The Sept. 10 front-page story "Security Contractors in Iraq Under Scrutiny After Shooting" was unclear about the mechanisms available to both the Iraqi and U.S. governments to control private contractors and the threats the contractors face in Iraq.

Security contractors are regulated by both the Iraqi Interior Ministry and the coalition governments. In a report to Congress, the Pentagon made clear the chain of command in Iraq, oversight mechanisms, sanctions that can be imposed on contractors, and disciplinary and criminal actions that can be brought against contractors.

With more than 150 contractors killed and 1,000 wounded (out of an estimated 20,000 in Iraq) between May 2003 and October 2004, security companies faced casualty rates nearly identical to those of U.S. troops in Iraq during the same period. Despite the extreme risks, many companies and industry leaders believe that security contractors can and should be held to higher ethical standards than even our military. This is being done by working with governments and international organizations to improve laws, regulations, oversight and accountability.

Given that the private sector is playing a central role in the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq, we should expect nothing less than excellence.


Research Associate

International Peace Operations Association