Summary: A lot of people in the media and in the Democratic Party have insinuated that one of the main reasons that we are in Iraq is because Dick Cheney profits from Halliburton, and Halliburton wants to make a lot of money. I want to give you my perspective on what Halliburton is contributing to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
There are very few companies that could take on the logistical responsibilities that Halliburton takes on. Providing all of the services that Halliburton does for approximately 150,000 soldiers all over the country is remarkable. Never once have I been without a hot cooked meal. I have always been able to take a shower when I wanted to—almost always with warm water. Every barracks that I have stayed in has been cooled by air conditioning. I can lift weights whenever I am not on duty or on some kind of mission.
Halliburton employees are doing a lot of things that it would cost a lot more to do if soldiers were involved. Its subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) coordinates all of the logistics on the bases that I have been on, from showers, toilets and garbage, to movies, ping pong tournaments, and weightlifting, to food, ice, water, and Gatorade. KBR employs further subsidiary companies from Africa and Eastern Europe to take care of sanitation—such as ensuring that toilets and showers are clean, and that garbage is transported to the dump and burned. Barbers cut my hair. Cashiers provide most of what I need at the Post Exchange. People at the embroidery shop sew insignia on my caps and repair tears in my uniforms. I have met very courteous Halliburton employees from India, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Bangladesh, Sudan, Hungary, and many more—not to mention Iraq.
Halliburton charges a lot of money for their services, because a lot of risk is involved. A roadside bomb is just as foreboding to a KBR trucker as it is to an American soldier—actually even more so, because our humvees have more armor than an 18-wheeler. It is remarkable to see how successful these convoys are at delivering what needs to be there, in the face of sometimes huge risk. I know of several KBR truck drivers who have been maimed and even killed by roadside bombs, but the work goes on almost flawlessly. This all translates into the reality that Halliburton is not making a lot of money on Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Halliburton makes life for the soldiers a lot more comfortable. I haven’t had a swimming pool at any of the bases I’ve been on, but I’ve had a lot more than I expected. Treadmills and elliptical trainers are a real plus when either the rainy season or the intense heat make running outside inadvisable. The weight room is nearly every bit as good as the Gold’s Gym I go to back home. I can even watch Fox News or ESPN while I’m working out. And there’s always cold water in the cooler (at Gold’s back home I have to either bring my own or buy it on site). Wednesday night is crab night at the DFAC (dining facility). My morale is great in part because I have not had to eat an MRE since being at the National Training Center in California over a year ago.
I’ve just gotten to a different base where KBR was not in charge at first, and there is a huge difference since they got here. Since they took over, many of the weight and cardio machines have been repaired, and more are on the way. Electrical outlets and light switches in our barracks that have not worked for a long time have been repaired. Showers have been cleaned and repainted, and the moldy shower curtains have been replaced.
I’ve often wondered what economic upheaval will occur when the American military goes home and Halliburton’s services are no longer needed. Thousands a men and women from several countries will have to find new jobs. But with their newly acquired skills and responsibilities, they will provide productive goods and services for their countrymen when they return home.