Are soldiers well paid

A hire mercenary earns up to $ 800 a day

Around 20,000 so-called contractors cavort in Iraq. These are armed employees of private security and military companies (PMC, Private Military Companies). You work for governments, corporations or aid organizations. Most of them work for the US Army. Military training, personal protection and support for regular troops are among their tasks. These "rented armies" move in a legal gray area because, as irregular troops, they are not subject to the provisions of international law. The mercenaries of the modern age want to earn a lot of money in a short time in a life-threatening job. Blackwater is one of the most famous companies that mediate contract fighters. Dietrich Alexander asked Blackwater spokesman Chris Bertelli about the mission in Iraq.

DIE WELT: How many employees of your security company work in Iraq?

Chris Bertelli: About 450 across the country. You work primarily as a bodyguard for the US civil administrator Paul Bremer, securing food convoys and the buildings of the American interim administration at five Iraqi locations.

DIE WELT: What is the daily earnings of a Blackwater Legionnaire in Iraq?

Bertelli: Blackwater pays by the industry standard, and it's between $ 450 and $ 800 a day.

DIE WELT: Are your employees all US citizens or do you also recruit from other countries?

Bertelli: Most of them are US citizens, but we also have contracts with people from other countries.

DIE WELT: For example from Chile?

Bertelli: Yes, there is a subcontractor who has hired former Chilean soldiers for Blackwater. But - and I value this statement - none of them have any connections with Augusto Pinochet's junta, as false accusations keep asserting. The Chileans we hired are too young for that.

THE WORLD: March 31st was a black day for Blackwater when four of its associates were killed and the bodies desecrated in Fallujah. Were there any other losses?

Bertelli: That was the first four. Since then we've lost five more men. One was killed in a traffic accident, the other four were killed in a robbery on the road between the Green Zone in Baghdad and the airport in early June.

DIE WELT: Is there adequate insurance for your people in Iraq?

Bertelli: Everyone is fully insured, even in the event of their death or serious injury. The surviving dependents of the contractors killed receive lifelong support.

DIE WELT: Does Blackwater still have offices in Baghdad and Kuwait?

Bertelli: No, I wouldn't call that offices. Our staff live in normal houses in Baghdad and Kuwait, of course, but there is no economic activity there.

DIE WELT: Do you have Germans in your files?

Bertelli: Not that I know of.

DIE WELT: Is Blackwater still active in other countries?

Bertelli: Yes, but I can't tell you which ones. We are obliged to keep silent about our clients.

DIE WELT: Your client is mostly Washington?

Bertelli: Yes.

DIE WELT: Do you work with any strategic partners?

Bertelli: Blackwater sees itself as a not particularly large, but very specialized company. It is led by its founder Gary Jackson, a former US Navy Seals elite soldier and two other former Navy Seals. These three former elite soldiers offer their customers a kind of protection and security that only former members of the Special Forces can offer. Our strength lies in personal and building protection. We don't want to offer everything, nor do we want to expand, so - at the moment - we don't need any partners.

DIE WELT: How many employees does Blackwater have in total?

Bertelli: I can't give you any information about that. But 90 percent of our employees have trained with the US elite units. We assume a high degree of professionalism, which naturally limits the number of people who are of interest to us.