Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ice Station Gurkha?

Nothing like reading your junk mail to learn that Eskimos are recruiting mercenaries to help fight the GWOT.

Presumably because of one of the many, er, somewhat unusual email lists I have subscribed to, I received in yesterday's post a complementary copy of the magazine SERVIAM — "Stability Solutions in a Dangerous World." A trade magazine for the private military contractors business, with an emphasis on endeavors of social worth accomplished by PMCs and NGOs — Benjamin Franklin's privatized firefighters, US AID entrepreneurship, farmers in the Phillipines "teaming with grocers to grow freedom," and terrorist-free mutual funds, right next to the article about how to conduct private sector PSYOP and the ads for Blackwater blimps.

One of the more interesting articles is "Intelligence Contracting is Here to Stay" by J. Michael Waller, which surveys the provision of outsourced intelligence services back to Lincoln's use of the Pinkertons as his Civil War MI5.

The article includes a sidebar with a 40+ list of "some of the contracting companies currently hiring for intelligence-related careers." It's an interesting list. Plenty of names you'd expect, like CSC, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Perot System. Some you are not surprised but kind of creeped out to see, like AT&T and Verizon. And then lots of outfits you've never heard of, some with generic corporate names like "Operational Support and Services" and others with cool mythologically allusive spy novel code names like "Oberon Associates."

I thought it would be interesting to check some of these outfits out on the web. First one I tried was "Nangwik Services, LLC." Probably because I wondered what the linguistic derivation of the word "Nangwik" was, the most notably non-Anglo-Saxon name on the list.

Google revealed Nangwik is a subsidiary of a company called Chenega. Chenega, it turns out, is basically an Indian tribal corporation -- specifically, an Alaskan Native Village Corporation, created pursuant to Congressional enactment in 1971 to settle Inuit land claims. That's right, an Eskimo village. With pictures of fishing boads, schoolkids, and, um, military helicopters on its website.

An Eskimo village with multiple federal PMC subsidiaries that is currently hiring intelligence analysts in Iraq, forklift operators in Bethesda and El Paso, Iraqi Intelligence Analysts in DC, welders (wheeled vehicles) in Chambersburg, PA, Special Ops Support in San Antonio, and linquists (especially Pashtun and Iraqi Arabic) for Ft. Meade, Omaha, Augusta, and a webmaster in Quantico.

Can you do the math? I want to meet the Northern Virginia lawyer who put this corporate org chart together. In the meantime, I am going to start casting the action movie in my mind, like a postcyberpunk Rambo Nanook variation on the John Woo-Nicholas Cage Navajo Windtalkers flick.

If you think this new outsourced branch of the 21st century market state is going away after the elections, keep dreaming. It's a brave new world.

Do you think somewhere in Central Asia, someone is building the Uqbaristan branch of an Indian casino, with attached special ops staging area, intelligence listening post, and mini-Gitmo? That would make a hell of a Sarah Palin photo op stop.


SR said...

This situation reminds me of the Aleutian mercenary Raven in Snow Crash.

Dave Hardy said...

Meanwhile, veteran Ghurkas are suing for the right to settle in Britain. Veterans who served with the regiment after their base moved from Hong Kong to Britain have the right to remain in Britain. But pre-move veterans don't.

Even the Romans let you get citizenship after serving in the auxiliary cohorts.

Chris Nakashima-Brown said...

Yeah, this is about as unintentionally self-parodically cyberpunk as it can get. Until it does, inevitably.