Alaskans in the Mojave Desert, Pretend To Be Iraqis

May 7, 2008

Alaskans in the desertAt Twentynine Palms, California, in the arid Mojave Desert, the Marines run a pre-deployment training facility to prepare troops for Iraqi combat. Included in this facility is a “realistic Iraqi marketplace” where role players speak Arabic and wear Middle Eastern clothes. Who supplies the role players?

Well, in the past few weeks the Pentagon spent $411 million of your tax dollars on “civilians on the battlefield foreign language specialists role players” for this purpose. And who provides these Arabic-speaking actors in the middle of the desert? Two “Alaskan Native Corporations” (ANC’s) are the recipients of almost half a billion dollars to accomplish this.

One company, founded in 2004, the Tatitlek Support Services Company, received $319 million of the funds, while Defense Training Services Corporation received $92 million. Both companies are part of the regional corporation, the Chugach Alaska Corporation. Since they are ANC’s, Congress allows them to take such contracts by sole-source methods (no competition), with no built in maximum amount that can be awarded without bidding. ANC’s don’t even have to show that they are suffering any economic hardship to receive such largess.

Alaska’s senior member of Congress, Sen. Ted Stevens, Republican, is ranking member of the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations. Both Alaskan senators Stevens and Lisa Murkowski are vocal supporters of our presence in Iraq.

So, we’re using almost half a billion tax dollars to operate a fake Iraqi marketplace in the California desert, run by Alaskan Native Corporations. For that money, seems to me you could just buy all of the Iraqi marketplaces and operate them yourself. At least then you could keep the profits.