Monday, February 5, 2007

The New ‘Sport-Utility’ U.S. Army

The consequence of Donald Rumsfeld’s new, light on its feet and agile military, organized for the new challenges of the 21st century, was to fail us in the first land war test of that epoch—the exact opposite of what he envisioned. Thus, he has outsourced for us the traditional American  military he destroyed.


Rumsfeldtimemag The consequence of Donald Rumsfeld’s new, light on its feet and agile military, organized for the new challenges of the 21st century, was to fail us in the first land war test of that epoch—the exact opposite of what he envisioned. Thus, he has outsourced for us the traditional American  military he destroyed.

Aegis Defence Services, Ltd., a Brit firm is a case in point. They’re one of the civilian outfits in Iraq, currently holding up our military pants. According to a Walter Pincus article in the Washington Post;

Aegis provides about 300 guards to Corps of Engineers facilities in Iraq, along with personal security escort teams for Corps personnel and contractors when they travel to such sites. The firm also provides the reconstruction liaison teams that travel the country to get updates on projects and information about local communities.

Kicking in their share, “the U.S. government will provide about 134 vehicles, primarily sport-utility vehicles.” Sport-utility vehicles are the light pickup trucks made by Toyota that are favored by various terrorist groups and warlord militias in Iraq.

Genericshinseki So, at least in that narrow area, we’ll be on an equal footing with the bad guys. Rummy’s new Army is largely made up of mercenaries and National Guard, but hey, who knew we were going into this war underprepared? General Shinseki knew it and had the courage to say it to the Congress. Courage is supposed to be revered in the military, but for Shinseki it bought Rumsfeld’s rage and a forced early retirement.

The new and improved SUV military doesn’t feed its troops any more, doesn’t provide guards for its own engineers or convoys, nor does it (in many cases) even drive the trucks. Pincus reports

Aegis provides about 300 guards to Corps of Engineers facilities in Iraq, along with personal security escort teams for Corps personnel and contractors when they travel to such sites. The firm also provides the reconstruction liaison teams that travel the country to get updates on projects and information about local communities.

In 2005, the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction investigated the Aegis contract and found a number of shortcomings. Among them was that Aegis did not vet all of its Iraqi employees for security, as required.

A sample check of the personnel records of 20 of 125 Iraqi nationals then on the payroll found no evidence of an interview for six, no evidence of a police background check on 18 and no records at all on two. "As a result, there is no assurance that the Iraqi national employees do not pose an internal security threat," the inspection report said.

In response, Aegis managers said Iraqi police checks were too difficult to obtain, given the destruction of past records. The requirement was dropped. The report also said that the company agreed that Iraqis would be vetted through the State Department system. The inspection report said that, as of April 2005, only 17 of the "last" 213 Iraqis hired had been vetted through that system. Aegis employees include foreign nationals, among whom are Gurkhas from Nepal, and all must be vetted.

Unless they’re not. Unless it’s too difficult.

Gurkhas. Can the French Foreign Legion be far behind? Rumsfeld is gone now and not a moment too soon, rumored as he was to be about to outsource the Marine Corps to India.

Colwpatricklang One of the problems is pointed out by retired Army Col. W. Patrick Lang, who said last week (WaPo)

that contracting out intelligence collection and security for Army units and their contractors "results from actual military forces being too small." He added: "I can't remember a subordinate commander considering mercenaries as part of his forces."

When a civilian group such as Aegis or Blackwater muddies up the chain of command, there effectively is no chain of command. These guys make a lot more dough than doughboys and can refuse a hazardous order as well, which doesn’t go down well with the troops. Who can blame them? Are they subject to orders or suggestions?

Under the new contract now out for bids, the winner is to monitor all convoys, maintain a Web site, provide "Iraq-wide unclassified daily reports," as well as "provide relevant and timely intel/ops reports throughout Iraq" -- referring to intelligence/operations reports.

The U.S. government will provide about 134 vehicles, primarily sport-utility vehicles, but also armored personnel carriers. The government will also furnish weapons and ammunition, but the contractor must identify the people to whom the weapons will be issued. Employees will have access to government dining facilities and post exchanges, "where available," and will be entitled to "acute medical and dental services to include medical evacuation under emergency circumstances . . . at no cost" while they are "in theater."

Welcome to the SUV army of the future.

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