The Privatisation of War

Day two of Special Forces conference features private contractors like Halliburton and “My God is bigger than theirs” Lt. Gen. Boykin. Retired Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Cosumano, the former Army Program Manager for both the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) and Donald Rumsfeld’s favorite pet, the National Missile Defense Program and currently Vice President for Contingency and Homeland Operations for Halliburton, stressed that contractors on the battlefield are here to stay. Cosumano said that Halliburton/Kellogg Brown & Root now has over 52,000 U.S. expatriate, host country nationals, and third country nationals deployed to 94 operating bases in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey, Dubai, Jordan and other countries around the world. Cosumano, who, as Director of Force Development for the Army Chief of Staff, was instrumental in developing the LOGCAP program on which Halliburton gained a virtual lock while Dick Cheney was Halliburton’s President and CEO, now heads up Halliburton’s LOGCAP contract in one of the most flagrant revolving door escapades ever seen in Defense Department contracting.

Cosumano stated, “we are not going back and can’t go back” to pre-contractor wars. Cosumano showed a slide of blue jeans/blue shirt-clad Halliburton contractors standing in military formation with active duty military personnel. Halliburton trains 250 contractors per week at its Houston Support Office and surged trained as many as 750 personnel in one week, according to Cosumano.

The LOGCAP program will generate an estimated $41.4 billion for contractors like Halliburton over a 20-year period, according to an October 2005 Congressional Budget Office report. Currently, Halliburton has over 100 Army task orders generating $5-6 billion annually. Halliburton is augmented by a number of foreign and U.S. subcontractors. The company also has its hands in other outsourcing contracts let by the Air Force (AFCAP – Air Force Contract Augmentation Program) and Navy (CONCAP – Construction Capabilities).

Chris Taylor, the Vice President for Strategic Initiatives for Blackwater USA, owned by former Navy SEAL Erik Prince, whose sister Betsy was chair of the Michigan Republican Party and is married to Dick DeVos, an heir to the Amway fortune, stated that his Moyock, North Carolina-based private security firm is now active in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf region, Azerbaijan, the Philippines, Jordan, Sudan, Congo, and in Louisiana for Katrina relief. The Moyock base includes ship simulators on an 18-acre lake, three air strips, 35 ranges, shoot houses, and three drop zones. Taylor was critical of recent South African proposed legislation that would ban South Africans from working for private mercenary firms. That proposal was taken off the table. Taylor said that Africa is “encased in tyranny.” Taylor was also scornful of the media, which he said routinely gets things wrong about companies like Blackwater. He said that Blackwater had blocked media access to its operations but recently decided to open up to the media.

Taylor stated that Blackwater is particularly focused on providing “humanitarian” relief of “failed or failing states and emerging democracies.” The failed, failing and weak states scenario was a particular theme for the Special Forces political planners at this year’s conference.

Former Triple Canopy CEO Ignacio “Iggy” Balderas said the new CEO of the private security company is Lee Van Arsdale, Former Delta Force Squadron Commander Former Counterterrorism and Special Projects Branch Chief in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. Balderas revealed that Triple Canopy is involved, in addition to foreign military operations, in foreign and domestic law enforcement training and security work for the Department of Energy. Balderas also revealed that Triple Canopy was formed with “deep pocketed seed money.” One thing Triple Canopy managed to do with regard to the Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was having it issue CPA Memo 17, which provided contractors like Triple Canopy with immunity from normal contracting requirements. Balderas said this successfully prevented local militias from forming their own security companies and receiving CPA security contracts. Balderas also revealed that when a Triple Canopy unit in Iraq came under insurgent attack, one of the U.S.’s “coalition partners” failed to respond to the Triple Canopy team’s SOS.

Evangelical fundamentalist Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Warfighting Support Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, spoke of recent changes in the U.S. intelligence community. He said that the Pentagon is working with the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, headed up by Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr., who is also Deputy Director for Operations. Boykin emphasized data mining for the Pentagon intelligence infrastructure. He foresees Joint Intelligence Operations Centers having single “machines,” where one analyst “gets everything he needs.”

There was an amusing exchange between Boykin and retired Lt. Gen. James Vaught, the task force commander of the April 1980 Iran hostage rescue mission. Boykin asked the audience who DOD’s human intelligence manager is. Clearly exasperated at Boykin’s alphabet soup PowerPoint briefing, Vaught responded, “George Washington.” Boykin quizzically responded, “George Washington? You knew George Washington, didn’t you general?” Vaught reminded Boykin that he was a mere Army captain when he was assigned to his 1980 rescue mission. On the current situation in Iraq, Vaught said “the evacuation of Saigon may be right around the corner,” a reference to America’s sudden withdrawal from South Vietnam in 1975. Vaught also criticized the private military contractors, saying that nothing requires them to remain in country in the event Iraqis begin picking up and throwing the sidewalks and streets and that it is the responsibility of the U.S. State Department to arrange for the evacuation of civilians from war zones.

WMR has obtained the transcript from court testimony involving contractor fraud by Custer Battles, another private security company with close ties to the GOP. Testifying is retired US Army General Hugh Tant, who was called to Iraq by Jerry Bremer to handle the Iraqi currency exchange program and had first hand experience with private mercenary fraud and incompetence. Click here for Feb. 15, 2006 testimony.

Day One of the Special Forces Conference
Wayne Madsen Report – March 14, 2006

Special Operations leaders gather for glum meeting. The 17th Annual Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict (SO/LIC) conference, sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), commenced yesterday in Crystal City, Virginia, across the Potomac from Washington. Unlike previous conferences during the Balkans War and in the aftermath of 9-11, this conference was marked by glum and gloomy predictions, especially regarding Iraq and a possible future conflict with Iran.

Retired Lt. Gen. Patrick Hughes, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Deputy Homeland Security Secretary for Information Analysis, urged the Pentagon the tell the truth to the media, academia, and the general public, in addition to calling for a “new public affairs initiative.” Hughes said the U.S. is losing the psychological battle and said there are some similarities between Iraq and Vietnam and Somalia. The U.S. beat a hasty withdrawal from both Vietnam and Somalia after severe battlefield reversals.

Hughes also called for new language training initiatives for U.S. intelligence and special operations forces in Farsi, the North Korean dialect of Korean, and all Chinese dialects, in addition to “commercial Mandarin.”

Col. Nick Davies, MBE, MC, the Deputy Commander of UK Special Forces gingerly discussed the issue of declining morale among Special Operations personnel in Iraq and problems between allied and US troops who increasingly advocate Christian evangelical causes and propaganda. Davies was asked about British SAS soldier Ben Griffin who, after spending three months in Baghdad, refused to go into any more combat and quit the army. Instead of facing a court martial, Griffin was given a discharge with honors. Griffin told his commanding officer, “I didn’t join the British army to conduct American foreign policy.” Davies, asked about Griffin and the influence of evangelicals among U.S. forces in Iraq, said Iraq is not a “long term investment” and British troops would not be kept there “forever.” Davies conceded that the activities of some U.S. troops in Iraq may “encourage others to take up arms against the U.S.”

One retired senior US Army Special Forces general criticized the Bush administration for “tearing up the first ten amendments of the US Constitution” and “throwing them into the trash can.”

French Special Operations Commander Gen. Benoit Puga revealed that France sent special operations troops to the Persian Gulf, in addition to Afghanistan, in the wake of 9-11. Dutch and Australian special operations senior commanders emphasized the role of their respective special operations units in addressing “failed and weak” states, which in the case of some Pacific island states, African nations, and Caribbean countries like Haiti and Suriname, is a code phrase for reintroducing colonialism and patronizing international governance regimes. Both the Dutch and Australian special operations forces commanders, as well as the deputy commander of Polish special operations forces, emphasized the roles of their forces in coordinating with the United States. Australian Acting Deputy Special Operations Commander Col. Mal Rerden described Australia’s new Joint Offshore Protection Command (JOPC), which is involved in maritime and naval security operations in Australia’s near abroad — Indonesia and other offshore island states and territories. In Poland’s case, its cooperation with the United States includes the use of Polish special operations and special police forces in former Warsaw Pact and other Eastern European nations, including Bosnia and Kosovo.

This year’s conference was highlighted by the number of foreign military officers. They included special operations officers from Croatia, Morocco, Poland, South Korea, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Jordan, Nigeria, and Pakistan, among other nations.

One new exhibition item being pushed was strongly caffeinated chewing gum, used by overly-fatigued special operations and other personnel to give them a rush while on special missions.

Washington insider with many contacts within the capitol's Beltway, the US Intelligence community and beyond