Rise of the American Mercenary

SIX3 Intelligence : Pentagon to approve first private contractors to fight ISIS in Syria

Source: Amercian Conservative

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has asserted several times, and quite vociferously, that there will be “no American ground troops in Syria” if she is elected president in November.

While the definition of “ground troops” is flexible, there is a second reality that very few people are talking about in Washington today.

Not unlike the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq—where private military contractors fed, trained, equipped, and protected U.S. military forces “on the ground” in unprecedented numbers—an escalation of hired security forces in a hot spot like Syria would likely boost the presence of U.S. “boots” without causing the political heartburn of putting more actual soldiers and Marines in harm’s way.

In fact, it may already be happening.

Over the summer, a no-bid contract was reportedly awarded to Six3 Intelligence Solutions, a company based in McLean, Va., which in 2014 was acquired by major defense-industry player CACI International. The $10 million award, according to an otherwise pedestrian Pentagon notice, was for “intelligence analysis services” to be performed “in Germany, Italy, and Syria.” It was probably the first sliver of proof that U.S. contractors are actually operating there, despite persistent evasions by military officials.

“I don’t know if there are any contractors in Syria but I suspect there are a lot. We just can’t sustain military operations today without the private sector. We are strategically dependent on the private sector,” said author Sean McFate, also an Army special-forces veteran and assistant professor at the National Defense University.

When asked about the Six3 contract—what it’s for, how many contractors would be in Syria working under it—Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. David S. Hylton said the Syria part of the notice was “a mistake” and has been since amended.

“The Performance Work Statement (PWS) for the contract states that ‘support is required at multiple locations to include fixed sites in Central Europe (Germany and Italy), possible future fixed sites in Eastern Europe (e.g., Bulgaria, Romania, Poland), in deployed contingency operations areas to include the Balkans, and other contingency areas,’” said Hylton. The contract is on on behalf of U.S. Army Europe and “intended to provide … intelligence analysis, operations and planning, security support, and information systems operation, maintenance and sustainment.”

“The PWS does not contain the word Syria, nor does it make any reference that would directly lead to Syria, e.g., the Levant, counter-ISIL, Assad,” Hylton added.

McFate said he was told by other reporters about the “error” in the notice. “I’ve been watching these things for 20 years—I’ve never seen a ‘mistake’ like this.”

The Pentagon did provide quarterly numbers on the private forces currently in Afghanistan and Iraq, but when asked how many, if any, contractors are in Syria at this time, officials did not respond.

 

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