Friday, January 08, 2010

Former NATO Chief Joins Private 'Security' Firm MPRI

Xe Services LLC
Ever wonder where old soldiers go after they've peeled off their military stripes , barked their last order and fired their last bullet?  Why to the ever expanding world of private 'security' with firms like Blackwater, (which is no longer Blackwater, but Xe, more on that later) and MPRI.  We're not only talking about your grunt on the firing line.  Top brass have put themselves at the service of the hired guns.  John Craddock is about as high on the U.S. military ladder as you can reach and he is now the 'president' of MPRI.
In announcing the hiring, MPRI, boasts abouts Craddock's rich military resume.

General Craddock joins L-3 following a 38-year career with the Army. Prior to his retirement from the Army in June 2009, he most recently served as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and Commander in Chief of the U.S. European Command. As SACEUR, General Craddock commanded the military forces of NATO's 28 nations and led history's most successful alliance into new frontiers of relevance and purpose. His distinguished military career spanned leadership at all levels, including as a combat commander in Operation Desert Storm and as Commander of the U.S. Southern Command

With that resume, MPRI is hoping Craddock can be a glorified salesman for the company. 

"John's extensive leadership experience and skills will help L-3 break into new markets and build on the excellent professional services that MPRI has provided to our nation for more than 20 years," said Michael T. Strianese, chairman, president and chief executive officer of L-3 [the parent company of MPRI.] 

The private security industry is booming, building legions of troops for 'shadown armies.' 

In Iraq tens of thousands of these mercenaries 'work' for at least 25 firms.

But as the San Fransisco Chronicle pointed out in 2004, that's just the 'tip of the iceberg.'

The boom in Iraq is just the tip of the iceberg for the $100 billion-a- year industry, which experts say has been the fastest-growing sector of the global economy during the past decade. From oil companies in the African hinterland to heads of state in Haiti and Afghanistan to international aid agencies in hotspots around the world, the difference between life and death is decided by private guns for hire.

In Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states, national armed forces are almost completely operated and overseen by private firms such as MPRI, an Alexandria, Va., subsidiary of giant L-3 Communications, and Vinnell Corp., a subsidiary of defense contractor Northrop Grumman. 

As the Informant noted, MPRI was involved in arming and training Croat forces before Operation Storm in 1995.

The big plus for Washington using the hired guns is they offer an 'out.' Since they are not directly working for the government, the mercenaries are not operating under stricter government rules.

That gives the mercenaries more leeway, and itchier trigger fingers as well.

Blackwater agents killed 14 Iraqis at a busy intersection in Baghdad in 2007 when they were escorting diplomats through the area.  One agent pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but a judge threw out all charges against another five, ruling the federal government had violated their rights, by using testimony taken under threat of dismissal.  

The ruling outraged the Iraqis, as Iran's Press TV tells well. 

With it's 'brand' tarred, Blackwater bet changing the name would make everything better. 

The Iraqis, at least, weren't buying it, and wanted Xe out.  But Blackwater, err, Xe, refused, as Russia Today reported.

The UN has noted, "a growing number of private security and military companies are operating domestically and internationally without effective oversight or accountability."

It would also seem to be in violation of a UN convention

"Mercenaries are outlawed under Article 47 of the Geneva Convention. In December 1994 the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 49/1150 urging all nations 'to take the necessary steps and to exercise the utmost vigilance against the menace posed by the activities of mercenaries'. The UN International Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries has been signed or ratified by twenty-one countries."

International law?  Nah.  Not if you've got the guns and the power. 

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