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Iraq Contractors Face Growing Parallel War

Frontline duties: Cameron Simpson, left, whose firm protects a third of nonmilitary supply convoys; Victoria Wayne, who calls security contractors "unsung heroes"; and Jack Holly, without weapon, Army Corps of Engineers logistics chief. (By Steve Fainaru -- The Washington Post)

Sharon called Falcon Security a "private military company."

"When you have this many men, you don't manage it as you do a corporation. You manage it very much in the military style," he said. "My men aren't carrying potatoes; they're carrying AK-47s. It's not pilferage we're worried about. It's people storming the walls."

Falcon performs "a military-like role" in Iraq, he said, "with one key exception: We do not, and have no desire to, conduct offensive operations."

But even behind the blast walls, the private and public wars collide, Sharon said. Last year, insurgents attacked a passing U.S. military convoy on a highway outside the gates. Kurdish guards in one of the towers opened fire, killing two insurgents. "The Americans were thrilled," he said.

"All of the work that's being conducted here in Iraq by private security companies would have to be conducted by somebody, and that somebody is U.S. military personnel," he said. "If you had 500 soldiers here, that's 500 less soldiers that you have on the battlefield. And this isn't the only site. There are hundreds of sites around Iraq where you have private security. Where are you going to get this personnel?"

Sharon turns 62 in October. Asked when he planned to leave Iraq, he smiled.

"Last man here, please put the key under the door," he said.

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.


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