Muscled men in dark sunglasses speeding down Iraqi roads in armored SUVs, guns at the ready and looking for trouble, have been a regular fixture in Iraq since 2003. But with Blackwater's State Department contract set to expire in May, many of its highly skilled (if sometimes reckless) security contractors will soon find themselves on the unemployment line. But according to the Washington Post
, the lucky ones could be snatched up by Triple Canopy and DynCorps, the two security companies to which the State Department has turned to pick up the slack. "One or both of the firms are likely to undertake the task of rehiring some personnel now working for Blackwater," the Post
's Karen DeYoung reports.
Still, there will inevitably be fewer high-paying private security jobs available than there are free agents looking for work (welcome to the recession, guys). General Ray Odierno, the US commander in Iraq, has ordered his forces to begin shedding private contractor jobs at a rate of 5 percent per quarter
in favor of hiring more local Iraqis to do the work for less money.
It looks like security contractors' salad days are over, at least in Iraq. The Post
suggests that some Blackwater operators may elect to... gasp... take government jobs. DeYoung writes:
State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security not only handles security for embassies and other civilian outposts around the globe but also protects foreign officials visiting the United States. With only 1,600 highly trained special agents in the bureau, the Iraq mandate has severely stretched the service. "You'd need the entire [Diplomatic Security] workforce just to do Iraq," a senior State Department official said, "leaving nothing for Afghanistan, nothing for anywhere else in the world."
In postings on government job sites last month, State solicited "Protective Security Specialists," a new job category offering lower pay -- $52,221 with guaranteed employment for 13 months, renewable for up to five years -- and requiring less training than full-fledged agents.
Riding along on convoys and making sure that security contractors follow the rules, the official said, does not require "all that training and experience. . . . We had a lot of applicants."
Listed qualifications, seemingly designed for former security contractors, included "at least three years of specialized experience conducting overseas protective security operations within the last five years. Experience in Iraq, Afghanistan or Israel is particularly desirable."