Private security companies are groups of mercenaries or private militaries that offer unarmed or armed combatants or similar support as well as security advice (Elsea, 2010). Such groups are private military contractors, and the history of their formation is as old as that of armed conflicts. However, in the contemporary age, the United Nations prohibits the practice through the Mercenary Convention. Nevertheless, some countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, are not members of the UN, and they disagree with the classification of hired troops as mercenaries. The groups are available in the United States for hire during peacekeeping and foreign military interventions, such as those that took place in Iraq and Afghanistan. Before withdrawing its troops from Iraq, the United States intended to increase the number of private security contractors from 17 to 29 in 2010 (Gordon, 2010). The use of private military groups attracts controversy not only in Iraq but also in other countries that have the presence of such troops. The concerns do not only revolve around the security of civilians but also around the engagement of those troops in activities that are not stipulated in their contract, such as the presence on the battlefield as well as the issue of opening fire without provocation. This research seeks to examine such security companies as Academi, Triple Canopy, and KBR and their contribution to the situation in Iraq.
The Functions of Private Troops
Private troops offer services such as the provision of bodyguards for businesses and other organizations, the guarding of oil resources in Iraq, the provision of security to enterprises that engage in reconstruction activities, and the provision of security to government officers. In addition, they provide escort to diplomatic and relief convoys and guard people and goods from attacks by insurgents who frequently lie in ambush near travelling routes with an aim of killing people or stealing their property (Gordon, 2010).
Justification for the Use of Private Military in Iraq
After the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi militia forces became uncontrolled, and the United States played a role in the pacification of Iraq. Moreover, the USA guarded diplomatic missions, embassies, and relief supply organizations (Gordon, 2010). Because the USA needed its army for other purposes apart from foreign missions, it was appropriate for the government to deploy private security firms to work in collaboration with the military since it was inappropriate to send all the available troops to Iraq. In addition, the United States army cannot stay in Iraq forever; thus, it was appropriate to deploy private guards while gradually withdrawing the military and troops for supplementing the local security forces and offering security as the soldiers were recover from war turmoil.
Private Militaries in Iraqi
The company was formed in 1997 by Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL officer. The company won contracts aarded to private security firms by the government of the United States to provide security services to government officials in war-torn Iraq as well as training the army and the police (Prince, 2013). Upon its entry in Iraq, the company attracted criticism in various instances for the alleged misuse of arms. For example, the American Federal Court imprisoned four Academi employees in 2014 for murder, manslaughter, and mishandling of firearms (Matt, 2014). The crimes were committed in Iraq in 2007 in a place called Nisour Square, where the men indiscriminately fired at civilians, killing 17 of them. The company also faced other related cases and paid several million dollars in fines (Poisuo, 2014).
The company was involved in various secret operations in collaboration with the Central Intelligence Agency, including the raiding of suspected insurgent hideouts, especially during the night time, as well as the transportation of detainees and the killing of militants on the battlefield (Smith & Warrick, 2009). In addition, it provided security to CIA officials, which made it difficult to distinguish the members of the private company from those of the CIA. Nevertheless, the actions of the organization breached the terms of contract with the U.S. government on multiple occasions.
The company was involved in surveillance and the identification of threats the United Sates officials and the government property potentially faced. It conducted surveillance to locate imminent threats by means government drones (Prince, 2013). However, the privatization of government drones caused controversy as the Iraqi locals could not distinguish between war and surveillance drones. Thus, they never knew whether the Academi forces protected them or fought against them. This issue raises questions as to whether private troops could have engaged themselves in killing people using the drones.
Triple Canopy is another private security firm contracted by the United States government to provide protection to the consulates and embassies of Iraq and other countries. Some of its major contracts included the protection of the embassy in Baghdad as well as the consulate in Basra. An ex-soldier of the U.S. Army Special Forces from Chicago founded the company. The company employed Southern American Soldiers to work in Iraq under a contract between the firm and the United States government. The U.S. Special Operations Personnel, Rangers, Navy SEALS, and police officers are among its employees. The company specializes in security and escort operations, and it is famous for undertaking the toughest operations (Poisuo, 2014). The firm began its work after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and its duties were the provision of escort and security to the officials of the United States who had high-risk functions. Due to its close relations with the United States Army, people frequently refer to Triple Canopy as the “other army” of the USA.
After the government of Iraq banned Academi from operating within its jurisdiction in 2009, Triple Canopy occupied its place, and this made people refer to the group as “Obama’s Blackwater” (Bennett, 2009). Its surveillance activities included guarding American envoys in various cities and the operation of drones with an attempt to to identify potential threats.
Apart from guarding and providing security to government officials and property, Triple Canopy is one of the private security firms involved in clandestine operations, including the provision of intelligence reports to the U.S. military forces and the CIA (Hillhouse, 2007). The company recruited spies, dispatched them to gather terror-related information, and then prepared reports for government agencies. Such actions have been referred to as the outsourcing of intelligence (Hillhouse, 2007), which raised the controversy surrounding the existence of the abovementioned duties in the contract.
KBR, Inc. is the U.S. company based in Houston that specializes in construction, engineering, procurement, and private military services. The company participated in the World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Iraqi War (KBR, 2013). The company won the contract in Iraq, and it dispatched approximately 14,000 workers, some of them being soldiers. The company had a case where a female soldier alleged that some of her male colleagues took turns on her. However, the way the company handled the issue sparked debate as it tried to cover up the case (Poisuo, 2014).
Surveillance activities and undercover operations.
The company has no history of surveillance activities or undercover operations in Iraq as its central role manifests itself in a business that can operate in volatile regions. Thus, the company was contracted mainly to provide logistical support to the U.S. Army. Some of its roles included the supply of jet and vehicle fuel, truck maintenance, plumbing, electrical services, and other construction services in the United States military bases (KBR, 2013).
The United States of America played a significant role in the pacification of Iraq as well as the provision of security to U.S. reconstruction workers, ambassadors, offices and property. In addition, some of its private security companies guarded oil resources in Iraq, provided security for businesses that engaged in reconstruction activities, and provided escort for diplomatic as well as relief convoys. The government of the USA had to contract its own troops to do the same as well as train the Iraqi forces. One of the companies hired included Academi, which participated in surveillance activities through drones usage as well as aided the CIA in its operations. The other company was Triple Canopy, which replaced Academi when it was expelled from Iraq. Finally, KBR provided logistical support to the army through maintenance works and supply of fuel among other duties.