One aspect of the Iraq war that is poorly understood is the role of Blackwater and other “guns-for-hire” corporations that provide ex-military men at an exorbitant cost to fight and “provide security.”
When they are killed in Iraq, they are listed as civilians who were killed–the reality is very different, as they are engaged in real combat just as American soldiers are.
There are perhaps 100,000 such contractors, who basically fill a military role there. Not all are in combat, but many are. The same is true of the military.
Below is a video made by the contractors which shows in detail (with bad language and graphic real violence) a battle in which a team of Blackwater mercenaries fights exactly as a military team would, only without the green uniforms a military team would use.