BAGHDAD ø U.S. contractors are recruiting for security officers to protect key installations in Iraq.
Executives said the recruits have been attracted by salaries of up to
$50,000 a year plus living expenses for a tour of duty between six months
and a year. They said security officers were employed to guard vital
facilities amid a shortage of personnel by the U.S. military and coalition
members in Iraq.
The security officers have been sought for projects launched by the
Coalition Provisional Authority. The CPA has been hampered in ensuring
security of such facilities as oil wells, power stations and pipelines amid
difficulties in deploying Iraqi security forces. On Thursday, a key oil well
in northern Iraq was bombed, Middle East Newsline reported.
The recruitment effort is not limited to Americans. Former soldiers and
police officers in such places as South Africa and South America have been sought.
So far, about 10,000 private security personnel have been deployed in
Iraq. Many of the security officers do not come from the United States.
they have been recruited in South Africa and South America.
One U.S. contractor, Blackwater USA, has hired former Chilean military
personnel for $4,000 a month to guard oil wells against attack by Sunni
insurgents. In February, the company flew about 60 former Chilean commandos
to Iraq. The commandos were trained earlier in North Carolina.
Executives said in many cases the armies of Third World states have been
raided for recruits by contractors in Iraq. They said more than 150,000
security guards would be
required to protect the interests of foreign companies in Iraq.
The number of security guards in Baghdad was expected to rise
significantly in the
second quarter of 2004, the executives said. They cited the expected arrival
thousands of foreigners to launch infrastructure, housing and security
projects in Iraq.
South Africans have also been hired as a cheaper alternative to British
and U.S. nationals. About 2,000 South Africans were said to have
been recruited for security work in Iraq, most of them in the Baghdad area.
Most of the South Africans have been former police and security
officers recently hired by Erinys International, a subcontractor of SAS
International. South Africa's Meteoric Tactical Solutions has been awarded a
train Iraqi police and security forces.
Security costs have been cited as a major expenditure in bids for an
estimated 2,000 contracts issued by the U.S. Defense Department for the
reconstruction of Iraq. The combined value of the contracts was reported at
Many Western contractors hire Iraqis for site protection. But foreigners
have been recruited to oversee security over company facilities and protect
executives and visitors. The companies have also imported armored vehicles
for all travel in Iraq.
Sunni insurgents and Saddam loyalists have targeted foreign contractors
in Baghdad and other cities in the Sunni Triangle. The U.S. contractor
Kellogg, Brown & Root reported the death of eight people who arrived in
Iraq to help operate projects.