By Pratap Chatterjee
Special to CorpWatch
Queenstown, Vogaria, West Africa -- On July 16, 2000, United States Army scrambled to deploy troops at the request of the embattled Vogarian government in a top secret mission code named Operation Restore Order.
Political and economic instability, factional fighting outside the capital of Queenstown created large numbers of displaced civilians. Large-scale famine and disease were feared. In five days the U.S. Army teamed up with a private company in Texas to deploy and assemble a military camp out of a pre-fabricated kit known as Force Provider to assist the Vogarians.
Vogaria, of course, is a fictional country but the military exercise -- which took place at Fort McPherson, Georgia and the Diamond Reserve Center in Louisiana -- could not be more real. The Logistics Civil Augmentation Program's War Fighter Exercise 2000 was the first ever Department of Defense simulation of civilian contractors assisting the army in rapid response assembly of military bases in a war situation.
The U.S. military has always relied on private contractors to provide some basic services such as construction, dating back as far as the Civil War. But today as much as 10% of the emergency U.S. army operations overseas are contracted out to private companies run by former government and military officials. These private companies operate with no public oversight despite the fact that these contractors work just behind the battle lines. The companies are allowed to make up to nine percent in profit out of these war support efforts. And experience so far has shown that the companies are not above skimming more profits off the top if they can.