This thesis examines the lack of standardized coordination of the State Department's private security contractors with the U.S. military in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004 to 2007. Without formal coordination between these two independent armed entities, problems arose for the U.S. military, the contractors, and Iraqis. Three possible explanations for this gap in coordination include: a dysfunctional interagency process between the State and Defense Departments; chaos on the battlefield; and, whether Blackwater, the largest security contractor firm for the State Department, wielded undue influence over its client, which allowed it to avoid formal coordination.
Operation Iraqi Freedom is the first time that armed security contractors operated alongside soldiers on a U.S. battlefield. Their movements through military areas of operation without formal coordination created numerous problems. Why did it take a massive shooting incident in Baghdad by a State Department security detail, over four years into the conflict, to finally resolve this coordination gap?
Data and information were drawn from military, government, and scholarly sources, as well as interviews. A qualitative case study was developed. This research concludes that a dysfunctional interagency relationship caused the lack of coordination; chaos in Iraq certainly contributed to the problem as well. However, the evidence was inconclusive regarding Blackwater's influence. Recommendations include interagency doctrine, training, and updated procedures as the situation dictates given that private security and U.S. soldiers will most likely share the battlefield again.||