Contractors Find Security in Iraq
By Spencer E. Ante
At her confirmation hearing on Jan. 17, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the task of training Iraq's security forces -- its army, police, national guard, and smaller units -- falls to many partners: the U.S. military, NATO, Iraq, Jordan, and other nations. But neither Rice nor Administration officials has yet to mention the significant role being played by private contractors.
Just over 700 contractors -- more than previously disclosed -- are now training in excess of half the Iraqi Police Service, BusinessWeek has learned. In April, 2003, DynCorp announced it had won a $50 million contract to help train "civilian law enforcement, judicial, and correctional agencies." Now, Science Applications International and the United States Investigative Services (USIS) also are playing significant roles in training Iraqi police, BusinessWeek has learned.
It is difficult to get a clear view of the contractors' role in Iraq war because government agencies, including the State Dept. and Justice Dept., issued contracts before the conflict to provide personnel for a variety of purposes. To get people on the ground in Iraq more quickly, Washington has sometimes used those contracts to hire workers that can be deployed for other tasks, such as training Iraqi security forces.
The Pentagon's strategy for training Iraqi security forces has evolved over the last two years. From early 2003 to the middle of 2004, contractors helped train Iraqi army brigades -- a job since taken over by the military. There seems to be an opposite shift with Iraqi Police Service. Contractors originally made up a minority of the police-training force, but their roles have increased over the last several months.
The U.S military says it continues to develop and oversee all of the training programs. Many of the contractors are highly skilled, and include ex-cops, former employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and others with law enforcement backgrounds. The eventual goal is to have Iraqis training all of their own security forces, but government sources expect the U.S. military, other nations, and contractors to continue training at least through the end of this year.
KEEPERS OF THE PEACE.
Policemen are expected to represent the largest element in Iraq's reconstituted security forces, ultimately accounting for half of Iraq's planned total of 275,000 security personnel. Money to pay for the training of the security forces is coming from the $18 billion that Congress appropriated in late 2003 for Iraq's reconstruction. It's unclear how much private companies have received of the $5 billion the U.S. has allocated for security training, equipment, and facilities. The USIS contract with the Justice Dept. is worth more than $200 million, according to a military spokeswoman.
Policing is considered the most challenging part of the security mission in Iraq, say government officials. The U.S. military can easily take over a town, but it is much harder to keep the peace after the troops have left -- the primary job of the Iraqi cops.
Ante is Computers editor for BusinessWeek in New York
Edited by Roger Franklin