Contract Tightens Rules of Engagement

By Walter Pincus
Monday, October 22, 2007

A new contract proposal put forward last week by the Joint Contracting Command-Iraq shows that the U.S. military believes there is going to be a continuing need for private, armed, security services such as Blackwater USA in that country for years to come.

The one-year contract, with options for two more years, is for a company to provide "secure long-haul" trucking and shipping services throughout the Iraq theater, carrying "reconstruction" materials from sites in Kuwait, Jordan and Turkey to forward operating bases in Iraq. The company should be prepared to return with equipment needing repair or replacement.

"When required, the Contractor shall also provide Convoy Escort Teams (CET)," the proposal said, with shipment convoys integrated into the Multi-National Force-Iraq's movement control system.

Although the loads to be carried are summarily described as "reconstruction materials," the details of the proposal show that they could range from fresh or frozen food and bottled water to ammunition, damaged M1 tanks or jet fuel for aircraft.

"The Contractor will provide transportation escort protection of goods from terrorist or criminal attacks during travel to/from secure project worksites anywhere in Iraq," according to the proposal.

The CETs are to be available seven days a week for daytime and nighttime operations. Each convoy CET is to have "at least one English speaking expatriate for every gun truck that will be utilized," and, "one expatriate shall be designated as the Convoy Team Leader." Convoys will get route approval from military authorities 24 hours prior to departure, and the team leader will communicate with the military command on departure and upon arrival at the final destination. "The team leader will communicate when any scheduled or unscheduled stops occur" and "report immediately any incidents."

The contractor and the subcontractor personnel that are hired to handle security, such as Blackwater USA or any other private security service, "must be legally authorized to carry, posses, train with and employ firearms and ammunition." The prime contractor is "responsible to conduct the appropriate criminal and financial background checks (of personnel) to ensure all employees meet the legal requirements to perform as security guards."

Perhaps most interesting in the current atmosphere are "security requirements" that are laid out for the contractor and the security personnel, including the rules under which weapons can be used. Each of the individuals must be trained in the "law of armed conflict" and the "rules for the use of force," prior to "performing services under this contract."

The rules for the use of force say that shooting weapons may only be used in self-defense, to defend those being protected "as specified in your contract" and "to prevent life threatening offenses against civilians." Weapons are to be fired by contractors only as "aimed shots," and "with regard for the safety of innocent bystanders." You are to shoot "to remove the threat only where necessary."

These rules differ from the U.S. military's rules of engagement. The military's rules require only a "positive identification" before firing that it is "a reasonable certainty that the proposed target is a legitimate military target," meaning "hostile . . . enemy military and/or paramilitary forces." Under the trucking contract, armed employees are to be briefed that they may "NOT use rules of engagement at any time for a use of force decision."

The law of armed conflict prohibits firing on those who have surrendered or who have been wounded and stopped fighting. Under the proposal, training for contractors will also include rendering first aid as soon as possible to the wounded.

The contractor and subcontractors involved in security must obtain "a signed written acknowledgment from each of their employees authorized to bear weapons on this contract" that they have been briefed on these rules. In addition, there must be briefing before each convoy mission.

National security and intelligence reporter Walter Pincus pores over the speeches, reports, transcripts and other documents that flood Washington and every week uncovers the fine print that rarely makes headlines -- but should. If you have any items that fit the bill, please send them

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