KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The guns-for-hire prowl the Afghanistan highways, heavily armed, sometimes wearing ski-masks and looking like something out of a Road Warrior movie.
Some of them are supplied by local warlords, others work for large U.S. and British corporations — and they are critical to western military operations in the war-torn country.
They protect supply convoys bringing in equipment and other material for the war effort. They stand guard at coalition bases, including those operated by the Canadian military. They provide protection for embassies and they are responsible for training the Afghan National Police.
Xe Services, the security company formerly known as Blackwater, which was infamous for a number of incidents in which civilians were gunned down in Iraq, is now under investigation for its activities in Afghanistan.