Anxious to rid itself of the lawlessness that still plagues Iraq’s southern capital, Basra’s governor has hired a private military company run by a British general who helped capture the city from Saddam Hussein.
Maj Gen Graham Binns, who is the chief executive of Aegis Defence Services, commanded the 7th Armoured Brigade when it led the siege of Basra in 2003.
Four years later he supervised the handover of the city to Iraqi security forces. Now, amid growing concern about a fresh wave of terrorist violence across the country, Basra’s governor has invited Maj Gen Binns’s company back to assist at a “strategic level”.
Aegis will be asked to provide help with setting up specialised CCTV detection and checkpoint systems across the city, establishing a “ring of steel” security system to thwart suicide bombers.
It will also set up an academy to help security forces improve coordination and intelligence-gathering techniques.
As Basra’s economy promises to boom, Britain’s consulate prepares to pull out.

A hat tip to Mark over at facebook for finding and sharing this news. This is a big story because Iraq is turning to private industry to help solve this immense threat that has been growing in their country. Iraq is awash with terror attacks this last year, thanks to the mess that is going on in Syria.

Basically, Syria has turned into a jihadist factory, where Al Qaeda has definitely taken advantage. This violence is also spilling over the borders into places like Lebanon and Iraq. ISIS or Al Qaeda of Iraq and Syria is gaining territory, manpower, and weapons, and they are on the war path. There have also been some significant prison breaks that have certainly helped add to the ranks.

A prime example of what I am talking about is that ISIS has just captured Fallajuh and is working on Ramadi–two places that coalition forces fought really tough fights during the war. Iraq’s military and police are having a hard time competing with this, and they are losing ground. There is also a sectarian element to this. These areas are primarily sunni, the government of Iraq is led by shia, and because of the actions of the jihadists to fuel this animosity between the two, that it is very easy for ISIS to get refuge in sunni areas.

Another point to bring up is that the governor of Basra is contracting Aegis’ services because of Maj Gen Graham Binns background and experience in Iraq. He was the commander of all British forces in Iraq, at the time the British signed over Basra’s security back over to Iraq, December of 2007. This is quite the thing to bring back this General, but as a contractor. Which brings up an interesting thought.

Will General Binns be able to do what he wanted to do in this contract, that he couldn’t do in the military doing the same mission? Will he have more flexibility and be more innovative in the way he accomplishes the mission, or is he a one trick pony as they say? We will see, and if Aegis or General Binns would like to comment on this contract, we look forward to hearing from you. Congrats to the company and good luck to General Binns. Be sure to check out all three articles below, to include one written by General Binns himself. –Matt

Edit: 01/07/14 -Here is an interview that the governor of Basra gave about the the status of his city and why he is contracting services, versus using local. He just took office and it seems corruption is very bad, and security is not dependable.

Al-Monitor: How do you see the security situation in the province?
Nasrawi: The security problem is no different from the contract problems we talked about, for there is a lack of planning in both cases. The mechanisms in place for fighting terrorism are basic, limited and non-innovative. Thus, we decided as an initial step to contract a British security consulting company. I believe that the problem of terrorism cannot be solved via a military leader, but rather through security experts, surveillance technology, and training and developing the capabilities of the intelligence [agencies]. For example, we have a plan to buy sophisticated explosives-detection devices, but who determines the specifications and standards for these devices? Will we make the same mistake as Baghdad, which imported [explosives-detection] devices that didn’t work? Who will choose the weapons and sniffer dogs? To answer these questions, we turned to a global consulting firm that works in the security field.
Al-Monitor: Have you encountered any objections to this contract from the ministries concerned with security or the office of the commander in chief of the armed forces?
Nasrawi: The law allows the province to do this, and the contracts are paid using Basra’s money, not funds from Baghdad.
Al-Monitor: You talk about security as though it’s a purely technical issue, but what about the social problems feeding disorder?
Nasrawi: This is correct. Security cannot be achieved though arrests alone. First, it costs a lot of money to put large numbers of people in prison. Most importantly, however, we must address the motives for crimes and the cultural and social reasons standing behind these crimes — and we must work to address them. A culture of security must spread in society, so that each citizen becomes a part of the ingredients for security in the country and is not afraid or reluctant to report any security breach.
Al-Monitor: What about the malfunction within the security establishment?
Nasrawi: The causes [of this malfunction] are known. There is corruption as well as political and partisan intervention in the work of the security services. Recently, Basra was able to rein in a large gang involved in theft, blackmail and kidnapping, which was led by a senior police officer. We were under pressure not to arrest [members of the gang], but we were determined to bring them to justice. We will not allow for a shuffling of cards in Basra. We will not stray from our path to purify the security services of any breaches.

 

Maj Gen Graham Binns when he was in the military.

 

Basra invites British back for security role
Six years after the last British troops left amid a barrage of bombs and mortars, the Iraqi city of Basra is to re-enlist UK military expertise to oversee its security again
By Colin Freeman
03 Jan 2014
Anxious to rid itself of the lawlessness that still plagues Iraq’s southern capital, Basra’s governor has hired a private military company run by a British general who helped capture the city from Saddam Hussein.
Maj Gen Graham Binns, who is the chief executive of Aegis Defence Services, commanded the 7th Armoured Brigade when it led the siege of Basra in 2003.
Four years later he supervised the handover of the city to Iraqi security forces. Now, amid growing concern about a fresh wave of terrorist violence across the country, Basra’s governor has invited Maj Gen Binns’s company back to assist at a “strategic level”.


Aegis will be asked to provide help with setting up specialised CCTV detection and checkpoint systems across the city, establishing a “ring of steel” security system to thwart suicide bombers.
It will also set up an academy to help security forces improve coordination and intelligence-gathering techniques.
The contract is politically sensitive as it will put British military experts in an influential position in Basra, advising the governor’s top-level security committee. Although most Basrawis insist that the British are now welcome once more, the city still harbours remnants of the Shia militias who forced the British into a hurried departure.
Maj Gen Binns, 56, who joined Aegis after retiring from the Army in 2010, said that he was “honoured” to return to the city to help.
“The governor is keen to improve the security situation there, and for me personally it is a great honour to be coming back, having been involved there with both 7th Brigade and the subsequent handover,” he said.
“We have signed a contract with the Basra governor, and will initially be supporting them in procuring specialised equipment for search and detection purposes and CCTV, but that may expand.”
Bloodshed in Iraq has escalated anew, with a campaign of car bombing by a resurgent al-Qaeda pushing the monthly toll of violent deaths up to around 1,000.
There has been concern about the ability of Iraqi security forces to meet the challenge. Earlier this week, al-Qaeda fighters temporarily forced the Iraqi army to withdraw from the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, west of Baghdad.
While Basra has largely been spared the violence further north, al-Qaeda continues to carry out sporadic car bombings there.
The huge amount of money generated by Iraq’s only port and principal oil city also makes it a haven for criminal gangs, smugglers and kidnappers.
In an interview with an Iraqi newspaper, Majid al-Nasrawi, who took over as governor last year, said he wanted to move away from security being led by Iraqi military, which is often accused of heavy-handedness.
“The mechanisms in place for fighting terrorism are basic, limited and non-innovative,” he said. “I believe that the problem of terrorism cannot be solved via a military leader, but rather through security experts, surveillance technology, and training and developing the capabilities of the intelligence agencies.”
Aegis, which is based in London, was founded by Tim Spicer, a former Scots Guard who also founded Sandline International, a private military company.
Aegis has had a presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan for most of the past decade, and has won multi-million-dollar contracts to protect US personnel.
Maj Gen Binns stressed that the new role in Basra would involve “consultancy” rather than “boots on the ground”.
Story here.

——————————————————–

 The rise of the UK’s private security companies
By Edwin Lane
1 November 2010
graham binns Graham Binns says the future is bright for the UK’s private security industry
Major General Graham Binns is not your typical chief executive.
As a lifelong soldier, he is more used to commanding an armoured division than a company boardroom.
In 2003 he commanded British troops invading southern Iraq, and in 2007 returned as the commander of British forces overseeing the handover of Basra to the Iraqis.
But now, four months into his new job as chief executive of Aegis Defence Services – a British private security company (PSC) – he has left army life behind.
“It’s liberating,” he says, sitting in Aegis’s comfortable headquarters in a plush office building in central London.
“Thirty-five years in government service was a wonderful experience. But in the world of business, ex-military people have got a lot to offer – I certainly hope so anyway.”
For Aegis, netting a leading figure from the Iraq war can only be good for business – particularly when your business is in the often-controversial world of armed private security.
Now one of the UK’s biggest PSCs, Aegis has made millions from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan since it was founded just eight years ago.
Iraq bubble
It is even fair to say that Aegis, like much of the private security industry, owes its very existence to the last Iraq war.
When the occupying forces found themselves trying to reconstruct the country while overwhelmed by Iraqi insurgency and sectarian violence, PSCs saw a lucrative opportunity.
“In Iraq in 2003 and 2004 money was basically free,” explains Andy Bearpark, director-general of the British Association of Private Security Companies (BAPSC).
“That meant [private security] contracts were being let for ridiculous amounts of money – millions and millions of dollars of contracts being pumped into the industry.
“The industry exploded in terms of the volume of business on the back of Iraq.”
Dozens of firms from the US and the UK stepped in to offer their services, providing governments and reconstruction NGOs with armed security personnel, convoy escorts, logistics support, training for the Iraqi security services, and risk analysis.
Names like Armorgroup and Control Risks, which had been around in the UK since the 80s, saw a chance to expand their businesses.
But new companies were also able to cash in. In the US, companies like Blackwater – set up by an ex-US Navy Seal – expanded massively and gained notoriety for their gung-ho attitude to operations.
Graham Binns in Basra in 2003 Graham Binns retired from his position as a major general in the British Army earlier this year
On the British side, Aegis grew exponentially on the back of lucrative contracts with the US Defense Department, providing security for its engineers as they attempted to rebuild Iraq’s battered infrastructure.
At the height of the “Iraq bubble”, as the period is now known in the industry, up to 100,000 private security contractors were estimated to have been working in Iraq.
Industry watchers suggest that by 2004, the global private security industry was worth $100bn (£63bn) a year.
Value for money?
In the UK the boom meant that, at its height, there were about 60 PSCs, with the industry second only to the US on the global stage.
The numbers have since fallen back, but Aegis remains one of the big players, alongside Armorgroup (now a part of the security giant G4S), Control Risks and Olive Group.
The company boasts offices around the world, in London, Washington, Baghdad, Kabul and Bahrain.
But Iraq and Afghanistan – where private security companies have once again been called on to aid rebuilding – are still central to Aegis’s business.
Private security guards in Baghdad, 2007 British private security companies have a significant presence in Iraq and Afghanistan
And the US government remains its biggest customer. Today in Iraq, for example, Aegis is responsible for protecting the top officials of the US army.
That the US army relies on a private British company to provide security for its own officials indicates how commonplace the use of PSCs now is in the US military.
Mr Binns says that for major governments there is an “increasing willingness” to turn to private security firms for cost and convenience reasons, and the US is leading the way.
PSCs, he says, represent value for money for cash-strapped governments.
“With a contractor you can hire them, and then you can dispense with their services quickly.
“So you can grow a capability and you can remove a capability quicker than you can if they are government servicemen.”
Andy Bearpark from the BAPSC agrees.
Over time the nature of the security provision will change as the security situation improves and the ability of Iraqi security forces increases”
Graham Binns Aegis
“Certain activities can be done much more cost-effectively by the private sector,” he says.
“There is now a constant pressure to downsize the size of the armed forces. But at the same time those military forces are becoming much more expensive per unit cost as every year goes by.”
Even the UK, which Mr Binns admits has been “more reluctant” to use contractors than the US, is making use of these private armies.
Last year the Foreign Office (which is responsible for PSC contracts) spent a total of £51m on PSC contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
£27m was spent in Afghanistan alone, with Armorgroup and its new owner G4S pocketing all but a few hundred thousand pounds of it, primarily for protecting UK embassies and diplomats.
In Iraq Control Risks earned a healthy £16.8m for providing mobile security, out of a total spend of £24m.
‘Outsourced war’
But even if it is cost effective, using a private army to do the job your national army would normally do does not sit well with many.
Earlier this year a United Nations working group warned of the “global trend toward the increased privatisation of war and security”, security companies’ “lack of accountability” and the impact this could have on human rights.
Better regulation has been the call from some think tanks, including the International Peace Institute, and last year the government made some tentative moves towards stricter rules.
Graham Binns hands over control of Basra to Iraqi security forces Graham Binns (far left) hands over Basra to Iraqi security forces in 2007
Concerns over corruption and the lawlessness of the Iraq bubble explain some of those concerns.
But there is also a wider moral argument over how far private security companies should be allowed to go.
Letting PSCs have a hand in nation-building, academics like Chatham House’s Dr Paul Cornish argue, blurs the lines between what private companies do and do not have the right to do.
A country, the argument goes, has the right to declare war and mobilise an army. A private company does not.
For lifelong army men like Graham Binns, there is no question of letting PSCs, even Aegis, send troops into battle.
He points out that there is a line between combat roles that soldiers have and the support roles that PSC personnel take up. The line, he stresses, should never be crossed.
“I think to engage in combat is inherently military and it is the responsibility of a sovereign government,” he says.
“I cannot imagine that the UK or the US would wish to delegate that responsibility to a contractor. That’s just not a business that I would wish to be involved in.”
So if raising a private army is not the objective, what is the future for the UK’s private security industry nearly half a decade on from the Iraq bubble?
Mr Binns is optimistic. “I think the market will change, and over time the nature of the security provision will change as the security situation improves and the ability of Iraqi security forces increases,” he says.
“The market will evolve, but there is a sustainable business there.”
As Andy Bearpark from the BAPSC puts it: there are still plenty of dangerous places in the world.
“It’s easy to rule out the safe places in the world. Once you’ve done that, it’s a very different picture.”

Story here.

————————————————

Iraq War: Major General Graham Binns: We fought with dignity but departed untidily
By Major General Graham Binns
10 Mar 2013
On September 11 2001, I was commanding the 7th Armoured Brigade in Kosovo. As we watched the terrible events in New York unfold I asked Chris Parker, my chief of staff, to provide an assessment of the implications for us. After a brief period of reflection he drew an arrow on a flip chart and wrote “Baghdad”. We all thought that he was being ridiculous.
One year on, still in command of 7th Brigade (the Desert Rats), now trained as the High Readiness Armoured Brigade, General Sir Mike Jackson told us we would be in Iraq “this year, maybe next year but it would be sometime, not never”.
And so it transpired. I remember snippets of advice: “I want you to fight alongside, not like, the Americans” (Jackson); “the only thing between us, beer and sex is Saddam and the Republican Guard” (a typically direct senior US General); “fight with dignity and honour” (Lt Gen Sir Cedric Delves, a former senior British officer)
Iraq became a serious prospect for the brigade during the summer of 2002. I was confident that my battalions were well trained, having exercised in Canada.
But our higher-level training, due to take place in Poland, was curtailed for financial reasons. I took my officers away for some conceptual training around a model but this limited activity was no replica for realistic training.
There was a tension between the military requirement to prepare for war and the natural desire to give diplomacy a chance at resolution.
Our planning was focused on an attack into northern Iraq from Turkey astride the Euphrates river. I went skiing for Christmas.
I received the news that “Turkey was off” while on a chairlift. Our focus shifted to an attack from Kuwait in support of the US Marine Corps. Our equipment would have to be prepared for the heat of the desert. It was a quite remarkable feat of military logistic and staff planning to get the force to Kuwait in reasonable order by the end of February.
We went from training on the north German plains at -4F (-20C) to operations at 86F (30C) in the desert. As the force began to assemble in northern Kuwait we were grateful for several boxes of chef’s whites and ceremonial dress, but would have preferred more body armour and desert camouflage uniform. The Marine Corps was very generous with its supplies – not always knowingly.
By early March 2003, the military machine of nearly a quarter of a million men was developing momentum. Expectations were rising; embedded journalists arrived, some lost my trust and departed early. Preparation became more frantic.
My chief logistician lightened the mood when he announced that a whole company of Warrior armoured vehicles had not been seen since leaving the port and that he couldn’t find our ammunition – there was a risk that we had fired it all during training by mistake.
I was taken in by the Coalition deception plan: I expected an air campaign in advance of a ground attack, but the two were conflated.
The dress rehearsal for the crossing into Iraq did not go well. The actual attack was much better.
As we closed towards Basra, the fighting became more intense. Our job was to defend the right flank of the marines. There was no need to attack into Basra initially.
By trial and error we developed a plan to conduct attacks towards the city. This served a number of purposes: it tested Iraqi willingness to defend, and got the brigade used to fighting.
After a few days poised on the bridges outside Basra, our raids began to make more progress until the Black Watch exploited an opportunity to advance deep into the city – the rest of the brigade reinforced their success.
I soon found myself the proxy mayor of a city the size of Derby. We were inadequately prepared, mentally and physically, for post-conflict stabilisation.
We could not meet the Iraqis’ aspirations for an improved lifestyle. The coalition became viewed as an army of occupation rather than liberation. Our brave men and women countered the insurgency with great skill and determination. But we made an untidy departure in 2010.
I return to Basra quite frequently. It now takes substantially longer for me to process immigration at Basra Airport than in 2003. Basrawis complain that improvement to their quality of life is too slow. But there are housing developments, new hospitals, restaurants, improvements to the infrastructure and a nearly completed football stadium. Iraq has yet to find peace with itself – but few yearn for a return to the Saddam era.
Story here.