Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

$85 million awarded to 12 Oregon soldiers; KBR guilty of negligence, not fraud

Oregon Live  November 2, 1012

Oregon National Guard soldiers

A Portland jury found defense contractor KBR Inc. was negligent, but did not commit fraud against a dozen Oregon Army National Guard soldiers who sued the company for its conduct in Iraq nine years ago. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak announced the decision about 3:35 p.m. the U.S. Courthouse in Portland. Each soldier was awarded $850,000 in non-economic damages and $6.25 million in punitive damages.

“It’s a little bit of justice,” said Guard veteran Jason Arnold, moments after the verdict was announced Friday afternoon. Arnold was one of four of the soldier-plaintiffs in the courtroom was the verdict was read.

The verdict should send an important message to those who rely on military troops, he said.

“We’re not disposable,” said another soldier, Aaron St. Clair. “People are not going to make money from our blood.”

KBR’s lead attorney, Geoffrey Harrison, said the company will appeal.

“We will appeal the jury’s incorrect verdict,” he said. “We believe the trial court should have dismissed the case before the trial.”

Harrison said the soldiers’ lawyers produced a medical expert, Dr. Arch Carson, who offered “unsupported, untested medical opinions” that each soldier had suffered invisible, cellular-level injuries as a result of their exposure to hexavalent chromium.

The verdict means the jury did not hear clear and convincing evidence that KBR intended to deceive the soldiers in the way it operated at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant, near Basra, Iraq. But they did find that the company failed to meet its obligations in managing the work at the plant.

Friday’s verdict closes the first phase of a web of litigation between National Guard and British troops against KBR Inc., the defense contractor they accuse of knowingly exposing them in 2003 to a carcinogen at Qarmat Ali. KBR has denied the accusations.

In Oregon another set of Oregon soldiers are waiting in the wings for their day in court. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak and the attorneys agreed earlier to hold an initial trial with the first 12 soldiers, in order to keep the proceedings from becoming too unwieldy. A second trial, featuring all or some of the remaining 21 plaintiffs, could begin in federal court in Portland this winter.

Another lawsuit brought by Indiana soldiers against KBR is on hold in federal court in Texas, while an appeals court considers a jurisdictional issue.

The cases stem from the chaotic aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The Army Corps of Engineers hired KBR Inc. to run a massive program called Restore Iraqi Oil. The program involved dozens of sites throughout Iraq — sites that neither the Army nor KBR had visited before the invasion. The project was intended to quickly restore the flow of Iraq’s oil, partly to fund the war. The Pentagon remembered the way Saddam Hussein had lit the fields on fire during the first Gulf War, and feared a repeat in 2003.

Qarmat Ali was a compound where water was pumped underground to drive oil to the surface elsewhere. For decades, Iraqis had treated the water with sodium dichromate, an anticorrosion agent that contains hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen. (Sodium dichromate is banned in the United States.)

Iraq’s Southern Oil Co. took delivery of sodium dichromate, an orange-yellow crystalline powder, in bags that were stored on site. Soldiers and others testified that the material was loose and drifting around the site, and had contaminated areas even outside the chemical injection building where it was added to the water.

How contaminated was it? Accounts differ. Even one of the plaintiffs in this case said he didn’t notice any soil discoloration. One of the British soldiers whose testimony was prerecorded said it was everywhere. Another Oregon soldier said it settled heavily on the clothing of the soldiers, who unwittingly carried it back to their camps over the border in Kuwait.

Much of KBR’s defense in the first Oregon trial focused on just how unlikely it was that any soldier — who visited the plant at durations from one day to 21 days — could have been exposed to dangerously high levels of sodium dichromate. But one of the most gripping portions of the testimony was when Oregon veteran Larry Roberta described eating a chicken patty that had been coated with the orange crystals, which he said immediately burned in his esophagus, causing him to vomit.

Roberta now is confined to a wheelchair and takes oxygen from a tank in his backpack. He had a history of gastrointestinal issues, but attributes much of his poor health to his time at Qarmat Ali.

Harrison, KBR’s lawyer, said the company “believes in the judicial process and respects the efforts and time of the jurors,” but believes the process that brought the case to conclusion Friday shouldn’t have been allowed to come so far.

“KBR did safe and exceptional work in Iraq under difficult circumstances,” he said in a brief, prepared statement. “We believe the facts and law ultimately will provide vindication.”

Soldier-plaintiff Arnold said the message of the verdict is unmistakable. He said service members are being exploited “to this day.”

Now, he said, “the voice will be out. There will be a lot more scrutiny.”

November 2, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Casualties, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Friendly Fire, Halliburton, Iraq, KBR, Lawsuits, Private Military Contractors, Toxic | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Unsatisfactory’ Mega-Contractor, DynCorp, Re-Ups on Another Big Military Deal

Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room  November 2, 2012

Just days after an inspector general report revealed that a giant Pentagon contractor performed “unsatisfactory” work in Afghanistan, the U.S. Air Force awarded the firm another multimillion-dollar pot of cash.

Virginia’s DynCorp, which performs everything from private security to construction for the U.S. military, has re-upped with Air Force to help pilots learn basic flying skills on the T-6A/B Texan II aircraft, a training plane. The deal is only the latest between DynCorp and the Air Force on the Texan II: In June, the Air Force Materiel Command gave the company a deal worth nearly $55 million for training services. The latest one, announced late Thursday, is worth another $72.8 million, and lasts through October 2013.

But the Air Force’s lucrative vote of confidence in DynCorp comes not even a week after the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction blasted the company for performing “unsatisfactory” construction work at an Afghan Army base in Kunduz. The base was “at risk of structural failure” when the watchdogs initially inspected, but the Army Corps of Engineers chose to settle DynCorp’s contract, a move that awarded the company “$70.8 million on the construction contracts and releas[ed] it from any further liabilities and warranty obligation.” (.pdf)

A DynCorp spokeswoman, Ashley Burke, told Bloomberg News that the company disputed the special inspector general’s findings. For its part, the special inspector general took to tweeting photographs of what it called “DynCorp’s failed work at #Afghan #Army Base in #Kunduz.

Please read the entire post here

November 2, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contract Awards, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, DynCorp, Follow the Money, Government Contractor, Private Military Contractors, SIGAR, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Overseas Contractor Count – 4th Quarter FY 2012

Thanks to Danger Zone Jobs for this Post

This update reports DoD contractor personnel numbers in theater and outlines DoD efforts to improve management of contractors accompanying U.S. forces. It covers DoD contractor personnel deployed in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Iraq, and the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR).

In 4th quarter FY 2012, USCENTCOM reported approximately 137,000 contractor personnel working for the DoD in the USCENTCOM AOR. This total reflects no change from the previous quarter. The number of contractors outside of Afghanistan and Iraq make up about 13.7% of the total contractor population in the USCENTCOM AOR. A breakdown of DoD contractor personnel is provided below:

 

A breakdown of DoD contractor personnel is provided below:

DoD Contractor Personnel in the USCENTCOM AOR

 

Total Contractors U.S. Citizens Third Country Nationals Local & Host Country Nationals
Afghanistan Only 109, 564 31,814 39,480 38,270
Iraq Only* 9,000 2,314 4,621 2,065
Other USCENTCOM Locations 18,843 8,764 9,297 782
USCENTCOM AOR 137,407 42,892 53,398 41,117

*Includes DoD contractors supporting U.S. Mission Iraq and/or Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq

 

 

Afghanistan Summary

The distribution of contractors in Afghanistan by contracting activity are:

 

Theater Support – Afghanistan: 16,973 (15%)
LOGCAP: 40,551 (37%)
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: 7,647 (7%)
Other:* 44,393 (41%)
Total: 113,736
*Includes Defense Logistics Agency, Army Materiel Command, Air Force External and Systems Support contracts, Special Operations Command and INSCOM.

 

OEF Contractor Posture Highlights:

There are currently approximately 109.5K DoD contractors in Afghanistan. The overall contractor footprint has decreased 3.7% from the 3rd quarter FY12.

The contractor to military ratio in Afghanistan is 1.13 to 1 (based on 84.2K military).

Local Nationals make up 34.9% of the DoD contracted workforce in Afghanistan.

 

Iraq Summary

Contractor Posture Highlights:

The total number of contractors supporting the U.S. Government in Iraq (DoD+DoS) is now approximately 13.5K, which meets the USG goal of reducing the contractor population at the end of FY 2012.

The Department of Defense and Department of State continue to refine the requirements for contract support. Some contractor personnel employed under DoD contracts are supporting State Department and other civilian activities under the Chief of Mission, Iraq. These DoD contractors are provided on a reimbursable basis.

 

General Data on DoD Private Security Contractor Personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan

USCENTCOM reports, as of 4th quarter FY 2012, the following distribution of private security contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq:

 

Total* U.S. Citizens Third Country National Local & Host Country National
DoD PSCs in Afghanistan 18,914 2,014 1,437 15,413
DoD PSCs in Iraq 2,116 102 1,873 191

*These numbers include most subcontractors and service contractors hired by prime contractors under DoD contracts. They include both armed and unarmed contractors. They do not include PSCs working under DoS and USAID contracts.

October 27, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraq bomb hits private security convoy, kills four

Business Recorder October 4, 2012

BAGHDAD: A car bomb hit a private security convoy in Baghdad on Thursday, killing four people and wounding at least nine others, security and medical officials said.

The bomb exploded in the Mansur area of west Baghdad about 9:00 am (0600 GMT), killing four people and wounding nine, an interior ministry official said.

A medical source from Al-Yarmuk hospital confirmed the facility had received four bodies, but put the number of wounded at 14.

It was not immediately clear whether the casualties were bystanders, people travelling the convoy, or both. Neither official gave details on the name of the security company.

October 22, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Iraq, Private Military Contractors, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

As Iraq, Afghan wars end, private security firms adapt

Rueters October 21, 2012

* Iraq, Afghan withdrawal may mean leaner times for contractors

* Shift to guarding private sector’s oil fields and mines

* Some see big shakeout in private security industry

* U.N. member states wary of private security forces

By Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (Reuters) – On a rooftop terrace blocks from the White House, a collection of former soldiers and intelligence officers, executives and contractors drink to the international private security industry.

The past decade – particularly the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – provided rich pickings for firms providing private armed guards, drivers and other services that would once have been performed by uniformed soldiers.

But as the conflicts that helped create the modern industry wind down, firms are having to adapt to survive. They must also, industry insiders say, work to banish the controversial image of mercenary “dogs of war” that bedevil many firms, particularly in Iraq.

“This industry has always gone up and down,” Doug Brooks, president of the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA), told Reuters on the sidelines of its annual conference in Washington. “What we’re seeing now is that it is becoming much more mature – and much more responsible.”

The free-for-all atmosphere that pervaded the industry, particularly in the early years of the war in Iraq, insiders say, appears gone for good. A string of high profile incidents – often involving armed private guards firing on sometimes unarmed Iraqis – trashed the reputation of firms such as Blackwater, a Virginia-based firm since renamed several times, as well as the wider industry.

Members of the ISOA – which include some but not all of the major contracting firms as well as smaller players – subscribe to a code of conduct that they say helps identify responsible firms.

Despite these efforts, industry insiders and other observers say quality remains mixed. Some firms providing armed guards for merchant ships passing through the Somali pirate-infested Indian Ocean, for example, only hire elite personnel who have served in the Marines or special forces. Others, however, have a reputation for being less discriminating and for unreliable staff and weapons.

Please read the entire article here

October 21, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Iraq, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Military Contractor Whistleblowers Videotaped ‘Animal House On Steroids’ In Afghanistan

Excessive Partying In Kabul Illustrated In Lawsuit Brought By Ex-Employees

CBS New York  October 18, 2012

Some former military contractors have blown the whistle on ex-colleagues for drinking and partying while in Afghanistan.

Employees of Jorge Scientific, a company that provides security for U.S. personnel operating in a war zone, videotaped some private defense contractors drunk and high on drugs at a residential villa in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

The video shows co-workers wrestling and one private contractor passed out. He had to be tended to in order to keep from choking on his own vomit. A medic summoned to help appears to be nodding off as well and an empty syringe is seen at his feet, the video shows.

In another scene, their supervisor is shown staggering around a roaring bonfire in an open courtyard loudly bringing attention to what is supposed to be a secret location, CBS 2′s Lou Young reported.

The video is part of a whistleblower lawsuit brought by two ex-employees.

“It was an intelligence mission we were on. We were the security portion of the mission and there were some days some of those guys couldn’t get up out of bed. They were still so messed up from night prior, from the partying,” whistleblower John Melson told Young in a recent interview. “Many times, Kenny and myself were the only two sober personnel in the house.”

Melson and Kenny Smith said they were fired from their jobs at Jorge Scientific for objecting to the behavior they partially documented in the video.

The two said the video shows precisely the type of unsupervised activity that is making U.S. soldiers a target in Afghanistan, Young reported.

“The Americans definitely didn’t set a good image in that location. We had Afghan generals next door to us, special police all around us. Everyone was complaining about the behavior,” Smith told Young.

Please read more here

October 19, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, ArmorGroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Lawsuits, Private Military Contractors, Vetting Employees, Whistleblower | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iraq convoy was sent out despite threat

Unarmored trucks carrying needed supplies were ambushed, leaving six drivers dead. Records illuminate the fateful decision.

“Can anyone explain to me why we put civilians in the middle of known ambush sites?”

“Maybe we should put body bags on the packing list for our drivers.”

T Christian Miller The LA Times  September 3, 2007

Senior managers for defense contractor KBR overruled calls to halt supply operations in Iraq in the spring of 2004, ordering unarmored trucks into an active combat zone where six civilian drivers died in an ambush, according to newly available documents.

Company e-mails and other internal communications reveal that before KBR dispatched the convoy, a chorus of security advisors predicted an increase in roadside bombings and attacks on Iraq’s highways. They recommended suspension of convoys.

“[I] think we will get people injured or killed tomorrow,” warned KBR regional security chief George Seagle, citing “tons of intel.” But in an e-mail sent a day before the convoy was dispatched, he also acknowledged: “Big politics and contract issues involved.”

KBR was under intense pressure from the military to deliver on its multibillion-dollar contract to transport food, fuel and other vital supplies to U.S. soldiers. At Baghdad’s airport, a shortage of jet fuel threatened to ground some units.

After consulting with military commanders, KBR’s top managers decided to keep the convoys rolling. “If the [Army] pushes, then we push, too,” wrote an aide to Craig Peterson, KBR’s top official in Iraq.

The decision prompted a raging internal debate that is detailed in private KBR documents, some under court seal, that were reviewed by The Times.

One KBR management official threatened to resign when superiors ordered truckers to continue driving. “I cannot consciously sit back and allow unarmed civilians to get picked apart,” wrote Keith Richard, chief of the trucking operation.

Six American truck drivers and two U.S. soldiers were killed when the convoy rumbled into a five-mile gauntlet of weapons fire on April 9, 2004, making an emergency delivery of jet fuel to the airport. One soldier and a seventh trucker remain missing.

Recriminations began the same day.

“Can anyone explain to me why we put civilians in the middle of known ambush sites?” demanded one security advisor in an e-mail. “Maybe we should put body bags on the packing list for our drivers.”

Please read the entire story here

October 9, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractor Oversight, Contractors Missing, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, Follow the Money, Halliburton, Iraq, KBR, Lawsuits, Politics, Private Military Contractors, Safety and Security Issues, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Contractors in War Zones: Not Exactly “Contracting”

There are more contractors than troops in Afghanistan

Time’s Battleland  October 9, 2012 by David Isenberg

U.S. military forces may be out of Iraq, but the unsung and unrecognized part of America’s modern military establishment is still serving and sacrificing — the role played by private military and security contractors.

That their work is dangerous can be seen by looking at the headlines. Just last Thursday a car bomb hit a private security convoy in Baghdad, killing four people and wounding at least nine others.

That is hardly an isolated incident. According to the most recent Department of Labor statistics there were at least 121 civilian contractor deaths filed on in the third quarter of 2012. Of course, these included countries besides Iraq.

As the Defense Base Act Compensation blog notes, “these numbers are not an accurate accounting of Contractor Casualties as many injuries and deaths are not reported as Defense Base Act Claims. Also, many of these injuries will become deaths due to the Defense Base Act Insurance Companies denial of medical benefits.” To date, a total of 90,680 claims have been filed since September 1, 2001.

How many contractors are now serving on behalf of the U.S. government?

According to the most recent quarterly contractor census report issued by the U.S. Central Command, which includes both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as 18 other countries stretching from Egypt to Kazakhstan, there were approximately 137,000 contractors working for the Pentagon in its region. There were 113,376 in Afghanistan and 7,336 in Iraq. Of that total, 40,110 were U.S. citizens, 50,560 were local hires, and 46,231 were from neither the U.S. not the country in which they were working.

Put simply, there are more contractors than U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

These numbers, however, do not reflect the totality of contractors. For example, they do not include contractors working for the U.S. State Department. The CENTCOM report says that “of FY 2012, the USG contractor population in Iraq will be approximately 13.5K.  Roughly half of these contractors are employed under Department of State contracts.”

While most of the public now understands that contractors perform a lot of missions once done by troops – peeling potatoes, pulling security — they may not realize just how dependent on them the Pentagon has become.

Please read the entire post here

October 9, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractor Oversight, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, Iraq, KBR, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, State Department, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

At Least 121 Civilian Contractor Deaths in Third Quarter of 2012

According to the Department of Labor’s Defense Base Act Claim Summary Reports there were at least 121 Civilian Contractor Deaths filed on in the third quarter of 2012.

Keep in mind that these numbers are not an accurate accounting of Contractor Casualties as many injuries and deaths are not reported as Defense Base Act Claims. Also, many of these injuries will become deaths due to the Defense Base Act Insurance Companies denial of medical benefits.

Many foreign national and local national contractors and their families are never told that they are covered under the Defense Base Act and so not included in the count.

At least 18 death claims were filed for Iraq

At Least 90 death claims were filed for Afghanistan

At least 3,195 Defense Base Act Claims were filed during this quarter

At least 121 were death claims

At least 1,138 were for injuries requiring longer than 4 days off work

At least  85 were for injuries requiring less than 4 days off work

At least 1,879 were for injuries requiring no time off of work

A total of 90,680  Defense Base Act Claims have been filed since September 1, 2001

October 2, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Iraq, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Post Traumatic Stress and the Hired Gun

What is not known is the impact among those who work in the armed private security sector

“There’s loads of loose cannons running around”

BBC Scotland  October 1, 2012

Former SAS soldier Bob Paxman – who served in Iraq as well as other hostile environments – is one of a growing number of former servicemen who say they have suffered with the mental health condition Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

After a number of years in the military, Paxman retrained as a private security contractor, on protection contracts in Africa and Iraq.

He says as a result of being constantly in a dangerous environment and witnessing colleagues being killed and maimed he was diagnosed with PTSD.

The stress disorder is thought to affect up to 20% of military personnel who have served in conflict zones, according to research published by the National Center for PTSD in the US.

What is not known is the impact among those who work in the armed private security sector, many of whom are drawn from the military.

Yet the condition, says Paxman, led to him having flashbacks and becoming violent and paranoid.

“I was a danger to the public, a danger to myself,” Paxman says.

“A danger to whoever was perceived as being the enemy.”

Please read the entire article here

October 1, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Defense Base Act, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, Security Clearances, Traumatic Brain Injury, Vetting Employees | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Air carrier’s cause: An uplifting journey

Melbourne-based Atom Airways caters to private contractors’ comfortable traveling to Afghanistan

by Wayne Price at Florida Today

The flight from the United States to Afghanistan is long and, more often than not, boring and uncomfortable.

Dan Carson, founder of Atom Airways LLC, aims to change that.

Next month he plans to offer weekly flights from Melbourne International Airport to Afghanistan, focusing on transporting private contractors to the war-torn country on an upgraded wide-body Boeing 767. Carson wants to tap into defense contractors in Brevard County and across the U.S just as they start to play a bigger role in security and rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan

The flights would leave Melbourne International, stop briefly in Bucharest, Romania, and travel into Afghanistan and land at one of four airports in that country. The goal is to pamper the passengers and ensure they’re well-rested and fresh when they land, because typically contractors go right to work after clearing security.

“There is a pent-up demand for this,” said Carson, 69, a longtime commercial pilot and Indialantic resident who since 2005 has flown private contractors into Iraq.

According to the Defense Department, there were 113,491 employees of defense contractors in Afghanistan in January. Of those, 25,287, or about 22 percent, were American citizens, according to a report earlier this year in the New York Times.

Most of the major defense contractors in Brevard County have employees in Afghanistan, though they prefer for security reasons not to mention locations or itineraries.

“Melbourne is an excellent airport to come into and fly out of,” Carson said. “While there is limited service here, you can fly into Orlando from anywhere in the United States and then make the short drive to Melbourne.”

The flight from Melbourne International to Bucharest takes 9½ hours. From Bucharest, it’s about another five hours to Afghanistan

The 24-year-old aircraft, last used by the Australian-based air carrier Qantas, has been modified to make traveling more comfortable. The jet’s 206 seats have been reduced to 150 seats to give the passengers in coach class more legroom.

Passengers also will be provided with pillows, blankets, iPads loaded with games, DVD players, movies and food from Chantilly, Va.-based Rudy’s Inflight Catering.

“They can sleep whenever they want and they can eat whenever they want,” Carson said. “They have a real nice comfortable ride, which is good for them.”

Atom’s jet is owned by EL Management LLC, a Miami-based private investment company that purchases and leases aircraft, and also sells parts for aircraft.

The first flight from Melbourne to Afghanistan is scheduled for Oct. 12. Carson won’t say how many people have booked flights but indicated its fewer than the 150 available seats. That’s partially on purpose, he said, so he and the flight staff can work out any kinks in the operation.

Marcie Hascall Clark, whose husband was a civilian contractor seriously wounded in Iraq, likes the idea behind Atom Airways. Clark operates a support group and website called “Civilian Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“It’s a long flight and most of the time you have to spend a couple of days in Dubai,” said Clark, who lives in Satellite Beach and blogs about civilian contracting issues.

“Contracting over there probably is going to stay lucrative for some years to come, so he should be in a good position to continue,” she said.

Carson, who previously ran flights for the U.S. State Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also hopes to fold a tourism charter business into Atom’s strategic plan, which would involve bringing Eastern Europeans to Central Florida and vice versa, since Bucharest is a key leg of the route.

In Melbourne, the company has 25 employees and plans to ramp up a sales and marketing and operations staff of 200 during the next two years and lease office space at Melbourne International.

Currently the most common way to get to Afghanistan on a non-military flight is to fly to Dubai on Delta Air Lines or United Airlines from a major U.S. airport. From there, a traveler usually has to choose from a list of foreign commercial carriers like Air Arabia or Pakistan International Airlines.

Atom’s round trip cost to Afghanistan is $3,850 for coach and $5,250 for business class. The fares are higher than other airlines but Carson said Atom allows modifications up to 48 hours prior to takeoff without penalties.

With the other airlines, those penalties can run into the thousands of dollars if last-minute scheduling changes are needed, Carson said.

Please see the original and read more here

September 26, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tierney and Cummings Seek Administration Help on Legislation to Save Taxpayers Billions on Defense Base Act Insurance

“IT”S TIME TO FIX THIS PROGRAM”

Washington, DC (Sept. 11, 2012)— September 17, 2012

Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. John F. Tierney, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations, sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget requesting support for, and input on, H.R. 5891, The Defense Base Act Insurance Improvement Act of 2012.

“This is a common-sense bill that would save the American taxpayers billions of dollars,” said Tierney. “Numerous government audits have concluded that we are paying too much for workers’ compensation insurance for overseas government contractors, and that these workers aren’t getting what they deserve. It’s time to fix this program.”

The legislation would transition the existing Defense Base Act (DBA) insurance program to a government self-insurance program. According to a 2009 Pentagon study, this change could save as much as $250 million a year. The study found: “In the long run, the self-insurance alternative may have the greatest potential for minimizing DBA insurance costs, and it has several administrative and compliance advantages as well.”

“We are sponsoring this legislation because several audits of the current DBA program have documented enormous unnecessary costs incurred by taxpayers,” Cummings and Tierney wrote.

The existing system has been a boondoggle for private insurance companies, which have reaped enormous profits under the program. According to an Oversight Committee investigation, insurance companies providing DBA insurance in Iraq and Afghanistan have made enormous underwriting profits that are significantly higher than those of traditional workers’ compensation insurers.

The letter from Tierney and Cummings requests support for the legislation and notes that “OMB may be evaluating similar options.”

September 18, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractors Kidnapped, Contractors Missing, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, Follow the Money, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joe Biden’s Uncounted Angels

by David Isenberg at Huffington Post  September 11, 2012

No disrespect to Beau, Biden’s son, who served honorably in Iraq but perhaps if he was working  for KBR or Academi, instead of the Delaware National Guard, Biden might have been more sensitive to those who are also sacrificing.

If you weren’t listening closely you might have missed it but last week, at the Democratic national convention, Vice President Joe Biden gave a major diss to the private military and security contracting (PMSC) industry.

In the course of his speech he said:

And tonight — (applause) — and tonight — tonight I want to acknowledge — I want to acknowledge, as we should every night, the incredible debt we owe to the families of those 6,473 fallen angels and those 49,746 wounded, thousands critically, thousands who will need our help for the rest of their lives.
Folks, we never — we must never, ever forget their sacrifice and always keep them in our care and in our prayers.

Biden might actually be a bit off; another famed Biden gaffe perhaps. The official Pentagon estimate through Sept. 7 for fatalities, which includes Defense Department civilians is 6,594 but their wounded estimate is exactly the same as Biden’s.

Don’t get me wrong. As an American and military veteran the toll of the military dead and wounded, especially those killed or wounded in Iraq, a war of choice, not necessity, tears at me. All these deaths and casualties should be remembered.

But as long as we are going to do body counts let us not low ball. What about all the PMSC personnel who have also made the ultimate sacrifice?

I’ve written about this before but since this is such an unappreciated subject, let’s review.

The U.S. Department of Labor publishes figures based on data maintained by its Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, saying, “These reports do not constitute the complete or official casualty statistics of civilian contractor injuries and deaths.” These figures are not that useful as they refer to numbers of claims filed and not actual total fatalities. Their wounded totals also include figures for those injuries where there was no lost time or where lost time was just three or four days.

Still, through June 30 this year, the number of claims filed for Iraq and Afghanistan total 47,673 and 17,831, respectively. The number of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are 1,569 and 1,173. So that’s 2,742 dead “fallen angels”, who were working to support U.S. troops, diplomats, and private firms per overall U.S. goals in those countries, that Biden did not include.

By the way, to get an idea of the sheer Joe Heller surrealism of trying to track contractor casualties see this post by Overseas Civilian Contractors.

A better sense of the toll can be seen in this 2010 paper written by Prof. Steve Schooner and Colin Swan of George Washington University Law School. As they noted:

As of June 2010, more than 2,008 contractors have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another 44 contractors killed were in Kuwait, many of whom supported the same missions. On top of that, more than 44,000 contractors have been injured, of which more than 16,000 were seriously wounded (see Figure 3). While these numbers rarely see the light of day, Figure 1 reflects the startling fact that contractor deaths now represent over twenty-five (25) percent of all U.S. fatalities since the beginning of these military actions.

In fact, in recent years contractors have, proportionately speaking, sacrificed even more than regular forces.

What is even more striking is that — in both Iraq and Afghanistan — contractors are bearing an increasing proportion of the annual death toll. In 2003, contractor deaths represented only 4 percent of all fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan. From 2004 to 2007, that number rose to 27 percent. From 2008 to the second quarter of 2010, contractor fatalities accounted for an eye-popping 40 percent of the combined death toll. In the first two quarters of 2010 alone, contractor deaths represented more than half — 53 percent — of all fatalities. This point bears emphasis: since January 2010, more contractors have died in Iraq and Afghanistan than U.S. military soldiers. In other words, contractors supporting the war effort today are losing more lives than the U.S. military waging these wars. Indeed, two recent estimates suggest private security personnel working for DoD in Iraq and Afghanistan — a small percentage of the total contractor workforce in these regions — were 1.8 to 4.5 times more likely to be killed than uniformed personnel.

No disrespect to Beau, Biden’s son, who served honorably in Iraq but perhaps if he was worked for KBR or Academi, instead of the Delaware National Guard, Biden might have been more sensitive to those who are also sacrificing.

By the way, lest you think I’m a Republican partisan, neither Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney at the Republican national convention so much as mentioned Iraq or Afghanistan, let alone casualties. That might be funny, if it wasn’t so pathetic, given that this is the party that normally falls all over itself, playing up its supposed support for wartime sacrifice.

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September 11, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, Iraq, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Company once known as Blackwater settles arms case

MICHAEL BIESECKER | August 7, 2012 05:14 PM EST | Associated PressAP at Huffington Post


RALEIGH, N.C. — The international security contractor formerly known as Blackwater has agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine to settle federal criminal charges related to arms smuggling and other crimes.

Documents unsealed Tuesday in a U.S. District Court in North Carolina said the company, now called Academi LLC, agreed to pay the fine as part of a deferred prosecution agreement to settle 17 violations.

The list includes possessing automatic weapons in the United States without registration, lying to federal firearms regulators about weapons provided to the king of Jordan, passing secret plans for armored personnel carriers to Sweden and Denmark and illegally shipping body armor overseas.

Federal prosecutors said it settles a long and complex case against the company, which has held billions in U.S. security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

August 7, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Lawsuits, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , | 1 Comment

Overseas Contractor Count Trends for Past 5 Quarters

The Overseas Contractor Count published by the Pentagon reports DoD contractor personnel numbers in theater and covers DoD contractor personnel deployed in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Iraq, and the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR).

These four graphs show the figures for the past five quarters and you can clearly see some interesting trends.

Total Contractors

U.S. Citizen Contractors

Third Country National Contractors

 

Host Country / Local Contractors

 

August 3, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Iraq, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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