Sunday, April 04, 2004

They Ain't Got Time to Bleed The Fallujah events were a tragedy, but within it is a disturbing sign, the large scale use of mercenaries by the Bush Administration to make up deficits in manpower. Now, what happened to the four individuals in Fallujah was tragic and deeply disturbing, but it still does not take away from the fact that turning to mercenaries to handle security matters in Iraq is both contrary to our traditions and morality (to the extent such individuals are not covered by the Geneva Accords to my knowledge). And now, via Atrios, the situation is understandably getting worse as the mercenaries seek to better arm themselves in the wake of Fallujah: Bodyguards in Iraq turn to 'massive firepower' after attack April 4, 2004 BY COLIN FREEMAN BAGHDAD -- American bodyguards in Iraq want to strengthen their weaponry with hand grenades and high-powered machineguns after four private security consultants were murdered in Fallujah last week. Only coalition soldiers are allowed to carry explosives under existing regulations, leaving up to 20,000 civilian contractors working as guards outgunned by insurgents with rocket-propelled grenades and belt-fed machineguns. The Coalition Provisional Authority is horrified by the contractors' plans to flout the rules, believing that such action could lead to a serious escalation in violence as the June deadline approaches for power to be transferred to the Iraqis. On Saturday, however, Malcolm Nance, a former adviser to the CIA and the U.S. National Security Agency who has spent 10 months in Iraq supervising security for businesses and charities, warned that firms would "go heavy" to prevent a repeat of last week's murders. The bodies of the four security consultants were mutilated by a cheering mob of Iraqis after their vehicles were hit by rocket-propelled grenades. Weapons such as hand grenades can be bought in the city's illegal weapons markets for as little as a dollar. Nance said his personnel would now be using "massive firepower." "People are going into battle now. In military terms, we describe a hand grenade as a "break contact" device used as a final option to stop any contact in an enemy attack. "Nobody I have employed out here uses them, but I would imagine that break contact devices will get used a lot more as a result of the incident in Fallujah. "Security escorts will continue to be discreet, but everybody here is waiting to get hit. My own escorts will be increasing their manpower in each vehicle." British security firms, which tend to adopt a lower-key approach, are alarmed by the prospect of American guards increasing their weaponry. "The last thing we need is loads of Americans running around grenading people," said one company manager. "But I fear that a few may end up carrying grenades, and God knows what other weapons, too." Most private guards in Iraq have relied on Kalashnikovs or MP5 machine pistols and sidearms, believing that their superior military training made them a match for attackers. Last week's deaths have forced them to review their tactics. "The guys in Fallujah were nearly all ex-Special Forces and from one of the best security companies going," Nance said. "People might be wearing body armor and carrying helmets and high-velocity weapons, but that won't protect you against a rocket-propelled grenade, which can just obliterate your car." via the Sunday Telegraph
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