Overseas Civilian Contractors

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Iraqis Want Mercs, Not U.S. Troops, To Stick Around

Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room  September 1, 2011

It’s not that the Iraqi government has suddenly grown to love private security contractors. It’s just, from the perspective of Iraq’s politics, at least the hired guns aren’t U.S. troops.

For most of the year, the U.S. military has been pressing the Iraqis to relax a 2008 deal governing the final withdrawal of all troops by the end of December. The U.S. claims that Iraqi military officials privately concede a need for a small residual force to teach them how to use all the hardware they’re buying from the U.S., including (possibly) long-coveted F-16s. Only Iraqi politicians, who don’t want to face a backlash from citizens exhausted with a U.S. presence in its eight year, aren’t actually asking the U.S. to stay.

But Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister whom the U.S. thinks wants troops to stay, thinks he’s found an elegant, Solomonic solution. U.S. troops still have to pack up their forward operating bases and leave. But Iraq may hire American trainers from private security firms — who’ll probably be U.S. military veterans — to show Iraqi soldiers, cops and pilots the ropes of their new equipment.


In a televised interview this week, Maliki signaled that even if he wants the U.S. to stick around, he hasn’t found a way to break a parliamentary impasse with his reluctant political allies. “The agreement on the withdrawal of American forces will be implemented on schedule by the end of the year,” Maliki told al-Ittijah TV, ”and there will not be any bases for U.S. forces here.”

Except that Maliki already has an asterisk affixed to that statement. His aides told Reuters last month that they want a corps of up to 3,000 trainers, who’d be “contractors with military or security backgrounds.” Those contractors would staff seven “training centers” around Iraq. Just don’t call ‘em “bases.”

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September 1, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Iraq, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , | Leave a comment