US Military to Oversee Blackwater Convoys

Defense Dept. wins tug of war with State for control of contractors
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2007 11:10 AM CDT
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2007, before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Iraq. (AP Photo/Evan...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The military is taking control of State Department security convoys in Iraq, supervising Blackwater and other contractors, the New York Times reports. State had fought a losing battle to keep control of Blackwater after it was involved in a September incident that left 17 Iraqis dead. Now, the military will oversee contractor recruitment, training, movements and the rules of engagement.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said commanders need the control, “so they aren’t blindsided by contractors running in and out of their battle space and potentially causing problems.” The new rules will impose much stricter rules for the use of force. That might put diplomats at greater risk, Defense says, but it serves the larger mission of winning hearts and minds.