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Military Forces Only For Battles, Rest of Work To Be Done by Outsourcing.

Military Forces Only For Battles, Rest of Work To Be Done by Outsourcing.

Posted August. 12, 2003 22:00,   


Alexander Ross died during a mission in the “war against drugs”. He was in Columbia not as a soldier, but as an employee of DynCorp, a U.S. private military corporation. The only explanation that his family has heard from the company so far is that “the U.S. State Department is investigating what led to his death.”

Another three employees of commercial military enterprises died earlier this year. The Pentagon announced that 14 U.S. civilians have died since 1997 during military operations. However, many are not aware of the casualties of foreigners such as Ross (a man from Panama).

After the cold war, public opinion demanding military reduction surged, but in fact, the demand for military manpower for regional wars has not decreased at all. “The number of cases that the United States government outsources military affairs to private companies has increased because this reduces its political burden even if casualties of foreigners occur and helps the government avoid the eyes of Congress and public opinion,” the Financial Times, a British daily, noted yesterday.

The U.S. Defense department gave an order to DynCorp to provide unarmed monitors in Kosovo, allowing the Pentagon to avoid calling up several thousand National Guardsmen.

The security guards in the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan are not soldiers but employees of DynCorp. 150 security guards have been dispatched there and they are mostly former soldiers of U.S. special operations forces, such as Delta Force.

Six commercial enterprises are participating in the US-financed anti-narcotics operations in Colombia that Ross was also involved in. They monitor cocaine farms by airplane surveillance.

KBR, an affiliate of Halliburton Co., where Vice-President Dick Cheney was once the chairman, monopolized meals, water supply, laundry, and postal services for 20,000 soldiers dispatched in the Balkan Peninsula during the crisis in Kosovo. Kubic Co. trained soldiers participating in the U.S.-led Iraq war.

Private military companies do almost everything, except for firing guns. The private military companies expanded their territory and they now provide military base maintenance work, recruiting, military training, security, meal and water supply, aircraft maintenance, as well as intelligence gathering and strategy analysis. Its market share is about 35 billion won. However, there is criticism against it.

Some claim that military operations involved in war or battles should only be carried out by a government, not private companies that seek profits and are not controlled by Congress.

When some employees of DynCorp kidnapped young girls in the Balkan Peninsula and were caught, the employee who disclosed the details was fired, while the employees who committed the crime were not convicted, and were left to freely leave the country they were serving in. In addition, it is ambiguous whether to handle employees according to the martial law when they are absent from the company without consent and cause problems.

Another issue is their safety. Should they be armed to protect themselves and should they be treated as prisoners of war according to the Geneva Convention if they were to be captured during a mission by enemies? Obviously, there are still many ambiguous matters to resolve.

Seung-Jin Kim sarafina@donga.com