Last week the military was reluctant to announce the name of the SpecOps soldier who was killed by an Afghan SpecOps soldier. The family reported this and the military then had to.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The military is under-reporting the number of times that Afghan soldiers and police open fire on American and other foreign troops.
The U.S.-led coalition routinely reports each time an American or other foreign soldier is killed by an Afghan in uniform. But The Associated Press has learned it does not report insider attacks in which the Afghan wounds — or misses — his U.S. or allied target. It also doesn’t report the wounding of troops who were attacked alongside those who were killed.
Such attacks reveal a level of mistrust and ill will between the U.S.-led coalition and its Afghan counterparts in an increasingly unpopular war. The U.S. and its military partners are working more closely with Afghan troops in preparation for handing off security responsibility to them by the end of 2014.
In recent weeks an Afghan soldier opened fire on a group of American soldiers but missed the group entirely. The Americans quickly shot him to death. Not a word about this was reported by the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, as the coalition is formally known. It was disclosed to the AP by a U.S. official who was granted anonymity in order to give a fuller picture of the “insider” problem.
ISAF also said nothing about last week’s attack in which two Afghan policemen in Kandahar province fired on U.S. soldiers, wounding two. Reporters learned of it from Afghan officials and from U.S. officials in Washington. The two Afghan policemen were shot to death by the Americans present.
Funds from a $4 billion program intended to improve relations between the two countries were siphoned off by the enemy, a new audit finds. Eli Lake reports on why CERP was still called a success.
Eli Lake at The Daily Beast April 29, 2012
During the war in Iraq, battalion commanders were allocated packets of $100 bills and authorized to use them for anything from repairing a schoolhouse to paying off ex-rebels and paying blood money to the families of innocents killed by U.S. forces. But a new audit finds that in some cases that cash made its way to the pockets of the very insurgents the United States was trying to fight.
The money was part of the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP), and from 2004 to 2011 the U.S. government poured $4 billion into it in Iraq. And because the Pentagon gauged CERP a success, a similar initiative is under way in Afghanistan. “We think CERP is an absolutely critical and flexible counterinsurgency tool,” Michele Flournoy, who was then undersecretary of defense for policy, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2010.
But was CERP really a success in Iraq? A 2012 audit conducted by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) and released to the public on Monday found that 76 percent of the battalion commanders surveyed believed at least some of the CERP funds had been lost to fraud and corruption. “Commanders sometimes perceived the corruption as simply a price of doing business in Iraqi culture and others perceived it as presenting a significant impediment to U.S. goals,” the report says. “Several asserted that reconstruction money may have ended up in the hands of insurgents.”
David Isenberg Huffington Post April 30, 2012
Today the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) has released its latest quarterly report. Here is what happening with private contractors in Iraq.
As of April 3, 2012, the Department of State (DoS) reported that 12,755 personnel supported the U.S. Mission in Iraq, down about 8 percent from the previous quarter. Current staffing comprises 1,369 civilian government employees and 11,386 (U.S., local national, and third country national) contractors. (89 percent of the total).
Of these contractors, DoS estimated that about 2,950 provided security-related services for DoS sites, down more than 22 percent from last quarter (3,800).
In February, Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides said that DoS will continue to reduce the number of contractors over the coming months in an attempt to “right size” Embassy operations.
The Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq (OSC-I) manages U.S. security assistance to the Government of Iraq. OSC-I is staffed by 145 U.S. military personnel, nine Department of Defense (DoD) civilians, and 4,912 contractors.
But according to SIGIR, DoS tends to undercount the number of contractors working in Iraq. It found that:
In early April, DoS asserted that only 6 U.S. government employees and 48 contractors work on what it considers reconstruction programs. This total does not include any of the several hundred personnel working under the auspices of the PDP, [Police Development Program] which remains the single-most expensive ongoing initiative financed by DoS for the benefit of Iraq. Nor does it include any of the hundreds of employees and contractors supporting the missions of OSC-I and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), though both agencies oversee projects paid for with U.S. reconstruction funds.
According to the Defense Department, if you include the OSC-I contractors, the total for private security contractors rises to 3,577.
The takeaway is that after all these years the U.S. government still has problems tracking the number of contractors working in Iraq. The SIGIR report found that:
While SPOT [Synchronized Predeployment and Operational Tracker database, administered by DoD] data provides SIGIR with a comprehensive view of contractor and grantee personnel in Iraq, significant apparent differences exist between agency-reported contractor numbers and SPOT data. For example, DoS reported to SIGIR that there were almost 11,400 contractors supporting Mission Iraq as of April 3, 2012, while SPOT data shows 5,172 working for DoS.276 In addition, USAID reported that 1,854 contractors are currently working on USAID projects in Iraq.277 However, SPOT data shows only 110 USAID contractor and grantee personnel in Iraq as of April 1, 2012. SIGIR intends to investigate these discrepancies and provide an update in the July 2012 Quarterly Report.
With regard to security contractors the Government of Iraq (GOI) announced in February that 124 private security firms were registered to work for foreign government entities and private firms engaged in activities in Iraq, but the GOI has taken steps to minimize the presence and scope of these firms. According to the GOI, the Security and Defense Committee of the Council of Representatives has drafted legislation to reduce the number of PSC firms working in Iraq from 124 to 63. Of the remaining firms, 15 to 20 would be foreign firms and the rest would be Iraqi.
On the fraud front, some of SIGIR’s noteworthy investigations were:
Three former officers of a U.S. defense contractor, the wife of one of the officers, and four foreign nationals were indicted for their alleged roles in a fraud and moneylaundering scheme involving contracts for reconstruction projects in Iraq. The defendants were also are charged with an aggregate of 74 wire-fraud offenses.A British citizen and his company were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and pay kickbacks in exchange for receiving more than $23 million in DoD subcontracts from April 2006 to August 2008. The British contractor allegedly paid more than $947,500 in unlawful kickbacks to two employees of a prime contractor to the U.S. government in order to obtain these subcontracts for work performed in support of the Coalition Munitions Clearance Program (CMCP).
David Welch, a former U.S. civilian contract employee, pled guilty to conspiring to steal 38 U.S. military generators and sell them on the Iraqi black market.
As of April 10, SIGIR is continuing to work on 110 open investigations.
There are a number of PSC firms working on the Police Development Program; especially in providing security at the Baghdad Police College Annex (BPAX). At BPAX, Triple Canopy, Inc., contractors provide protective details and escort PDP convoys. Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, LLC, provides perimeter security, with Iraqi Security Forces guarding the outer perimeter. EOD Technology, Inc., operates the counter-mortar and counterrocket system, and three U.S. military personnel are attached to the RSO explosive ordnance disposal unit. Another U.S. contractor provides a computer technician who manages the classified email system used by PDP personnel.
Special Investigator General for Iraq Reconstruction
Quarterly Report to US Congress
ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) — A Rochester family got the worst kind of news this morning — their son has been killed fighting in Afghanistan.
Jacqueline Carson said Monday morning that her son, Nicholas Dickhut, was killed Sunday in action in Afghanistan.
Nicholas had just been featured Friday by Reuters News Service, and was pictured in a battle with Taliban fighters.
When Jacqueline called to tell us what had happened this morning, she was still waiting for a visit from an officer with the official word of what had happened.
Nicholas was with the 520th Infantry Regiment, attached to the 82nd Airborne
Dan Froomkin Huffington Post April 30, 2012
WASHINGTON — Afghan reconstruction efforts remain severely hampered even after nearly $100 billion in spending over the last 10 years, according to a new watchdog report. The most immediate challenge seems to stem from the insistence by Afghanistan’s government that the private army of hired guns providing security for ongoing projects be replaced with Afghan locals, who do not appear to be up to the job, the report noted.
The report’s most urgent warning concerns the “imminent transition” from private security contractors (PSC) to the state-owned Afghan Public Protection Force.
Steven J. Trent, the acting special inspector general, expressed concerns that as many as 29 major USAID projects costing nearly $1.5 billion are at risk of full or partial termination “if the APPF cannot provide the needed security.” About half that amount has already been spent.
And whether it can is very much an open question, Trent wrote. The U.S. embassy, the Afghan government and the U.S.-led military forces agreed a year ago to check the progress of the Afghan Public Protection Force at the 6-, 9-, and 12-month marks.
“The 6-month assessment, completed in September 2011, found that the APPF was not ready to assume any of the essential PSC responsibilities to meet contract requirements — such as training, equipping, and deploying guard forces,” the report pointed out. “[T]he December assessment, which would have been at the 9-month mark, has not yet been made public” and “the deadline for the 12-month assessment has passed.”
Quarterly Report to the US Congress
April 30, 2012
Afghan Islamic Press April 30, 2012
Herat: Two private security firms were disbanded in western Afghanistan, an official said Monday (April 30).
Two private security firms, Khurasan and Salahuddin, responsible of providing services to Kabul Bank, Alfalah Bank and Roshan Telecommunication Company, had been disbanded and their security handed over to police, the western police zone spokesman, Abdul Rauf Ahmadi told the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP).
They handed over their 80 weapons to the security forces, he added. Observers believe closing down activities of private security firms would help improve security situation. They believe some of the private security firms are involved in incidents of insecurity in various parts of the country.
BOGOTA—An attack by Colombia’s largest rebel group, known as FARC, killed four members of the armed forces, Colombia’s Defense Ministry said. Five other soldiers and a French journalist are missing after the attack, in the southern state of Caqueta, officials said.
The attack is likely to spoil what had been rising hopes for possible peace talks between the rebels and the government after the guerrillas earlier this month freed 10 military hostages in a “humanitarian gesture.”
In a statement Saturday night, the Defense Ministry identified the missing French journalist as Romeo Langlois. It didn’t indicate which news organization Mr. Langlois worked for, but Paris-based news outlet France24 said on its website that Mr. Langlois is its employee and that he also works for French newspaper Le Figaro.
Carolina News on YouTube April 29, 2012
Wes Bearden has spent the last 18 months working in the Middle East for a Military Defense Contractor. After long hours providing help for American troops, he must make the adjustment to being back home.
QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — The body of a British Red Cross worker held captive in Pakistan since January was found in an orchard Sunday, his throat slit and a note attached to his body saying he was killed because no ransom was paid, police said.
Khalil Rasjed Dale, 60, was managing a health program in the city of Quetta in southwestern Pakistan when armed men seized him from a street close to his office. The identities of his captors are unknown, but the region is home to separatist and Islamist militants who have kidnapped for ransom before.
The director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross condemned the “barbaric act.”
“All of us at the ICRC and at the British Red Cross share the grief and outrage of Khalil’s family and friends,” said Yves Daccord.
Dale’s throat had been slit, according to Safdar Hussain, a doctor who examined the body.
Quetta police chief Ahsan Mahboob said the note attached to it read: “This is the body of Khalil who we have slaughtered for not paying a ransom amount.”
Militants and criminal gangs often kidnap wealthy Pakistanis and less commonly, foreigners.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned Dale’s killing, and said “tireless efforts” had been under way to secure his release after he was kidnapped
Islamabad/Geneva – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) condemns in the strongest possible terms the murder of its staff member Khalil Rasjed Dale.
The ICRC has now received confirmation that Khalil, a 60-year-old health-programme manager in Quetta/Balochistan, was murdered almost four months after his kidnapping.
“The ICRC condemns in the strongest possible terms this barbaric act,” said Director-General Yves Daccord. “All of us at the ICRC and at the British Red Cross share the grief and outrage of Khalil’s family and friends.”
“We are devastated,” said Yves Daccord. ‘’Khalil was a trusted and very experienced Red Cross staff member who significantly contributed to the humanitarian cause.”
Khalil worked for the ICRC and the British Red Cross for many years, carrying out assignments in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. He had been working as a health-programme manager in Quetta/Balochistan for almost a year. At about 1 p.m. on 5 January 2012, he was abducted by unidentified armed men while returning home from work.
The ICRC has been active in Pakistan since 1947, providing humanitarian services in the fields of health-care, in particular physical rehabilitation, including in Balochistan.
UN, Norwegian Peoples Aid and Mechem South African Demining Workers abducted/arrested in South Sudan
Sudan arrests foreigners in disputed border region April 29, 2012
Sudan said it had arrested a Briton, a Norwegian and a South African on Saturday, accusing them of illegally entering a disputed oil-producing border area to spy for its enemy South Sudan.
South Sudanese officials denied the allegations and said the men were working with the United Nations and aid groups clearing mines and had got lost in the remote territory close to the boundary between the two countries.
Sudanese army spokesman al-Sawarmi Khaled said the three were arrested in Heglig – the scene of recent fighting between Sudan and South Sudan – travelling with a South Sudanese soldier in vehicles carrying military equipment.
“It is now confirmed without any doubt that South Sudan used the help of foreigners in their attack on Heglig. These foreigners were doing military work such as spying out the areas … They had military equipment … They have a military background,” Sawarmi said.
The group had been flown to Khartoum, he added.
A Reuters witness saw four men arriving on a civilian plane at Khartoum’s military airport.
One of the men, a Westerner, was wearing a t-shirt marked with the slogan “Norwegian People’s Aid. Mine Action South Africa”. Reporters were not allowed to talk to the men who were swiftly driven away in an unmarked white van.
Agency France Presse Canada April 29, 2012
KHARTOUM – A South African demining company on Sunday said two of its workers were abducted by the Sudanese military while on a UN landmine clearance contract in South Sudan.
Ashley Williams, CEO of state-owned Mechem, said its employees, a South African and a local South Sudanese, were abducted with a British UN employee and a Norwegian.
Williams rejected suggestions by the Sudanese army spokesman that the men were working in support of South Sudan in its “aggression” against the north.
“It’s humanitarian work so the story of them being military advisers and this type of thing is completely and utterly nonsense and not true,” said Williams.
“We are doing humanitarian landmine clearance on a UN contract and our members have full UN immunity. The abduction took place well within South Sudan territory,” he told AFP, saying the group were travelling south between two UN bases.
“Then they grabbed them and drove back to Heglig with them where they then said they’ve arrested them in this disputed area while they weren’t there at all.”
A team remained in the area, which the United Nations would bring out with protection over fears of similar action, Williams said.
Sudanese army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad on Saturday said the group were captured within Sudan’s borders in the tense Heglig oil area.
“This confirms what we said before, that South Sudan in its aggression against Heglig was supported by foreign experts,” he told reporters after the four were flown to the capital Khartoum.
“We captured them inside Sudan’s borders, in the Heglig area, and they were collecting war debris for investigation,” Saad said.
He added that all four had military backgrounds, and were accompanied by military equipment and a military vehicle. He did not elaborate.
In the most serious fighting since the South’s independence, Juba’s troops occupied Sudan’s main oil region of Heglig for 10 days, a move which coincided with Sudanese air strikes against the South.
Sudan declared on April 20 that its troops had forced the Southern soldiers out of Heglig, but the South said it withdrew of its own accord.
Jan Ledang, country director for the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) mission in South Sudan, identified one of the captives as its employee John Sorbo.
“It’s impossible that they were in Heglig – they were in Pariang” about a 90-minute drive from Heglig in the South’s Unity state, Ledang said.
They were doing follow-up demining work in the area, he added.
The four were on a de-mining mission “and one of them was from the UN”, said Josephine Guerrero, a spokeswoman for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan
LA Times April 28, 2012
Staff Sgt. Joseph Fankhauser, 30, an explosive ordnance disposal technican, was killed Sunday by a roadside bomb during combat operations in Helmand province. He was part of the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
On Friday, Heather Fankhauser issued a statement mourning the loss of “the love of my life” but yet celebrating her husband’s devotion to duty:
“During the past seven years, we’ve endured four combat deployments. As hard as they were and as unbearable as this is now, we would not have changed any of it. He loved his country and he did what he did so that fellow service members could safely return to their families.”
The family dogs are waiting for Fankhauser’s return, his wife said.
“I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain to our dogs that they can stop pacing the door, waiting for Joseph to return again. They jump every time they hear his car alarm. I miss him every day and he will never be forgotten.”
AP at Fox News April 28, 2012
A South African security trainer was killed by his bodyguard in Somalia’s semiautonomous region of Puntland, officials said Saturday.
Puntland’s government said in a statement Saturday that it had launched an investigation into Friday’s killing. The statement identified the man as Lodewyk Pietersen, and said he worked for Saracen International, a security firm that trains anti-piracy forces in Puntland. The statement said the South African was 55 and married with children.
South African foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela said Saturday no official word has been received from consular staff handling South African interests in Somalia.
“We have not yet been alerted to such an incident,” he said.
The statement said the trainer was killed while accompanying Puntland’s maritime forces on a government-approved mission targeting pirates near Hul-Anod, a coastal area favored by pirates who use it as a base to hijack ships for ransom.
Pietersen was shot dead by his Somali bodyguard after an argument, according to a Puntland official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the matter. The official said Puntland’s security forces were hunting for the killer
LA Times April 28, 2012
Lt. Christopher Mosko, 28, of Pittsford, N.Y., was killed Thursday during combat operations in Nawa district near the Pakistani border when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb during a patrol.
Mosko was assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 3 in Coronado. In Afghanistan, he was a platoon commander for a Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force.
Mosko was qualified as an explosive ordnance expert, a free-fall parachutist and a scuba diving instructor. He was in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at Villanova University in Pennsylvania and was commissioned in May 2007.
His awards include a Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart, both posthumous.