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Welder, Plumber, Sniperman, Thief

 
 
Reply Wed 25 Apr, 2007 04:35 pm
I saw the guy who wrote the book "Blackwater" interviewed on TV the other day and something he said has just been driving me crazy.

He said that Blackwater employees are paid $30,000 per month to be in Iraq or Afghanistan under their current contract with our American government.

$30,000 per month! That's $360,000 a year!

So I was doing a bit of looking around today and came across their employment application: https://secure.blackwaterusa.com/

I was thinking -- why would anybody join the military if they could just be employeed by Blackwater?

Like my brother -- he's been in the Army for nearly 30 years. He's a General. I don't know how much money he makes but I know it isn't anywhere near $360,000 per year. I'm sure he would meet their qualifications for employment.

This is really just my long winded way of saying WTF?

So, A2Kers -- any idea of WTF this is all about?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 6,472 • Replies: 103
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Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Apr, 2007 04:44 pm
My understanding is that most of their employees are former US military personel. They are hired because they have been trained as Marines or special forces.
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blueflame1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Apr, 2007 04:46 pm
A most dangerous trend. Outrageous salaries to buy outrageous acts.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Apr, 2007 04:48 pm
I get that. But what does the average well trained Marine of Special Forces soldier earn per year?

Is it worth $360,000 per year to put your life on the line or is it worth what we pay our soldiers?

Why don't we just pay our soldiers $360,000 per year instead of paying these guys that much?
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Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Apr, 2007 04:53 pm
boomerang wrote:
I get that. But what does the average well trained Marine of Special Forces soldier earn per year?

Is it worth $360,000 per year to put your life on the line or is it worth what we pay our soldiers?

Why don't we just pay our soldiers $360,000 per year instead of paying these guys that much?


Trying to understand The Government is futile.
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Swimpy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Apr, 2007 08:04 pm
Outsourcing the military was an idea that Donald Rumsfeld promoted. The argument is that because of the all-volunteer army, the US doesn't have enough forces to provide all of the required services. Blackwater was just one of the companies involved in outsourcing.

http://www.cfr.org/publication/7667/#1
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Avatar ADV
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Apr, 2007 08:20 pm
In the military, you're not an "at-will employee"; you don't get to take your pay right up until you get sent to Iraq and then say "I quit, I'm going home."

Blackwater, as a private corporation, doesn't have access to police powers to prosecute AWOL soldiers. Even if their contracts have penalty clauses, that doesn't guarantee that they'll have adequate personnel on site. Blackwater can't do their job if their employees all decide it's a good time to get out of town. When you don't get a stick, you'd better have a LOT of carrot.

It's also a lot harder to get hired by Blackwater than it is by the military. If you want to join the army, a basic high school education is plenty. Blackwater is looking for combat veterans who've already put in a military hitch, left the military, but still want to employ their skills - that's a much smaller applicant pool, you understand.

Finally, it's contract work; that always pays better than salary. ;p
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Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Apr, 2007 08:49 am
Would each of you posting here say whether you would work in Iraq for $360,000 per year. I doubt that I would -- the money won't help me much while residing in the cemetery.

Interestingly, I just read that Wolfowitz's girlfriend, Shaha Riza, is making $7,000 per annum more than is Condi Rice, and Riza's money is tax free. Further, Wolfy took a couple of nonbankers with him to the Bank, and they are making $250,000 per, which is tax free.
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blueflame1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Apr, 2007 09:30 am
No amount of money is worth killing innocent people for.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Apr, 2007 09:35 am
Wolfowitz and his main squeeze are not germane to this topic, for however much Advocate wants to obsess about that issue.

Like it or not, and for whatever one's "moral" take on the matter may be, this is the cogent response to the question of why and how this happens:

Avatar ADV wrote:
In the military, you're not an "at-will employee"; you don't get to take your pay right up until you get sent to Iraq and then say "I quit, I'm going home."

Blackwater, as a private corporation, doesn't have access to police powers to prosecute AWOL soldiers. Even if their contracts have penalty clauses, that doesn't guarantee that they'll have adequate personnel on site. Blackwater can't do their job if their employees all decide it's a good time to get out of town. When you don't get a stick, you'd better have a LOT of carrot.

It's also a lot harder to get hired by Blackwater than it is by the military. If you want to join the army, a basic high school education is plenty. Blackwater is looking for combat veterans who've already put in a military hitch, left the military, but still want to employ their skills - that's a much smaller applicant pool, you understand.

Finally, it's contract work; that always pays better than salary.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Apr, 2007 09:44 am
boomerang wrote:
But what does the average well trained Marine of Special Forces soldier earn per year?


Annual Salary Charts for Active Duty Military Members
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Apr, 2007 09:57 am
As for the comment about not being able to enjoy one's large salary while residing in a graveyard, that ignores that these men are going to assign their salaries and any insurance to beneficiaries who will be able to use the money if the employee gets killed. That has long been a strong motivation for mercenaries, and mercenaries have been around for thousands of years. The Anabasis by Xenophon recounts the heroic march of a band of thousands of Greek mercenaries from the center of what is now Iraq to the Black Sea coast of what is now Turkey after the defeat of their employer more than 2000 years ago. Their employer was defeated and killed, but the Greeks themselves hung together, and the Persians could not destroy them, so they marched north through Anatolia to get back to "civilization." The book by Xenophon tells the story in detail, and gives information on people living in the region about whom we would never have known anything if he hadn't written his book.

The Swiss have been in the business of selling the military services of their young men for centuries. The Pope's showy toy soldiers are Swiss Guards (i've always wondered about Protestants guarding the Pope, but hey, his money spends just like everybody else's). The palace guards of the French kings were long Swiss Guards, and the horrible slaughter of the palace guards at the Tuileries Palace in August, 1792 was the attack on the Swiss Guards by the Paris mob. The Swiss Guard regiment was 900 men--600 were killed in the fighting, or slaughtered by the mob after surrendering.

At the beginning of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), there were three principalities in Germany with the name Hesse--Hesse-Marburg was overrun and absorbed by the other Hessian states. The Landgrave (roughly, a Prince) of Hesse-Marburg was killed, and his widow attempted to save his patrimony for their son. She failed in the effort, but she financed their peregrinations in exile by hiring out her loyal troops to the highest bidder. This was the beginning of the tradition of Hessians fighting as mercenaries for other nations.

It was not just the Hesse-Marburgers who became mercenaries, and it was not just the Hessians. Usually, a foreign power would pay a large bounty to the Prince or other aristocratic ruler who provided the troops. A good example was the payment of 30,000 crowns (a gold coin roughly equivalent to a dollar, but with a lot more buying power three hundred years ago than a dollar has now) to Hesse-Kassel at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1713), by the Anglo-Dutch alliance. For their 30,000 crowns, they got 8,000 troops with all of their uniforms and equipment. Thereafter, they paid an annual fee each year of about 5,000 crowns. They also paid for the upkeep of uniforms and equipment, and they fed the troops and paid their salary. This was very common practice at the time.

In large measure, a significant underlying cause of the American Revolution was the huge amount of money which England spent during the Seven Years War in Europe (1756-1763, roughly equivalent to the French and Indian War in North America, 1754-1760). Prussia was attacked by Russia, Austria and France, and the French also attacked Hanover. Hanover was still the property of the King of England, George II. Parliament grumbled, but they still paid to send English troops to Germany, and more importantly, they paid for mercenaries to fight in defense of Hanover, and most significantly, they paid huge sums annually to keep Frederick II (Frederick the Great) in the war in Prussia. His cousin, the Duke of Brunswick, lead the Hanoverian, Prussian and mercenary troops who fought the French in western Germany in defense of Hanover. The English also needed to give the Frederick and Prussia a lot of cash to keep him in the war. After the war, the Parliament needed to make up the deficit. They weren't likely to raise property taxes, because so many of the members of House of Commons were members of the landed gentry, or their representatives. They also weren't likely to tax commerce in England, because most of the rest of the House of Commons were merchants or their representatives. So they got the bright idea that they'd tax the Americans to pay off the debt. Dumb idea.

Mercenaries and private armies are about as old as organized warfare.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Apr, 2007 09:57 am
Thanks, Walter. Even the top of the pay scale is barely half of what the Blackwater guys are making.

I understand that most soldiers can't just quit the military. But people like my brother can certainly "retire".

I don't know the exact figure on what they've spent to train a soldier like my brother but I know it has to be a lot. He could probably get a job with an outfit like Blackwater very easily.

So why doesn't he? (I intend to ask him but I think I know the answer.)

Why doesn't every other soldier like him?

It has to be ideological because he likes money as much as the next guy.

What might be the ideological differences between a soldier who would and one who wouldn't join a mercenary force?
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Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Apr, 2007 12:31 pm
Set seems to be saying that the ancient Greek, et al., mercenaries provided services because they could assign their income and insurance benefits to beneficiaries. How interesting!
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High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Apr, 2007 12:46 pm
Setanta wrote:
[.........]The Swiss have been in the business of selling the military services of their young men for centuries. The Pope's showy toy soldiers are Swiss Guards (i've always wondered about Protestants guarding the Pope, but hey, his money spends just like everybody else's). [.................].


The Swiss guards of the Pope aren't Protestants, they're Catholic, mostly from the Canton de Vaud (capital: Lausanne), next after the Canton of Geneva.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Apr, 2007 01:02 pm
http://i11.tinypic.com/2d19x1w.jpg


High Seas wrote:
... mostly from the Canton de Vaud (capital: Lausanne), next after the Canton of Geneva.


Actually, most are from the German speaking parts of Switzerland: all their commanders have been from the German speaking cantons.
The Vice Commandant in the rank of a Lieutenant-Colonel huides the the second group which is mostly French-speaking.

When the new guards are sworn in, the oath is in German.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Apr, 2007 01:05 pm
Advocate wrote:
Set seems to be saying that the ancient Greek, et al., mercenaries provided services because they could assign their income and insurance benefits to beneficiaries. How interesting!


These days, of course, one can assign benefits. In ancient times, and until quite recently, mercenary fees were paid up front. Usually the fees were paid to a Captain General, or to the aristocrat or prince who provided the troops. The party hiring the troops would then be responsible for rations, equipment and payroll. In the case of the Greeks of whom Xenophon wrote, they were paid up front, for as well as historians can decipher, which just proves how canny they were. They weren't stupid enough to sign on to the venture based upon a share of putative rewards if Cyrus defeated Ataxerxes. The "ten thousand" had been left unemployed by the end of the the Peloponnesian War, and many of them, as was the case with Xenophon, were very likely persona non grata in their home cities. (It is not known if Xenophon was ostracized from Athens for being a mercenary in a Spartan expedition, or because he signed on with Cyrus.) Traditionally, mercenaries who signed on for themselves, as opposed to levies like the Hessians whose services were sold by their prince, got the money up front, and left it with their families.

The only examples i know of in which mercenaries (of a sort) signed on before being paid were the conquistadores in the "new world." Those expeditions received royal countenance on condition that they took a royal accountant with them, who reserved one fifth of all spoils for the crown, and a priest, or monk who was ordained, to say mass, and to assure that one fifth was reserved for the church. One fifth more would go to the leader of the expedition, one fifth would be divided among the officers, and the remaining one fifth would be divided among the private soldiers. That, and the division of spoils by pirates, and the division of prize money by privateers or crews of naval vessels, are the only examples i know of when people took on "faith" that they'd get paid for going in harm's way. The conquest of the "new world" was truly venture capitalism, as is privateering and piracy. Crews of naval vessels who share prize money are getting an incentive bonus, because they are fed and "housed" and paid in addition to any prize money they might earn.
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gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Apr, 2007 01:12 pm
I haven't read this entire thread, but aren't the Blackwater group essentially a bunch of thugs? I mean, is there a place in that organization for a decent human? I believe you need a certain "imbalance" to join that group.

Also, I seem to remember a rather sordid affair with Blackwater in the Katrina aftermath. Anyone recall the details?
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High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Apr, 2007 01:14 pm
Walter Hinteler wrote:
http://i11.tinypic.com/2d19x1w.jpg


High Seas wrote:
... mostly from the Canton de Vaud (capital: Lausanne), next after the Canton of Geneva.


Actually, most are from the German speaking parts of Switzerland: all their commanders have been from the German speaking cantons.
The Vice Commandant in the rank of a Lieutenant-Colonel huides the the second group which is mostly French-speaking.

When the new guards are sworn in, the oath is in German.


The Canton de Vaud is bilingual, Walter Smile
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High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Apr, 2007 01:16 pm
Lausanne itself is in the French-spaking part of the canton, but most of the rest speaks German (of some sort:)). The Canton de Geneve is protestant - only mentioned here to provide location assistance.
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