This blows my mind! I guess it's old news, but it still shocks me to learn that the Department of State is responsible for out-sourcing a ten million dollar contract with a private U.S. firm to provide support for African Union "peacekeepers" in Somalia. Then again, hiring mercenaries to help suppress radical Islamist opposition to the Transitional Federal Government is consonant with our short-sighted War on Terror policy there.
From Wire Reports
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
The State Department has hired a military contractor to help equip and support international peacekeepers in Somalia, giving the United States a significant role without assigning combat forces.
Virginia-based DynCorp International, which also has U.S. contracts in Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, will be paid $10 million to help the peacekeeping mission. It was not immediately clear if DynCorp employees would work inside Somalia under a contract signed three weeks ago.
It's a potentially dangerous assignment. When the first 1,500 Ugandan peacekeepers arrived in Somalia's capital Tuesday, they were greeted with a mortar attack and a major firefight. Yesterday, attackers ambushed the peacekeepers in Mogadishu, setting off another gunfight that wounded three civilians. . . .
Also yesterday, gunmen killed two police officers who were trying to search vehicles for weapons.
The support for the Ugandans is part of a larger goal to improve African forces across the continent and promote peace and stability in a region that's often lawless and a haven for terrorists, including some tied to al-Qaida. The U.S. has also begun to depend more on African nations for oil and minerals and wants to expand its influence.
The State Department has committed $14 million for the African Union peacekeeping mission to Somalia.
DynCorp had been contracted until April to provide assistance that includes supplying tents, vehicles and generators, said DynCorp spokesman Greg Lagana.
Somalia has seen little more than anarchy for more than a decade. The government, backed by Ethiopian troops, only months ago toppled an Islamic militia that controlled Mogadishu.