• Private Military Companies,  Public Diplomacy

    State’s Diplomatic Security chief resigns

    State Department’s Diplomatic Security (DS) chief resigns: Richard Griffin, the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, announced his decision to step down at a weekly staff meeting, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, adding that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accepted the resignation, which is effective Nov. 1. I find dark humor in Griffin’s resignation. This goes to my point that State doesn’t internalize their role in shaping and transforming opinions through their presence and actions. While Defense increasingly understands what their personnel on the ground are "the last three feet" of engagement through direct contact with people and indirectly through media, State pretends it’s on…

  • Private Military Companies,  Public Diplomacy

    State’s insular world

    A short while back I wrote about the cost the U.S. incurred by State’s unchecked desire to keep its principals off the ‘X’ and a while back I arranged discussions on the role of private military contractors play in public diplomacy. Nicholas Kralev, writing in the Washington Times, has more on State’s inept understanding of the environment in which it works. The State Department cited legal reasons in turning down a 2005 request from Blackwater USA to install cameras in official U.S. motorcades protected by employees of the security contractor in Iraq, The Washington Times has learned. Blackwater’s request is more than about protecting Blackwater, it is about the U.S.…

  • Private Military Companies

    A bigger problem than Blackwater: DynCorp (Updated)

    You want a bigger and deeper problem than Blackwater? Consider DynCorp, a much larger private military firm "providing" a range of services that impact Iraqis and the U.S. mission in far greater ways than Blackwater. From David Phinney: The State Department so badly managed a $1.2 billion contract for Iraqi police training that it can’t tell what it got for the money spent, a new report says. Because of disarray in invoices and records on the project — and because the government is trying to recoup money paid inappropriately to contractor DynCorp International, LLC — auditors have temporarily suspended their effort to review the contract’s implementation, said Special Inspector General…

  • Private Military Companies

    DOD official orders head count of private security guards

    From Federal Computer Week, the guy in charge of paying for things wants to know what he’s paying for. John Young, acting undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, has launched a comprehensive head count of private security contractors working for the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a Sept. 28 memo, Young gave Defense Department officials until Nov. 1 to record personal, contract and detailed deployment information on all private security contractors and translators working in those two countries. The sad thing is, many of us have been saying this is required for years. Think they’ll start putting contractors through CRC (CONUS Replacement Center) again? Doubt it,…

  • Private Military Companies

    Revising History

    I envy Ambassador L. Paul Bremer and his ability to revise history. It’s fantastic to read Ambassador L. Paul Bremer revising history again (the first time was in his memoir). When talking about CPA Order 17, he said “The immunity is not absolute. The order requires contractors to respect all Iraqi laws, so it’s not a blanket immunity.” Seriously? I envy even more the reporters who wrote the New York Times article that I copied the quote above. They are so innocent in their article so as to be irresponsible.  If a private in the United States military fires on civilians, a clear body of law and a set of procedures…

  • Private Military Companies,  Psychological Struggle

    The Cost of Keeping the Principal off the X

    Does anybody else found it disturbing that the Department that contains the US Public Diplomacy apparatus, is ostensibly in charge of “winning hearts and minds” (used here because they use this phrase), and works with foreign media could be so blind as to ignore the impact of their travel? While they were too busy looking after the forest, they didn’t realize they were poisoning the land on which the trees grow. Their aggressive posture, fueled in part by IEDs, was more than condoned but encouraged. Blackwater did their job: they kept their principals of the X and nobody they were charged with protecting died. A few brief comments: In a…