The Bush administration will long be remembered for its introduction of the concept that private firms should play key roles in modern warfare. The hiring of private security companies like Blackwater resulted in death and destruction in Iraq and now US forces in Afghanistan are discovering private security firms are dangerous and can create more problems than solutions. According to Lt. Col. Jeff French whose unit is in Afghanistan, “they’ll start firing at anything that’s moving, and they will injure or kill innocent Afghans, and they’ll destroy property.” These ill-disciplined private security guards who escort supply convoys, shoot their way through an area because they are not trained to be combat soldiers. Most of the convoys traveling through French’s area are protected by Afghan security guards armed with AK-series assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades. As Captain Casey Thoreen describes them, “these guys are like gun-toting mercenaries with probably not a lot of training– They just light on the trigger finger.”
The problem from day one of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq is not having sufficient American troops on the scene. Instead of military trained soldiers fighting our wars, we have gone back in history to mercenaries doing our fighting. Is there something wrong with this approach to using military force?