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Wanna rent an army?

mondo

TRIBE Promoter
Rumsfeld Watch
Secretary of Defense Aims to Privatize the U.S. Military
December 4th, 2003 2:00 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C.—

If Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has his way, the vaunted U.S. military of the future will be transformed into what amounts to corporate-owned units. The daffy secretary calls his plan "outsourcing." The intention, he claims, is to put the lid on money going into expanding of the army so it can be diverted to new technologies such as Rummy's favorite hobby, fighting wars from space.

Rumsfeld has already outsourced much of the logistics and supply functions of the military to private firms, especially to Cheney's old employer Halliburton. There are now 90-odd companies competing to provide private soldiers from places like Fiji and Nepal to work as machine-gun-toting guards in Iraq.

Rumsfeld has considered privatizing U.S. military arsenals, its ammunition plants, and repair depots by spinning them off into federal corporations modeled along the lines of Fannie Mae. The secretary, whom Jesse Helms once called "the Energizer Bunny," also wants to free up some of the military budget as venture capital to entice private industry into running our armed forces.

It's hard to gauge the full effect of Rummy's outsourcing, but one estimate puts gross revenues of renting private armies at $100 billion a year. That compares with the total defense budget of around $400 billion.

Private contractors are appealing for other reasons too. Carrying machine guns in the field, contract soldiers look like a regular army, but they wear no name tags, and when asked questions, they refuse to say anything at all. Dead private army soldiers don't get included in casualty reports. Laws that require government officials to disclose war information to Congress don't pertain to the executives in corporate suites. According to a recent investigative article by the Associated Press, as these companies grow in size, they are getting involved in politics, making campaign contributions and engaging in corporate lobbying.

Contractors do just about everything: man missile batteries in Iraq, shoot satellite images of potential targets, guide unmanned aerial vehicles. The jobs are dangerous—contractors can be mistaken for enemies and attacked not just by Iraqi but also by the U.S., says the AP. In Fallujah, a contractor and an American engineer died when their vehicles was attacked. Some have speculated that the attackers were U.S. soldiers, but the military denies that. Three Kellogg, Brown and Root workers have been killed in ambushes. Three DynCorp workers got killed in Gaza during a Palestinian ambush. The CIA has lost two civilian contractors in Afghanistan in recent weeks. Contract soldiers guard the U.S. embassy in Liberia and have engaged in combat to defend it. The armed soldier-bodyguards surrounding Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and occupation honcho L. Paul Bremer are not U.S. military soldiers but private contractors.

Much of the U.S. military logistics has been farmed out to private companies, the most prominent of which is Cheney's Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root, which does everything from putting up tents, building toilets, getting rid of mosquitoes, and importing cheap cooks from Bangladesh and India

The U.S. army has declined in size from 2.1 million in 1990 to 1.4 million now. It has been stretched thin by the war in Iraq, but also by conflicts in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Kosovo. More reserves and national guard are being called up for longer periods of time.

All this has brought pressure from Congress to increase the size of the army, but Rumsfeld insists that outsourcing will allow us to fight wars all over the place without boosting the number of soldiers. One way to cut costs is to send military personnel now performing administrative tasks into the field and giving their jobs to civilians. "More than 300,000 uniformed personnel" are engaged in work civilians could do, Rummy told The Washington Post last year. "Those who argue that the end strength should be increased, I think, have an obligation to say: where do you want to take the money out of?" Rumsfeld said recently. "Are you going to take it out of the Navy, the Air Force, or the Marines? Are you going to take it out of research and development and our future?"

Peter W. Singer, a Brookings Institution military analyst, estimates there is one contractor for every 10 foreign soldiers in Iraq—10 times the private involvement in the Gulf War, according to the AP.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Its kind of a neat argument!


See I worked for Marriot and we fed a division of the Canadian army. They lived at Carleton University residence for the summer and ate at the cafeteria I worked at.

So in essence it was an army that paid part of my education.

In the morning they have exercise. Now what difference does it make if they have a military personal teacher them aerobics, or a private firm or gym do the same job. What difference does it make to buy your ammo from smith and weston when you already buy the gun from them anyway. What difference does it make if the person mailing you your pay check has a rank or not, what difference does it make if it is processed by the same company that process mine and half of yours.

Does or military change if we hire foreign mercenaries, yes it does. but don't believe this mean that in times of emergency we can't hire others. When we guard a government building in Afghanistan it makes far more sense to hire Afghanis who know the language and the terrain and to equip them and administer them closely. Does it not also make reasonable sense than that in cases of emergency we can hire foreign soldiers to also rescue hostages when we simply can't get forces there in time.

I understand the fear (hell I think I agree with it) that having privately owned armies is dangerous. But if there deployment and ultimately there management is transparent and able to be directly watched doesn't it make more sense. Doesn't it make more sense to set the standard required tests and then allow anyone who wants to build a training camp for the purposes of meeting these requirements. We buy the weapons, we buy the clothes, we buy the text books, we buy the food, we buy the sleeping bags, we buy every aspect of there lives from the lowest bidder anyway. Why not contract the whole thing out and simply manage it. If they fuck up at least we can sue the shit out of them, we can plaster there names all over the papers we can point blame at private individuals when things go wrong. No longer are we as Canadians guilty when a black man is tortured by our soldiers in Somalia, it becomes McDonalds fault.
 

OTIS

TRIBE Member
So typical of you to try to justify it. It's not an issue of equality. That's not why this is being implemented. It's an idea of profit using cheap unloyal labor. Let them present such absurdities.. I could care less if that country goes to shit if they let those idiots in for a second term. We'll see how far it goes. So far Haliburton has done next to nothing in reconstruction (something to the tune of one re-built bridge), is charging the maximum for everything and has a lucritive guarantee of 8 percent proffit despte the outcome of the war/occupation. These are the types of deals we can expect from the buddy buddy relationship between those that write the contracts and those that receive them as 'no bid'.
 

Subsonic Chronic

TRIBE Member
And best of all: NO ACCOUNTABILITY!

The beauty of privatizing the military is that the government no longer has to take any responsibility for the actions taken by the private corporation sending out the troops.

They can lay out the general plan, hand over the cash and reap the rewards sans responsibility.

A few dozen school children accidentally bombed? Oops! Don't ask the government, ask the corporation, who actually doesn't have to answer any of your questions.

If you want to know why Canadians soldiers were bombed, why POW's were tortured, or why civillians were 'accidentally' killed, you can come up with your own answers because the truth is protected by corporate priviledge.

Beautiful. I love where things are going.
 

OTIS

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Subsonic Chronic
who actually doesn't have to answer any of your questions.
And why is that? Because unlike the US government who has to abide by a freedom of information act, a corporation can hide behind their consitutionally granted right to privacy, since, afterall they are persons. Ditto, there are a million things wrong with this and a million problems that arise. Step past the Nietzsche novelty of it and look at it realistically.
 
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Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Its easy to be passionately against this idea, to be honest I am for the same reasons that all of you have listed. But in trying to understand the argument I will forever hold the belief that you have to be able to argue both sides.

Accountability…

A couple of years ago the entire Dutch parliament resigned. They felt that they could no longer represent the people of Holland (actually they had to call an election anyway and it was largely for show..) after having allowed a massacre to occur in Kosovo. Not for not trying to prevent it but for not putting enough forces on the ground to be able to prevent it. Not for following the UN orders like they did, but for not having broken the conventions and saved the people they were there to protect. By the exact same arguments our government should have done the same thing in Rwanda and is equally guilty of the same mistake.

The US military has killed many of its allies and bombed many targets that simply shouldn't have been bombed. When it happens apologies are generally avoided and justice is secondary to the military. At most a low level officer will take the heat rarely will it get to the actual courts and even then Oliver North is going to lie on the stand anyway cause that is what he is trained to do. Armies cover up the truth and rarely after years of legalities is accountability ever acknowledged or actually acted upon. I'm forced to believe that regardless of the actual ownership responsibility and accountability will always lose out to the argument of "but it’s a war and mistakes can and do happen".

I wonder however! If instead of having to paint or flag in blood to find accountability we can instead bankrupt a company in court. If a competitor can donate money to a charity for the victims of an accidental bombing and force the court case, will corruption and capitalism be able to be used to force accountability in a greater sense. Do we actually gain from this as a society in that we separate our government from its military and do we also make it more difficult for our government to utilize troupes. If we had multiple armies owned by different corporate interests and they had to bid on foreign assignments would they all refuse to tender bids on some circumstances, could they.



Far as the cheap labor argument….

Otis I'm not trying to win this argument. I don't think that cheap labor makes sense in the greater scheme of capitalism, I think that slower moving more stable work forces and employees breed slower moving stock markets and more stable stock markets. That stable wages lead to stable inflation and interest rates, that stable prices and wages are key to prosperity. But I believe that we can also in the same breath say that garbage collectors don't have to make 70k just because they are employed by the city, while the same duty is done for private companies at 1/2 the rate. Sometimes wages no longer represent the requirements of the job. The job of the telephone operator became infinitely easier in the last 25 years, they simply don't require the training or the education they once required. This job has been replaced, artificially keeping the wages high only makes a farce of the economic system in the exact same way as the hidden bonus and perks.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by OTIS
And why is that? Because unlike the US government who has to abide by a freedom of information act, a corporation can hide behind their consitutionally granted right to privacy, since, afterall they are persons. Ditto, there are a million things wrong with this and a million problems that arise. Step past the Nietzsche novelty of it and look at it realistically.
no your right seeing the problems is trivial. I'm not going to be able to argue the same point as everyone else less we can't have any debate. Somebody has to take side A and someone side B or this isn't going to be able to be discussed.
 

Chris

Well-Known TRIBEr
I think extending this across the armed forces in its entirety is a little wacky. For the main reason of accountability.

Remember the crisis that the Canadian government found itself in when we used a contractor to ship some of our heavy equipment in a privately owned supply ship?

I mean its one thing to contract out say cooking/cleaning, base construction/maintence, perhaps even some of the admin work. But to privately contract out any of the combat arms units just wouldnt fly with the public.
 
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OTIS

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Ditto Much

The US military has killed many of its allies and bombed many targets that simply shouldn't have been bombed. When it happens apologies are generally avoided and justice is secondary to the military. At most a low level officer will take the heat rarely will it get to the actual courts and even then Oliver North is going to lie on the stand anyway cause that is what he is trained to do. Armies cover up the truth and rarely after years of legalities is accountability ever acknowledged or actually acted upon. I'm forced to believe that regardless of the actual ownership responsibility and accountability will always lose out to the argument of "but it’s a war and mistakes can and do happen".
The trackrecord of corporate accountability on the international stage is laughable. I mean look in our own backyard -Barrick burrying in miners who had civil ownership over land in Africa they wanted to 'develop'. What happened there? They sent tonnes of letters to Canadian media strongarming them with threats of lawsuits if they even so much as printed a word about the incident their official PR spin said 'never happened'.

Placing corporations in charge places the burdon of proof on citizens to ensure they operate effectively. And a lawsuit doesn't ensure that the conduct will cease as it's proven time & time again that A) consessions from the lawsuit are rarely paid. (Exxon still has yet to pay one cent of it's fine for the valdez spill) B) illegal conduct is ultimately profitable, and thus will continue.

You say the conversation cannot continue without arguments from both sides, but again it comes back to the same arguments.

Originally posted by Ditto Much

Far as the cheap labor argument….

Otis I'm not trying to win this argument. I don't think that cheap labor makes sense in the greater scheme of capitalism, I think that slower moving more stable work forces and employees breed slower moving stock markets and more stable stock markets. That stable wages lead to stable inflation and interest rates, that stable prices and wages are key to prosperity. But I believe that we can also in the same breath say that garbage collectors don't have to make 70k just because they are employed by the city, while the same duty is done for private companies at 1/2 the rate. Sometimes wages no longer represent the requirements of the job. The job of the telephone operator became infinitely easier in the last 25 years, they simply don't require the training or the education they once required. This job has been replaced, artificially keeping the wages high only makes a farce of the economic system in the exact same way as the hidden bonus and perks.
With the examples of the ease of trash collecting, or pushing buttons basically you're arguing that military personell should be paid less, because their job is not diffcult. First off, surely you can't compare a job where you push buttons or pick up trash to one where you could be capped by a bullet at any moment. A better example would be police, but you can't even compare them accurately because for the most part they are not entering hostilities, they are dealing with domestic law enforcement. But anyhow even humoring the idea, it's absolutely frightening to think of privatized police force.. you could look at some of the private jails in the southern US as how horribly wrong private policing can go. When some state prisons were sold to be run under private contracts, what routinely occured was the prison was operated by an skeletal staff of low-wage under or even non trained security personell, and in every case resulted in a decrease in free-roam time and an increase in everything from lockdown time, to riots, to abuse of inmates, to prison violence and most were ultimately shut down.

Again I ask you to set aside the novelty of the concept and it should be more than clear why it's wrong in every way.

Just because someone can make money at it, doesn't mean somebody should.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by ChrisD
I think extending this across the armed forces in its entirety is a little wacky. For the main reason of accountability.

Remember the crisis that the Canadian government found itself in when we used a contractor to ship some of our heavy equipment in a privately owned supply ship?

I mean its one thing to contract out say cooking/cleaning, base construction/maintence, perhaps even some of the admin work. But to privately contract out any of the combat arms units just wouldnt fly with the public.
So how about hiring Dutch soldiers to patrol a Canadian embassy in Indonesia.

Its not a role specific to our own military, if there embassy and ours are right beside one another it might make some real sense without having to be a matter of profit or anything corporate either. Or how about in Kosovo. Our soldiers really aren't anywhere as needed as engineers or doctors or dentists. Couldn't we hire Bangladesh to provide us with soldiers at half price while we bring in twice as many engineers to fix infrastructure.

The concept of large standing armies doesn't make much sense to me for Canada. Unlike Europe where military survives is integrated directly into society (part of your education occurs during your military service which also provides you with the money to go to school or start a business when you finish) we have a much more decoupled system. In the case of the Dutch military for instance the conscripts are not going to fight anywhere they are simply trained as part of the social structure (thus every male over the age of twenty can act as a basic field medic or can be directed in cases of national disaster effectively) why not belong to a private military force rather than being part of a government owned and operated one.

Many uses of the military have absolutely nothing to do with the military. They are just a resource of trained labor that follows direction far better than most and are easily accounted for. In the last three major Canadian internal deployments not one required them to actually carry a gun. They were used in Toronto to clear snow, The red river to bag sand and in Quebec to clear trees from power lines and direct traffic. You don't need to have government ownership for these purposes. You don't have to be directly owned and operated by the Canadian government to put out forest fires.

If we're going to war than I agree it should be with government troupes. But if we're shipping batteries to Kosovo I don't see why a commercial flight through Switzerland is any different than a c130 flying out of Trenton at three times the cost.



Realize that the vast majority of our military will never actually fire a gun outside of training. They will carry more food and water than ammunition, they will more than likely shake peoples hands and never form an actual fist in combat. The vast majority of our army and the US army and the rest of the worlds army are just a holding ground for young men and women who don't know what they want to do yet. They will not see combat, they will most likely never even see a natural disaster.
 

OTIS

TRIBE Member
Change corporate law, prevent them from protection of amnesty of corproate trade pacts, require them to be open to public scrutiny and I may warm up to the idea, until then it's completely ridiculous and sets a horrible precedent.
 
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Evil Dynovac

TRIBE Member
Privatizing the military has been done before.

The Western Roman Empire turned to Ostragoth and Visigoth mercenaries to fight their wars and maintain their borders.

Guess what happened next? The Goths, led by Theodoric the Great sacked Rome and ended the Roman Empire, replacing it with the Gothic Empire, which fell in turn only thirty years later. This paved the way to what we now call The Dark Ages.

So yes, privatize the army and give military power to the corporations. Then sit back and watch our civilization do no less than annihilate itself.

It is the doom of men that we forget.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Evil Dynovac
Privatizing the military has been done before.

The Western Roman Empire turned to Ostragoth and Visigoth mercenaries to fight their wars and maintain their borders.

Guess what happened next? The Goths, led by Theodoric the Great sacked Rome and ended the Roman Empire, replacing it with the Gothic Empire, which fell in turn only thirty years later. This paved the way to what we now call The Dark Ages.

So yes, privatize the army and give military power to the corporations. Then sit back and watch our civilization do no less than annihilate itself.

It is the doom of men that we forget.
Canada used a merchant marine to ship goods during two world wars. How is this different?

These ships were armed, they get military pensions and benifits.
 

Evil Dynovac

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Ditto Much
Canada used a merchant marine to ship goods during two world wars. How is this different?

These ships were armed, they get military pensions and benifits.
Oy evay!

First of all the merchant marines were not given military objectives. They weren't ordered to take out fortified installations or occupy enemy territory. They were ordered to move goods and were given weaponry to defend themselves in case of attacks. You must see the difference.

Second of all there was still an army to keep them in line, an army with the lastest in technology and firepower to police them. If the merchant marines attacked another soveriegn nation would their boats have the capability to withstand an air strike?

Sorry, but I find your analogy to be ridiculous.

Rumsfield's plan speaks of the fiscal benefits of outsourcing your military and says nothing of the deep responsibility that needs to be considered when you arm people with guns. Privatizing the military is a morally bankrupt idea, something we all should come to expect from the American government these days.
 
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