Afghanistan: April 14, 2002


: The LA Times reported today that the Defense Department is drawing up plans to use its special operations forces to jump-start training of the Afghanistan's National Army, then hire private military contractors to finish the job. Although training of an Afghan military force has begun, there is no set timetable for turning the task over to private military contractors. 

If awarded, this could be a very lucrative contract for the firms involved or as the LA Times quoted D. B. Des Roches, spokesman for the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, "A lot of people have said, 'Ding ding ding, gravy train,' But in point of fact, it makes sense. They're probably better at doing these sorts of missions than anyone else I could think of."

Freeing up active special operations units for combat missions and using retirees to handle teaching new skills to new friends sounds good, on paper. Every U. S. military operation in the post-Cold War era has involved significant levels of support from private military firms, from the Persian Gulf to Somalia, Zaire, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo and Croatia. Retired Army Lt. Gen. Harry E. Soyster, an executive at MPRI, boasted that they had "more generals per square foot here than in the Pentagon."

However, not everyone is as enthusiastic about MPRI, including some former employees. One website describes their mission thusly: "MPRISUCKS was formed in 1999 as a information center and complaint forum for persons concerned about MPRI's role in privatizing U.S. foreign policy and doing it poorly to boot".

MPRISucks website -
MPRI's website -
- Adam Geibel

Several suspected al Qaeda fighters died in a gun battle with U.S. troops in eastern Afghanistan. There have also been more gun battle in Kabul, but some of these turned out to be cases of mistaken identity. The growing crime rate in Kabul has led to the creation of armed neighborhood anti-crime groups. The peacekeepers send out patrols at night and, in a city lacking street lights, it's been easy for the local anti-crime men to mistake the peacekeeper patrols for a group of criminals. But some of the attacks were deliberate, and were made by al Qaeda or Taliban members or sympathizers. In some cases the attacks turned out to be made by criminals who thought it prudent to shoot first. At night, Kabul is a dangerous place to move about in.

Someone launched two rockets at the provincial governors house outside Kandahar. There were no injuries. The Taliban leadership in Pakistan has been sending letters into Afghanistan telling their leaders to begin making attacks on the new government and foreigners. The Taliban believe that eventually the foreigners will leave and the Taliban will be able to return to power. 


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