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U.S. military contracting out operations in Africa

By Jehron Muhammad | Last updated: May 24, 2012 - 4:32:43 PM

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(FinalCall.com) - The number of recruits graduating from boot camps built with U.S. taxpayer dollars and staffed by State Department contractors in Africa is on the increase.

According to World Political Review (WPR), “U.S. contractors will train three quarters of the 18,000 African Union troops deployed to Somalia, and the U.S. government has spent $550 million over the past several years on training and equipment.”

Contracting out U.S. military operations has the effect of removing the shared experience by the American public, of a “national force in which citizens see the consequences of war illustrated by departing troops in uniforms and flag-draped coffins,” according to sociologist Katherine McCoy, writing in the 2009 issue of Contexts magazine.

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U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Dustin Crouthamel, familiarizes a member of the Kenyan army with his rifle as part of bilateral exercise Edged Mallet '07 in Manda Bay. Photo courtesy, USMC
“The use of private, mostly foreign troops externalizes the costs of war because contractors don’t leave the same impression on the public conscience.” For this reason foreign contractors are sometimes used for “high-risk” or “high-visibility” combat roles.

Doug Brooks, an expert on the private military industry and president of the International Stability Operations Association, appears to agree. “A lot of people see the use of contractors as a way of avoiding democratic accountability or a way of undermining democracy,” he said to WPR.

He also said contracting helps avoid “an issue (that might come up) in the election,” where you’d never get U.S. support, such as sending troops into Somalia. In 1993 the infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident occurred, in which, 18 U.S. troops were killed in Mogadishu, then Somalia’s capital. “Sending troops to Somalia has not been an option,” Brooks said.

While American casualties might make headlines and political waves, the same is not true of “captured or killed foreign contractors, McCoy said. According to McCoy, these are the “hidden casualties of war.”

(Jehron Muhammad writes from Philadelphia and can be reached at Jehronn@msn.com.)

Related news:

Amercia's Shadow wars in Africa (USinAfrica.com)

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