Private security companies, which have contributed 20,000 personnel to the occupation of Iraq, formed an alliance on April 6 in the wake of the March 31 attack in Fallujah that killed four employees of Blackwater USA. This attack was apparently a set-up by real (or fake) members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. The purpose of the alliance is to share information and to help each other out when things get rough. The number of people from companies like Blackwater USA, Meyer and Associates, and Triple Canopy, Inc., is slated to increase to 30,000 after the June 30 handover of power from the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to a temporary government pending elections in Iraq. The current total of 20,000 is already larger than the British contribution to the occupation (15,000 troops), and the increased force will be larger than all other coalition forces (roughly 26,000 troops).
However, these companies were not coordinating their activities or sharing intelligence. This changed with the death of four personnel from Blackwater Security Consulting in Fallujah, and three incidents where the military, occupied elsewhere, was unable to assist, causing the mercenaries to deal with the situation on their own. Their response has been to form an alliance. This alliance is turning the mixture of private security companies into a cohesive group. The resulting coordination is supposedly to allow the sharing of intelligence they have gathered and the exchanging of phone numbers for the various operations centers used by the companies. This will allow for a coordinated response by all the security companies when one is attacked. The companies already have ad hoc contacts with local military units (American and coalition), and often the private firms have helped out in firefights. In one instance, a Blackwater helicopter delivered ammunition and evacuated a wounded Marine. In addition to helicopters, Blackwater also has CASA 212 aircraft for cargo delivery.
Triple Canopy, Inc. specializes in providing heavily guarded convoys with armored vehicles, and has access to UAVs and motor vehicles. Meyer and Associates is a general-purpose organization with access to armored vehicles, sedans, and 4x4 SUVs, specializing in convoy work and site security. Other companies in Iraq have similar equipment or access to such equipment.
The result is a coordinated effort, between companies that are usually competitors, taking place inside Iraq. These companies might compete for contracts, but once in country, disputes are put aside to get the job done, and to prevent a repeat of the Fallujah massacre. The added coordination will also be of great value to American and coalition military personnel. Often, the private military forces can do things more efficiently than the government forces in some areas, and that enables the military to concentrate on other things. In essence, with the helicopters, aircraft, and armored and unarmored vehicles, the mercenary alliance becomes a force of two light motorized divisions.
The private companies in Iraq have a good chance of making this alliance work to the detriment of the insurgent groups. Many of the personnel in these forces served in the Special Forces, Rangers, or other elite units. They have much better training than the insurgents, along with years of experience and contacts among the active military units. The murders in Fajullah have to be seen as an operation ultimately detrimental to those who perpetrated it. Harold C. Hutchison (firstname.lastname@example.org)