One of the biggest private security firms operating in Iraq will protect Australian police officers being sent to help fight the opium trade in Afghanistan.Really? We use mercenaries for UN work too?
Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty revealed on Tuesday night that the Armor Group - one of the leading security contractors in Iraq - would provide protection for the four officers.
Australians working for the UK-based firm have been killed and injured on operations in Iraq, including a Brisbane man who died in December and a West Australian man who lost a leg in a bombing last month.
The AFP is preparing to send the four armed officers to Afghanistan to work alongside local police, with two to be based in the capital Kabul and two to work in Jalalabad, in the country's east.
Mr Keelty said the Armor Group would also provide security for British officers working in Afghanistan.
He did not have costings for the security contract, but said the Armor Group personnel would provide comprehensive protection for his officers.
"It will be in relation to perimeter security on the workplace, it will be close personal protection as they move around Jalalabad and Kabul," he told a Senate committee.
"Generally speaking they will be under full protection for the entire time that they are there."
Mr Keelty said talks were continuing with the Afghan government about finalising the deployment, but the AFP was still trying to find suitable accommodation for the officers.
He was also seeking guarantees the officers would have access to medical evacuation facilities operated by coalition forces in the country, as well as legal immunities from prosecution if the police were forced to defend themselves.
"Details of that are still being worked through," he said.
"We want to make sure we can evacuate them in case of emergency.
"These protections and immunities are not dissimilar from what we would have in relation to other United Nations deployments, for example."
13 Feb. 2007
Why does the AFP need protection? What's the point of sending them overseas if they cannot defencd themselves? Top protection for AFP officers in Kabul:
at 12:37:00 pm