Saturday, September 05, 2009

Mercenaries in Kabul : From Animal House to Apocalypse Now

.ArmorGroup mercenaries in charge of security at the US embassy in Kabul :

"dancing naked around a fire, licking each others nipples and grabbing each others testicles, sex acts, peeing on each other, vodka shots from butt cracks, eating potato chips from clenched buttocks..."
Well, boyz will be boyz, stress of the mission and all that, leading directly to :

"hazing, weekly ritual humiliation, forced by their supervisors to take part in the demeaning sex games. Anyone who refused to take part in the games was ridiculed, humiliated, demoted or even fired. Those who took part were rewarded with better shifts and postings."
and sexual predation and intimidation of Afghan employees :

"An Afghan national who works in the dining hall at Camp Sullivan submitted a signed statement to the POGO [US Project On Government Oversight] in which he described how a guard had grabbed him and said: "You are very good for fucking." The man was accompanied by four other men and all were only wearing short underwear and carrying bottles of alcohol. The man said he was too afraid of them to say anything."

"The climate of fear and coercion" according to the US Project on Government Oversight, has led to "complete distrust of leadership and a breakdown of the chain of command, compromising security."

As in the "cowboy mission" - complete with weapons and night-vision goggles - leaving embassy staff "largely night-blind" in the event of an emergency:

In May, 18 guards, who are not trained for such missions, dressed up as mujahedin fighters and went out on unauthorised night-time military operations in the Afghan capital. The guards are said to have photographed themselves taking part in the "undercover" operation, later posting the images online.

"They were living out some sort of delusion," one of the whistleblower guards told The Washington Post.

The report reveals that, instead of taking action against the guards involved, ArmorGroup North America gave them a mocked-up citation which improperly bore the seal of the US State Department and praised them for their "intrepidity".

ArmorGroup North America has been protecting almost 1,000 US diplomats and Kabul embassy personnel. The 450 security personnel assigned to the embassy, including Canadians, all live at Camp Sullivan, where the sex parties took place. "

At a Senate hearing on waste, fraud and abuse by ArmorGroup in June, senator Claire McCaskill asked in exasperation: "Is this the best we can do?"
The [POGO] report accuses the State Department of being complicit in the problems, citing numerous letters in which the agency expressed concerns about security deficiencies at the American mission in Kabul and threatened to terminate ArmorGroup’s contract. Yet in sworn testimony to Congress, the report said, department officials said the problems had been fixed.
The State Department renewed the company’s contract, worth $180 million a year, through July 2010.

30 supervisors and guards are alleged to have been the instigators of the sex parties, hazing, and cowboy mission.
The State Department has demanded that the security guards in the photos be fired.
ArmorGroup has fired eight and two have resigned. Their identities are being witheld.

The Guardian : Guards gone wild :
"As of 30 June, there were nearly 74,000 military contractors – including 5,165 armed private security guards – in Afghanistan, far outnumbering the roughly 58,000 US troops in the country.

Privatised war: It gives those in power an easy way to circumvent traditional democratic processes. They can escalate war under the radar with far less interference from the public.

Hiring additional contractors in Afghanistan – the vast majority of whom are local nationals or citizens from other poor countries – simply doesn't generate the headlines that sending more US troops does. Moreover, contractor deaths are not counted in any official tally of casualties, which ultimately serves to slow the growth of public opposition to the war."
The Star's appallingly etiolated coverage :
U.S. embassy in Afghanistan cuts out booze :
"Private guards accused of wild partying, hazing
Photos were released of guards and supervisors in various stages of nudity at parties flowing with booze."

is the reason for this post.

1 comment:

thwap said...

Personally, I'd think that what these guys do in their own compounds on their own time is their own business.

But even then, extending their debauchery to native employees and forcing colleagues to take part is a sign of something too extreme.

And I really don't understand these creatures: "Eat this potato-chip from out of my ass crack or we'll humiliate you!"

And, finally, it seems like we've got a bunch of extreme frat-boy weirdos running wild in that country.

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