• Private Military Companies

    Contractor Sued for Charges to Army

    From the Associated Press yesterday, The federal government is suing KBR Inc., the largest military contractor in Iraq, over what prosecutors say were improper charges to the Army for private security services. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, charges that KBR knew it could not bill the government for private armed security for the company and 33 of its subcontractors, but did so anyway. This is an old issue that was long buried and ignored: that some, if not much, of the money spent on private security in Iraq was illegal. The reality of security contractors, despite the claims of so many that they are inherently outside the…

  • Private Military Companies

    Review of the Blackwater Lawsuit

    The Nation has a good article on the Blackwater lawsuit that is slowly working its way through the court system. In Blood Is Thicker Than Blackwater, Jeremy Scahill describes actions by a company that is the worst fear by many opposing privatization (did someone mention CusterBattles?). When firms act like this, as Blackwater is alleged to have done, it not only taints the industry but also the United States. As an interview in the movie Shadow Company demonstrates, Stephen "Scott" Helvenston, Mike Teague, Jerko Zovko and Wesley Batalona were attacked not because they were contractors or because they might have been military, but because they were thought to be CIA…

  • Peacekeeping,  Private Military Companies

    Blackwater & Peacekeeping Operations

    Recently, Blackwater announced that it was willing, and could, provide a brigade size force for humanitarian interventions (HI), such as is needed in Darfur. The Blackwater pronouncement (I think it goes beyond ‘announcement’) is largely based on Tim Spicer’s observation, as quoted in the Green Paper: "too often the major powers won’t intervene or delay until it’s too late." What might the Blackwater deployment look like and how might it work?

  • Private Military Companies

    Shadow Company movie review

    Later this month in Texas, the movie Shadow Company will make its debut at the South by Southwest Film Festival. Self-described as a “ground breaking investigative” documentary, Shadow Company explores the origins and “destinations” of private security contractors (PSCs). Back in January, Onnesha Roychoudhuri interviewed Nick Bicanic, Shadow Company’s director and co-founder of the production company putting the movie out. If you haven’t read the interview, you should. Not to be redundent with Roychoudhuri, I asked Nick why he made Shadow Company. "I decided to make this film because I could see that the Rules of War have changed. There was a relevant message about modern warfare that did not…

  • Private Military Companies

    PMC Fraud: Tip of the Iceberg?

    Briefly, the Custer Battles lawsuit will likely be an eye opener for many. The Iraq war has been a watershed in the outsourcing of not just tangible assets and roles the military used to provide for itself (meals, logistics) but intangibles also. The role of private military companies in the war, from pre-deployment training to site security to force and VIP/"nation building contractors" protection, are part of the soft power of the United States.

  • State Building

    A Primer on Pirates

    "Combating piracy takes good intelligence. The authors also offer this warning: Piracy "has never been reduced through any process of negotiation." Historically, only armed force suppresses pirates."

  • Private Military Companies

    ICRC and PMCs

    News brief as I continue to clear out the drafts linking in the to be posted file. This one is an item off the ICRC website from 2004.   Private security firms are an established feature of the 21st century war landscape, working for states, corporations and even NGOs. The ICRC is stepping up contacts with these companies, to ensure that they know and respect international humanitarian law.

  • Private Military Companies

    Is TopCat really in “mobilization”?

    From Karthryn Cramer comes a tasty bit of news that the BBC wasn’t actually wrong when it said Top Cat Marine Security was in a “mobilisation phase” (UK spelling). From Ms Kathryn Cramer: [a] company that builds boats identical to Top Cat’s seems to have set up shop in Panama Panama is nice place to hide. A commentator on Kathryn’s site says Casini, if it is Top Cat, can’t hide in Panama because ITAR can still reach Pete, he being a US citizen and all. I don’t think that is why he’s hidingout. The US State Department’s "cease & desist" is still a fuzzy red herring to me until I…

  • Africa

    Djibouti Sues France

    From Opinio Juris comes news Dijibouti, where our Marines have an counter-terrorism base and are practicing the a real campaign of public diplomacy (see CT in the Horn and Revisiting the Roosevelt Doctrine). [T]he Republic of Djibouti has filed an application with the International Court of Justice against France alleging France violated its treaty obligations to provide judicial assistance in a Djibouti criminal investigation. This looks like a fairly tedious and unimportant case. The only interesting aspect (to me, anyway) is whether France refuses to accept the ICJ’s jurisdiction. France famously withdrew from the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ back in 1996 (those unilateralist Frenchies, so disrespectful of international courts!)…

  • Uncategorized

    “Foreign Friends” financing private company off Somali Waters?

    An interesting item was on the BBC News website about the Somali coast being the most dangerous coast in the world, along with a recent Naval War College article (Aug 2005) by a professor at the National Defense College of the Philippines reiterated future if not present links and partnerships between terrorism and piracy, suggests the (obvious) point the attempted cruiseship hijacking that was thwarted by a military grade counter-measure (which was on a civilian vessel for what reason? isn’t mil grade hardware illegal?) had more to do with terrorism than piracy. Even it was piracy, it would likely lead to terrorism following any line of logical reasoning. The BBC…