Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mini-Private Army for State Dept Planned for Iraq: Helicopters, Vehicles and Contractors

"WASHINGTON — The State Department is quietly forming a small army to protect diplomatic personnel in Iraq after U.S. military forces leave the country at the end of 2011, taking their firepower with them.  Department officials are asking the Pentagon for heavy military gear, including Black Hawk helicopters, and say they will also need substantial support from private contractors.

The shopping list demonstrates the department's reluctance to count on Iraq's army and police forces for security despite the billions of dollars the U.S. invested to equip and train them. And it shows that President Barack Obama is having a hard time keeping his pledge to reduce U.S. reliance on contractors, a practice that flourished under the Bush administration.

In an early April request to the Pentagon, Patrick Kennedy, the State Department's under secretary for management, is seeking 24 Black Hawks, 50 bomb-resistant vehicles, heavy cargo trucks, fuel trailers, and high-tech surveillance systems. Kennedy asks that the equipment, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, be transferred at "no cost" from military stocks."
Read the rest of the story in "State wants to form a mini-army for Iraq security", Google AP News, June 14, 2010.

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