Private Security: A Bad Deal for British Tax Payers

A no holds barred BBC Scotland Investigates documentary revealing how former British servicemen are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan while on UK government contracts paid for by British tax payers is currently playing on BBC iPlayer

I urge anyone who reads this post to please help get the word out about this very important, long overdue documentary. When a security contractor enters the public consciousness, it’s usually due to a tragic scandal that reinforces the image of a gun totting mercenary with no love for his nation and no moral foundation.

The reality is very different.

It may not sell newspapers, but the truth is the overwhelming majority of British private security contractors working in hostile environments are competent professionals who strive to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.  They are decent men and women, many of them ex-military, trying to earn an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work.  Their attitudes and motives are no different from professional soldiers. In fact many of them are doing military jobs outsourced by Britain and its allies.  When it comes to recognition and support however, private contractors couldn’t be further from their armed forces counterparts.  Continue reading

Bombs, Bullets and Political Pissing Matches

Private security contractors working for Western PSCs in Kabul added another occupational hazard to their already considerable portfolio this week after Bill Shaw, a manager for Britain’s largest security firm was convicted of bribery by an Afghan court and sentenced to two years in prison.  I have no doubt that Mr. Shaw was acting in good faith when he paid a $20,000 fine for the release of two improperly licensed vehicles owned by his employer, G4S; parent company of ArmorGroup.  By all accounts, he is an upstanding manager who got caught in a political pissing match between Karzai’s government and the West over who is fuelling corruption in Afghanistan. Continue reading

Kabul: The Security Façade

The international community is reeling from a dawn attack on a guest house in central Kabul that left at least five foreign United Nations workers dead and nine wounded. It was the deadliest assault on UN personnel in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban.  The United States Embassy condemned the attack, saying it left them ‘shocked and saddened.’

            It goes without saying that the death of so many well-intentioned internationals is sad – even tragic. But no one should be shocked by what happened this morning. The Taliban said it would target anyone working on the run-off elections for the Afghan Presidency next week.  Warning’s aside, it has been clear for some time that Kabul’s security is abysmal. Continue reading