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The Shadow Army

Posted on Dec 22, 2006

When debating troop levels in Iraq, one ought not to forget the countless bodyguards, interpreters, truck drivers and mercenaries scattered around the country. Apparently not even Central Command has a firm grasp of just how many civilian contractors are employed in Iraq—a number that could be as high as 100,000.

Barry Lando:

What is striking about the current debate going on in Washington—whether to “surge” troops to Iraq and increasing the size of the U.S. Army—is that roughly 100,000 bodies are missing from the equation: the number of American forces in Iraq is not 140,000 but more like 240,000.

What makes up the difference is the huge army of mercenaries—known these days as “private contractors.” After the U.S. Army itself, they are by far the second-largest military force in the country. Yet no one seems sure of how many there are, since they answer to no single authority. Indeed, the U.S. Central Command has only recently started taking a census of these battlefield civilians in an attempt to get a handle on the issue.

The private contractors are Americans, South Africans, Brits, Iraqis and a hodgepodge of other nationalities. Many of them are veterans of the U.S. or other armed forces and intelligence services, who are now deployed in Iraq [and Afghanistan and other countries] to perform duties normally carried out by the U.S. Army, but at salaries usually two or three times greater than those of American soldiers.

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By Louise, December 24, 2006 at 9:03 am Link to this comment
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100,000 “Private Contractors” plus all their Sub-Contractors. The numbers probably exceed the number of troops. They are there to protect each other and their profit. Our troops are there to protect them, among other things. As one soldier said when a reporter asked him to define his mission, “My mission is to keep from getting killed!”

Seems to me the solution is obvious.
Let the private contractors have their war and bring the troops home. Either way we’re paying the salaries, right?

OK, I know that would only plunge Iraq into ... uh ... oh ... hmmm ...

Holy crap! What more can happen in that country, peace?

Let’s face it, some people love money more than life itself (the names of a few politicians and corporate profiteers spring to mind) so how about we just let these guys know ...

You wanted your war, you got it, now here’s the deal. You get this place put back together ASAP, or you’re on your own. Money stops. Period.

Now, it is a well known fact of life, if a corporation does not provide hefty dividends to their investors, (you know, the non-producers) their stock slides, gets sold off, company gets bought out, restructured or goes under.

It’s also a well known fact of life, if you provide a company (or politician) with unlimited funds to do with as they will, and no accountability, they will ... and there wont be!

So, let the private contractors have their war and bring the troops home!

Seems to me it’s a win-win for everyone. We get to bring our troops home with dignity and start the long costly process of repairing, retro-fitting and rebuilding our military ... and they will come home with dignity, having done what they were sent to do. Making Iraq the wasteland for corporate war profiteers to plunder and profit from. And corporate war profiteers will be forced to do what they should have done in the first place. Reduce their overhead by sending all that foreign labor home and giving the jobs to Iraqis. Rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure. And (heaven forbid) keeping factual profit and loss records!

BTW, was unable to link to entire article, but a visit to is well worth the trip.

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By Quy Tran, December 23, 2006 at 8:15 pm Link to this comment
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More troops in Iraq means more blood for trading

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By mite, December 23, 2006 at 9:44 am Link to this comment
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This is my declarative to people of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Israel and all Arab nations of the planet Earth.
I do not sanction the actions committed against you in the name of the United States Government, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and all members of House of Representive and Senate. I did not give my approval for any military, financial, or private agent provocators to conduct aggression and murder against peaceful individuals in an invasion not sanctioned by the people.
I hope the people of this planet in order to live in peace now and our childrens future refuse to support the lies about war and aggressions. I strongly believe in a higher power and pray that his judgement will be swift for those tyrants of this world.

May peace be upon all of us in this time of aggression.


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By Frank, December 23, 2006 at 7:31 am Link to this comment
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The private contractors are not exactly mercenaries in the traditional sense. They are not there to proactively carry out combat operations. They are there as security guards to protect assets and people.  I wouldn’t call the security guard at the local US airport a ‘mercenary’ even if he has an assault rifle and is a former soldier. He is still there to protect a facility and it’s patrons, not to engage in warfare. Such is the case of the “private contractors” in Iraq. If nobody attacks the person, vehicle, or building they are protecting, they aren’t going to do anything combat-related.

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By Jackie T. Gabel, December 22, 2006 at 10:31 pm Link to this comment
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It’s an open secret that Iraq is as much a magnet for mercenaries as for terrorists. Careful analysis reveals the close relationship between the two. Of course, with Negraponte on the scene, you can be sure that many of these mercenaries are running gangs of assassins. Nothing of anything going on in any geopolitical struggles should be taken on face value. Any pure and simple face-value reports should be carefully deconstructed.

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By Rodney Matthews, December 22, 2006 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment
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It’s the new way we fight wars, we outsource as much as we can. It keeps us from having a draft. It keeps wealthy Americans home at their safe cushy comfy jobs at home.The men who hire these mercenaries reap,steal,and overcharge the American taxpayer billions of dollars with no oversight of we’re paying for,and no accountability. Why do you think Busg won’t stop the war? They want to keep this cash cow flowing until his presidency ends. By the time we find out how much Bush and his cronies have looted our treasury, He will be out of office, The money will be in untracable foreign accounts and so will be contractors who robbed us.

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By DennisD, December 22, 2006 at 10:21 am Link to this comment
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Try salaries 5 to 10 times higher than the average American soldier. Paid for by American tax dollars through - no-bid no limit contracts. At least the “Mercs” aren’t there under any pretensions. It’s all about the money and the risk is part of the business. A far cry from the National guardsman who has effectively been drafted by Bu$h Inc.

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