Rent-a-soldier

Disposable?

El Tiempo is reporting that at least 40 Colombians are currently working for private contractors on behalf of the United States in war zones in Afghanistan. At $4,700 a month, they cost less than half of what contractors like Xe Services (formerly Blackwater) pay for a U.S. contractor.

The best part (as far as the companies are concerned anyway) is that sometimes they don’t pay the workers at all, or pay them substantially less than what was agreed upon. This is the lesson some Colombians learned when they went to work for contractors in Iraq in 2006:

According to some complaints, at first the ex-soldiers were offered $4,000 per month. Later the contract said $2,700, and in the end, they were paid $1,000 a month, less than half of what they were making in Colombia.

ProPublica has done an investigative series called Disposable Army on how military and civilian contractors have gotten screwed, especially the foreign ones who don’t have the knowledge or the resources to fight messy legal battles in U.S. courts over breach of contract and negligence. (Here’s a good interview with the author.)

But it seems like maybe it would be a bad idea to double-cross Colombian ex-military. The El Tiempo article also throws it out there that one of the Colombians who did local recruiting for the companies had been murdered. Hm.

(H/T The Colombia Report, original image courtesy Lisa Kong.)

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