CWC Liveblogging!

I caught this Wired post just in time to see that there’s another “what are we doing with all these mercenaries” hearings that pretty much nobody watches. It’s on C-Span 2 right now, so I’m going to see how long I can stand it.

“Inherently governmental functions” is a kind of ambiguous category that means “things you don’t contract out.”  The military official has proposed a five year time frame to assess these things that contractors are doing that they should not be.  Off to a good start.

~28,000 positions with contractors overseeing the contracts of other contractors.  About half of those we’re just going to wait five years on.

CACI is providing contracting oversight officials.  They have a shady history.

107,000 contractors in Afghanistan right now.

One of the commissioners actually works for a contractor.  Watch him debating Jeremy Scahill here and here.

I got a relevant question on SA: “how did mercenaries become legal” Answer here.

The LOGCAP contract is fundamentally insane.  POGO:  More Misbehavior by KBR Suspected on LOGCAP III Contract

Contractor seriously states above contract was “97-99% competitive” whatever that means.

All out mercenary ban introduced to congress

It will almost certainly be referred off to the darkest corner of some committee just like the 2007 version, but I can hope and watch the shameless lobbying in the meantime.

From the press release:

Two congressional lawmakers have announced legislation that would effectively remove military contractors from war zones.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced the “Stop Outsourcing Security Act” on Tuesday. If passed, the act would force the United States to phase out its controversial use of private security contractors in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The legislation would restore the responsibility of the American military to train troops and police, guard convoys, repair weapons, administer military prisons, and perform military intelligence,” the lawmakers’ offices said.

“The bill also would require that all diplomatic security be undertaken by US government personnel,” they added.

Yes, all of those things are currently done by private contractors.  The ban on private guards for diplomats is crucial as well because that’s where a lot of the money has been for armed contractors and Blackwater’s first important gig was actually keeping Paul Bremer alive in Iraq.

According to a report published last month, “As of September 2009, there were almost 22,000 armed private security contractors in
Iraq and Afghanistan.” and that “Many analysts and government officials believe that DOD would be unable to execute its mission without PSCs.”  While I wouldn’t be surprised that they believe that, it was not only possible but the way it was done up until the mid 90’s and the last 15 years or so have been far from the most impressive in US military history.  It’s more likely  that the mission needs to be adjusted.

More from  the congressional research service report:

In Iraq there are reportedly more than 50 PSCs employing more than 30,000 armed employees working for a variety of government and private sector clients. In Afghanistan, there are currently 52 PSCs licensed to operate in Afghanistan with some 25,000 registered security contractors. PSCs operating in Afghanistan are limited to 500 employees  and can only exceed 500 with permission from the Cabinet. Because of the legal restrictions placed on security companies in Afghanistan, a number of PSCs are operating without a license or are exceeding the legal limit, including security contractors working for NATO and the U.S. Government. Many analysts believe that regulations governing PSCs are only enforced in Kabul; outside Kabul there is no government reach at present and local governors, chiefs of police, and politicians run their own illegal PSCs. Estimates of the total number of security contractors in Afghanistan, including those that are not licensed, are as high as 70,000. The majority of these PSCs do not work for the U.S. government.

Pretty scary stuff.  I’m anxiously awaiting the reactions from the industry, so I’ll update this post when they get released.