Private mercenaries have been integral to the “war on terror”, so much so that Western aid groups are warning the Afghan government that without them the country will miss billions of dollars in aid:
More than a billion dollars worth of aid projects in Afghanistan will have to be cancelled by the end of the month if Hamid Karzaiprivate security companies should be disbanded by the end of the year, according to figures seen by the Guardian.
Foreign contractors insist on private security companies to protect their staff, and warn that the presidential decree, first issued in August, will put workers in jeopardy.
Now figures presented by companies running aid projects to the US Embassy in Kabul show that the proposed revolution to the country’s security industry will “severely handicap the counter-insurgency strategy” in the country and “put in jeopardy substantial humanitarian and development efforts”.
The report, collated by Overseas Security Advisory Council, a group representing the private sector but which works under the auspices of the US State Department, offers the best available guess of the effect on development work by 59 organisations that work on US funded projects, including massive road-building programmes and agricultural support.
The estimates suggest that of a total of $5.1bn worth of US aid earmarked for spending by the 59 companies, 18 projects worth $1.4bn would have to be shut down, starting at the end of this month.
The Wikileaks Iraq logs have revealed the US reliance on contractors and their complete lack of accountability. The New York Times have a piece about all this and feature the Australian company Unity Resources Group:
In 2007, a convoy operated by Unity Resources Group, based in Dubai, shot at an approaching vehicle near the Green Zone in Baghdad, wounded a bodyguard for President Jalal Talabani of Iraq and did not report the shooting until Mr. Talabani’s staff contacted the American authorities, one report said.
When asked about the incident last week, a Unity official, Jim LeBlanc, said that “in a time of numerous suicide vehicle attacks, a vehicle had presented itself in a profile that was consistent with the behavior of a suicide attacker.” Unity guards fired “carefully aimed warning shots” when the vehicle refused to stop, Mr. LeBlanc said, and the company did not initially believe that anyone had been hurt.
Only when contacted by American investigators did Unity realize that “an Iraqi security force member” had been struck by a ricochet, and from that point on, the company fully cooperated, Mr. LeBlanc said. After the investigation, he said, “all Unity members were cleared to immediately return to work.”
And still more recently, in July 2009, local contractors with the 77th Security Company drove into a neighborhood in the northern city of Erbil and began shooting at random, setting off a firefight with an off-duty police officer and wounding three women, another report said.
“It is assessed that this drunken group of individuals were out having a good time and firing their weapons,” the incident report concluded.