The return of the dogs of war: what’s it like to be a soldier for hire?

It’s one thing to pull the trigger for your country – quite another for a corporation. As a new report reveals how private military contractors have changed the face of conflict, they reveal how conflict has changed them

Iraqi and foreign members of a private security company in Baghdad in 2007.
‘Misfits who can’t or won’t fit into civilian life’ … Iraqi and foreign members of a private security company in Baghdad in 2007. Photograph: Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images

When you are a soldier in the military, and you’re firing at an enemy alongside several other soldiers, you don’t know if it was your gun, your bullet, that killed someone. “I’d rather not know,” says Stephen Friday, who spent 12 years in the British army before becoming a private military contractor (PMC) in 2008, working in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first time he ever shot somebody, and knew about it, “was as a PMC. The firefights were a lot closer, a lot more personal.” It was also more dangerous. As a soldier, he had once come under fire for seven hours in Baghdad, but as a PMC, “I would say it was worse. When you’re in the army, you’ve got an army behind you. As a PMC, you can’t call for back-up, you can’t call fire missions in. Certainly my worst incidents were as a PMC rather than in the military.” He was shot at by snipers, survived a handful of roadside bombs and a grenade attack, and once a bullet lodged in the bulletproof glass of his vehicle, inches from his head. “There was a stage in 2009, for a period of about three months, where we were probably losing guys every second or third day. It was violent, and emotionally difficult.” Continue reading

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The Rise of the Development Industrial Complex

USAID

Published on February 5th, 2016 | by David Isenberg

The Rise of the Development Industrial Complex

The private military and security contracting (PMSC) industry has long claimed, not without some justification, that all the publicity about private security contractors—that is, guys carrying guns—overshadows and unfairly tars the work of reconstruction. This latter subcategory of unarmed contractors, much larger in terms of the number of people and contract value, is engaged in the far more prosaic but critically important work of rebuilding shattered infrastructure and restoring or creating the economic and social structures to enable a war torn country to rebuild and develop itself.

The international stability operations of the PMSC are considered so vital that they have required several U.S. oversight bodies over the years, such as the Commission on Wartime Contracting, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Yet the IDC (international development contractor) sector is closely connected to the PSC (private security contractor) sector and shares the same neoliberal organizing principles. In fact, in a twist on President Eisenhower’s prescient warning about the military industrial complex, we now have a Development Industrial Complex (DIC). Continue reading

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Academics in Foxholes

Academics in Foxholes

The Life and Death of the Human Terrain System

“Effective war-fighting depends,” wrote the anthropologist Montgomery McFate in her 1994 doctoral dissertation on British counterinsurgency in Northern Ireland, “at the most basic level, on the ability to cope effectively with disorder.” The U.S. government’s controversial effort to harness the social sciences in support of its counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, in an initiative known as the Human Terrain System, was one of the most ambitious and innovative efforts of the post-9/11 era to help warfighters make sense of conflict’s inherent chaos.

Human Terrain Teams, which blended civilian academics with military personnel, were intended to help soldiers better understand the battlefield. Attached to front-line military units, teams would provide information on the cultures, customs, and practices of local communities­­—otherwise known as the “Human Terrain” of the battlefield. The program marked a significant wartime experiment for the U.S. Army: More than 1,000 personnel were deployed during its duration, from 2007 to 2014 at a total cost of nearly $750 million, making the Human Terrain System the largest investment in a single social science project in U.S. government history.

And yet for all of its promise, the Human Terrain System failed to deliver. The program sought to make the U.S. campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan smarter, more culturally astute, and more self-aware—but what resulted was a clash of cultures, ideologies, and egos that contributed to the end of the Human Terrain System in September 2014. Continue reading

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L-3 Communications, L-3 Link Simulations and Training

DOCUMENT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE
The decision issued on the date below was subject to a GAO Protective Order. This redacted version has been approved for public release.

Decision

Matter of:  L-3 Communications, L-3 Link Simulations and Training

File:  B-410644.2

Date:  January 20, 2016

Craig A. Holman, Esq., Stuart W. Turner, Esq., and Nicole B. Neuman, Esq., Arnold & Porter LLP, for the protester.
Joseph P. Hornyak, Esq., Megan Mocho Jeschke, Esq., and Elizabeth N. Jochum, Esq., Holland & Knight LLP, for CAE USA, Inc., an intervenor.
R. Montana Erickson, Esq., and Sharon H. Sachs, Esq., Department of the Navy, for the agency.
Scott H. Riback, Esq., and Tania Calhoun, Esq., Office of the General Counsel, GAO, participated in the preparation of the decision.

DIGEST

Protest challenging agency’s evaluation of proposals and source selection decision is denied where record shows that evaluation and source selection were reasonable, rational, and consistent with the terms of the solicitation and applicable statutes and regulations.

DECISION

L-3 Communications, L-3 Link Simulation and Training (L-3), of Arlington, Texas, protests the issuance of a delivery order to CAE USA, Inc., of Tampa, Florida, under request for proposals (RFP) No. N61340-14-R-0079, issued by the Department of the Navy for technology refresh and upgrades to existing helicopter flight training devices, as well as for the purchase of additional helicopter training devices.[1]  L-3 maintains that the agency misevaluated its proposal and made an unreasonable source selection decision.

We deny the protest. Continue reading

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Elbit, KBR contracted for U.K. military flight training program

Elbit, KBR contracted for U.K. military flight training program

By Ryan Maass   |   Feb. 4, 2016 at 12:41 PM

Affinity Flying Services Limited receives $721 million contract to support the U.K. Military Flight Training System, which supports training for both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. Photo by the U.K. Ministry of Defense.

HAIFA, Israel, Feb. 4 (UPI) — The joint venture between Elbit Systems and Kellog, Brown and Root, has been contracted to support the U.K. Military Flight Training SystemThe joint venture, known as Affinity Flying Services, is expecting approximately $713 million in revenue over an 18-year period. Elbit and KBR each hold a 50 percent share in Affinity. Continue reading
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Mercenaries Unleashed: The brave new world of private military and security companies

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Britain top dog in unregulated shadow world of mercenaries – report

Britain top dog in unregulated shadow world of mercenaries – report

© Ahmad Al-Rubaye
Britain has become the world’s post-9/11 “mercenary kingpin” with hundreds of firms employing thousands of ex-military freebooters in a shadowy industry worth billions, a report by charity War on Want claims.

The report, titled ‘Mercenaries Unleashed: The brave new world of private military and security companies,’ examines the rise of the industry over the past 15 years. It argues that the time has come to ban mercenary firms and “end the privatization of war.

War on Want claims private military and security companies (PMSCs) are reaping massive profits from the war, instability and chaos which have accompanied the ‘War on Terror.Continue reading

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Britain is at centre of global mercenary industry, says charity

G4S is world’s largest security company as UK leads booming global private military industry, War on Want says

Members of a private security company in Baghdad in 2007
Members of a private security company in Baghdad in 2007. War on Want says the private military business is booming again as it did after the invasion of Iraq. Photograph: Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images

Britain is the “mercenary kingpin” of global private military industry, which has been booming ever since the “war on terror” began 15 years ago, according to a report seen exclusively by the Guardian.

The UK multinational G4S is now the world’s largest private security company, and no fewer than 14 companies are based in Hereford, close to the headquarters of the SAS, from whose ranks at least 46 companies hire recruits, says the report by British-based charity War on Want. Continue reading

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British dogs of war behind surging billion-pound mercenary market ‘is causing global instability’

British dogs of war behind surging billion-pound mercenary market ‘is causing global instability’

A new report warning about “dogs of war” risk to world says the mercenary trade is profiteering from misery of conflict and causing instability

Getty Soldier in Iraq

Mercenaries: Warnings they are causing global instability

A multi-billion pound rise in the number of UK-sponsored mercenaries fighting in wars globally could be leading to a terrifying rise in human rights abuses.

A new report warning about the “dogs of war” risk to the world says the mainly UK-owned mercenary trade is profiteering from the misery of conflict and causing instability.

Campaigners War on Want say in the report that the trade in mercenaries fighting alongside regular forces has now gone global, leading to more deaths. Continue reading

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Report: Mercenary Armies Reaping Record Profits In The Mid-East

Since the ‘war on terror’ began 15 years ago, the number of mercenaries hired by private military and security companies and operating on the front lines in the Middle East and Africa has exploded tremendously, a new report by War on Want reveals.

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The report, ‘Mercenaries Unleashed: The brave new world of private military and security companies’, examines the extensive and far-reaching billion dollar private industry, which the UK-based movement War on Want says is dominated by British companies. Continue reading

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