A contractor from Bechtel Construction, assesses a bridge in Al Aziziyah, Iraq in 2003 to decide what repairs need to be made. (Source: US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher H. Fitzgerald)
A bodyguard from Blackwater USA (right) protects former Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer (left) in Iraq in 2004. (Source: Reuters file photo)
Gregory B. Starr, MA, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Countermeasures at the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, stated in a June 13, 2006 statement before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations:
"The Department of State
primarily utilizes private security firms in Iraq for two major
functions. The first is static guard services at our facilities. These
contract security operations are similar to local guard contract
programs we utilize at our embassies, consulates, and residences around
The second contracted functions that private companies provide are personal security details and security escorts...
These contractors operate
in a very dangerous environment, and their actions, equipment, and
methods of operations are specified in our contract requirements. Rules
of engagement developed by the embassy and approved by the Chief of
Mission and Diplomatic Security govern their use of deadly force...
The services we provide
are primarily for the protection of U.S. Government employees and
staff. We do not provide security services for private companies,
non-governmental organizations, or implementation partners. However, we
are willing to share our contract requirements with those organizations
supporting our effort through the Overseas Security Advisory Council,
or OSAC, domestically and in Iraq.
In closing, I would like
to say that our ability to provide protective operations on the scale
required in this high-threat environment would not have been possible
without using private security providers. The number of personal
security specialists we utilize in Iraq alone is more than all the
Diplomatic Security agents we have globally. We could not have hired
and trained new agents to meet this requirement as rapidly as the
contractors met the requirement, even if we had the funding and FTE
[Full-Time Equivalents] available. Meeting this relatively short
duration requirement using competitively bid contractors along with
establishing high standard requirements is the best possible solution
for these circumstances."
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) stated in its July 2005 report "Rebuilding Iraq: Actions Needed to Improve Use of Private Security Providers":
"The use of private security providers
reflects the uncertain security environment that was, and is still being
encountered in Iraq, as well as the fact that providing security for agencies
and contractors is not part of the U.S. military’s stated mission. U.S.
military forces in Iraq provide security only for those DOD civilians and
contractors who directly support the military’s mission.
In Iraq, as
elsewhere, the U.S. Ambassador, as Chief of Mission, has overall
responsibility for the security of U.S. government executive branch
employees, except for those under the force protection of the combatant
commander. However, individual U.S. government agencies have had to
arrange for their own security services. As neither DOD nor the
Department of State is responsible for providing security to reconstruction
contractors, the terms of their contracts require reconstruction contractors
to provide for their own security; and, they typically have done so by
awarding subcontracts to private security providers...
The providers may be U.S. or foreign companies and their
staffs are likely to be drawn from various countries, including the United
States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Nepal, Sri Lanka, or Fiji, and may
include Kurds and Arabs from Iraq. Generally, private security providers
provide the following services:
Static security – security for housing areas and work sites.
Personal security details – security for high-ranking U.S. officials.
Security escorts – security for government employees, contractor
employees, or others as they move through Iraq.
Convoy security – security for vehicles and their occupants as they
make their way into Iraq or within Iraq.
Doug Brooks, MA, President of the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA), an association of private contractors, stated in a Mar. 22, 2005 interview on the PBS show Frontline: Private Warriors:
But the role [of private military contractors and private security
contractors] in the Iraq war is proportionately greater [than in other
Brooks: Yeah, it's probably a little bit more.
Q: So why is that?
Well, for a number of reasons. We're doing a lot more of the
reconstruction, so a lot of the companies are both supporting the
military and supporting the reconstruction. The military is about a
third smaller now than it was at the end of the Cold War, and yet I
would argue it's much more effective. ...
they've done is they've focused a lot of their efforts into, as we say,
the tooth. If you think about tooth-to-tail ratio, the tooth being the
combat arms and the tail being the support units, and the military is
focused really on the tooth side, so it's become incredibly capable as
And all of this, of course, requires -- the larger the tail, the more
protection the tail needs along the way. You have to protect the
Right. And that would apply whether it's military or civilians that are
doing the logistics. Even military logistics need security. So that's
always a plight.
Q: So you've had a big expansion in the role of private security and private military contractors.
Right. Now, I think you have to keep in mind that the security
companies, their size goes up and down as their contracts go up and
down. So we have what has been called ... the Baghdad bubble.
Essentially, you have a time when there's a lot of need for security
for both the reconstruction effort, for the convoys, to protect a lot
of things going on, and the politicians.
how do you create a democracy when all the politicians are being killed
off by insurgents? You've got to protect them. So there's a big role
for security right now. Now, as the security situation improves and as
the Iraqi military comes online and the police, you'll see less need
for the private sector."