US hires mercenaries in New Orleans

Heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from the Blackwater private security firm, infamous for their work in Iraq, are openly patrolling the streets of New Orleans.
What the fuck?!

Well, I think we should wait to see this confirmed by a major news outlet before getting worried about it. But if this is true it’s highly troubling. Even the supposed Blackwater mercs didn’t sound very happy about being stuck in New Orleans. I can’t see how using these folks would be very cost effective or that they’d have any particularly useful training. Aren’t most Blackwater troops ex-special forces types? They need national guard and MP folks with disaster response and law enforcement training more than commandos and bodyguards, you’d think.

What comes to mind is the word “Pronoiai”. It was the Greek term during the later days of the Byzantine Empire for a class of feudal cavalrymen whom were paid not in gold (which was gone) but both in land and the revenues from that land.

The important thing is that it cost the Empire far more per soldier under the Pronoiai system, and it eventually led to the utter collapse of their natively raised military system, eventually becoming completely mercenary.

I’m not saying we’re anywhere near that. But the fact that we have to pay Mercs probably several times what we’d pay regular soldiers just shows the backwardness and fiscal shorsightedness of ‘outsourced’ labor in the government, as well as the shortages caused by the War.

“Pronoiai may destroy ya…”

This is one of Rummie’s big ideas… “outsourcing” “crap” military jobs to private firms so to free up more troops for combat. But how in the world does this make sense? The government pays for Blackwater and other mercenary firms to provide security in Iraq… now, a lot of these guys are ex Special Forces dudes who we paid, let’s say, $50,000 a year while they were in the service. They quit and work for Blackwater for the tune of $250,000 a year (and they’re quitting in droves, because it doesn’t take an idiot to figure if you’re going to be stuck in Iraq for a year, better to be paid a corporate executive’s salary rather than a grunts).

So, the big question is, HOW THE FUCK IS THIS SAVING US MONEY?

And don’t think the grunts don’t notice this, either. It’s like lower and upper classes over there. The avergage infantryman pulls something like $30K a year, and they’re stuck there for 12-15 months at a time. Mercs pull down $200K a year, and they rotate in and out around 3-4 months at a time.

That article practically qualifies as advertising for Blackwater.

Given the contradicting quotes about who is employing who, this sounds like a miscommunication(or intentional spin).

Alternet sure isn’t biased or anything…

now, a lot of these guys are ex Special Forces dudes who we paid, let’s say, $50,000

50k is generious. More like 40k ( might be higher now with all they pay increases ) but when I was in you got an extra 1,000 bucks a month if you were special forces.

Sure they’re biased, which you can account for. They are however not known for outright lying and manufacturing photographs. In my experience reading them, they’re more credible than the “major news outlets” which frequently fail to give any context, ignore stories, merely quote political spin, and occasionally do fabricate things.

I mean, obviously you want to hear such extreme news from several sources before buying into it fully, but this is a pretty damning eye witness account.

Rather than quoting spin they create spin. They have first order bias.

Seriously, I suspect that the story is the private security has been hired by private companies but were deputized to get around the firearms confiscation. All of the “damning” quotes are almost certainly pulled out of context and twisted around. You take stupid people with agendas and talk to them about subjects they don’t understand and it doesn’t take long before “Breaking News: Government Hires Serial Killers to Murder Blacks”

No, I don’t think you can account for the level of bias present in Alternet’s article that was linked in this thread.

They present Blackwater like some sort of safety threat to the entire nation, never mind the people in New Orleans, which is totally false. Most people in Blackwater are former military types, often from the special forces, and they’re hired not only because they’re very good at killing people but because they’re also inclined to obey orders and ROEs. Are they ideal for this work? No, but they’re capable of doing it and considering the depleted state of NO police forces and the complete lack of NG, it’s the best available option.

Now, if Alternet wanted to present an anti-Bush article on the matter, they could point out that Blackwater and the other merc groups are having a tough time finding enough work in Iraq, precisely because for “security” work you need a specific threat level - not too high, not too low. Right now, it’s generally considered too hot an area for most businesses (which form the bulk of Blackwater’s customers), so business is bad. They could try to paint the Fed and state administrations as trying to keep the merc groups afloat, which is counter-productive to Army recruiting.

But portraying them as a gang of slathering trigger-happy killers? Unfair. Will questionable incidents happen? Sure, but considering the alternative, this is better than nothing.

Except for all you hyperventilating fucks who demand a congressional inquiry to find fault for every single thing that happens in the world, you’ll never be happy.

Well, I did some quick checking at The Washington Post site and found this story:

Sure enough not only Blackwater but another, British, contractor/merc outfit are named. Of course it doesn’t seem to be that hard for them to find work in Iraq. The article also states 20,000 mercs are currently employed there. Is that more or less than the British deployment these days?

But, ah, as for following ROEs and such…the same search brought up this article from just last week. Seems there were some, uh, erm, incidents.

Recent shootings of Iraqi civilians, allegedly involving the legion of U.S., British and other foreign security contractors operating in the country, are drawing increasing concern from Iraqi officials and U.S. commanders who say they undermine relations between foreign military forces and Iraqi civilians.

Private security companies pervade Iraq’s dusty highways, their distinctive sport-utility vehicles packed with men waving rifles to clear traffic in their path. Theirs are among the most dangerous jobs in the country: escorting convoys, guarding dignitaries and protecting infrastructure from insurgent attacks. But their activities have drawn scrutiny both here and in Washington after allegations of indiscriminate shootings and other recklessness have given rise to charges of inadequate oversight.

“These guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There’s no authority over them, so you can’t come down on them hard when they escalate force,” said Brig. Gen. Karl R. Horst, deputy commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, which is responsible for security in and around Baghdad. “They shoot people, and someone else has to deal with the aftermath. It happens all over the place.”

Actually, they are having trouble finding work. Business has slowed down since companies are waiting for Iraq to be pacified before investing further.

As for ROEs and incidents - where in my post did I say that mercs are ideal for this work? Where did I say that there won’t be any incidents? In fact, I said there will be. But, it’s still better than the alternative, which is an undermanned police force that is both physically and psychologically worn out.

Of course, you are welcome to start the Blame Bush rants for not having the NG available, but that still isn’t changing the fact that at this very moment there isn’t a better alternative.

If you’d actually read the article you’d know it’s not the Feds who are bringing in the mercs in The Gulf. It’s private businesses. However they’re keeping their fingers crossed…who knows? The total seems to be about 200 guys working for various clients so that’s not exactly a huge outsourcing or really outsourcing at all on the government’s part.

But the general does seem to think these are some sloppy, dangerous, slipshod bastards and he’s not exactly wearing flowers in his hair and marching against the war.

And if the market is saturated with a mere 20,000 mercenaries in Iraq how many mercenaries are around looking for work? Can’t we retrain them in, say, fast food delivery systems or something?

And if you actually read my posts…

Yes, it is a “mere” 20,000 mercenaries. When you’re in a hotly contested area and there are people willing to commit suicide to hurt you, it takes a fucking wall of soldiers to keep you alive. At that point, you consider the risk/cost/reward ratio and simply say “no, we’ll protect the most critical parts of our investment, and wait for the situation to calm down before we continue”.

Or are you now arguing that Iraq is safe enough for businesses to invest in? Go Bush?

You can’t have it both ways. Either there are “legions” of mercenaries in Iraq, as described by the article, numbering 20,000 or so which implies 20,000 mercs are employed and their bosses are making a profit or times are tough and they’re all getting let go because things are too hot. Has there ever been more than this number of mercs in Iraq? Are the numbers drawing down?

But I tell you what, the idea that private military forces have the best personnel, simply because they pay the most, scares the fuck out of me when you’re talking about these kinds of numbers. And the idea that corporations are hiring these elite troops to protect domestic assets, rather than the usual security guards, just sounds so cyberpunk and dystopian it’s worrisome. Sure, the numbers are small right now but if we hit another “great depression” as Broder’s article describes what will the solution be? Another Great Society initiative or corporations and wealthy communities hiring these thousands of practiced mercs to keep the poor at bay?

Sci-fi? Maybe. But I find the notion of mercenary companies employed on domestic soil troublesome. Now if these are really seperate units within those corporations that do specialize in law enforcement, more traditional security, that’s one thing. But from the alternet story, if it’s accurate, you’ve got the same swinging dicks the commander of the 3rd ID in Baghdad is complaining about tromping around an American city with all the finesse they’ve shown overseas.

By the way, aren’t the “mercenaries” in New Orleans being hired by private companies and not the government? That makes it different in at least one significant area from mercs hired by the government in Iraq.

Technically, I’m pretty sure the ones in Iraq are, too. The government hires Halliburton, etc., to do supply or construction. The supply/construction contractors turn around and hire private security services to guard their civilian workers.

If soldiers dislike the hired guns, it probably has less to do with the latter’s lack of competence–they mostly veterans of elite military units–than with the fact that they’re getting paid a lot more money to do much safer work than our GIs.

NO and Iraq are two very different situations. In NO it’s a very small, compared to Iraq, number of mercs in the employ of private businesses to protect property. Still, it’s on U.S. soil which should send up warning flags to sensible people.

In Iraq you’ve got different merc groups working for both non-combatant contractors and the government. In the former case it’s largely security and escort work. In the latter it’s bodyguard duty. I guess they were afraid regular Army troops would frag the idiotic civilian bureaucrats running things? But even in the case of mercs employed by private contractors the case is easily made that both the contracted services, in many cases, and the military-style protection they need were traditionally perviews of the military itself.

In addition to the money causing friction, which it does, you’ve got the general above complaining about the sheer violence of various outfits and leaving it to other people to clean up afterwards. We don’t know how many Iraqi civilians have been killed by these guys but, to quote the general, it’s “happening all over the place.” Another point of contention is the fact that if these contractors, merc or support services, were military they could be tasked with various other assignments as needed by military commanders. That was a big issue in a Frontline documentary. Regular military officers seemed to be annoyed that the contractors weren’t as useful to them as having, say, regular soldiers running a regular mess rather than civilians on somebody else’s payroll with only a narrow perview.

This isn’t a good situation. There’s no rational way to put a good face on it. Unless, of course, you’re a big beneficiary of campaign donations by these paramilitary corporations running merc ops in Iraq. And guess who that’d be?

Sorry, in my question I meant companies who are basically completely unconnected to the goverment, save in paying taxes, obeying laws, etc. I don’t mean contracted private companies who are “technically” working for the fed. :)