Steve Fainaru highlights
today one of the most important stories of the war in Iraq that gets a fraction of the attention it deserves: private contractors from companies like Blackwater, which have been engaged in parallel "surges" of their own.
Private security companies, funded by billions of dollars in U.S. military and State Department contracts, are fighting insurgents on a widening scale in Iraq, enduring daily attacks, returning fire and taking hundreds of casualties that have been underreported and sometimes concealed, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials and company representatives.
While the military has built up troops in an ongoing campaign to secure Baghdad, the security companies, out of public view, have been engaged in a parallel surge, boosting manpower, adding expensive armor and stepping up evasive action as attacks increase, the officials and company representatives said. One in seven supply convoys protected by private forces has come under attack this year, according to previously unreleased statistics; one security company reported nearly 300 "hostile actions" in the first four months.
There was one part of Fainaru's piece that stood out for its anecdotal significance.
Holly vowed he would never again use unarmored vehicles for convoy protection. He went to his primary shipper, Public Warehousing Co. of Kuwait, and ordered a change. PWC hired ArmorGroup, which had armed Ford F-350 pickups with steel-reinforced gun turrets and belt-fed machine guns.
Other companies followed suit, ramping up production of an array of armored and semi-armored trucks of various styles and colors, until Iraq's supply routes resembled the post-apocalyptic world of the "Mad Max" movies.
Nothing says "progress in Iraq" like comparisons to a post-apocalyptic action film in which a desert area plunges into anarchy, with roving bands of well-armed militias struggling to maintain order.