Tag Archives: Seabees

As Many Contractors In Iraq As Soldiers!

For the first time in American history there are the same number of people engaged in logistical endeavors as there are troops in combat. A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reveals there are as many private contractors functioning in Iraq as there are members of the armed forces. The report believes many problems have arisen by having such a large number of civilians including an inability to supervise logistical operations to ensure money is being well spent. The report also notes an estimated 30,000 private security personnel have been hired to protect US government civilians working in Iraq. The presence of private security companies has antagonized many members of the military since those in the armed forces ear about $160-$190 per day as contrasted with private fees that can go up to $1,222 a day.

The press has recently been filled with reports of huge cost overruns by private contractors who have been allocated at least $100 billion for projects in Iraq that, for the most part, have either not even begun or completed. It is clear if America has to fight wars it needs a draft so there are sufficient soldiers available to do the job. During World War II, the famous Seabees were famous for the quick manner in which they constructed airfields or did the jobs currently being done by private contractors at a much lower cost.

Congress Seeks Military Control Over Private Contractors

Congress is prepared to take new action ensuring the United States military exerts control over the actions of private contractors in Iraq and elsewhere. Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, said Congress will insert such provisions in the 2008 defense spending bill. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has already moved to implement new rules for private guards which will specify how and when they can use force in carrying out their duties. However, so far, she has not accepted the desire of many members of Congress that private contractors should be placed under control of the United States military. Levin was firm in insisting new language will be inserted into the defense spending bill, “whether she likes it or not.”

The entire matter of allowing private contractors to conduct their own war activities is a first in American history. The emergence of private war activities stems from the nation’s failure to implement a draft system if it desires engaging in wars. The private contractors today do work that was performed by members of the armed forces in World War II or Korea or Vietnam. No one ever heard any tales of erratic behavior on the part of Seabees in World War II. For some reason, they didn’t go around shooting civilians.

Iraqis Sue Blackwater For Wrongful Deaths

Families of Iraqis who died in a shooting involving Blackwater USA sued the company charging it violated US law and encouraged a culture of lawlessness among its employees. The Center for Constitutional Rights which brought the suit on behalf of the families charged, “Blackwater has turned lawlessness into profit at the expense of the lives of innocent civilians.” Seventeen Iraqis died in the September 16th shooting. The lawsuit charges Blackwater should be held responsible for assault and battery, wrongful death, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, training and supervision of its personnel. The FBI is currently conducting an investigation of the shooting.

Iraqi officials claim Blackwater’s license to operate in iraq expired on June 2, 2006 and therefore it no longer has immunity against lawsuits. There is something wrong with an American military operation in which private companies can operate with impunity against law. In prior American wars, the military handled construction activities or provided security, but under the Bush program of privatizing war, the corporate world now occupies a prominent role in warfare. One can only wonder how secure fighting men and women feel when mercenaries are protecting them and bringing supplies instead of well trained soldiers. In WWII, the famous and outstanding Seabees handled construction and won universal praise for their work. Perhaps, it’s time to bring back the Seabees.