NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 23, 2005

Dozens of private security companies are now operating in Iraq and Triple Canopy is one of the largest. Outsourcing protection is crucial to the war effort, says New York Times contributor Daniel Bergner.

Private security companies are modernized mercenaries that are contracted by the U.S. government to protect American corporations carrying out Iraq's reconstruction; they consist of men with military or law enforcement experience, says Bergner.

  • In 2004, Triple Canopy won contracts to guard 13 Coalition Provisional Authority headquarters -- the governing body of the American-led military occupation -- throughout Iraq.
  • An estimated 60 companies exists, and there are about 25,000 armed men and 50,000-70,000 unarmed civilians currently working for American interests in Iraq.
  • Americans usually work in three-month rotations, earn about $400-$700 a day, sleep in private dorm rooms and are sent on leave for a month with the option to return; depending on how much time they spend in the States over the course of a year, most of their income can be tax-free.

Luckily, Triple Canopy has not lost any men, but they, and their cohorts are embattled constantly, says Bergner:

  • Between January and August 2004, Triple Canopy teams came under attack 40 times, but this only represents incidents in which they fired back; an estimated six to eight times that number of attacks go unrecorded.
  • An estimated 160-200 deaths occurred among private security forces in 2004; overall, deaths are usually unreported.

But what will happen to these men when private work in Iraq finally winds down? Some will get contracts protecting U.S. departments and agencies around the world, and others will do the same for other governments, says Bergner.

Source: Daniel Bergner, "The Other Army," New York Times Magazine, August 14, 2005.

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