Should More Contractors be Stationed in Iraq?

Should More Contractors be Stationed in Iraq?

A suspected ISIS attack near Baghdad did more than kill 11 people. It also prompted some questions about the security situation in the war-torn nation.

10 other people were injured when militants attacked under cover of darkness. The attack focused on the pro-Iran Hashed al-Shaabi militia. Although Iraq declared victory against ISIS in 2017, sporadic attacks have continued. Most of them have been in rural areas. This one was on the outskirts of the capital city. This attack came just two days after an ISIS suicide bomber kileld 32 people in a Bagdhad market.

A decade after the last American occupation forces left, Iraq’s security force is a shell of its former self, according to many observers. Ongoing violence, political corruption, factional disputes, and the COVID-19 pandemic have all played a role in the decay. These weaknesses have led to the rise of paramilitary groups, as people look elsewhere for protection.

Pro-American Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi recently vowed to overhaul the country’s security forces, but he backed down under political pressure.

Situation in Iraq

The American withdrawal began in 2007, shortly after troop levels surged to control violence, and ended in 2011. When the last American occupation forces left Iraq, the country seemed to be in relatively good shape. Rebuilding was underway, the country experienced only limited Arab Spring protests, and the government was fairly solid. Perhaps most importantly, ISIS and other militants were reduced to sporadic attacks, mostly suicide bombings.

That was 10 years ago. The situation is radically different now. Much of the country is still in ruins, partially because of continued terrorist attacks. Making matters worse, a number of foreign militias are also active in Iraq. As a result, the country is beginning to resemble pre-war Afghanistan or Syria during their height of its ongoing civil war. Several different governments have come and gone. It seems that no one has a clear leadership vision and the will to see things through.

All these things are happening against a backdrop of rising regional tensions. To the west, the aforementioned Syrian civil war has almost flared up into a world war a few times. The United States and Russia both have significant assets on opposite sides in that country.

To the east, Iran is becoming increasingly belligerent. During the 2020 election, allegations surfaced that Iranian agents interfered with a Presidential debate. At the time, Joe Biden warned that Iran would “pay a price” for this disruption. Shortly after his election, Biden said he was concerned about Iran’s “destabilizing activities” in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.

If shooting starts between the United States and Iran, Iraq must be able to defend itself and contribute to the American war effort. There are large question marks in both areas.

The Need for Security

Iraq must be secure, and not just for practical reasons. There are emotional reasons, as well. These emotional reasons might be even more significant than the practical reasons.

As mentioned, Iraq must be a bulwark against Iran. The Saudis, Kuwaitis, and other oil-rich Gulf Coast Country (GCC) nations have negligible armed forces. They would be entirely dependent on foreign assistance. If the Americans are unwilling to oblige, the Russians would gladly step up to the plate.

One reason Iraq’s governments have had so many problems is that they must spend an inordinate amount of time putting out security fires. If the country stabilizes, lawmakers can spend more energy on other things. If the government moves forward, the people move forward as well.

Security is also essential for rebuilding. Large and expensive construction projects cannot afford the constant delays that come from militant attacks. Even the threat of an attack is costly. These threats mean that money which would have gone to construction goes to pay a security detail. And, until rebuilding is at least substantially complete, things will never get back to normal in Iraq.

The emotional reasons are even more compelling. In 1864, President Lincoln closed his Gettysburg Address by saying “we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain [so] that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” In other words, if we quit now, these boys died for nothing.

The Iraq War was probably not as controversial as the Civil War, but it was in the same neighborhood. If democracy takes root in Iraq, at least the dead Americans died for something. If that does not happen, they die for nothing.

Injury Compensation Available

For these reasons, contractors probably need to shore up the security situation in Iraq. Something has to be done, and sending regular servicemembers is clearly not an option.

Contractors are familiar with insurgency tactics, so they can train Iraqi security forces in counterinsurgency tactics. Support contractors are essential as well. Firepower wins battles, and today’s weapons require a great deal of technical expertise to operate and maintain. Only private contractors have these skills. In many cases, they are from the same company which designed and built the weapons in question.

When contractors are injured in Iraq, they must immediately report their injuries to their supervisors. This requirement could be a problem if the injury is an occupational disease, like hearing loss. An attorney can generally preserve the victim’s legal rights in these situations.

A short time later, there is usually a settlement conference. A mediator reviews the medical records and other paperwork in the file and tries to forge a settlement between the victim and insurance company. Occasionally, these conferences are successful. Typically, however, the Defense Base Act claim moves to the next level.

This next level is typically a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. At the ALJ hearing, attorneys can make legal arguments, introduce evidence, and challenge evidence. As a result, victims have a much better chance of obtaining fair compensation. This compensation usually includes lost wage replacement and medical bill payment.

For more information about DBA benefits, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.