Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Afghanistan : 28,000 mercenaries from 73 different companies

Stars and Stripes :
"The shooting death of a Canadian soldier this weekend provides a grim example of how chaotic the security situation can often be in southern Afghanistan.
The soldier [Master Cpl. Joshua Roberts] was mortally wounded Saturday morning in Kandahar province when Afghan private security guards opened fire indiscriminately after Taliban insurgents attacked a nearby group of Canadian troops, according to coalition military officers.

An array of coalition forces are training Afghan army and police as a frontline defense against the Taliban, but they are spread thin. The situation is further complicated by a mishmash of poorly-disciplined, but heavily-armed private security guards that have official Afghan and coalition sanction, but which often operate with little oversight or control. "

"According to coalition military officers, a convoy that included groups from two different security companies — Compass and USPI — was traveling the main highway west of Kandahar when they passed a group of Canadian soldiers engaged in a firefight with Taliban fighters in the Spin Beer district.
Apparently thinking they were under fire as well, the convoy of private security guards also opened fire.

"Their normal contact drill is that as soon as they get hit with something, then it’s 360, open up on anything that moves," said Maj. Corey Frederickson, part of a Canadian advisory team that trains and mentors the Afghan army. "We think that’s probably what happened."

Video footage at the Stars and Stripes link shows military officers questioning the Afghan mercenaries who :
"freely admitted to opening fire on what they thought were Taliban fighters. But when informed that a Canadian soldier had been wounded, their stories began to change, and many never claimed to have fired at all. Some of the security guards blamed the Afghan army for the incident."
Twelve of them are wearing Afghan police uniforms although they aren't police so the uniforms are promptly confiscated. Voiceover from a US soldier explains that personal militia and security guards wearing Afghan police uniforms drive around heavily armed and stoned and rob people.

Well, ok, we already knew this.
But am I right in thinking it likely that coalition forces are training Afghan police and soldiers, the poorly and intermittantly paid Afghan police and soldiers, who presumably then quit in order to join the better paying private security forces which are accountable to no one?

CBC : "There are as many as 28,000 private soldiers working in Afghanistan for as many as 73 different companies."

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