Private Warriors [home page]
homewatch onlinecontractorsfaqsinterviewsdiscussion

Doug Brooks
Doug Brooks is the president of the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA), an association of private contractors. In this interview, he describes how the U.S. military's use of private contractors has evolved since George Washington's era and explains that the industry's role in Iraq is proportionally greater because in addition to providing security, it is supporting both the military's logistical needs and Iraq's reconstruction needs. Brooks argues that private contractors save money in the long run because the companies can be hired based on a surge capacity, because taxpayers don't have to pay long-term benefits, and because they are efficient. "Ultimately … in any peace or stability operation, the more efficient it's run, the more people [will] be alive at the end of it," he says. Brooks maintains that the lines of oversight for the industry should be made clearer and the Pentagon needs to have more contracting officers in the field to rapidly adjust to the contractors' changing needs.


paul cerjan
Paul Cerjan is a retired Army lieutenant general and vice president of KBR Worldwide Military Affairs. In this interview, which took place at Camp Victory in Iraq, Cerjan describes for FRONTLINE the services KBR, Halliburton's engineering subsidiary, provides for coalition forces in Iraq. "Essentially we're responsible for two significant areas," he says. "… base support services, which includes all the billeting, the feeding, water supplies, sewage -- anything it would take to run a city. And on the other side … we handle logistics functions, which includes transportation, movement of POL [petrol, oil and lubricant] supplies, gas supplies -- all class of supplies as a matter of fact…" Cerjan, who estimates that KBR performs about 35 percent of the military's support work in Iraq, says its fair to say that the Army has not downsized over the past few decades; it's really outsourced many functions. "But when you look at it in the overall context, it's cheaper that way because of what it takes to maintain a soldier on active duty," he argues. He also addresses the Pentagon audits suggesting KBR overcharged for some services. "… I think there has to be a little bit of realism introduced into this," he says. "This contract was designed with Federal Acquisition Regulations that orient to a peace environment. This is a contingency environment."


Marine Col. Thomas X. Hammes
Retired Marine Col. Thomas X. Hammes served in Iraq in early 2004. He interacted with civilian contractors as part of his job managing the bases and facilities for the training of Iraqi armed forces. "I think contractors are best used for mundane, repetitive tasks that are clearly defined with a legal structure," he tells FRONTLINE. Hammes argues that using private contractors for security can be counteractive to the mission's overall goals. He points to Blackwater's contract to protect Paul Bremer, the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority as an example. "Blackwater's an extraordinarily professional organization and they were doing exactly what they were tasked to do: protect the principal," he says. "The problem is in protecting the principal they had to be very aggressive, and each time they went out they had to offend locals, forcing them to the side of the road, being overpowering and intimidating, at times running vehicles off the road, making enemies each time they went out. So they were actually getting our contract exactly as we asked them to and at the same time hurting our counterinsurgency effort." Hammes is also critical of the construction of the large comfortable bases with big-screen TVs and multiple flavors of ice cream. "Someone's risking their life to deliver that luxury," he says.


Andy Melville
A 24-year veteran of the British Army, Melville heads operations in Iraq for the British security company Erinys, which has a $50 million contract to protect the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Erinys also held a $100 million contract to protect Iraqi oil infrastructure until December 2004, when the job was turned over to the Iraqi oil ministry. Here he recounts several harrowing incidents in which Erinys personnel were attacked by Iraqi insurgents and describes how the March 31, 2004 ambush of the four Blackwater contractors in Fallujah changed Erinys' security posture. Melville also talks about the Regional Operations Centers (ROCs), which are intended to coordinate private contractors in Iraq. The ROCs are administered by Aegis, a British private security firm. While Melville admits the coordination is "useful," he also expresses the concern shared by many private security contractors that providing information to Aegis may give the company a competitive advantage. "What we do is classified," he says. "We don't wish other security companies to know what our clients are, where we're operating and how we're operating."


Lawrence Peter
Lawrence Peter first came to Iraq in February 2004, when he worked in the Coalition Provisional Authority's Ministry of Interior. While there, he helped author CPA Memorandum 17, which, in addition to clarifying the legal status of private security contractors, outlined the process for them to officially register with the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior. After his work with the CPA ended, Peter was asked by the Private Security Company Association of Iraq to return and act as a liaison between the private security companies, the U.S. and Iraqi governments, and coalition military forces. In this interview, Peter describes to FRONTLINE the challenges he faced while working for the CPA to regulate contractors. He also discusses the ways in which the private security industry holds itself accountable, particularly in dealing with the inexperienced "Tier Bubbas" who can jeopardize a mission. "Private security companies are reflective on that," he says, "they know that those guys can have a bad reflection on the entire industry. Three Bubbas from Boston can hurt. One 'Oh gosh' will ruin a thousand 'Attaboys.'"


steven schooner
Schooner is an expert on military contracting and a professor at The George Washington University Law School. He previously served as the associate administrator for procurement law and legislation at the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in the Office of Management and Budget. Schooner says that private contractors like KBR [Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root] are doing a good job in Iraq under the circumstances. "Regardless of the marginal dollars involved, KBR has fed our troops, housed our troops, provided showers, water, laundry and the like," he tells FRONTLINE. "They've lost a staggering number of personnel. They have had a tremendous number of people injured. And the bottom line is they've been slaughtered in the court of public opinion, and they haven't left." But Schooner is critical of the Pentagon for not having enough personnel to manage the contracts and says that it has become overly reliant on the private companies. "When I was a young Army officer, as I learned the military doctrine ... the military relied on contractors on the battlefield only to the extent that they could fight without the contractors," he says. "That's simply no longer the case."


peter singer
Singer is a senior fellow and director of the Project on U.S. Policy Towards the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy and the author of Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry. Here, he offers background on how private military contracting have become a global industry. Singer says the factors driving the industry's explosive growth, which he compares to the 1990s Internet boom, include the downsizing of U.S. forces while the number of deployments is rising; the military's use of civilian-based technologies which require civilian technicians; and the general tendency to privatize many government functions. "The problem is the Pentagon picked up on the wrong lessons from regular business," he says. "And the result is sometimes they've outsourced things that infringed upon the core function of the military." Singer says that the use of private contractors is not a bad idea, but that the Pentagon needs to decide which functions are appropriate to outsource; ensure that there's competition before awarding contracts; improve the oversight of the contracts; and clarify the rules and regulations governing the industry.


marine col. john toolan
Marine Col. John Toolan had just assumed military command of the area that included Fallujah when four private security contractors employed by Blackwater were ambushed and murdered in the city. Here he explains how the incident dramatically changed the Marines' plan to counter the insurgency, as they were forced to shift from a patient approach to an aggressive military response. "I didn't hesitate to go into the city and confront the issues," he tells FRONTLINE, "but I did believe that over time we probably could have established a relationship with the local government that did not require us to destroy a lot of the infrastructure of the city, and eventually over time … build an agreement where stability would reign in Fallujah and Al Anbar." He also describes how the motivations of the military and the contractors can clash in a dangerous environment. "We have a tendency to want to be a little bit more sure about operating in an environment," he says. "Whereas I think some of the contractors are motivated by the financial remuneration and the fact that they probably want to get someplace from point A to point B quickly, their tendency [is] to have a little more risk. So yes, we're at odds. But we can work it out."


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

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