From firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Mar 26 08:38:03 2000
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2000 12:26:15 -0800
The privatization of war
By Ron Rowe, 15 March 2000
Included below is a very interesting article from the Dallas Morning News on U.S. "military specialty companies" looking to profit from the U.S. military "aid" package to Colombia, and additional information discovered in the course of looking further into the companies mentioned in the article.
Pay particular note to this little revelation: "Two Virginia-based companies, DynCorp Inc. and Military Professional Resources Inc., or MPRI, are completing contracts related to logistical support and training of Colombian police and counterinsurgency forces ... [MPRI] should be well-placed for a contract, since it also helped the Colombian government devise the official, three-phase "action plan" that was presented to Congress last month outlining how the $1.6 billion would be allocated."
Which is made all the MORE interesting by some of MPRI's and DynCorp's other recent involvements in areas of U.S. military activity...
An article in this week's London Sunday Times reported that American "diplomatic observers" in the Kosovo Verification Mission of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) prior to last year's bombing campaign were in fact "a CIA front, gathering intelligence on the KLA's arms and leadership." The article concluded by stating: "Agim Ceku, the KLA commander in the latter stages of the [Kosovo] conflict, had established American contacts through his work in the Croatian army, which had been modernised with the help of Military Professional Resources Inc, an American company specialising in military training and procurement. This company's personnel were in Kosovo, along with others from a similar company, Dyncorps, that helped in the American-backed programme for the Bosnian army."
Michel Chossudovsky, author of "The Globalization of Poverty: Impacts of IMF and World Bank Reforms" and a vocal critic of U.S./NATO actions in Kosovo, refers to MPRI as a "U.S. mercenary outfit" and stated last year that "MPRI is on contract to advise the KLA and General Agim Ceku (financed by U.S. military aid). In 1995, MPRI advised the Croatian armed forces in the planning of Operation Storm which led to the massacre of Krajina Serbs."
In "Humanitarian Spies", Jared Israel, editor of the "Emperor's Clothes" website, reported: "The U.S. verification team was composed of employees of Dyncorp, a Virginia company that has grown rich off Government work. At the 1992 Senate hearings on R. James Woolsey's appointment as head of the CIA, Woolsey commented: "I own less than one-quarter of one percent of the -- diluted shares of a company named Dyncorp here in the Washington, D.C. area. And the corporation has, from time to time, had a handful of very small contracts with the Central Intelligence Agency." ... Dyncorp's "very small contracts" have included covert work for the Company in Columbia and Peru."
By the way, DynCorp announced last month that Ambassador William Courtney, a former National Security Council senior staff director who recently co-chaired the U.S. delegation to the Review Conference of the OSCE, has now joined the company as president of its Security and Intelligence Unit, DynMeridian.
A "leading information technology and outsourcing services firm" with annual revenues of more than $1.2 billion (which I dare say would make R. James Woolsey's "less than one-quarter of one percent" worth a rather tidy sum), DynCorp provides a wide variety of services under government and commercial contracts. Its security contracts have ranged from providing physical security for U.S.-controlled installations in Qatar to designing a "Safe Schools" program in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). It also has Information Technology contracts with the State Department, Department of Defense, Army, Navy and Air Force, among other government agencies, provides on-going support for the U.S. Department of Justice's Asset Forfeiture Program to seize the assets of illicit organizations, and will operate one of three regional data centers for the 2000 census.
And if you think NATO is the New World Order's armed forces, meet its would-be private police force -- DynCorp. The company's International Police Monitors website http://www.dyncorp.com/DynIPTF (the animated graphic alone is really worth taking a look at) bears the motto "Our mission is building democracy world wide," and provides background and recruiting information seeking active duty police officers to serve in the United States Civilian Police Force in Haiti and the International Police Task Force in Bosnia.
DynCorp's online fact sheet on Bosnia states: "Since 1989 the United States government has increasingly become involved in international policing development and training. The first major project, Panama, was followed by similar efforts in El Salvador, Somalia, and most recently Haiti. ... The latest and largest international police task force, consisting of about 1750 police officers from about 36 nations, is in Bosnia."
Since then, DynCorp has also recruited and trained officers for the international police force in Kosovo. A State Department official said the international civilian police force will be instrumental in quashing potential conflicts between Kosovars and Serbs. Before leaving for training in Fort Worth, Texas, Officer Doug Winfield of Milwaukie, Oregon stated: "I think it's real important what the U.S. and NATO are doing: instilling values and a criminal justice system." These privatized police forces are organized under contract to the U.S. State Department in cooperation with the United Nations.
Additional material on MPRI and DynCorp is included following the article below.
If you are interested in receiving further highlights regarding the interlinked issues of corporatization, militarization, globalization and privatization that will not normally be distributed to these lists, please e-mail a request directly to: email@example.com
Ron Rowe, Citizens' Alliance of Santa Barbara
(Santa Barbara Alliance for Democracy)
Contractors playing increasing role in U.S. drug war
By Tod Robberson, Dallas Morning News, Sunday 27 February 2000
BOGOTA - Alex B. Pinero's resume reads like that of a man looking for a lot of action and maybe even a little trouble.
A former member of the U.S. Army Special Forces, Mr. Pinero has served in three combat theaters, speaks three languages and specializes in field medicine, intelligence-gathering and psychological operations. "I am also well-acquainted with and can operate in virtually any hostile (geographic, literal or temporal) environment," his resume boasts.
Mr. Pinero is working in Colombia on a noncombat, private contract with the U.S. government. Because he is a contract employee, he said, the government would bear no responsibility should he run into trouble while helping wage a rapidly escalating U.S. war on drugs in a land where more than 20,000 leftist guerrillas are gunning for people like him every day.
Thousands of highly qualified former U.S. service members such as Mr. Pinero could be the answer to a big riddle dogging the Clinton administration: How can Washington send $1.6 billion in mostly military aid to Colombia without sharply increasing the current level of U.S. military staffing needed to support that aid?
The answer, military officials and other specialists say, is a well-established private business practice called "outsourcing," in which companies that employ skilled specialists like Mr. Pinero take on the jobs that the U.S. military either cannot or will not do.
In private business, outsourcing can be something as simple as hiring a free-lance computer whiz to design a company Web site or specialized software. In a military context, outsourcing is an increasingly popular alternative for the government to provide counterinsurgency trainers, pilots for surveillance aircraft or to staff intelligence-gathering outposts in hostile territory without putting active-duty military personnel at risk.
This is not mercenary work, according to specialists in the field. U.S. law strictly limits such consultants to providing nonlethal service.
Firms await business
Neither the U.S. nor Colombian government has stated publicly how big a role outsourcing will play if Congress approves the White House's proposed $1.6 billion, two-year aid package to Colombia. Most of the aid would pay for 63 combat helicopters along with the pilot training and logistical support those aircraft will require, as well as the training and outfitting of two Colombian army counterinsurgency/counternarcotics battalions.
At least six U.S. military-specialty companies have set up operations in the region, apparently in anticipation of future Colombia-related contracts, according to U.S. military sources. Two Virginia-based companies, DynCorp Inc. and Military Professional Resources Inc., or MPRI, are completing contracts related to logistical support and training of Colombian police and counterinsurgency forces, officials of those companies say.
DynCorp, which has employed Vietnam-veteran helicopter pilots in Colombia, provides maintenance and support for drug-crop eradication flights, often over guerrilla-dominated territory.
MPRI spokesman Ed Soyster, a retired Army lieutenant general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said his company is gearing up for new business in case the new aid package is approved.
The company should be well-placed for a contract, since it also helped the Colombian government devise the official, three-phase "action plan" that was presented to Congress last month outlining how the $1.6 billion would be allocated.
"We're a military company. We're able to hand-pick our people from a select group of guys who like to come into this type of environment. They have an established code of ethics and code of conduct," Mr. Soyster said. "A guy works in this business and works for us because he can continue to do the things he likes and does well. He's happy because he's doing what he's trained to do."
Mr. Soyster said MPRI maintains a database of 11,000 retired officers and enlisted service members available to work on temporary assignment. The company also has provided training and logistical support for military operations in the Balkans, Middle East and Africa, he said.
"I am unabashedly an admirer of outsourcing. . . . There's very few things in life you can't outsource," said retired Army general Barry McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
'Deliver the goods'
He said he did not anticipate a large-scale buildup of active-duty troops to supplement the 80 to 250 U.S. military personnel serving in Colombia, but he stopped short of saying that any additional training spots would be given to private contractors.
"It's not my job to design the U.S. support effort to conduct logistics, maintenance, training support for this $1.6 billion over the coming five years. I personally do not anticipate a significant U.S.-enhanced footprint in this country," he said. "Clearly we must have a U.S. representation adequate to deliver the goods, to make sure that we know what we're doing. . . . It's a huge package compared to what we've done in the past."
Colombian Defense Minister Luis Fernando Ramirez acknowledged that private U.S. military companies already are providing assistance to the armed forces and that more probably would be contracted if the U.S. aid package is approved.
"We must put in place the best people to manage these resources," he explained, adding that private military companies often provide personnel "with much more experience . . . at a lower cost" than either his government or Washington can provide.
He revealed that the U.S. Southern Command is considering upgrading its staffing levels in Colombia and bringing in a general full-time to manage the military-aid package. Even that job, he suggested, could be outsourced.
"Probably, it is more costly to send an active-duty general to be present full-time in Colombia than it is to send a retired officer" working for a private company, Mr. Ramirez said.
The wrong hands
Serious questions of accountability are raised, however, when private contractors replace active-duty troops in the field, even if it is just in an advisory capacity, said Carlos Salinas, Latin America program director for the human-rights group Amnesty International. There must be monitors on the advice and training that Colombian soldiers receive to ensure that those are not passed on to known human-rights violators, such as army units linked to paramilitary groups.
"The Defense Department itself, in its training, has to comply with certain human-rights guidelines because they are mandated by law to do so," Mr. Salinas said. "But it is unclear how far that mandate extends when one is talking about, essentially, private actors."
James Woods, a Washington lobbyist and former deputy assistant secretary of defense, said the political risks of using active-duty troops in such dangerous places as Colombia often outweigh the advantages. The use of retired military personnel under contract, by contrast, generally provides a higher level of expertise with lower overall costs and minimal political risks.
"If the U.S. government wants to pursue a major security-assistance component - and I think it must - do you do it with a major buildup of U.S. troops on the ground? I think the answer is no," he said.
Outsourcing has allowed Washington to provide an important military presence in such war zones as Bosnia, Colombia and the Persian Gulf at times when manpower shortages, budgetary constraints or political pressures prevented the Pentagon from deploying active-duty military personnel, said Georgetown University professor Herbert Howe, a specialist in military outsourcing.
"The military has dropped over 40 percent in manpower and budget since the late 1980s. . . . The U.S. government is increasingly shifting over to outsourcing," Mr. Howe said. "I think we'll be seeing that more in Colombia as well."
In addition, Mr. Howe said, there is inevitably a public outcry whenever U.S. troops are injured or killed in a foreign conflict, whereas less attention is paid when privately contracted military trainers or specialists suffer the same fate. The government has minimal reporting requirements regarding casualties suffered by private contractors.
3 died in crashes
DynCorp has lost three private-contract aviators in fatal crashes over the last three years. Outsourcing specialists noted the minimal attention paid in the United States to those deaths compared with the days of front-page news generated last July when a spy plane carrying five active-duty U.S. service personnel crashed in southern Colombia.
A former U.S. military officer who was responsible for outsourcing various counternarcotics operations in Colombia said the "exposure risks for Uncle Sam" are greatly reduced when private contractors take over the dangerous assignments.
"The life is certainly just as important, whether it's a contract employee or a soldier. But exposure-wise, whoa, it's much less," the retired officer said, asking not to be identified.
"If something goes wrong, it's important for Washington to be able to say, 'There wasn't a soldier killed.' It still gets attention with a private contractor, but to the public, it has nowhere near the same impact," the retired officer said.
Mr. Pinero, a contract employee with DynCorp, agreed to be interviewed on condition that details of his mission in Colombia not be discussed. He said he does not feel threatened working in Colombia's hostile environment. He is, however, looking for another job.
"There is a lot of danger in Colombia. I'm aware of it in an abstract sense. But then again, I spent 10 years in the Army, so this is basically an extension of what I did in the Army," he said. "If you're not jumping out of airplanes in the middle of the night or getting shot at all the time, it's not that bad."
International Network on Disarmament and Globalization