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The Enron Pentagon - Boston Globe, 10/19/2003 Excerpts THE IRAQ WAR has been a stunning revelation of trends that could shape the next decades of global politics and conflict - from the revolution in military technologies to the challenges presented by stability operations. However, one underexplored current is the extent to which warfare itself is being privatized. Iraq is not just the biggest US military commitment in generations, it is also the biggest market for private military services - ever. Private firms now play an even more stunning variety of roles in the Iraq occupation. One example is the controversial Dyncorp firm, a Virginia-based company whose employees were implicated in sex crimes in the Balkans; they are now training the post-Saddam police force. Other firms are training the new Iraqi army and paramilitary forces and guarding critical facilities. But privatization also comes with risks. In particular are poor accounting and accountability, a now common thread in the conduct of both business and our government. The absence of oversight may make Iraq the ``Big Dig'' of the private military industry - a profit bonanza for the firms, but a loss on the public policy ledger. *** A myriad of questions surround our dealings with the industry. For example, the Pentagon does not even know how many private military employees, or foreign subcontractors, it has working for it. Likewise, there is no requirement to reveal the number of private military casualties (at least five killed in Iraq by unofficial media accounts) or, in turn, the number of Iraqis killed by their employees. This lack of accounting also means that we don't know the number of contractors who have either declined to deploy or left Iraq because of their security concerns. This last problem raises an important concern. Contractors who did not deliver - because of issues ranging from staffing difficulties to higher than expected insurance premiums - left American troops with less support than they enjoyed in past wars. When our soldiers were still eating field rations and lacked running water, months after the president's infamous aircraft carrier landing, the blame fell on an overreliance on contractors. Contractors are not within the chain of command and thus cannot be ordered into combat zones. The same problems cross over into the Enron-like attitude toward financial costs. While one of the rationales for outsourcing military functions is cost savings, the evidence is either absent or limited. Even as we set greater goals for future outsourcing, we do not know if we are actually saving money. However, we do know that contracts have often been awarded with limited or no free-market competition, and frequently to politically connected firms. For example, the US Army logistics contract was expanded to employ Halliburton to run the oil services part of Iraqi reconstruction - without competitive bid. So far, more than $1 billion in added revenue has gone to Vice President Cheney's old firm, in which he has continuing financial interests. In sum, we have a distortion of the free market that would shock Adam Smith, an interface between business and government that would awe the Founding Fathers, and a shift in the military-industrial complex that must have President Eisenhower rolling in his grave. Without change, this is a recipe for bad policy, and bad business. P.W. Singer is national security fellow at The Brookings Institution and author of ``Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Private Military Industry.'' http://tinyurl.com/rhzz --- Boston Globe article _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk