Private Warriors [home page]
homewatch onlinecontractorsfaqsinterviewsdiscussion
private security firms call for more firepower in combat zone

Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2004 10:13 PM

Subject: FW: Private security firms call for more firepower in combat zone

For exclusive Use of PSC and Parent Companies.
further dissemination PROHIBITED.

-----Original Message-----
From: Peter, Lawrence T. (Civ)
Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2004 1:09 PM

To:<list of CPA addees>

Subject: Private security firms call for more firepower in combat zone

17 April 2004

Baghdad

Colleagues,

In Al Kut, the Private Security Company personnel guarding the CPA Headquarters (5 X Triple Canopy and 8 X Control Risks Group) prevented a strategic defeat for the coalition by holding off Anti-Coalition Forces attempting to overrun the compound. Had it not been for the actions of those operators, subsequent to the self-withdrawal of the Ukrainian force, today and every day since 5 April (when the action occurred), the entire focus of everyone inside the beltway and here inside the Palace would have been on the dead and kidnapped CPA personnel, and "Oh my gawd, what are we going to do now?" .

The difference between mercenaries and the Private Security Companies operating in support of Coalition objectives is the difference between offensive operations and defensive operations. Every action that the PSCs have been involved in has been defensive in nature. In conducting defensive support operations, as had occurred in Al Kut and elsewhere, the PSCs should be able to count of increasedfirepower, as needed. Hope is not a basis for sound planning. Expecting a Coalition Quick Reaction Force to respond in a timely manner is similarly not a sound basis for planning. These men (and some women) are paid well, true, but they are not being paid to die. To tie their hands by allowingsmall caliber weapons only, when the enemy has no such restriction on their weaponry, is wrong and must be changed. The Private Security Companies have operated with high degrees of professionalism, integrity and patriotism. They understand clearly why the Coalition is here and are prepared to do their part to ensure success of this noble endeavor. It is incumbent upon us in the CPA to ensure the Private Security Companies have the means necessary to carry out their professional responsibilities. To do less would be immoral.

All the best,

Lawrence

http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,4903701-103550,00.html

Private security firms call for more firepower in combat zone
Coalition forces do little to help as bodyguards protecting foreign workers are targeted by deadly insurgents

Jamie Wilson
Saturday April 17, 2004
The Guardian

Private military companies guarding foreign contractors in Iraq are demanding the right to carry more powerful weapons after the deaths of a number of bodyguards during a series of major battles with Iraqi insurgents.

At least six former special forces soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the beginning of the month, and there has been mounting concern within the industry that coalition forces have been unable or unwilling to come to their aid when they have been under fire.

The proposed move is likely to add to concerns about the accountability and regulation of private military companies in Iraq as well as illustrating the "grey zone" between their formal role as bodyguards and the realities of operating during an insurgency, when the whole country can become a combat zone.

The Guardian has obtained details of a firefight in the town of Kut, 100 miles south-east of Baghdad, between Iraqi insurgents and five security personnel of the Hart Group, a Bermuda-registered security consultancy run by former SAS and Scots Guards officer Richard Bethell, the son of Lord Westbury.

Gray Branfield, a South African, was killed during the battle after coalition forces from Ukraine failed to respond to repeated pleas for assistance from the small group of besieged guards.

Under an agreement with the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) private security guards are only allowed to carry small personal protection weapons. But a source at Hart Group told the Guardian this week that discussions were under way with the authorities governing Iraq to allow bodyguards to increase their firepower.

"All of the security companies assumed that if you got into a tight corner they would come and help you out," the source said. "I cannot really answer for other security companies, but there is a feeling among many that we should be asking some questions and if we are not going to be supported then we need to be able to carry heavier weaponry."

There are an estimated 15,000 private bodyguards operating inside Iraq, of which about 6,000 are armed, making them the second biggest contributor to coalition forces after the Pentagon. The number is set to increase even further after the proposed handover of sovereignty to an Iraqi administration on June 30.

It is estimated that Iraq has boosted the revenues of British military companies from £200m before the war to more than £1bn, making security Britain's most lucrative postwar export to the country.

Ex-SAS and other special forces veterans are charging up to £1,000 a day, far more than any soldier, often for similar work.

The incident which led to the demand for more firepower began at 6pm on April 6 in the house where the five Hart Group bodyguards were living in Kut. The men were attacked by a large group, believed to be followers of the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Desperate calls were made to the local coalition forces. A Ukrainian unit finally answered and promised assistance. It never came. Coalition forces in Baghdad were also contacted and a rescue attempt was promised, but again it never came.

The house's defences were breached and the five bodyguards retreated to the roof. The Iraqis fatally wounded Mr Branfield but the four surviving men continued to defend the roof against small arms and grenade attack for more than six hours. During this time there were at least six promises that a rescue mission was on its way. As dawn broke the four surviving members of the team managed to escape.

Evacuation

It later emerged that the Ukrainian unit evacuated the nearby CPA headquarters during the night without informing the four men or attempting to assist them.

The battle in Kut was not an isolated incident. Last week Mike Bloss, a former paratrooper who served in Northern Ireland, was killed in a gunfight near the town of Hit, 100 miles west of Baghdad, while trying to protect civilian contractors.

According to the Hart Group there has been an increase in exchanges of information and there has even been talk of "clubbing together" to help each other out.

But not every private security company wants to see the rules of engagement changed. "Our job is to move people around Iraq as quickly and safely as possible and our role is to make sure that we don't get ourselves or our clients into those situations," said a source at one of the bigger British security companies, speaking on condition on anonymity. "We are not sending soldiers to fight in battles, we are sending civilians to provide a service for civilians. There needs to be a clear delineation between security consultants and the military, so the answer is not being allowed to carry bigger weaponry."

But the line between private military companies and combat units is becoming increasingly blurred. This was starkly illustrated during a siege of the CPA headquarters in Najaf last week involving the US company Blackwater Security Consulting,which also employed the four men killed, burned and mutilated in Falluja earlier this month.

The Blackwater guards, who are contracted to provide security for the CPA building in the holy city, came under sustained rocket-propelled grenade attack and AK-47 fire. A sniper on a nearby roof apparently wounded three of them.

The commandos fired back, killing an unknown number of Iraqis. But there were no military reports about the opening hours of the siege because officially there were no military personnel.

"It is a real grey area what role we are going to allow them to fill," said Michael Donovan, of the Centre for Defence Information in Washington. "It is one thing having them to guard Karzai [the president of Afghanistan] but quite another to have them fighting battles for you."

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

All the best,
Lawrence

_____________________________

Ministry of Interior
PSC Coordination
Room Sxxx
703-xxx-xxxx

Ben: "We must hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

There can be no triumph without loss,
No victory without suffering,
No freedom without sacrifice.

home + introduction + watch online + join the discussion + contractors + faqs
interviews + baghdad from a bulletproof window + producer's chat + readings & links
tapes & transcript + press reaction + credits + privacy policy
FRONTLINE home + WGBH + PBS

posted june 21, 2005

FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of wgbh educational foundation.
photo copyright ©2005 corbis
web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

RECENT STORIES

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS