Military for Hire

"Shadow Company" explores how hired security personnel impact the war in Iraq.

ByABC News
February 11, 2009, 1:30 AM

Sept. 18, 2007 — -- Public anger is still smoldering in Iraq over the deaths of eight civilians Sunday, which the Iraqi government blames on the private U.S. security company Blackwater USA. Since that incident, the Iraqi government has ordered all Blackwater personnel out of the country and the U.S. Embassy warden has issued a message to essentially ground all U.S. civilian government employees throughout Iraq.

Filmmaker Nick Bicani said these private military companies are necessary for the U.S. military to fill security demands in Iraq, but they can provide a questionable role without clear accountability for their actions. The following is a transcript of Bicani's take on the film, which ran on the "World News" webcast.

"Shadow Company" is a documentary about the modern world of private warfare, the phenomenon of modern-day mercenaries. Who are these guys? What do they do? And why?

I would estimate there are aspects of private armed corporations in every country in the world. What's unique about Iraq is that private military companies are used alongside soldiers in a fairly major way But there are now over 100,000 members of private military corporations in Iraq, almost the same number as the troops. That's a huge part of the war effort in the private sector.

I had this stereotyped idea when I started that it's modern-day mercenaries, so it's this stereotyped idea of guys with knives between their teeth who plan overthrows of foreign governments, but that's not the case. The majority of people I met who are security contractors and operate in very high-risk areas like Afghanistan and Iraq are guys with 10-15 years of experience in the highest echelons of the military. Often special forces or SEALS. A lot of these guys, after spending a number of years in the military, are often looking for somewhere else they can use their skills in the private sector.

So in the early days of Iraq, they didn't have enough soldiers to do the tasks that soldiers usually do. So the solution was to say that every company involved in the reconstruction contracts has to hire private security.