,
    About 30+ years ago, and hair just a bit darker, that could be the back of my head. Ah, memories…………………………………..

  8. One of the reasons given for the downfall of the Roman Empire was hiring foreign mercenaries to fight because the Roman citizens didn’t have the heart to do it themselves. I wonder if those mercenaries were gouging the Roman treasury in the same way. How do you fight a war where there is not a clear chain of command? I am also waiting for the major news outlets to admit that many of the liberal bloggers (hint, hint) were right about what was going on in Iraq. Maha, you were right, Redstate was wrong.

  9. Machiavelli, also, in the Renaissance had nothing good to say about mercenaries.

    I heard somewhere that the cost of support 1 US soldier in Iraq was about 1.2 Million dollars a year. “Support” presumably includes paying the contractors.

    Of course, the GOP loves this. Who owns the companies– Cheney, etc. The “Masters of War” to quote Dylan.

  10. Suppose you are a GI in Iraq – a volunteer, in combat, in the heat and you find out the schmuck who serves chow is making twice what you are. The word ‘resentment’ doesn’t start to cover your feelings. Yes, there’s a reason the job isn’t done by a private. King George wasn’t meeting the recruitment goals for two wars – there was talk that they would HAVE to bring back the draft (which might have triggered Nam-style opposition). So the pentagon went for a free-enterprise solution.

    Look at military ‘combat’ contractors. A married US Army sergeant might make $150 per day and operate under strict rules of engagement – when he can shoot and who he can shoot at. (I’m not saying the rules of engagement were always followed, but a GI who plays fast and loose with the rules is taking chances that his next tour of duty will be in Levenworth making little rocks out of big ones.)

    A Blackwater security soldier could make between $600 and 1200 per day (four to eight TIMES what a US sergeant would make), and working for Blackwater he was immune to the military rules of engagement. In the investigation of Abu Gharib, six private contractors were implicated in physical abuse but none were prosecuted. The contracts these mercenaries sign protect them from local prosecution for murder, torture and rape. They can’t be prosecuted by the military under the UCMJ and only theoretically by US federal courts. Look for a SINGLE case where it happened – even in the Baghdad murders of 17 civilians. The mercenary force in Iraq once numbered 20,000.

    The private army didn’t grow on trees – the troops were recruited from the US military – one might speculate – selectively recruited based on characteristics that were highly aggressive and prone to disregard the value of civilian life in Iraq or Afghanistan. When these soldiers left the US military, private firms dangled huge pay coupled with an attractive lack of consequences or accountability for almost ANY act of violence. What’s truly AMAZING is that the mainstream media did not make the facts about these ‘contractors’ the centerpiece of stories about Iraq.

  11. “What’s truly AMAZING is that the mainstream media did not make the facts about these ‘contractors’ the centerpiece of stories about Iraq.”
    I’m sure you know that there’s nothing amazing about it at all!
    GE owns NBC, MSNBC, CNBC; Murdoch owns FOX “News,” FOX Radio, the NY Post, the WSJ, etc.; Clear Channel owns a virtual lock on all radio in this country.
    The cross-ownership of mediums has allowed a very small and select number of individuals and companies to control the information that the citizens get.
    What’s ‘amazing’ to me is that they allow Rachel and Keith, Krugman and Dionne to continue to have access. Enjoy them whilethey’re still around…
    Why does anyone think they’re trying so hard to end “Net Neutrality?” It ain’t just greed. It’s control. As long as sites like maha’s, Kos’, C & L, Digby, etc, are allowed to function, they are not under control. YET!
    We are on the precipice of completely losing this country to corporations, if it hasn’t already happened. “Citizen’s United,” wasn’t just a court case, or a slogan. It’s a cause. And they’re doing their best to ‘unite’ us under corporate control. Having a blank chalkboard for a mind is the first step. Controlling who buys and sells the chalk, and who has access to write on it is the 2nd. There is no 3rd step since the mission has been accomplished. Unless you consider, as I do, that sharpening the pitchforks is the only step that may be left…

  12. Perhaps the ONLY theme that unites the left and right is freedom of information, particularly on the net. The history of bias in the media is as old as this country. Righties imagine that there is a ‘liberal’ media and it’s all slanted against them despite evidence to the contrary. But any move to censor CONTENT will meet opposition from both ends of the spectrum (as well as libertarians who aren’t on the spectrum).

    There is some teabagger nut in AZ running for office who declared violence and/or revolution is ‘on the table’ if wingnuts don’t win in this election. It’s true that opposition through violence is always on the table – has been since 1776. However, I believe the country has endured by holding to the principle that the free will of the majority must prevail and the minority who tries to impose by force what they could not attain through elections is wrong. By running for office, this kooky candidate implicitly agreed to a standard of democracy he’s threatening to violate. That’s just wrong from the left or the right.

    My friend CUND Gulag – When free speech is finally denied, I will join you with torch and pitchfork – but not as long as I can express without fear of reprisal – ANY opinion that ANYONE can read.

  13. To expand on Gulag’s comment… Has everybody noticed how every report coming out of Afghanistan on soldiers being killed only refers to them as NATO troops. It seems American troops are no longer being killed. I find that disturbing because it shows an intentional and concerted effort by news organizations to depersonalize the cost in American lives to the fiasco in Afghanistan. Now we have to dig through available information in order to find out how many of those NATO troops are Americans. And most people won’t pursue a news report past it’s initial offering.

    Somebody is subtlety shaping the story and manipulating the truth to dull the sense of outrage of the American public. It makes me feel played.

  14. Doug,
    Don’t misunderstand me. I’m with you 100% on freedom of expression. I’m against violence. My point is that ‘freedom of expression’ is being squeezed. And what’s expresses seems to be getting sponsored by the Koch Brothers, Richard Sciafe, and other corporate sponsors.

  15. The major reason to out-source is to avoid accountability. It was so in Roman times and it is so now.

    It is why the cretinous barbarians at BlackWater can commit war crimes, yet are never held accountable, just as the barbarians in Roman times committed the worst of atrocities, yet were never held accountable.

    It has nothing to do with “cost”. Which is why there is such a disparity in compensation. It has a side down-side in that commanders no longer have an alternative to the “brig”, cleaning toilets and peeling potatoes having been “out-sourced”, so they are reluctant to pursue all but the most egregious of offenses.

    The entire out-sourcing of “support” for military activities should be terminated, completely. IMHO.

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  17. Senor Gulag –
    I’m a huge fan of your posts – nobody is more to the point than you are – and you are almost always right. The problem is that lies are easier to package and sell than truth. Obama the politician is far to distracted by the packaging of what he wants to sell. He needs to be more blunt – as you are – and let the chips fall.

    The propaganda isn’t being effectively challenged. IMO, the mainstream media is worried about the effect to advertising revenue if the perception of Wall Street media types was that a network was/is antagonistic to capitalistic domination of the consumer from cradle to grave. Sometimes I think there is an unspoken agreement between media and Wall Street if sensitive matters are presented – that they are only selling papers – they aren’t seriously crusading against anyone with real power.

    The central question is not how we combat Kotch or Limbaugh or Beck. That’s a dead end. The question is how do we package the truth so that the rational political conclusion is obvious and palatable to the voter. Because we’re not.

  18. ‘Harpers’, Nov, 2010 – In 2003, 20% of Iraqi city-dwellers lived in slums. Today, 53% of Iraqi city-dwellers live in slums. And we’re spending, depending on which figures are current, $2 billion/week in Iraq. It is obvious that American contractors, many of whom have been contracted to rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure, are not doing so. Does that bother anyone?

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