PRIVATIZING IRAQ

NYT reports something interesting on the works:

The Pentagon is considering a plan to train a private Iraqi security force and make it responsible for guarding pipelines, government buildings and hundreds of other sites in Iraq, military officials said today.

The new private force, to be composed primarily of former Iraqi soldiers armed with small weapons, would take over from American troops the guard duties at as many as 2,000 sites, the officials said. Such a force would provide jobs to potentially thousands of unemployed Iraqis and ease the burden on an American military that is finding itself stretched thin in Iraq despite the presence there of nearly 150,000 soldiers. Some Pentagon officials believe private Iraqi security guards at prominent government sites could help ease tensions created by the atmosphere of foreign military occupation.

But such a transfer would also raise some security concerns by putting more weapons in the hands of the former Iraqi soldiers and other Iraqis who would compose a force that could include hundreds or even thousands of security guards, the officials said. They said the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad and private American companies, including Kroll Inc., a well-known private security consulting concern, were discussing how members of the proposed force could be screened and approved.

The cost of training the Iraqi force would likely be paid by United States taxpayers, military officials said. The salaries for the Iraqi guards might also be paid by the United States, the officials said, at least until an Iraqi government emerges, although funds could be drawn from Iraqi oil revenue.

The proposed force, under discussion at the highest levels of the Pentagon, would be separate from the new Iraqi Army and Iraqi police force.

While obviously posing some risks, this strikes me as a very sensible plan in that it turns responsibility for police function back to the Iraqis sooner and it would also create thousands of jobs for citizens desperately in need of them.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Green Boy says:

    I’d put it in the ‘nice thought’ category; it’s hard to imagine small groups of security guards putting up much resistence against well-armed, veteran guerrilla groups or organized-crime looting parties.

    In fact, such groups could become easily corrupted by loot money and become a sort of a fifth-column for the resistence.

  2. James Joyner says:

    No, I’d agree that they’re not professionals and wouldn’t fare well against them. I’d cite Cairo, though, as an example of a place where you have an inordinate number of very young, poorly trained security guys running around with guns. They stop minor crime, give the appearance of security and, more importantly, jobs and self-respect for a lot people.

    These guys would still have to be augmented heavily by US and/or UN peacekeepers to do the heavy work.