Monday, October 01, 2007

Security Contractors in Iraq

In today's WSJ, an opinion column, available on OpinionJournal, defends the use of private security contractors in Iraq, and, to my mind at least, does so persuasively.

About a year ago, Carol and I ran into one of our children's contemporaries, who had just returned from Iraq after a year of working with one of those contractors. He worked in the office in Bagdhad and was not one of the professional, armed people. He did wear a flack jacket, he said, when he went outside, and I believe he said that he had been given some training of the self-defense sort and carried a side arm. He said that he had a great time, but did not intend to return.

He said that the State Department, other government people, and civilians whom the private security forces protected, preferred their protection to that of the regular armed services. He said that the private security forces knew exactly what their mission was, protection, a mission that was not the primary mission for government forces. He said hat the protection that the government forces provided was simply inferior to that of the private security contractors.

There is a sort of free market principal at work here, and that point is implicit in the WSJ article. The private security contractors depend on preformance in order to continue to be employed. They compete with one another. Their pricing is market driven, and turns out to be less expensive than that of a soldier. The article describes the controls that our government has in place to prevent "rogue" activity by these contractors, and they seem reasonable as described by the writer.

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