Want to get out of debt fast? Burnish your resumé? Have I got just the job for you. Did I say "I"? I mean "we," as in the Department of the Army and "Office of Security Assistance-Iraq."
Hanging out with his buddies in the Meet the Press clubhouse Sunday, President Obama pinky-promised yet again: No more U.S. uniformed troops in Iraq. He didn't say anything about mercenaries, though.
Which is why the Army is seeking a few good condottieri to be "security assistance mentors and advisors in Iraq." Nothing heavy, just a 12-month contract for some lucky Americans to swoop into Baghdad and counter centuries of sectarian acrimony, oh and also to reverse the radicalism wrought on the Middle East by previous waves of Americans who swooped into Baghdad:
The contractor shall provide advice and assistance to the Office of Security Assistance - Iraq (OSC-I) senior personnel in their mission to support the Government of Iraq (GoI), cognizant of the goals of goals of [sic] reducing tensions between Arabs and Kurds, and Sunni and Shias, with key focus on core process and systems which involve, but are not limited to administration, force development, procurement and acquisition, contracting, training management, public affairs, logistics, personnel management, professional development, communications, planning and operations, infrastructure management, intelligence and executive development.
Specifically, advisors are needed in Iraq's defense ministry and counter-terrorism services "to place them on the critical path towards Iraqi security self-reliance," which sounds easy, since there are lots of previous attempts at instilling "Iraqi security self-reliance" between 2003 and 2010 for contractors to draw on.
Nearly 100 additional servicemembers are there as advisers with the Office of Security Assistance–Iraq, and civilian advisers may not be far behind.
President Barack Obama last month authorized airstrikes against Islamic State militants, who have overrun large swathes of Iraq, when their advances threatened U.S. personnel in Baghdad and Irbil. But he has ruled out deploying ground combat units to Iraq less than three years after bringing the last of U.S. forces home from there.
How does one expand a military commitment without expanding it?
Michael O'Hanlon, of the Brookings Institute, said the U.S. government has employed as many contractors as it has deployed troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"As the political premium seems always to be placed on how many troops we have abroad, the pressure to have contractors do as much as possible only grows," he said in an email.
There are, of course, questions of of ethics and quality control. How much better can revenue-minded private employees do at solving a problem that went un-cracked by generations of well-trained, motivated U.S. servicemembers and Iraqis? Hint: No better. But this is America, where the will to Do Something is strong, as long as it's Not Too Much. Private contracting: It's the Goldilocks solution.
[Photo credit: AP Images]