Did Hillary Clinton’s efforts to fund and staff a 7,000 man private army in Iraq leave Benghazi understaffed?
Despite the Obama White House’s attempts to change public perception of the Iraq War into something in the past, the fact remains that thousands US troops are still on the ground in Iraq.
But less often mentioned are the enormous army of private mercenary security contractors, tens of thousands of whom remain in Iraq and continue to go as they have been – fighting the same war they have been fighting for nearly eight years.
Back on August 18, 2010 the Obama Administration, in a extraordinary display of cynicism, even for their standards, announced plans for Hillary Clinton and the State Department to begin the deployment of a “Small Army” made up of private contractors in Iraq. This announcement was made one day prior to Obama’s announcement of the “End of Combat Operation in Iraq”
To avoid the politically difficult position of having to explain why American forces are continuing to die in Iraq, Obama is turned much of the battle over to private contractors A few years ago I called Congressman Jim Moran’s office to ask if Hillary Clinton needed congressional approval to operate and fund her private army . It took a few days but Jim Moran’s office got back to me and said – nope Hillary can move forward with her program to replace soldiers with professional mercenaries.
This staffing of Hillary’s army led to a behind the scene turf battle between the State Department and the US Military. The State Department has been actively engaged in in obtaining heavy equipment with which to arm what is being called by officials a “small army,”
Stripes Magazine writes :The arrangement is “one more step in the blurring of the lines between military activities and State Department or diplomatic activities,” said Richard Fontaine of the Center for a New American Security, a Washington research center. “This is no longer (just) the foreign service officer standing in the canape line, and the military out in the field.”
“The State Department is trying to become increasingly expeditionary,” he said.
With public attention riveted on the war in Afghanistan, and ISIL, the transition of the U.S. mission in Iraq has gotten relatively little notice by the news media. American troops are pulling out of the country at an accelerating rate to meet President Barack Obama’s interim ceiling of 50,000 noncombat troops remaining in Iraq by the end of next month. Already, however, the State Department’s requests to the Pentagon for Black Hawk helicopters; 50 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles; fuel trucks; high-tech surveillance systems; and other military gear has encountered flak on Capitol Hill.
Contractors are to operate most of the equipment, and past controversies that involved Pentagon and State Department contractors, including the company formerly known as Blackwater, have left some lawmakers leery.
“The fact that we’re transitioning from one poorly managed contracting effort to another part of the federal government that has not excelled at this function either is not particularly comforting,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
“It’s one thing” for contractors to be “peeling potatoes” and driving trucks, McCaskill told McClatchy. “It’s another thing for them to be deploying MRAPs and Black Hawk helicopters.”
A report July 12 by the bipartisan legislative Commission on Wartime Contracting said that the number of State Department security contractors would more than double, from 2,700 to between 6,000 and 7,000, under current plans.
“Particularly troubling,” the report said, “is the fact that the State Department has not persuaded congressional appropriators of the need for significant new resources to perform its mission in Iraq.”