Monday, March 06, 2006

From the makers of 'Little Fallujah'

John Byrne and I have an article at Raw Story, Bechtel contractor, based in Dubai, gets lucrative U.S. security contracts, which is about a firm called the Olive Group.

This same firm, which earned over a hundred million dollars last year for - among other things - training Iraqis for port security in Iraq and providing security in Louisiana and Mississippi for post-Katrina contractors, purchased an urban-combat training facility called the Tactical Explosive Entry School in Arkansas, renaming it the Olive Security Training Center.

As Mark Minton reported for the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on February 19th, Battlescape shoots for profit:

Surrounded by cotton, rice and soybean fields, an exotic oasis is rising in east Arkansas: nine square blocks of downtown Fallujah.

Builders have begun moving dirt for a streetscape modeled after the war-ravaged city in Iraq, complete with a bazaar, a traffic circle, office buildings and a school, all in Middle Eastern architectural styles.

This Little Fallujah will even include the bomb blasts and flying bullets.

“We’ve got to give them what they’re going to experience overseas — there’s no pretending,” said Alan Brosnan, the former New Zealand Army assaultgroup commander who is overseeing the transformation of a 700-acre patch of Delta farmland into a training ground for modern urban warfare.

Olive Group, a British firm that supplies personnel and combat training for armies and corporations in the world’s scariest hot spots, plans to open the first three blocks of its mock city this summer.

Here's the money quote from that article:

“One of the reasons we came to the States is to diversify, and not be reliant on Iraq as a source of funding, because — let’s face it — eventually that has to go away,” said Mike Smith, senior vice president in Olive’s new Washington office.

But this one's good too:

Laing said most urban warfare training sites around the country are outdated, however, and the number of soldiers needing the training is still high. He said Olive also hopes its expansion of the Marion training center will build more business with police agencies and attract a corporate clientele that it hasn’t had before.

Read more at Raw Story.

(Hat tip to Libby Shaw for emailing R.S. a tip about Olive)


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