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Outsourcing a U.S. war: Ugandans in Iraq

August 24, 2010

by Ann Garrison

KPFA News report with Milton Allimadi and Michael Kirkpatrick broadcast Aug. 22, 2010

KPFA 94.1 reports on the involvement of Uganda in the war in Iraq and the recruitment of Ugandans by military contractors. – Video: Ann Garrison

Ugandan recruits hoping to work as private security guards in Iraq undergo basic firearms training in Kampala, Uganda. – Photo: Max Delaney, CS Monitor
Last week the Pentagon proclaimed that the last U.S. combat forces had left Iraq. This after an armored unit drove out of the country and crossed the border into Kuwait. However, there will still be 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

An Iraq veteran turned war critic, Camillo Mejia, said that 4,000 U.S. troops who are leaving Iraq will be replaced by 7,000 employees of private military contractors. Other observers say the U.S. has long outsourced the Iraq occupation to troops from some of the world’s poor nations, such as Uganda, Angola, India and Bangladesh, and that many of the mercenaries due to replace other U.S. troops will also come from those countries, especially from Uganda.

The New York City-based Black Star News publishes many critics of U.S. foreign policy in Africa, and Black Star’s Ugandan-American Editor Milton Allimadi is among the most outspoken critics of U.S. use of Ugandan mercenaries, elsewhere in Africa and in Iraq.

“This is not surprising,” declares Allimadi. “It’s a disturbing development and something needs to be done to really stop this because Ugandans are being victimized by the dictator, Yoweri Museveni, and now in collusion with the United States government.

“And another reason why this is very disturbing: It’s an extension of what the U.S. has been doing for a couple of years now with respect to Uganda – outsourcing of torture of people interdicted by the United States to Uganda. And this was well documented in a report by Human Rights Watch that has not garnered sufficient attention.

“The report is called ‘Open Secret: Illegal Detention and Torture’ by the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force in Uganda. It was published last year, April 8, 2009, and it says that the United States provided not only training, but also $5 million for Ugandan security agents to torture individuals detained in Uganda, which is illegal according to the Leahy Amendment, an amendment by Sen. Patrick Leahy, which prohibits U.S. cooperation or funding or training for any government that is torturing its individuals or committing human rights abuse.

“It needs to be investigated by the Senate and by Congress.”

In Kampala, former Ugandan soldiers fill out application forms for jobs with the Dreshak company in Iraq. Ugandan security guards make $600 to $1,000 per month over a year-long contract in Iraq, reports Middle East Online, far less than the $15,000 that Western recruits are paid but 20 times the average income in Uganda. – Photo: Middle East Online
Black Star News contributor Michael Kirkpatrick has traveled in Northern Uganda, the wartorn home of the indigenous Acholi people, and written about Blackwater, Dreshak and KBR’s recruitment in refugee camps, otherwise known as Internally Displaced Persons or IDP camps, which he first observed in 2007.

“Back in 2007, I traveled to Northern Uganda at the invitation of some Acholi friends of mine,” says Kirkpatrick. “This was an opportunity for me to see how that part of the country was rebuilding after a 20-year rebel insurgency.

“While I was there, I met a young woman who was there from the British High Commission, and she was studying a local language in the city of Gulu, which is the largest city in Northern Uganda. And she was there to learn this obscure tribal African language because she needed to train translators in Iraq. Well, I thought this was odd, that the Acholi language was being spoken in Iraq.

“Well here what I learned was that there were Acholi, young Acholi men, being recruited by military contractors to go to Iraq and they obviously needed translators because these young men did not speak English, so they needed translators in Iraq to be able to instruct and direct these military contractor employees.

“I’ve come to learn even since then that the recruitment of Ugandans is a very common practice by these military contractors. There are a lot of things going on in East Africa that require the U.S. presence there. And currently, right now, there are recruiting stations in the capitol city of Kampala and there are regularly long lines of Ugandans waiting to get jobs.

“For Ugandans, this isn’t an act of fighting Al Qaeda. This isn’t an act of justice or spreading democracy in the Middle East. For them it is purely an economic issue. They need the jobs; they need the money. From my point of view, we are exploiting a desperate people. We’re bribing them with money to carry weapons into a war that is not theirs.”

Asked whether recruiting stations belong to private military contractors or the U.S. military, Kirkpatrick responded: “They are private. They are not U.S. military. They are not manned or stationed by U.S. military. But believe me, the U.S. military is paying their bills.”

Kirkpatrick also says that private for-profit companies do not have to report casualties or open their accounting books to anyone.

San Francisco writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Digital Journal,, OpEdNews, Global Research, Colored Opinions and her blog, Plutocracy Now. She can be reached at This story originally appeared in Black Star News.

11 thoughts on “Outsourcing a U.S. war: Ugandans in Iraq

    1. Ann_Garrison

      Indigenous people? The Acholi and others? Innocent perhaps, innocent and vulnerable. Unarmed and ravaged by years of Museveni's war against them. But fools? I think desperate is the word. As Michael said, they need the jobs, they need the money. Any jobs, any money. I didn't have time to include this in the news segment, but Michael also said that some of these Acholi recruits go flying off to Iraq or Somalia, whichever, not knowing the difference between the two. I ate the story of the woman he encountered studying the Acholi language, so as to train those who would give orders to Acholi in Iraq.

      I understood him to describe Ugandan city dwellers as equally desperate.

  1. Selina

    I understand the desperations of the situation. I myself was born into proverty but there's got to be other opportunities.

    What will their income be once they began working for co., KBR and XE (BlackWater) a cup of rice and 3 cents?? I read the book "Black Water" and some of the Latin Americans who sign up to work for the mercanery outfit were given wages that were way below the average minimum wage here in the states.

    I feel sorry for the Ugandans, It's a shame that the Ugandan govt who looks like the people of that nation and who suppose to rep., them but doesn't have the nations welfare in its best interest.

    But again I can easily say what I would and wouldnot but I'll say it any way I would not fight in someone else war, If I were an Ugandan, I rather become apart of the opposition against the so-called govt in my country that doesn't have my welfare in its interest at least I know I'm standing up for something and I will die for a real cause

  2. Michael Kirkpatrick

    Many African governments cater to donor countries rather than their own people. Follow the money trail. When the majority on the money that comes from donations goes directly into the pockets of corrupt government officials there is little that the average citizen can do. If you think that most elections in Africa are not rigged to get the desired result by the powers-that-be (including western governments), then you are incredibly naive. Africa is a cheap labor pool for the US war machine. America's tax dollars are funding this activity. Americans should be the ones protesting this exploitation by its government. Especially when the President of the United States is a second-generation Kenyan.

  3. gai gatkek g

    my dear people in the richers world,i may warn you that pliz you as a person you have to think as God created nature for you know that every one has his/her own time to get into power. why don’t you respect the life of the poor, instead to make them batter people you are exploiting them giving them more bardon.

    Remember time will come in wish the black African will only die of their own needs they will not longer supper for the interest of the white or Arab exploiters.therefore you have to remeber that a journey of athousands miles start with a step.

  4. opwonya jackson

    This is just a continuationation of the slave trade into the modern world. The African Chiefs selling off their poor people for beads and trinklets! The so called civilized world knows this but are too ensconed in their comfort zone unaware of the fact that sooner or later what goes round coes round.

  5. Sam Mwaka-karama

    Well Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Ref: Bay Fiew – (Reaction on 'Outsourcing a US War – Ugandans in Iraq')

    The old School of 'Acholi' vs 'Ankole' of contemporary setting in the (past reality) and now mosttly in the mindset of a few perhaps still safely abroad… or 'Acholi Vs 'West Nile' of the Amin era – these are all passing into the greying history to be documented and archived as part of Africa's history , very-much like 'Biafra' is part of Nigerian and therefore African history (if you were on Ojukwu's side or if you were on Gowon's side) is imaterial.

    Michael Kirkpatrick – has the African experience… so what! one can even kneel down to get a fraction of Geldorf's equivalent. People will say 'this geek' if you got away with an 'alms-giving' great for you. The gods might store some heavy foods… someplace for you someday.

    How do you feed some prophet 'Elijjah' in some weird looking desert – with some nameless 'Zero' piece of bread clipped in the 'beak' of some bird? – or tonnes of cooked pilau?

    As the 'huge wheel' of the Millenium clicked to 2000 – somebody discovered a blindfold and wrapped it around the eyes of Africa – HIV/Aids – written on it. We still have to figureout how it all happened. And while we are grounded on that one… it is another day!

    And someone still wants to go for (anthropology) of who wronged the Acholi? People were fighting for (Rice) the food crop… in Haitti, in Egypt, all over Africa… people paniced all over the World – and (who-done-it) – apparently someone was buying all the World's rice and dumping it in the (desert) here read sea….
    What is donor's money Michael – who does not get a kickback? are those individuals working for the donors Angels, when even Angels are at question? what are they silenting… over? why can't an Angel stand-up and tell us why those who proffess to loving God more than everyboy else – at the end terrorize people? Camer-Roque, Osama, Al Shabaab, Kony, Sinn-Fein etcetera… Why were all those Don Corleones, Luckys aha ha… and Bonanos always praying to God?

    Ugandan's going to work in Iraq or Somalia or elsewhere… check your records well, you will findout that President Museveni discussed a tiny little bit with President Bush – that the Greenbelt was opened to Ugandans… it all boils down to 'initiative' why are there only two African peacekeeper contingencies in Mogadishu (Ugandan & Burundian), why? – and where are the rest of African countries? – fear of the known! I call it the 'Black Hawk Down' syndrome – hard to phartom!


    Its Written in the birle that BABLONE willrecieve people from different countries that they will be blessed
    Eat,Drink ,and go Happy. Thats what ugandans are .


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