Monday, October 01, 2007

How's Privatizing Our Military Working Out for You?

Blackwater is proving to be pretty damned expensive; a much more lucrative fencing operation than bottled water.

According to Muckracker:
A single Blackwater security contractor costs the government $1,222 every day to guard U.S. civilian personnel, or $445,000 per year. That's six times the cost of getting a U.S. Army soldier to perform the same function.
What's that you say about running government like a business? It sounds like a business is running government into the ground.

And look at these numbers:
Blackwater's initial contract to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq, in 2003, was a no-bid contract. So was its 2004 successor. On that one, Blackwater stood to earn a maximum of $338 million, but actually received $488 million from State between June 2004 and June 2006. In total, Blackwater has earned upwards of $1 billion in government contracts since 2001.
Our tax dollars are drowning in Blackwater. Had enough corporate cronyism and government corruption, yet?


  1. I would like to add a bit of info to the discussion. Blackwater typically hires ex-military(all branches and many countries). These are typically professional soldiers and not the citizen soldier that makes up the rank and file of the Army. They are usually SEAL, DevGrup, Delta/green beannie, Ranger, Force Recon, PJ's, and CCT. These men represent millions of dollars of training and they come with real world experience. In essence, Blackwater is recycling these warriors. The cost to field a typical ground pounder may only be one sixth of the daily pay of the contractors but they come with long term health and welfare costs. The continuing cost is what makes a contractor the better budget choice for static and mobile defense. By contracting security, it frees up military assets to do the REAL trigger pulling that doesn't make the cover of the Times.

  2. To continue:

    This week Blackwater is in the news. Was the shoot bad or good? Does it matter? The security mission remains the same. In order to rebuild what we destroyed, the engineers and diplomats need to survive. Other less well known companies can fill the position but the pool of contractors is still the same. These are the warfighters of Kosovo, Croatia, South Africa, South America, Desert Shield, Chechnia, and yes, even Vietnam. If Blackwater loses the contract then DynCorp, Kroll, TrippleCanopy, Sandline, or someone else will step in and hire all of Blackwater's former employees.

    The CEO of Blackwater is quite proud of his company and tends to splash their name around in a slightly reckless fashion. Check out his bid to destroy the Janjaweed in Dafur. That being said, the operators are mostly the same guys we slap yellow ribbons on our cars for and send care packages via APO. They are mostly men making life or death decisions in the blink of an eye. Sometimes they get it wrong.

  3. Ex-military, huh? Should Blackwater and its employees be held to the Uniform Code of Military Justice?

  4. Actually Mike, they are held to the rules of the UCMJ. One of the defense spending bills(I think it was last years) holds ALL civilians in a declared war zone to the UCMJ. That includes private contractors and journalists. The Justice Dpt and the Defense Dpt are still hashing out the details(like who prosecutes) and they seem to be looking for a test case.

    There were many grumblings within the industry when the bill passed. The argument was that one of the things that makes private contractors more effective is their ability to act. The reality is that most contractors act within the UCMJ. The real problems are the ex-lawenforcment officers and true mercs that some outfits have hired. Blackwater has a variety of connections within the active military and they know how many pushups you did on your last PFT. If you have a history of disobeying orders then they don't have a place for you.

    That being said, the majority of the contractors that I have met understand that mission accomplishment comes first. If that plays poorly on the news then that is of secondary importance(or even tertiary).

    Here is a link covering some of the questions about who is covered by the UCMJ.