Thursday, September 13, 2007

Soldiers of Fortune

Soldiers of Fortune
An article published in a Los Angeles newspaper June 21, 2007
Written by Sandra Svoboba

The article was mailed to me by my niece who lives in California and knows of my continuing concern about serious national issues.
The reality that mercenaries are operating in Iraq and elsewhere is well known to those of us who pay attention to these things. What I did not realize is the extent it has grown in size during the Bush Administration. The numbers have swelled by 88% between 2000 and 2006 according to a Congressional Research Service report. We have been told repeatedly about the “surge”, which brought in 30,000 additional combat troops which brought the total to 145,000 troops. What we weren’t told was that at the same time there are about 130,000 private contractor mercenaries in Iraq. For the most part these mercenaries are outside of U.S. law. Those working for the Coalition Provisional Authority are exempted from Iraqi law. In addition since they are not military they are not subject to court-martial. Deaths and wounded are not reported. Most are no bid contracts. Surprisingly only 21,500 are Americans. The industry has grown to $100 billion in annual revenue.
There are many reasons to be concerned. Since these people are paid from $350 to $1,000 per day, I can only imagine the morale problem of our military that do most of the fighting and dying for considerably less. If I were to put my life on the line I think I would think seriously about re-enlisting with this much at stake.
What incentive does a contractor have to see peace achieved when that would end the financial rewards? The article concludes with the following thought, “We’re likening corporate profits to the business of war---You build in an incentive to keep the conflict going”.
Now I want to share my thoughts on this subject. I don’t remember the name of the General who was sacked after stating at the beginning of the war that 300,000 troops would be needed to keep the peace. If you add 130,000 to 145,000 you get 275,000. I would guess that the General was pretty accurate in his analysis. Since the cost is six to seven times higher than our military that means to me we are paying considerably more in the administrations attempt to hide the fact that this many troops are needed. Of course we all know that this is still not enough as our progress has not been acceptable to date.
What worries me even more is that the president has control over his own private Army who it appears will do his bidding without question as long as the price is right. In the aftermath of Katrina he tried to get the Congress to give him authority to move troops into a State without the agreement of the Governor. This was not granted but could he not accomplish the same end with mercenaries. They actually were brought to Louisiana to protect private interests for wealthy customers so it is conceivable a President might take this course of action if a Governor balked.
Every day it seems that Bush and Cheney keep pushing for more and more power resisting all attempts by the Congress on oversight. I call this the imperial executive branch which disdains legislative procedures.
The purpose of this paper is to get the reader concerned and forewarned.

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
June 28, 2007

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