I was going to try and lay off the Blackwater story for a bit, for reasons explained in the post below, but I just got the following comment on yesterday's post – it's so good I'm putting it up where more people will get to see it. 'Buck' debunks a lot of the BS surrounding the Blackwater story, and provides some great insight into what's really going on in Iraq. This guy needs to get a blog!
"For the record, I'm an infantry NCO about to go back for his third tour. (I reenlisted, so save your boo-hoos for someone who cares).
I'll say this: contractors earn the fair market value for what we all do over there. Soldiers don't because we're govt. employees just like the President. He doesn't earn what Michael Eisner does either. However, soldiers also get paid roughly the same salary whether we're at war or not, so it equals out eventually over a career.
Blackwater employees (who are all ex-Spec Ops guys; good luck being accepted if you're not) only get paid while they're at war. Thus, the higher pay ratio. Plus, they don't have the trillion dollar baggage that comes with govt. employees, such as health insurance, retirement pensions, initial training costs, etc. You'd be surprised just how expensive maintaining just one G.I. from basic training onward can be. It's a lot more than the cost of one Blackwater guy who's on average performing far more dangerous work on a daily basis.
Like I said, I'm in the infantry, and frankly, I'd rather the govt. farm out that type of protective detail work than make us do it. It's often dull and monotonous and it detracts from the real offensive operations that we're trained for. Plus, it would just be our heads that everyone would be calling for after we were forced to take the EXACT SAME ACTIONS that the press rails against Blackwater et al. for taking.
Newsflash: diplomatic convoys in Iraq are huge targets for the enemy, and Iraqi civilians are notoriously bad eyewitnesses of anything. During my last tour, local shopkeepers were being openly gunned down on the street by the Mahdi Army, aka JAM (guys dressed just like ordinary Iraqi "civilians") while we were literally a block away drinking chai with the local police captains trying to establish good rapport.
Within minutes we would haul to the scene on foot and ask who shot the man and people would point at us and say "you did." (Meaning U.S. soldiers.) We were the only ones in the area, so we knew this to be untrue, but the rumors (actually well-timed enemy propaganda) had already spread so fast that even this man's relatives were already convinced that we had shot him down. He had only been killed for this very reason: to blame on us and thus discredit all the hard work we had already put in around that section of Baghdad.
This type of scenario is what occurs on a daily basis all around Iraq. This is why the war has made such hard and slow progress. All-out combat is relatively rare in Iraq and has been for years. 90% of patrols go by without incident. But we are fighting an information war constantly, and it certainly does not help that our own media is so often complicit."
Update: David at The Thunder Run informs me that the 'original' Buck Sargent, if this is he, does indeed have a blog: http://www.bucksargent.net/