We don’t understand how the UN official can say that “the use of mercenaries … has caught the US by surprise.” Perhaps the US public is surprised, but there is no doubt that no member of BushCo is the least bit surprised – it is clear that Don Rumsfeld is largely responsible for the privitisation of the military, no doubt with much encouragement from the likes of Dick Cheney.
Mercenaries are second largest force in Iraq: UN official
Sat Feb 3, 9:45 AM ET
LIMA (AFP) – Between 30,000 and 50,000 mercenaries are working in Iraq, making them the second largest military force there after the occupying United States.
The case of Iraq “is a new manifestation of the use of mercenaries that has caught the US by surprise”, Spain’s Jose Luis Gomez del Prado — a member of the UN working group on mercenaries — said Fridayduring a visit to Peru.
The United States has 130,000 soldiers in Iraq, he noted. Britain has 10,000 troops.
Gomez del Prado told a news conference thousands of Peruvians, Chileans, Colombians, Hondurans and Ecuadorans had been contracted to work as mercenaries in Iraq, thanks to an array of legal loopholes.
The trend has caused widespread public concern in Peru.
Rights workers have voiced concern that people are being hired to work as security guards in Iraq but are then given military training and asked to perform “previously unforseen tasks” which draw them into full combat.
Gomez del Prado’s Colombian colleague, Amada Guevara, told the news conference that in some cases, workers were contracted by existing companies who exploited legal loopholes. But in other cases, they were taken on by ghost firms who arrived in a country, opened an office for a month, contracted workers and then disappeared without trace.
“This amounts to privatisation of warfare,” she said.
Gomez said new legislation and better government oversight was necessary to prevent citizens desperate for well-paid jobs being lured into a mercenary career which put their lives, health and rights at risk.