U.S. FIRM TAPS EX OPERATORS TO FIGHT ISIS!

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By Ann Scott Tyson –

EXCLUSIVE: A North Carolina-based company is quietly enlisting veteran Special Forces operators–at up to $1,750 per day–to conduct military operations in Iraq.

President Obama has pledged not to send U.S. ground troops into combat against Islamic militants in Iraq, but at least one private security company is recruiting ex-Green Berets to do just that.

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The North Carolina-based company, Raidon Tactics Inc., has “immediate” openings for veteran Special Forces officers and enlisted personnel to conduct combat missions in Iraq, according to emails distributed to retired Special Forces members in recent days.

The recruits would deploy as independent contractors to Iraq in February or March for six to eight months and receive pay of $1,250 to $1,750 per day.

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The job solicitation is unusual because it clearly describes the work as combat – a further indication that private companies are seeking opportunities in Iraq in the absence of a U.S. military fighting force. One industry advocate, Erik Prince, founder of the former private security firm Blackwater, has argued in recent months that private contractors could take the lead in defeating the Islamic radicals operating in Iraq and Syria who call themselves the “Islamic State.”

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Over the past decade, private security contractors have taken on an expanded – and controversial – role in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Overall, contractors have accounted for half or more of the total military force, working in areas ranging from transportation and logistics to intelligence support and private security, according to a Congressional Research Service report. The number of U.S. war zone contractors in Iraq peaked in 2008 at nearly 40,000, a contingent roughly a quarter the size of the U.S. military force at the time, the report showed.

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The increased use of private security personnel in particular has raised questions as they operated in a gray area as armed but non-uniformed civilians. In a high-profile incident in 2007, four guards employed by Blackwater killed 14 Iraqi civilians and wounded 17 others in Baghdad.

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The incident led the government to impose tighter oversight and accountability mechanisms on the industry. The four guards were convicted in October by a federal jury on charges ranging from murder to manslaughter.

Many private security contractors have served as security guards, protecting civilian officials and logistics convoys. But the Raidon Tactics job goes well beyond that.

“All applicants must be prepared to conduct the following missions: Combat Foreign Internal Defense, Direct Action [and] Strategic Reconnaissance,” said the notice, a copy of which was obtained by Warrior.

(VIEW A COPY OF THE NOTICE HERE)

Those three missions involve training, advising, and fighting alongside government forces against an internal threat, as well as executing raids and ambushes and acquiring or verifying targets.

Moreover, the job notice stated that “JTAC Qualification is highly desired” – referring to Special Forces soldiers trained to direct aircraft from the ground in executing air strikes on enemy targets.

Frank McRae, owner of Raidon Tactics Inc., located near Fort Bragg, North Carolina, said his company is still awaiting final approval for the contract from the host nation. McRae, a former Special Forces non-commissioned officer, told Warrior that he has received a good response to the job notice from private contractors, although not all the applicants have the qualifications he seeks, including seven years of service in a Special Forces Group.

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McRae declined to provide details about the mission in Iraq, saying even successful applicants would have to sign non-disclosure agreements before being briefed on the job specifics.

Some former Special Forces soldiers and officers who received the job notice said it appeared unique given the combat dimension. They said the use of contractors would be politically expedient because it would contribute skilled former operators to the campaign against the Islamic State, while allowing Obama to keep his pledge not to send U.S. troops into combat in Iraq.

The military’s elite Special Operations Forces have been stretched thin by back-to-back rotations to conflict zones around the world in recent years, including in Afghanistan, where they are expected to remain engaged long after the bulk of conventional combat troops leave this month.

 

Ann Scott Tyson has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. She has written for The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor, and contributed to The Wall Street Journal. Her latest book is American Spartan: The Promise, the Mission, and the Betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gant. Be sure to grab a copy!

(Image credit: Azad Ebrahimzadeh)

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