I received the below report recently. It's disturbing. If you knew PSD (and have done it, like I did though in Israel/Palestine) and have worked and lived in Iraq (and knew the culture, like I have with the US Army Reserve), this really makes a lot of sense. The bottom line: this is a quagmire!
I heard it's WPPS security contractors from DynCorp. Since that's who I worked with previously, I know a lot of those guys. I hope they're all okay. No matter the company--DynCorp, Blackwater (Xe), Triple Canopy, SOC, Osen-Hunter, Armor Group, etc., there are troubles when dealing with high risk situations and guys with guns (some of whom do not behave well, e.g. the local Armor Group fiasco in Kabul). The idea for my second book revolves around this issue. I plan to call it, Leaders Wanted: from the War Room to the Boardroom. From there, I plan to do a lot of leadership consulting and training.
I won't go into detail here; you make your own conclusions. Here's the report I received:
The Entry Control Points (ECP) into the International Zone (IZ) have been
increasingly difficult to deal with. It is nothing that is intolerable.
However, in an increasing basis Protective Security Detail (PSD) teams have
been instructed to exit vehicles for search, download weapons and such. That
is okay, because after all, Iraq, like it or not, is its own country and
sets the ground rules.
Well, a few days ago the antics were ratcheted up again. As a team was
entering ECP4 (old CP12) the last vehicle of the motorcade was stopped,
which is not unc ommon. This time though, the vehicles crew was harassed to
give over smoke grenades. Lately IA's/IP's have been asking PSD teams for
everything from water, to ammunition, to money. In following the guidance
from the Department of State (DOS), Regional Security Officer (RSO), the
vehicle commander of the vehicle attempted to find out the name of the Iraqi
in charge of the ECP.
He did this, but by all reports went about it in the wrong manner, which in
no way reflects on the rest of the team who are true professionals. However,
he raised his voice towards the Captain and was generally less than polite.
He was told by the Captain to get back in the truck and move on. After
another warning to leave, he returned to the truck and being the idiot he
is, tried to sneak a photo of the Captain. This not so bright idea wasn't
well received. The IA Captain saw the camera, and, with the windows down
because the crew was answering questions, reached in and grabbed the camera.
This is where the wheels fell off and the incident began to spiral out of
control for the PSD members who quickly put up their windows and lock the
doors. This in turn causes the Iraqi soldiers present to start beating on
the doors of the now buttoned up Suburban. As the Suburban moves forward the
T72 Tank that sits at the halfway point in the ECP turns it DSHK Heavy
Machine-gun towards the Sub, and pulls out in front of it blocking its exit.
As a result, the Suburban and its crew stop.
Apparently, while this was going on the IA Captain put out a net call to his
counterparts that an American assaulted him. The story he related was that
the PSD member in the rear seat, the medic, took a photo of him and when he,
the Captain took the camera away, the medic punched him, which didn't
happen. Because of this report, more Iraqis show up and began beating on the
Suburban with their rifles.
At around this time, the Tactical Commander (TC) from the lead vehicle
showed up and approached the Captain in an attempt to de-escalate the
situation. The Captain promptly drew his pistol, pointed it at the TC and
fired 2 rounds over the TCs head. The TC, without missing a beat says,
"Habibi" and reaches his hand out to shake the officers, who unable to shake
hands due to having a pistol in it, holsters his sidearm and shakes hands.
The TC then talks down the situation; the tank rolls back into its normal
position and people begin to chill out.
Well just as everything starts to look okay for the PSD members an Iraqi
Colonel shows up. Accompanying the Colonel are 5 - 6 vehicles full of Iraqi
Army personnel with DSHK's. In addition, Iraqis were swarming down the
street in large numbers loading AKs and strapping on body armor as they
The Colonel, believing the Americans had assaulted one of his men was more
than excited. Not listening to anything anyone else had to say, he demanded
the PSD open the vehicle and surrender, which the team, seeing the
seriousness of the situation refused to do. The Colonel, realizing he was
getting nowhere with the team in the Suburban ordered the tank crew to run
over the Suburban. The tank then started up its engines again and promptly
rumbles out into the road for a second time.
Luckily for the PSD members the tank driver wasn't very good at his job, so
it took him some time to try and line up for the drive over Suburban smash
ing. As he was lining up, the PSD crew, understandably fearing for their
lives, decided to try and drive out again. However, as the driver put the
vehicle into gear, the automatic door locks on the front doors popped, the
doors unlocked, and the Iraqis had them open in a flash.
The Iraqis still mistakenly believing the medic had assaulted one of their
own focused on him in the rear seat. However the rear doors were still
locked and they were unable to get to him. The Colonels solution was to
stick his pistol to the head of the Suburban's driver. Seeing this, the
medic decided he didn't want his team member shot on his behalf, so he
opened the vehicle and exited, at which time the swarm of Iraqis began
beating him with fists, feet and rifles. The same pretty much happened with
the rest of the crew; they were all jerked form the vehicle and promptly
flex cuffed and beaten.
While this was going on, due to the firepower and sheer numbers of Iraqi
Army present (about 80 at this time), our QRF team who was on scene was
unable to do anything more than video the incident as best they could and
try to keep an accounting of the team members being beat down. Had they
tried to intercede more than they did, the situation could have easily
escalated into a full-blown shoot out, in which all PSD members and many
Iraqis would have most likely been killed. One member of the QRF did
cautiously approach and he was quickly cuffed and beaten.
Somewhere as the beatings were happening, the military showed up on the
scene in the form of the useless IZ police. Rather than calling for
reinforcements, or senior leadership word from those on the ground was that
the IZ police said something to the effect of "You're contractors, you're on
your own" and left. An Army convoy pulled out of FOB Prosperity located next
to the incident and drove by leaving the contractors to the Iraqi mob. Two
army Majors, or Lt, Colonels, did try to get involved and were promptly
pushed around by the Iraqis.
The Blue Force Tracker, our emergency beacon, was activated early in the
incident sending out a distress call. From reports, other contracting
companies in the area were ready to help. However, help of an armed sort was
not needed at this time. What was needed was diplomacy and someone who could
bring diplomatic sense to bear. Unfortunately, the US Department of State
RSO decided, because we are only a Department of State contractors and not a
DOS Chief of Mission contract that we were on our own. So he didn't lift a
finger. As a matter of fact, DOS took the radios we had, which enabled us to
speak with the RSO TOC in the case of an emergency, and the RSO has severed
all ties with our program, even during times of distress.
Eventually, after physically beating the PSD members, the Iraqis loaded them
into their vehicles, putting one in the truck/boot of the vehicle. They then
drove away to an Iraqi base in the IZ with an Iraqi sitting on the hood
waving his arms up and down, screaming a victory cry as they traveled
through the IZ.
At the Iraqi base, the team members were split up and beat some more. Some
of the PSD members were beaten with weight bars from the Iraqi gym. The
Medic was beaten so bad that he was covered in blood and began projectile
vomiting from the head injuries he was receiving. One person beating him was
an Iraqi General who repeatedly punched him with his Madhi ring encrusted
Eventually, the powers to be arrived and met with the very General who had
been beating the Medic. They worked things out and secured their release.
The freed men were transported to the Army Combat Surgical Hospital (CSH) at
Victory Base for evaluation. All were released and doing well considering
the possibilities. The medic suffered from a concussion and possibly other
injuries, which may have to be treated in the US.