American Samizdat

Wednesday, March 07, 2007. *
As a former C.I.A. agent, the author knows how mercenaries work: in the shadows. But how did a notorious former British officer, Tim Spicer, come to coordinate the second-largest army in Iraq—the tens of thousands of private security contractors?

I knew who Spicer was. He'd popped up on the C.I.A.'s radar after he retired from the British Army and went to work, in 1996, as the C.E.O. of Sandline International, a private military company offering "operational support" to "legitimate governments." A year later Spicer was in Papua New Guinea, where he fielded a mercenary army for the government in order to protect a multi-national copper-mining company. After Spicer was expelled, he moved on to Sierra Leone, this time helping to ship arms to coup plotters. Spicer's name resurfaced in 2004 in connection with a putsch aimed at Equatorial Guinea, allegedly led by Simon Mann, his friend, former army colleague, and onetime business associate. Though questioned by British officials, Spicer was not implicated in the incident.

But then, somehow, two months later, Spicer's company, known as Aegis Defence Services, landed a $293 million Pentagon contract to coordinate security for reconstruction projects, as well as support for other private military companies, in Iraq. This effectively put him in command of the second-largest foreign armed force in the country—behind America's but ahead of Britain's. These men aren't officially part of the Coalition of the Willing, because they're all paid contractors—the Coalition of the Billing, you might call it—but they're a crucial part of the coalition's forces nonetheless.
posted by Uncle $cam at 3:16 AM
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