Iraq: Big money for mercenaries
but death comes just the same
More and more mercenaries are flooding into Iraq. Many of them are working for the US army. They are transporting supplies and fuel to the US armed forces — tasks that used to be performed by military personnel. They are guarding supply lines and providing security for government officials. These mercenaries are being paid huge wages — up to $US1000 per day. A number of Australian SAS troops are reported to have resigned from the armed forces to seize the big money. They may be involved in committing violence against the Iraqi people but, because they are not officially part of the armed forces, they are not covered by the rules of war and the Geneva Conventions. These mercenaries are just as much enemies of a free and independent Iraq as those in uniform and it is not surprising that the Iraqi people should see them as enemies. This is the reality behind the spate of alleged "hostage taking", actually no more than the taking of prisoners of war. Many are employed by corporations such as the Texas based Kellogg Brown and Root, and Halliburton which have huge contracts with the US Government to supply the armed forces. Robert Fisk writing for the NZ Star on April 13 said that up to 18,000 mercenaries are now believed to be in Iraq and that at least 80 foreign mercenaries had been killed in the past eight days in Iraq. This setup also allows the military authorities to obscure the real casualty list because the mercenaries are not counted when military spokesmen announce their losses for the day. The employment of mercenaries is another means by which the invading governments can appear to limit the number of the armed forces actually operating in Iraq. It is much easier for the US Government to absolve itself from responsibility for the actions of mercenaries than to be accountable for the behaviour of its armed forces. Reuters quotes figures on the increased use of mercenaries: at the end of the first Gulf War the ratio was about one contractor to 100 soldiers, but this time around it is one to every ten soldiers. "We do not track US civilian deaths. We leave that up to companies", said a US military spokesperson.