Privatization's dirty little secret

Date: June 23rd, 2004

Submitted to Boston Globe

According to NBC news late last year, "Pentagon inspections of mess halls run by KBR are finding a mess in some of them... In the main Baghdad dining facility where President Bush surprised the troops on Thanksgiving, inspectors found filthy kitchen conditions in each of the three previous months. Complaints filed in August, September and again October report problems. Blood all over the floor of the refrigerators, dirty pans, dirty grills, dirty salad bars, rotting meats and vegetables. In October, the inspector writes that Halliburton's previous promises to fix the problems have not been followed through and warns the company serious repercussions may result, due to improper handling and serving of food." [NBC News, 12/12/03]

Is this the quality and efficiency that the proponents of privatization promised us? In the old days, a good hard-boiled Mess Sergeant would have got a mess like that cleaned up in a day or so -- and the whole crew would have been on extra detail until the kitchen equipment shone like the Excalibur sword.

It seems that we have lost a great deal with the privatization of the military's support functions to the likes of Halliburton who obviously do not care about doing a good job. It is unconscionable that coalition troops should be at risk from food poisoning as well as the insurgents' attacks.

P.S.

In his youth, the author served for four years in Britain's Territorial Army.