We’ve all heard about the wonderful things that private security contractors are doing in Iraq. I haven’t heard much about what they’re doing in Africa.
Apparently it’s worth at least a billion dollars though.
The U.S. is looking for private bids on a $1 billion contract for its AFRICAP program, to help train peacekeepers and provide military logistics in Africa. There aren’t any details on exactly what the contract entails, which the Danger Room seems to think might be an indication of how it’s managed to fly under the radar.
In a speech in 2003, Theresa Whelan, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs, explained why they use private contractors in a nice little list of pros and cons, which I will summarize below. I think this list is a pretty good indication of how government thinks about the issue.
- Occasional discipline problems
- Have to manage contractors closely to make sure they do what they’re supposed to
- Legally messy
- Indicates a lack of U.S. interest – does America really care if they’re only hiring help?
- Inefficient in the long run
- Easy…. diplomatically, that is
This could explain some of the problems we’re seeing in Iraq. Here’s hoping they don’t crop up in Africa too.