Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In the Line of Fire: A Contractor Tells His Story

Today the UAE's 7 Days news service carried an interview with a former private security contractor (PSC) in Iraq. The account he gives is quite a bit different from the recycled 'cowboy mercenary' stories you usually read in the blogosphere.

“With suicide bombers and snipers where do you draw the line?” he asked. “Their tactic is to drive alongside a convoy and detonate a bomb, so you’ve got to control which vehicles come close to the convoy and that’s not easy. Do you shoot first, risking civilian lives, and ask questions later - or wait for them to prove themselves to be terrorists, by which time they will have already killed you? It’s an awful situation to be in.

And in many ways, it's getting worse: “In 2004, convoy protection was easy, as traffic was mainly military. But this time last year there were a lot of civilian vehicles which made it more difficult.

There is a myriad of potential problems to consider; operational security - keeping your plans out of the hands of the enemy - is just one consideration: “With convoy protection, the number of people who know your routes and timings is minimized for safety - Iraq is a corrupt place - and the fewer people who know where you are going, the better.”

Iraq is no playground and the contractors, of all people, are keenly aware of this. In spite of the difficult situations insurgents try to place them in, these contractors are still a force for good: “Security guards have been getting very bad press... but if it were not for privates [PSCs], the situation in Iraq would be ten-times worse.”

No comments: