US Soldiers Asked To Protect Halliburton Profits
Real Stories from Real Americans: A Plea for Help
By Spiros D - Baghdad
Tuesday 31 August 2004
I am a soldier stationed in Iraq concerned about the role of private contractors in this war, and would like to ask for your help. How can you who are way over there help me way over here? Well, let me tell you how.
For those of you not aware, the US military is not the only US organization that is functioning over here in Iraq. A large US contractor called KBR (Kellog, Brown, and Root), a daughter company of Halliburton (once run by VP Dick Cheney), is operating on every US base in Iraq.
KBR manages many of the solider services that we have here on the base; things like running the food service, waste disposal, pumping the latrines, laundry services, movement and control, and the central distribution center. KBR is also scheduled to take over all fuel hauling and freight hauling in general. When things started to heat up earlier this year KBR put a hold on taking over hauling operations. Now that things are seeming to come back under some control KBR is looking at taking over again.
Now I know you are asking yourself what in the world this has to do with you.
Let me explain... KBR is now requesting, and the army is allowing, US soldiers to ride "shot gun" in KBR convoys hauling KBR goods all over Iraq. KBR is afraid to be out on the roads alone and want our US soldiers to risk their lives riding shot gun for their missions.
KBR is currently staffed by mainly non US international personnel along with a growing number of Iraqis. Most do not speak English, none have had military training on defensive driving, proper convoy operations, avoiding ambushes, navigating around IED's [hidden roadside bombs], proper procedure for calling in support or medivac or fire support, procedures to follow after taking enemy fire, the list goes on. These drivers are simply paid drivers that are making roughly 5 -8 times our wages and get paid whether the freight arrives or not.
KBR is requesting that US soldiers risk their lives at the hands of inexperienced and improperly trained individuals to provide them with security. Now there is no doubt that we need to protect KBR's missions but we have suggested and to date have been denied the opportunity to run the convoys with properly modified and equipped military vehicles.
We have suggested that we run in the convoys with every third vehicle being a US Army gun truck with proper drivers and fire support. With this arrangement KBR can still haul the freight in their vehicles but we would run the mission and deal with any situations as they develop the way we have been trained to. This is the only way that most of us want the missions to be run, the others are just afraid to be opposed to the decisions our leadership is making.
Here is where you come in. Out of a desire to honor the oath we took upon entering the army we do not want to disobey a direct order if and when the order comes for us to ride with KBR. We do however want to make all the lawmakers and politicians aware of the danger we are being unnecessarily exposed to on these missions.
Our hope is that each of our friends and loved ones back home will take a few minutes and send out emails to any local, state, and US congressman and senators and demand that they require the US military to stop this practice of allowing US troops in KBR vehicles.
The only ones who have the power to force the military to honor the wishes of the people are the lawmakers and politicians. So please take a moment and send a letter or email to one of your senators or congressman and ask or demand that they inquire into this matter and demand that it cease.
As of this writing, 3rd Platoon of the 283rd TC (my unit) is currently running these missions. We have been warned that it is only a matter of time and my whole unit will be running these missions. If nothing is done back home then more soldiers and myself in particular will be placed in unnecessary danger.
Thank you for your time and help. I miss you all and look forward to seeing you all again upon my return.
NOTE: For additional on the ground stories from American servicemen and women, please check out http://www.optruth.org/