A response to the editor of Vanity Fair from Aegis CEO Tim Spicer.
Dear Mr Carter,
I am writing to you regarding your article “The Business of War Iraq’s Mercenary King”. I was surprised to see a respected magazine like Vanity Fair publish such a factually inaccurate article about individuals performing dangerous work on behalf of U.S. and Coalition forces. The author, Robert Baer cobbled together an unscrupulous story in which he attempts to make it seem as though I was interviewed. I was not as you and your staff well know.
Glaring omissions, false insinuations and misrepresentations pervade Baer’s article. The article misrepresents even the most basic facts: We do not have an “army of 48,000” (we have 1200). I don’t live in a South London mansion. I don’t own an Aston Martin. I certainly have never made $20million – as our company accounts, which are public, indicate. And, I have never supported any “coup plotters.”
Much more importantly your article denigrates a group of people who don’t deserve your disparaging remarks. Aegis employees in Iraq are made up of highly competent professional ex-Servicemen from Coalition countries who have served their own Governments, and who are now fulfilling a vital role which otherwise would require thousands of troops. Their primary role is to protect people – many of whom are US and other Coalition countries military personnel or other Government officials, or civilians involved in Reconstruction. In doing this, they face the full spectrum of insurgent attacks on a daily basis.
Aegis employees are selected, recruited and vetted before deployment to ensure their suitability for work as a Government Contractor and in a both dangerous and culturally sensitive environment. They undergo comprehensive induction training and have to pass an annual fitness test. Their professional skills are of the highest standard. In the last three years they have driven over 2 million miles, been attacked 168 times and have never had a single client killed or injured. 8 of them have been killed protecting others. I would like to single out one individual as an example of why your article is insulting to these brave men and women: a security escort team commanded by a former US Army NCO experienced engine trouble on a mission in Northern Iraq. The team commander ordered the team to stop and deploy a protective screen around the vehicles whilst the problem was investigated. He was checking the deployment of his men when he saw a vehicle speeding towards the parked vehicles. In a split second he felt that this was a suicide bomber and ran towards him to try and intercept. He was right, and his actions forced the early detonation of the bomb. Sadly he was killed, but his action undoubtedly saved the lives of his men and the clients they were protecting. This brave young man’s actions were hardly those of an unprofessional mercenary ‘who doesn’t know which side he is on’.
Baer’s reproachful portrayal in your article is both unfair and inaccurate and dishonest. Our men and women risk their lives not only to protect others but to bring fresh water to Iraqi schoolchildren, health clinics to Iraqi women and children and generators for Iraqi orphanages. Aegis personnel are not cold blooded mercenaries as the article makes out, but a courageous group of dedicated people. Mr Baer and your magazine have done them a disservice. Baer should keep his fiction to his film scripts.
Tim Spicer OBE
Chief Executive Officer