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[MERCENARI] La guerra in outsourcing
by maska Friday, Apr. 09, 2004 at 10:52 AM mail:

Guerra e terrorismo La guerra in outsourcing

Guerra e terrorismo

La guerra in outsourcing

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Le uccisioni di Falluja hanno portato alla ribalta un aspetto della guerra
irachena di cui finora si è parlato molto poco. I notiziari hanno insistito
molto sul fatto che si trattava di «civili» americani. Tecnicamente sì,
erano civili: nel senso che non appartenevano alle forze armate del
governo. Ma in realtà erano soldati. Soldati di ventura. Mercenari.

Siccome usare certe parole fa brutto, le compagnie che assumono ex
militari, come la Blackwater di cui erano dipendenti i quattro di Falluja,
non si fanno chiamare eserciti privati - che sarebbe la descrizione esatta
della loro attività - ma security contractors, come le agenzie di
metronotte e i vigilantes delle banche.

Ma sono mercenari, soldati che lasciano l'esercito ufficiale e si arruolano
negli eserciti privati per amore dei soldi e dell'adrenalina. Perché, come
tutti i mercenari, sono pagati molto bene, stanno al Palestine o allo
Sheraton e sono impiegati per i compiti più pericolosi. Oltre che per le
operazioni più difficili da raccontare di fronte a una Commissione
parlamentare, dovesse mai saltarne fuori una.

Non sorprendentemente, in Iraq la Blackwater e un'altra ventina di eserciti
privati concorrenti stanno facendo affari come nessun altro. Forze armate e
altre agenzie governative non amano affatto i loro dipendenti, anche per
certi atteggiamenti non proprio charming:

«Quei tipi della Blackwater,» dice un ufficiale dell'intelligence in Iraq,
«se ne vanno in giro sfoggiando i loro Oakley e puntando le armi dai
finestrini delle auto. Hanno puntato le armi contro di me, e la cosa mi ha
fatto incazzare. Figuratevi cosa ne può pensare uno di Falluja.»

Time (segue)


When Private Armies Take to the Front Lines
The security contractors killed in Fallujah represented a little known
reality of the war in Iraq
By MICHAEL DUFFY - TIME,9171,1101040412-607775,00.html

Monday, Apr. 12, 2004
A nation that goes to war on principle may not realize it will then have to
hire private soldiers to keep the peace. The work of the four American
civilians slaughtered in Fallujah last week was so shadowy that their
families struggled to explain what exactly the men had been hired to do in
Iraq. Marija Zovko says her nephew Jerry said little about the perils of
the missions he carried out every day. "He wouldn't talk about it," she
says. Even representatives for the private security company that employed
the men, Blackwater USA, could not say what exactly they were up to on that
fateful morning. "All the details of the attack at this point are haphazard
at best," says Chris Bertelli, a spokesman for Blackwater. "We don't know
what they were doing on the road at the time."

What the murder of the four security specialists did reveal is a little
known reality about how business is done in war-torn settings all over the
globe. With U.S. troops still having to battle insurgents and defend
themselves, the job of protecting everyone else in Iraq-from journalists to
government contractors to the U.S. administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer-is
largely being done by private security companies stocked with former
soldiers looking for good money and the taste of danger. Pentagon officials
count roughly 20 private companies around the world that contract for
security work, mainly in combat areas. They are finding plenty of it in
Iraq. Scott Custer, a co-director of Custer Battles, based in Fairfax, Va.,
says as many as 30,000 Iraqis and "several thousand expats" are working for
private outfits in Iraq. Security contractors make a lot more than the
average soldier, but last week's events suggest that they may also be
turning into more attractive targets for insurgents. "If they can chase us
out," says Custer co-director Mike Battles, "then in a void, they become
more powerful."

Among the various professional security firms, none is as renowned as
Blackwater USA. Based in Moyock, N.C., the firm gets its name from the
covert missions undertaken by divers at night and from the peat-colored
water common to the area. It was founded in 1996 by former Navy SEAL Erik
Prince, who saw a growing need for private security work by governments
overseas and private firms. Since then, the company has trained more than
50,000 military and law-enforcement personnel just south of the Virginia
border, near Norfolk, at its 6,000-acre facility, which it calls "the
finest private firearms-training facility in the U.S." The facility boasts
several target ranges and a simulated town for urban-warfare training. It
is so advanced that some of the U.S. military's active-duty special-ops
troops have trained there. Next month Blackwater will host the World SWAT
Challenge-an Olympic-style competition among 20 SWAT teams from around the
country-set to be broadcast on ESPN.

The security firm's website notes that "Blackwater has the people to
execute any requirement." Blackwater recruits from the ranks of active-duty
special-forces units-particularly Navy SEALs, Army Rangers and Delta Force
troops-many of which are based in nearby Ft. Bragg, N.C. The best and
brightest among private security consultants earn salaries that run as high
as $15,000 a month. And as various commitments have strained the military's
capacity to provide day-to-day security for relief workers and diplomats,
Blackwater has prospered by filling the void. Since 2002, Blackwater has
won more than $35 million in government contracts.

The current business boom is in Iraq. Blackwater charges its clients $1,500
to $2,000 a day for each hired gun. Most security contractors, like
Blackwater's teams, live a comfortable if exhausting existence in Baghdad,
staying at the Sheraton or Palestine hotels, which are not plush but at
least have running water. Locals often mistake the guards for special
forces or CIA personnel, which makes active-duty military troops a bit
edgy. "Those Blackwater guys," says an intelligence officer in Iraq, "they
drive around wearing Oakley sunglasses and pointing their guns out of car
windows. They have pointed their guns at me, and it pissed me off. Imagine
what a guy in Fallujah thinks." Adds an Army officer who just returned from
Baghdad, "They are a subculture."

Indeed, the relationship between the private soldiers and the real ones
isn't always collaborative. "We've responded to the military at least half
a dozen times, but not once have they responded to our emergencies," says
Custer. "We have our own quick-reaction force now." But the private firms
are usually cut off from the U.S. military's intelligence network and from
information that could minimize risk to their employees. Noel Koch, who
oversaw terrorism policy for the Pentagon in the 1980s and now runs
TranSecur, a global information-security firm, says private companies
"aren't required to have an intelligence collection or analytical
capability in house. It's always assumed that the government is going to
provide intelligence about threats." That, says Koch, means "they are
flying blind, often guessing about places that they shouldn't go."

It's still unclear whether the four Blackwater employees found themselves
in Fallujah inadvertently or were on a mission gone awry. Even by Pentagon
standards, military officials were fuzzy about the exact nature of the
Blackwater mission; several officers privately disputed the idea that the
team was escorting a food convoy. Another officer would say only the detail
was escorting a shipment of "goods." Several sources familiar with
Blackwater operations told TIME that the company has in some cases
abbreviated training even for crucial missions in war zones. A former
private military operator with knowledge of Blackwater's operational
tactics says the firm did not give all its contract warriors in Afghanistan
proper training in offensive-driving tactics, although missions were to
include vehicular and dignitary-escort duty. "Evasive driving and ambush
tactics were not-repeat, were not-covered in training," this source said.
Asked to respond to the charges, Blackwater spokesman Bertelli said,
"Blackwater never comments on training methods and operational procedures."

At the Pentagon, which has encouraged the outsourcing of security work,
there are widespread misgivings about the use of hired guns. A Pentagon
official says the outsourcing of security work means the government no
longer has any real control over the training and capabilities of thousands
of U.S. and foreign contractors who are packing weapons every bit as
powerful as those belonging to the average G.I. "These firms are hiring
anyone they can get. Sure, some of them are special forces, but some of
them are good, and some are not. Some are too old for this work, and some
are too young. But they are not on the U.S. payroll. And so they are not
our responsibility."

But with Congress and the Bush Administration reluctant to pay for more
active-duty troops, the use of contractors in places like Iraq will only
grow. A Pentagon official who opposes their use nonetheless detects an
obvious if unsentimental virtue: "The American public doesn't get quite as
concerned when contractors are killed." Perhaps. But that may prove to be
yet another illusion that died in Fallujah last week.

- With reporting by Brian Bennett and Vivienne Walt/Baghdad, Paul
Cuadros/Chapel Hill and Timothy J. Burger and Sally B. Donnelly/Washington

From the Apr. 12, 2004 issue of TIME magazine

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