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Privatizing defense

Glenn Reynolds pointed me to this story which should warm the cockles of a libertarian anarchist’s heart. It seems ‘hundreds’ of what I presume were members of the Mahdi’s ‘army’ were held off for hours by eight employees of Blackwater Security Consulting (apparently all ex-Special Forces), four MP’s and a Marine. Company helicopters flew in under fire to pick up the wounded Marine and drop off ammunition supplies.

The DOD Press briefing for the day neglected to mention the government building was privately held.

29 comments to Privatizing defense

  • Charles Copeland

    Thanks for that lowdown on the pussy US army, Dale:

    “An attack by hundreds of Iraqi militia members on the U.S. government’s headquarters in Najaf on Sunday was repulsed not by the U.S. military, but by eight commandos from a private security firm, according to sources familiar with the incident.”

    US military = men without balls who will suck up to the gender equality ideologists
    private security firm = former US military men with balls who are now doing the dirty work for the US military men without balls

  • Actually, private soldiers are the third foreign security force in Iraq after the US and the UK. (See this story in The Economist). The CPA outside perimeter is manned by them, they protect Paul Bremer and many other hotspots from pipelines to ammo dumps and convoys.

  • Charles, I have no idea what you are smoking but it’s potent shit. Care to pass a sample around ?

    These firms hire former SAS and US Special Forces who are either retiring or want to make 4 to 5 times what they make in the military. Blackwater, for instance, is stuffed with US Navy SEALs. To the extent most of those guys come from the US military, your comment makes no sense. You can only argue, maybe, that Navy SEALs should be assigned guard duty – they’d say no thanks – or that they would do security work in hotspots given the right kind of money. Looks like it’s the latter.

  • Charles Copeland

    I said the Blackwater guys are FORMER US military men, my hypothesis being that at least some of them left the US military to avoid paying lip service to feminism.

    What self-respecting male could grovel as much as a US army officer has to grovel these days? Read Martin van Creveld’s classic ‘Men, women and War’ and then ask me what I’m smoking.

    Ekshelly I’m on my second pint of Budweiser …

  • Nope, doesn’t do anything for me–they were working for the government, after all. Now, it would be different if the story had been, “An attack by hundreds of IRS agents and other Federal law enforcement personnel on [some corporation’s] headquarters was repulsed by a private security firm.”

  • Don McEwan

    Besides the impressive fact that their previous military training and experience seems to have been quite effective it seems to me that many people believe that the military is 100% responsible for security in Iraq. There is just no way that they could possibly assign a small unit to every person, group or corporation that might need or want it. Thankfully these people, groups and corporations have the option to hire private security firms so that the military can concentrate on their mission and other work can get done as well.

  • David Gillies

    Ken: now you’re talking… 🙂

  • Charles, we are talking about former Special Forces. This is one part of the army that has not been inflicted with any politically correct program. The fact is, if you that is a problem for you and you can make it through selection, the Green Berets, Army Delta or Navy SEALs are fairly safe from such political nonsense.

    I do not believe for a second this was their motivation to leave. It boils down to money. A good NCO in the SEALs with 20 years experience makes $50k per year and will get a $23k pension. As soon as he goes private, he can make $120k-$160k extra depending on the job, + benefits for the whole family, bonuses, perks etc.

  • Brock

    Charles – I don’t expect to convert you, but I find your comments quite disturbing. Your disrespect of women is palpable, and disgusting. My wife is only 5’4″, so you could probably take her in hand to hand combat if you qualify for “average male”, but I wouldn’t give you five seconds against her if she had a gun more than 6 feet away from you. Especially if I let her read your comments first.

    Females can be just as deadly as any male when they don’t have to do it with upper body strength. At the controls of a tank, ship or plane their hand-eye coordination is just as good as any man’s. If there’s any danger to having women in combat it’s training the men to risk the women’s lives. That’s the hard part.

    Ken – hey, give ’em points for progress! Used to be that gov’t both regulated energy and produced it, now they just regulate it. It’s not perfect, but it’s definately better, don’t you think? Same goes here.

    Don is most of point though. There’s no private force that could have taken down Saddam or put down the uprising in Falujah or by al-Sadr. Both of those missions are moral and good, but only the army can do them. By “privatising” the day-to-day security details the army can be smaller in size and more effective for our tax dollars spent. If taxing ‘has’ to exist (and in today’s political climate, it does) then I’m glad to see that at least in some respects its being spent wisely.

    Not all wisely though, by god, but some of it. Improvements, marginal improvements.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I always wondered ‘feminists’ are so supportive of gun control when they forget that the gun is the greatest equalizer in the history of mankind.

    Before the gun, it all came down to who could swing a sword with more skill and strength, which invariably favored the men of the aristocratic class.

    With a gun and minimal training, a peasant(or female) is just as lethal as the knight or archer who had trained all his life to fight. With a gun, men and women are more equal in abilty to defend themselves.

    The Wobbly Guy

  • It is great to see these guys kicking some major rump in Iraq. The more mercs the better imho.

  • Charles Copeland

    Thanks for your reply — obviously you’re better informed than I am. I concede defeat as regards the chief motivation of those ex-Special Forces guys.

    I was just trying to have another bash at the feminazis who have polluted the US military with their vile ideology, that’s all.

  • Dave F

    So they’re polluting the bodily essences of American fighting men, are they?

  • Charles Copeland

    By the way, I remember that last October Dale Amon published a graph showing coalition military casualty statistics in Iraq from March thru September 2003. The title of his upbeat contribution was ‘We are winning’ – and you’ll find the graph here: (Link)

    Have you any recent update, Dale?

    And no, I’m not gloating. It’s just that I’m pro-American and would like to learn more about the trend in casualties …

  • Charles Copeland

    Sorry, I botched up the (Link)

  • Charles Copeland

    Dave L.:

    Instead of bullshitting, read this citation:

    “I am not against women in the military, but I am against women in combat. Period. They can fight, although generally not as well as men. Mainly I’m against it because it’s a question of what kind of country we want to be. Any country that sends its mothers and daughters to war is a sick country. But politicians are afraid to say this because women vote, and the politicians cater to their narcissism, which now includes the idea that they should be able to lead a ranger recon squad. They’ll be of that opinion until there’s a really rough war where they get sent home in body bags. Then they’ll change their minds, as they should.”

    You’ll find the full text (“Women-in-Combat after the Terrorist Attack on America:The Intersection of America’s Culture War and the ‘Shooting War'”) at this (Link)

  • Richard Cook

    Charles Copeland is full of shit. I have been in the military for 24 years(Navy). Yeah there are committees like DARPA around pushing a feminist agenda but when you get down to the operational level women DO NOT want to be coddled or given priviledges. They want the chance to earn their stripes on their own, and have done it. Everywhere I have been from Korea to England the women are performing on a superior level. They accept that they may come home in body bags. They just want the chance to perform. Women can be (and are) just as effective leaders as men when the bullets are flying around and have proven it. I am extremely proud to be the citizen of a country in which the women care enough to fight for it. Don’t blame the women, blame the politicians.

  • Dale Amon

    Richard: You will be happy to know that your opinions are exactly those of the *entire* Samizdata editorial staff.

    Personally, the fighter lady pilot ‘KC’ is a hero of mine.

    If any US or other military woman are reading, please note that you are warmly welcomed and honoured at Samizdata and opinions of some commenters have absolutely no resonance with us.

  • Charles Copeland

    Richard Cook writes:

    “[W]hen you get down to the operational level women DO NOT want to be coddled or given privileges. They want the chance to earn their stripes on their own, and have done it. Everywhere I have been from Korea to England the women are performing on a superior level. They accept that they may come home in body bags. They just want the chance to perform.”

    Richard, you’re simply unfamiliar with the facts. The US military applies a double standard when selecting male and female applicants. You can read about it here: (Link)

    I know – it’s quite a long article. It might take some time to read. But perhaps you might learn something you didn’t learn in the Navy.

  • Richard Cook

    There were double standards in the Military when it was all Male. The real problem is you are just clueless.

  • Richard Cook


    Thank you. I know plenty of women in both the US and UK armed forces that would do Boudicca proud.

  • While women can function very well inthe armed forces, there _are_ limitations.

    This other Fred, (not me) has several columns with letters from people with actual FIELD experience of women in combat units.


    No.135, 40, & 9 specifically but there several others.

    Also, I know 3 former infantrymen. All with university educations and not at all your basic knuckle draggers. They all strongly suggest that women stay the hell out of the way. While they were fine in “office” jobs, 99% were an active problem in the field, they could not deal with the physical exertions efficiently and this consequently forces their MALE members of their team to have to pull double duty.

    If women want to play, they should play by the same rules, and by those rules the small % of women eligible isn’t worth it in most of the military trades.


  • Richard Cook

    Well Fred they are here so get the hell over it. You cannot turn back the clock, and the military is more than “the infantry”.

  • Hey, Chargin’ Charlie. You are way off base.

    I spent 8 years in the Army, in a variety of line and echeleons above corps units, including a stint in a line unit in the first Gulf War.

    The women who were chickenshit, were chickenshit. A lot of ’em were there for a paycheck, to get out of a bad domestic situation, or because they were clueless – kind of like a lot of the men. A substantial chunk – maybe a quarter of them – were fine soldiers, as good as any of the men. And another quarter were okay. Yeah, being built like a linebacker, I wasn’t so hot on the idea of having to be dragged to safety by a small woman if I got shot. On the other side of the coin, I served with a good number of women that I’d rather share a foxhole with (put the dirty minds away, you sex+ libertoids) than most of the men I served with. The savvy women were often better shots than the run-of-the-mill men, if they were aware of their physical limitations and adjusted they made great team players, and yes, they were often better at boosting the morale of troops around them than the men were.

    As for that 100% effort situation – the casualty drag, or tossing 100 pound projectiles into a field gun all day – I knew two women who could do it to my satisfaction. Period. But then if your army is dumb enough to use talented women for the martial version of powerlifting competition (and the U.S. Army isn’t that stupid, yet), well then, it doesn’t deserve very good fire support anyhow.

    One other thing. I have a number of friends still on active duty in the special ops community. A number of them have informed me that they aren’t having a problem finding plenty of customers in the Sunni triangle. I don’t think they need to call in some contractors to take care of the dirty work. I would suggest to you that budgetary justifications have a lot more to do with the private sector soldiering than do any deficiencies of the active duty force.

    And Richard, DARPA is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. They invented the Internet. They are good. You are thinking DACOWITS, the Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in The Services, which invented the gender-normed physical training test. (50 pushups for men, 15 for women). They are bad.

  • Dale Amon

    Al: I only disagree with you on one point. I consider it a good thing that private forces are used for security roles. We are, after all, libertarians here… while we are of the sort that accept the need for a minimal state that handles defense, courts and police, we also want even those contracted out to the greatest extent feasible.

    It is also the case that the private forces we are discussing are made up of some of the best of the best. Highly experienced, battle-hardened professionals with special forces training. Not exactly your average police academy grad.

    There are many places where experienced combat troops have a private security role to play in our opinion. For instance, take the massive rise in piracy on the high seas. Might it not be reasonable if insurers of ships required that any entering those waters carried such private soldiers as a means of getting a lower premium? Might it not also make the practice of piracy a career choice with an exceedingly short life span?

    Likewise, I see no reason for national forces to be involved in anything other than force projection. I see no reason why experienced military personal, after leaving the regular forces, should not find high paying jobs in defensive security roles.

    The more the better I say.

  • Charles Copeland

    Dale writes:

    “It is also the case that the private forces we are discussing are made up of some of the best of the best. Highly experienced, battle-hardened professionals with special forces training. Not exactly your average police academy grad.”

    I don’t doubt it. But I bet there isn’t a single woman in any of the private forces (apart from office jobs and canteen work, of course).

    It’s when the private security forces start recruiting women for combat positions that I’ll believe the yarn that women are ‘just as good as men’ when it comes to the killing trade.

  • Dale Amon

    Charles: You only know how to whistle but one note and there ain’t nobody here what likes your tune.

  • Charles Copeland

    Dale – honest, i’ve got a second tune as well. It consists of quoting stuff you wrote in the recent past and comparing your predictions with the realities.

    Remember your posting of 31 October 2003, where you recommended a certain Baghdad blogger. You wrote:

    “I’ve lately been following the writing of the new kid on the Baghdad block.

    Good stuff, well worth a regular read.”

    Here’s what Zeyad (such is his name) wrote the other day:

    “I have to admit that until now I have never longed for the days of Saddam, but now I’m not so sure. If we need a person like Saddam to keep those rabid dogs at bay then be it. Put Saddam back in power and after he fills a couple hundred more mass graves with those criminals they can start wailing and crying again for liberation. What a laugh we will have then. Then they can shove their filthy Hawza and marji’iya up somewhere else. I am so dissapointed in Iraqis and I hate myself for thinking this way. We are not worth your trouble, take back your billions of dollars and give us Saddam again. We truly ‘deserve’ leaders like Saddam.”

    You’ll find it all here:


  • Larry

    Nice of you to try to show the readers of Samizdata the other side of the coin on this issue, but I think you’ve proven it to be hopeless. I find Samizdata increasingly ideological (similar to idiotic), blinkered to other points of view. Easy to see by the responses: assertions that you are wrong plus invective.

    Since you know of van Creveld, you probably know of the large mass of books, studies, surveys, and analytical work suggesting that most of the agreements raised against you are at worst probably not true — and certainly requiring supporting evidence that I doubt the other posters could provide.

    I saw no attempts to rebut your links to supporting material.

    Esp. pitiful considering the women killed during the Iraq invasion — like Jessica Lynch who wanted to be a teacher, her friend who wanted to be a cook. Both bought more than they wanted or expected in the military.

    Note that since the invasion (ended 3/03) the Coalition has had over 700 dead soldiers –12 identified as women. 4 by IED, 4 copter crash, 4 hostile fire.