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April 06, 2004

There's a movie in here.

Say what you want about 'mercenaries' - but if you are going into this kind of work, this sounds like a company to work for. Hey, Mel Gibson - we need a movie!

Private Guards Repel Attack On U.S. Headquarters

By Dana Priest, Washington Post Staff Writer

An attack by hundreds of Iraqi militia members on the U.S. government's headquarters in Najaf on Sunday was repulsed not by the U.S. military, but by eight commandos from a private security firm, according to sources familiar with the incident.

Before U.S. reinforcements could arrive, the firm, Blackwater Security Consulting, sent in its own helicopters amid an intense firefight to resupply its commandos with ammunition and to ferry out a wounded Marine, the sources said.

Taking care of their own, and the client. No medals, no parades, no fawning public.

The role of Blackwater's commandos in Sunday's fighting in Najaf illuminates the gray zone between their formal role as bodyguards and the realities of operating in an active war zone. Thousands of armed private security contractors are operating in Iraq in a wide variety of missions and exchanging fire with Iraqis every day, according to informal after-action reports from several companies.

In Sunday's fighting, Shiite militia forces barraged the Blackwater commandos, four MPs and a Marine gunner with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 fire for hours before U.S. Special Forces troops arrived. A sniper on a nearby roof apparently wounded three men. U.S. troops faced heavy fighting in several Iraqi cities that day.

Which illustrates what well trained soldiers can do against people who think of themselves as 'warriors'. The warrior generally loses against soldiers. The group discipline thing, doncha know.

...With their ammunition nearly gone, a wounded and badly bleeding Marine on the rooftop, and no reinforcement by the U.S. military in the immediate offing, the company sent in helicopters to drop ammunition and pick up the Marine.

I've got to admit - this is a little puzzling. The Coalition Provisional Authority Headquarters, and it took HOURS to get a reaction force to the area? Things are leaner there than I think I understood.

Without commenting at a news conference yesterday on the role of the Blackwater guards, Kimmitt described what he saw after the fighting ended. "I know on a rooftop yesterday in An Najaf, with a small group of American soldiers and coalition soldiers . . . who had just been through about 3 1/2 hours of combat, I looked in their eyes, there was no crisis.

"They knew what they were here for," he continued. "They'd lost three wounded. We were sitting there among the bullet shells -- the bullet casings -- and, frankly, the blood of their comrades, and they were absolutely confident."

Rough men, standing ready to do violence on our behalf.

A Defense Department spokesman said that there were no military reports about the opening hours of the siege on CPA headquarters in Najaf because there were no military personnel on the scene. The Defense Department often does not have a clear handle on the daily actions of security contractors because the contractors work directly for the coalition authority, which coordinates and communicates on a limited basis through the normal military chain of command.

While I understand why things are the way they are - it seems a little more direct coordination might be in order!

Blackwater, a security and training company based in Moyock, N.C., prides itself on the high caliber of its personnel, many of whom are former U.S. Navy SEALs. It has 450 employees in Iraq, many of them providing security to CPA employees, including the U.S. administrator, L. Paul Bremer, and to VIPs visiting Iraq.
John | Permalink | Comments (4) | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
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