15 Jul. 2007

Bloody Mercenaries: Making A Living V. Making A Killing

The Brisbane company that employed those two dead Aussie in Iraq is shocked by their deaths:
The company says the trainers usually spend eight weeks at a police academy and seldom if ever leave its grounds.
Gosh, who knew that Iraq was such a dangerous place? "We did! We did!" shouts DFAT.
A spokesman for Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said DFAT officers were working with the men's families in Australia.

"This just underscores the seriousness of our travel advisories in a number of locations around the world, including Iraq," the spokesman said.
The contractors were killed on their way to Baghdad airport. One of the men was flying home to his wife and two young children in Townsville. Grandma says he went to Iraq to "get ahead for his wife and children". She says the kids still don't understand what's happened to their father:
"They think he's had an accident."
A mate hesitated when asked if the money was worth the risk:
"It's always in times like this you do a bit of self-examination and you'll say: 'No it isn't'. But at the time, you think you're doing the right thing. In fact you are doing the right thing.

"You are making a difference in a country that's totally in turmoil."
Oh, yeah, that's right: we are there to help build Democracy, not make money. We're there to stop terrorists, not grab oil reserves.

Premier Peter Beattie admits Iraq is a dangerous place, "but these Queenslanders, as we all know, were just trying to make a living." Well, that's just pure bullshit.

Aussie contractors don't go to Iraq to "make a living": they go there to make a killing.

It's not like there are no jobs in Queensland. One bloke was an ex-soldier, and the Australian Army is desperate for recruits. The other was an ex-cop, and Queensland has never been short of jobs for cops.

If these two guys were stupid enough to believe the ridiculous government-sponsored spin about "building Democracy(TM)" then that's even more blood on our government's hands. Today's Doonesbury cartoon underlines the patent absurdity of the task there were engaged in.

Six Australian contractors have now been killed since the beginning of the Iraq war:
A New Zealand-born Brisbane man, Steve Gilchrist, 33, was killed instantly when his armoured vehicle was hit by an armour-piercing shell as he was escorting a convoy of trucks in December last year. He had been employed by the private British security firm ArmorGroup.

On August 15 last year, Melbourne man Jon Hadaway, 34, died in Germany from injuries he sustained in an August 3 bombing. A security guard for ArmorGroup, he had been based in Umm Qasr in southern Iraq.

On June 8, 2006, Wayne Schulz, 34, of Queensland, died when the armoured vehicle he was travelling in was destroyed by a bomb 300km north of Baghdad. Mr Schulz had been working as an infrastructure security officer with ArmorGroup.

In April 2005, Queenslander Chris Ahmelman, 34, was killed with two others in an ambush by insurgents on their way to Baghdad Airport. He had been working as a private security contractor for British firm Edinburgh Risk and Security Management.
More in Iraq's mercenary forces here, here and here.

Elsewhere, the Times of India claims the USA is "renting Pakistan's army":
The United States is paying around $100 million a month for the deployment of 80,000 Pakistani troops on its border with Afghanistan ostensibly for the war on terrorism, a key US official revealed on Thursday.

The money is meant to be "reimbursements" to Pakistan "for stationing troops and moving them around, and gasoline, and bullets, and training and other costs that they incur as part of the war on terror," US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, told a Congressional panel.

"That's a lot of money," Boucher admitted before the panel about what amounts to a $ 1.2 billion per year reimbursement. "I don't know if it comes to the whole amount of their expenses, but we support their expenses, yes."

In all, US aid to Pakistan is now close to $ 2 billion a year, according to figures provided by Boucher, the top U S diplomat for South Asia.

Besides, the $ 1.2 billion reimbursements, Washington also gave Pakistan an addition $ 738 million in 2006 in assistance programs, including $ 300 million in separate military aid.

The overall figure would put Pakistan on par with Israel and Egypt -- with a higher component ($ 1.5 billion) in overall military assistance -- as the top three recipients of US aid.
UPDATE: BLP International was sold one month ago to UK security firm Saber International. But even BLP's former owner concedes that the use of mercenaries is out of control:
"There are companies - private companies - working in Iraq that shouldn't be there. There's many young men who have no understanding of the rule of law or the international law of armed conflict and they think that they are on a fun ride. It's not the case... the vetting and issuing of contracts to some of these companies needs to probably be looked at."