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Mercenaries To Saudi Arabia

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Last month it was learned that the U.S. had swung a $750 million jet fighter deal with arch-conservative King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. Then on February 8th the Vinnell Corporation of Los Angeles announced a contract with the Defense Department to train the Saudis' National Guard to "protect oil fields." Several hundred former members of the U.S. Army's Special Forces (Green Berets) have been hired by Vinnell to train the Saudis. The Green Berets, of course, are veterans of Vietnam and served as counterinsurgency, anti-revolutionary experts. You can bet their jobs in Saudi Arabia will be similar. The 1,000-man contingent of Vinnell "advisors" plan to train the 26,000 Saudi National Guardsmen who are responsible for internal security. They supplement the 36,000 man regular army which is rapidly being modernized, mostly with U.S. war material and trained by regular army advisors. Vinnell executives eringe at the term "mercenary." A spokpsman for the company explained to the New York Times that "perhaps Vinnell got the contract because the present political climate would not allow such a large U.S. Army forcé in the Mid-East. A former Green Boret, hired by Vinnell told the Times, "We're not mercenaries because we are not pulling the triggers. We train people to pull triggers." Another former Army officer laughed while saying, "Maybe we're executive mercenartos."