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9/19/2017 7:27:10 PM
Posted: 12/9/2003 4:44:01 PM EDT
Well, it's not really an article, but more of a blog, I guess. This was in The New Republic.
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BAGHDAD DISPATCH
Insecure
by Joshua Hammer 12.10.03

The report began to percolate through the hallways of Baghdad's Al Hamra Hotel in the late afternoon, and, by early evening, the clientele was in a panic. Officials at the Australian Embassy down the road had picked up reliable intelligence that Iraqi insurgents were planning to carry out an imminent "armed assault" against the ten-story hotel, a gathering point for foreigners. Between a dozen and 20 men with Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades would attack the heavily fortified building before dawn one morning between November 1 and November 15, kill the Iraqi guards, and move through the hallways gunning down journalists as they slept. It was the second warning to reach the Al Hamra in a week--the other had been vaguer--and it emptied the hotel within hours. Frightened correspondents pulled their satellite dishes off the rooftop and scrambled into private houses--more vulnerable targets, perhaps, but far less obtrusive ones.

These are times of panic and paranoia in Baghdad. The wave of suicide bombings that peaked with simultaneous explosions in front of three police stations and the Red Cross on October 27 has shattered nerves and radically altered the city's landscape. Hotels, government ministries, police stations, and other structures associated with the U.S. occupation have been cordoned off behind razor wire and concrete. Entire neighborhoods now lie within tightly guarded perimeters, including the "Green Zone," a five-kilometer, walled-off square near the Tigris River encompassing the Al Rashid Hotel and Saddam Hussein's Republican Palace, headquarters of the U.S.- occupation staff. "Rumint," unsubstantiated intelligence, has become the major currency in Baghdad, and every day people disseminate unsettling bulletins assessing danger levels and enumerating attacks. Days after I landed in Baghdad last month, rumint spread that insurgents armed with shoulder-fired missiles had come close to hitting a cargo plane operated by DHL on its approach to Baghdad International Airport. This news caused a steep drop in the number of passengers flying in and out of the capital.

Yet the rising fear in Baghdad has been good news for at least one group: the huge number of private security companies selling their services to foreign workers. The crowded field has sparked a competition that can get nasty--leading to inflated reports of danger that serve primarily to stir up more business.

Every sensitive facility in Baghdad is now protected by its own private army. A homegrown Iraqi security force guards the Green Zone; the U.S. company Custer Battles handles the airport. Global Risk Strategies, a British company, now has over 1,000 security personnel in Iraq. Overall, at least 20 Western security companies have set up shop in the country, and new contingents are arriving daily, some of them exotic. My Royal Jordanian flight into Baghdad was packed with retired Nepalese Gurkhas hired by the huge U.S. contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), a Halliburton subsidiary. Now these tough-looking men stand guard with machine guns on nearly every floor at the Palestine Hotel, where some of the KBR crowd is holed up. A friend who works as a private contractor for USAID protects his house in Baghdad with 18 peshmerga--Kurdish warriors whom he lured south from Erbil and equipped with guns. He pays each of them about $200 per month, a bargain compared with the going rate for Western companies: $1,500 per guard per day.

The total market for these security companies is enormous. The Financial Times estimates that "contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been handed out in Iraq to private security companies." One contract alone, awarded last month to the British security firm Erinys to protect oil installations, was worth nearly $40 million.

With such high stakes, the companies compete intensely for clients. Newsweek decided to leave the Al Hamra earlier this month and move into a house owned by a British private security firm made up of former SAS commandos. The commandos lived in a villa tucked away on a side street in the affluent Al Mansour neighborhood, protected by a dozen armed guards, huge concrete blocks, and manned checkpoints. But Newsweek began to reassess the move after a rival security firm, Centurion Risk Assessment Services, assured the magazine's reporters that it had beefed up security at the Al Hamra Hotel and that there was now an "extremely low risk of an armed assault."

John, the pistol-packing counterterrorism specialist who was going to lease the house to Newsweek, snorted at the idea that the Centurion had declared the Al Hamra secure. "With all due respect, you're dealing with people who don't know about terrorism," John said. Centurion, he explained, are all ex-Royal Marines--"conventional soldiers." "We're all SAS. We're trained to think about terror." He scoffed at the security measures Centurion had put into place, including cordoning off the hotel with bombproof slabs. "They're missing the point," John said ominously. "Right now, members of the hotel staff could be building a bomb in the Al Hamra basement, piece by piece. ... We know that the Al Hamra Hotel is going to be attacked. It's just a question of when."

John's alarming message caused Newsweek to return to the house idea, even though reporters discovered that John's own security precautions were less than perfect. John's gang, it turned out, had been so secretive about their identity that they had raised suspicions. "Everyone knows who lives in that house," an Iraqi watchman confided to a journalistic colleague one afternoon. "It's the CIA, right?" That kind of talk was almost certain to make the house a target for terrorists. "We probably should do something about that," one of these counterterrorism experts conceded to the same colleague.

For days, Newsweek remained on the fence. Then, one night, gunfire broke out just down the street from the Al Hamra. I threw on my flak jacket and lay on the floor, listening to the crackle of automatic weapons. Had the longrumored armed assault begun? After 15 minutes of shooting, I crawled over to the hotel phone and called the reception desk. False alarm. The Iraqi national soccer team had defeated the North Korean squad, setting off wild celebrations. Still, Newsweek didn't press its luck. We moved into John's house in Al Mansour the next day.

JOSHUA HAMMER is Newsweek's Jerusalem bureau chief and the author of A Season In Bethlehem: Unholy War in a Sacred Place, published by Free Press/Simon and Schuster.
Link Posted: 12/9/2003 4:51:10 PM EDT
Man, I'd love to know half the shit they teach those SAS commandos...
Link Posted: 12/9/2003 7:10:36 PM EDT
Zaphod: There are a couple of different training organizations out there with former SAS on staff. I attended the Witness/Dignitary Protection course at [url]www.tees-training.com[/url], and TEES is owned and primarily instructed by a former Kiwi SAS guy. There is a place in Canada called ESSI with at least one former SAS guy on staff. I can't remember the name of the company, but there's a business started by a few former SAS guys that teaches several courses, including one to journalists going to conflict zones.
Link Posted: 12/10/2003 4:36:28 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/10/2003 5:47:00 AM EDT by u-baddog]
I spoke with a guy shipping out " Overseas " for a private firm. He is taking home 3000.00 tax free a [b]week[/b]. [b]EDITED TO CHANGE MONTH TO WEEK[/b]
Link Posted: 12/10/2003 4:44:00 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/10/2003 4:53:06 AM EDT
Originally Posted By u-baddog: I spoke with a guy shipping out " Overseas " for a private firm in NC. He is taking home 3000.00 tax free a month. I wouldnt do it for twice that amount.
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When my brother came back from Iraq in 1991 (1992?) he was an EOD Tech and was offered [b]$300 per hour[/b] to go back by several oil companies to help sap the booby-traps on the oil wells. He turned that down so I sure as hell wouldn't go for a piddly $36k/yr.
Link Posted: 12/10/2003 5:10:55 AM EDT
a buddy of mine from the Corps is pocketing $110k per year taxfree in iraq for a private security firm. i dont think he'd even pack a bag for $3k per month.
Link Posted: 12/10/2003 5:48:32 AM EDT
Yep, it is 3000.00 a week sorry. I am so used to thinking in terms of months it just slipped by. Sorry
Originally Posted By u-baddog: I spoke with a guy shipping out " Overseas " for a private firm. He is taking home 3000.00 tax free a [b]week[/b]. [b]EDITED TO CHANGE MONTH TO WEEK[/b]
View Quote
Link Posted: 12/10/2003 5:54:09 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Jarhead_22: Zaphod: There are a couple of different training organizations out there with former SAS on staff. I attended the Witness/Dignitary Protection course at [url]www.tees-training.com[/url], and TEES is owned and primarily instructed by a former Kiwi SAS guy. There is a place in Canada called ESSI with at least one former SAS guy on staff. I can't remember the name of the company, but there's a business started by a few former SAS guys that teaches several courses, including one to journalists going to conflict zones.
View Quote
Jar, if you wanted/needed the $, maybe you'd be qualified for one of these companies?? (You're close to my age, arn't you? Mid 50's??) They'd make you a supervisor prolly.... That, or you could apply to the NSC, as an advisor..... Never mind, they don't allow people with common sense......[:D]
Link Posted: 12/10/2003 11:52:53 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/10/2003 11:54:07 AM EDT by Beach]
Would love for anyone to forward me via IM any information on companies hiring...ready, willing, able and Motivated...looking for positions in Iraq/Afganistan High End Security...Former Marine/SWAT COP... Done a very thorough web search and sent out resumes all over the world in the last week or two but a person employed currently might have some inside scoop...
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