"Contractor Combatant" Carter Andress Talks Iraq, It's People, Progress & the Antiwar Left
American-Iraqi Solutions Group (AISG) is an American and Iraqi-managed company that employs almost 1000 Iraqis, with an extensive network of vetted and qualified subcontractors in the fields of construction and logistics. AISG is the only U.S. Department of Defense construction, life support and logistics prime contractor that also provides Iraqi Ministry of Interior-licensed, comprehensive security services. With over 90% of our workforce Iraqi citizens, AISG is fully committed to a prosperous, democratic and free Iraq.
Carter Andress is the author of Contractor Combatants and CEO of American-Iraqi Solutions Group. Carter and his company have been helping Iraqis rebuild their devastated country since 2004.
Carter Andress was a guest on CNN not long ago. He was invited to talk about contractors in Iraq after Blackwater stole the headlines this fall after a shooting incident in Baghdad.
Carter talks about his experience in Iraq since 2004- Video HERE.
“Iraqis are sharing the risks and the security situation in Iraq and Baghdad are improving,” says Carter Andress.
I wrote Carter Andress this week and asked him a couple of questions about the situation in Iraq. I was especially curious about the challenges for American contractors since Democrats and the media have been coming down so hard on them lately. Here are a few of his responses:
Q: Carter, I am hoping that you will educate me some on the laws that are being discussed concerning contractors in Iraq. One law in particular, the Iraqi immunity law, has been in the news a lot lately.
What can you tell me?
The contractor immunity issue, which I believe you are referring to, forms part of the Basic Law (sort of a proto-constitution) of Iraq, which right now is CPA Order 17 promulgated by the Coalition Provisional Administration (CPA) of L. Paul Bremer. This law grants all Coalition contractors immunity from prosecution except under their home nation’s laws.
This leads into the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) which is the U.S. applicable law for Department of Defense contractors committing crimes abroad that would warrant a sentence of over 1 year in jail. As far as I know, this law has not been utilized to date (I did see mention in one source of one prosecution but without any details). The problem in the current situation with Blackwater is that they are working for the Department of State and thereby do not fall under MEJA.
Q: The Far Left have been raging against the contractors in Iraq for some time. I know that they are making it hard on you all to focus on your important work. I am wondering your thoughts?
There is no doubt that we are an easy target for heated rhetoric, but that’s politics. The anti-war movement can’t go after the soldiers as in Vietnam; so we are a good substitute. To this point, however, it is only background noise for us here. Of course, that depends on where Congress goes with the war funds restrictions.
One clarification I do want to make is about the word mercenary, which many bandy about in reference to contractor combatants working in Iraq. The Geneva Conventions defines a mercenary as someone that is an illegal combatant working “essentially” for monetary reward and not a citizen of a “Party to the conflict,” such as the U.S. or Britain in the Iraq war. By international law, we contractors are civilians accompanying the armed forces of a lawful belligerent.
Q: Please, if you can fill me in, I would appreciate it.
How do you feel about what democrats are doing?
In many ways, the role the Democrats coming to power in Congress has played is a positive one in that this made it clear to the Maliki government that American patience is not limitless. This has forced the Shia-majority government to allow US forces along with the Iraqi army to finally clean out Sadr City, the Baghdad slum that served as a safe haven for Shia death squads and the launching point for Iranian-supplied rockets and mortars.
Yet what we are seeing now from the Democratic leadership in Congress is a state of denial. As the security situation rapidly improves in Iraq, it becomes clear that the American effort is bearing fruit and that momentum is on our side now. Al Qaeda, our main enemy and the reason we are still in Iraq, is on the run and on the verge of imploding. This will have long-term, positive consequences for the security of the US.
Obviously the American people are beginning to realize that we are on the right path in Iraq. The Democrats, by continuing to project failure, are in the long run ensuring their own failure. This must be one of the reasons Congress’s approval ratings are so low.
Q: What about the Iraqi government?
We are asking for a lot out of the Iraqi government, no question. The important development in my mind is that everyone is still sitting together in the parliament. The Sunnis are coming on board at the grass roots level, which is a longer term solidification of a non-sectarian Iraq. If we remember back to our own country’s development and how long it took us to put together our own constitution and then further along define state’s rights then I think we have the proper perspective. Now the key is the security situation, which is rapidly improving. Once the killing stops then all other issues can be dealt with in the political process, in my opinion.
Carter Andress has a new book out “the first to define the role of this new breed of private warrior and to do so in a gripping and highly graphic narrative.” You can find it at Amazon.com.
Carter Andress, the “Contractor Combatant”, and AISG are doing their part to help build a vibrant democracy out of a devastated nation.
UPDATE: BG points out Carter’s key article in The Wall Street Journal “This Isn’t Civil War” back on Auguest 28th on how we are winning the War in Iraq.