Monday, March 26, 2007

Sudan: Make-Work for Military Contractors?

"Blackwater has big plans for Sudan, and wants to use the situation in Darfur to prove its ability to operate in a "peacekeeping" capacity. It has been pushing the idea for sometime to members of Congress and high-ups in the military, saying it can send in a large ground force aided by gunships for air support in a moment’s notice. Gary Jackson, Blackwater’s CEO, seems pretty confident about their future in Darfur. "We are going to field a brigade-sized peacekeeping force," he says. "You can quote me on that."

"While Blackwater soldiers begin to operate in Sudan, their deployment will likely increase in the Middle East as well. Their 2004 "diplomatic security" contract with the State Department was part of much larger plan called the Worldwide Personal Protective Service (WPPS) program, characterized as designed to protect US officials as well as "certain foreign government high level officials whenever the need arises," according to official documents. Other than Blackwater, several other high profile private military firms are included in the WPPS, such as DynCorp and Triple Canopy.

"Blackwater’s contract under the WPPS is for five years and the payment is supposed to be a total of $229.5 million. However, after only two years in the program it had received a total of $321,715,794. The State Department has not been able to provide an answer as to why the firm has received almost $100 million more than required for only half the work that is due. And the contract still has two and a half years left.

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