Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Wartime Contracting Commission Team in Iraq to Examine Issues with Private Security Contractors

May 17, 2010  National Contract Management Association

ARLINGTON, VA, May 14, 2010 – A team of commissioners and staff from the independent federal Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan has arrived in Iraq for an extended examination of issues with the use and oversight of private security contractors. Commission staff will also be briefed on overall contracting practices supporting the U.S. military drawdown in Iraq.

Thousands of private security contractor employees work in Iraq for the Departments of Defense and State, and for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Working for companies like Aegis, DynCorp, and Triple Canopy, private security contractors guard convoys, protect forward military bases, provide personal protection, and train Iraqi security personnel. Although considered non-combatants, they are generally armed and authorized to use force in their duties.

“American taxpayers are paying for billions of dollars’ worth of services from private security contractors,” said commission Co-Chair Michael Thibault, “but there are a lot of troubling questions about contract management and oversight, use of force, interagency coordination, use of subcontractors, and transition planning as the United States prepares to exit Iraq. We’ll be looking at all of them to add to the knowledge gained from our stateside research and public hearings.”

The team of two commissioners and six staff will meet with security officials from State, USAID, and Defense, as well as representatives of the Iraqi government and security contractors. The team’s seven-day agenda in Iraq includes meetings in Baghdad and at military bases in the countryside.

Apart from coordination and cost issues, the Commission on Wartime Contracting is looking at private security contracting as part of its mandate to examine inherently governmental functions. “There’s a vigorous debate in policy circles whether or to what extent security can or should be contracted out in combat zones,” said Co-Chair Christopher Shays. “As we saw in 2007 at Nisur Square in Baghdad, when private security guards killed or wounded 34 Iraqi civilians, contractor incidents can have a direct and devastating effect on United States objectives and public support for our presence. At the same time, properly managed contractors can reduce the strain on U.S. military personnel.”

Information gathered during the Iraq trip will help shape commission recommendations for statutory or administrative changes on contingency contracting, and will contribute to framing the final report to Congress that is due in summer 2011.

Congress created the Commission in 2008 (Public Law 110-181) to examine contingency contracting for reconstruction, logistics, and security functions, and to recommend improvements. Co-chairs are Michael Thibault and Christopher Shays; other members are Clark Kent Ervin, Grant Green, Robert Henke, Katherine Schinasi, Charles Tiefer, and Dov Zakheim. The Commission website is http://www.wartimecontracting.gov.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Wartime Contracting | , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Britons feared dead after Afghan flight disappears over Hindu Kush

Three Britons are among more than 40 passengers and crew feared dead after an Afghan domestic flight crashed over the Hindu Kush mountains

One American Citizen believed to be on board

View the Video here

Chris Carter, David Taylor and Daniel Saville were named as the three Britons on board the flight, which is thought to have crashed in foggy conditions on Monday morning.

The commercial flight, operated by an Afghan airline, was en route from the northern city of Kunduz to the Afghan capital Kabul when it disappeared over the Salang Pass at around 8.30am.

Rescuers attempting to find the wreckage – thought to be some some 12,000ft up in the Hindu Kush – were forced to turn back because of the poor weather conditions.

“The weather is very bad,” said General Rajab, commander of the Salang Pass for the Afghan Ministry of Public Works. “It is snowing. There is flooding.”

The American-led Nato force in Afghanistan dispatched a plane and two helicopters to assist a search and rescue operation after air traffic controllers lost touch with the flight.

Captain Robert Leese, a Nato spokesman, said the aircraft got within four miles of the crash site.

“All eyes were searching for the plane but the fog was so bad you couldn’t tell where the mountain began and the fog ended,” he said.

An Afghan rescue team of 70 was last night searching the area on foot. Colonel Nabiullah, who was in charge of the southern portion of the pass, said: “The only way they can search is on foot. The helicopters can’t get in.”

A US citizen is also thought to be among the six foreigners who formed part of the 38 passengers and six crew aboard the Pamir Airways flight.

The occupations of the British citizens are not yet known – although private contractors helping in the country’s reconstruction commonly use the commerical flights to travel between bases.

According to Mohammad Asif Jabar Khil, the police chief at Kabul airport, the flight went down around 60 miles north of the Afghan capital.

Searches were focusing near the 13,350ft pass, which forms the main link between the capital and northern Afghanistan, and the nearby Panjshir valley, but cloud, snow and flooding were hampering rescue efforts.

Afghanistan has seen a boom in domestic and international flights in recent years, with all major cities connected by regular services.

Aircraft belonging to the military and civilian contractors crash fairly regularly in Afghanistan, although crashes involving planes from commercial carriers are less common.

The last major crash involving a passenger aircraft in Afghanistan happened in February 2005, when a Boeing 737 operated by private Afghan carrier Kam Air crashed in a snowstorm near Kabul, killing 104 passengers and crew.

Kabul-based Pamir Airways is one of three major private Afghan airlines and started operations in 1995. It has daily flights to major Afghan cities and also operates flights to Dubai and to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage.

According to its website, the airline uses Antonov 24 type aircraft on all its Kunduz-to-Kabul flights. The two-engine turboprop can carry a maximum of 52 passengers, according to Aviation Safety Network. The network said production

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Army helmet recall stems from legal probe

By ANNE FLAHERTY (AP) – Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Army says its recall of 44,000 combat helmets last week resulted from a Justice Department investigation into an Ohio-based military contractor called ArmorSource.

The Army told reporters Monday it decided to retest the helmets after learning about the legal probe. Army officials said the tests showed that the helmets would not protect a solider against a rare but “worst case scenario” of being hit by multiple gun shots at a specific angle.

Army officials say they don’t know of any injuries related to the recalled helmets, which have been distributed to soldiers worldwide. Some have been discovered already in Afghanistan.

US Army recalls helmets amid probe into contractor

WASHINGTON — The US Army has recalled 44,000 helmets that failed ballistic tests and federal authorities are investigating the firm that manufactured them, officers said on Monday.

The helmets, made by ArmorSource in Hebron, Ohio, were issued to American troops since 2007, including an unknown number of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, Brigadier General Pete Fuller told reporters.

“We don’t know where they (helmets) are. So they could be on some soldier’s head in either Iraq or Afghanistan. They could also be anywhere else in the world,” Fuller said.

The move came amid a probe by the Justice Department, which launched an investigation in January into ArmorSource’s helmet contract, and after a recent round of tests raised concerns, Fuller said.

The helmets were subjected to “worst case scenarios” at a Maryland shooting range and while they failed to meet the army’s standards, the test results gave no indication soldiers would be at risk of lethal injury, officers said.

“In ballistic tests, the helmets fell short of the Army standards, not by much, but the standards are absolute. And if you don’t meet them, you don’t meet them,” said Colonel William Cole.

The test results on the helmet came a day after the Justice Department officials provided “critical additional details” about their investigation, prompting the Pentagon to launch the recall, Fuller said.

Officials declined to offer details of the Justice Department investigation.

The military had an ample supply of the same helmets made by three other contractors that would allow troops to exchange the recalled helmets manufactured by ArmorSource, officers said.

Some soldiers in Afghanistan had already exchanged their helmets after commanders were notified last Thursday.

“We’re doing due diligence… (because) a vendor under investigation might not have done all they should have done, we wanted to ensure there’s no risk ever put to our soldiers,” Fuller said.

“So we’re recalling all the helmets associated with that vendor.”

The army first had concerns about the contractor’s work last year as paint on the helmet was peeling off, said Fuller, who oversees equipping army troops.

The Advanced Combat Helmet is standard issue for all Army troops and is also used by the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard. The Marine Corps use a slightly lighter version that has also been recalled, but those helmets had not been distributed yet, officers said.

The 44,000 recalled helmets — which cost 250 dollars each — represent about four percent of the total number of Advanced Combat Helmets in the military’s inventory, Fuller said.

Under an August 2006 contract, ArmorSource manufactured 102,000 helmets. Of that number, 44,000 were distributed to troops and have been recalled, while 55,000 are still in storage and the military refused to accept the remaining 3,000, Fuller said.

As a result of the tests and ongoing investigation, all the helmets made by ArmorSource in the military’s inventory will be destroyed, he said.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Contractor Corruption | , , | 2 Comments

Aussie Contractor on death row will offer compensation

A lawyer for an Australian man sentenced to death for murder in Afghanistan says his client’s family will try to have the judgment overturned by paying compensation to the victim’s family.

Robert Langdon’s predicament began when he shot dead an Afghan colleague while reportedly working as a contractor for US-based security firm Four Horsemen International.

Langdon, a 38-year-old former soldier in the Australian Army, claimed he shot the man in self-defence, but an Afghan court found him guilty of murder in October last year and sentenced him to death by hanging.

The South Australian man’s lawyer, Stephen Kenny, says under Islamic law the family is able to make a payment of tens of thousands of dollars to a local court.

“My hope is that it will result in the death penalty coming off the table and in an ideal situation … we may be able to seek his release back to Australia,” Mr Kenny said.

He understands the payment will be offered to a local court this week, before a Supreme Court appeal is due to be heard.

“In the ibra court my understanding is it is about the compensation, about the forgiveness of the family, which is a serious feature of Islamic law,” he said.

Langdon’s sister Katie Godfrey says her brother’s health is suffering in prison.

“He has lost over 20 kilo, for him to lose 20 kilo when he’s already lean, I just dread to think what he looks like now,” she said.

Tens of thousands of security contractors work in Afghanistan and their numbers are increasing.

Analysts say the presence of this private army is a source of tension between Afghanistan’s government and its Western allies.

In recent years the Afghan government has allowed foreign security contractors accused of crimes to be dealt with in their home country Story here

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The forgotten four: kidnapped in 2006 but families still wait

No one knows whether they are dead or alive. The families of four South African men kidnapped in Baghdad in 2006 are desperate for news of their loved ones — but fear that their plight has been forgotten, at home and in Iraq.

Unlike the case of the recently freed British hostage Peter Moore and his four guards — three died and one is missing — no one has claimed responsibility for the South African hostage taking.

No video has emerged and no ransom or political demands have been made. Instead, the families of Andre Durant, Johann Enslin, Callie Scheepers and Hardus Greef, all security guards, have endured 3½ years of unanswered questions and silence.

Lourika Durant, whose husband, the father of her three children, is among the captives, refuses to give up. “I really hope that people read about this and maybe there will be somebody who can help give us a contact or let us know that they are alive,” said Mrs Durant, 38, who works as a nurse in Pretoria.

Pierre Durant, her brother-in-law, believes that he is the only person still actively looking for the men, who were seized at a rogue police checkpoint in the north east of the Iraqi capital on December 10, 2006. He has travelled to Iraq eight times to hunt for clues and to attempt to put pressure on the authorities to investigate the case. At one point in the past year he managed to speak to his brother on a mobile phone, raising hopes of a resolution, but the trail has since run cold.

Mr Durant, 42, and other close relatives of the four hostages contacted by The Times, appealed to the kidnappers to show mercy. “We as a family are not looking for justice or retribution,” Mr Durant said. “If these guys are alive then we want to negotiate for their release. If they’ve been killed then I just want their bodies back so we can try to get on with our lives.”

Thousands of people, mainly Iraqis, were kidnapped and held for ransom or political gain in the lawlessness that consumed the country after the 2003 invasion. Among them were more than 200 foreign hostages. Some, such as Mr Moore, were freed and others killed, while the rest are listed as missing.

The four South Africans, who worked for Safenet Security Services, a South African private security company, were in a convoy close to Sadr City, a notorious Shia slum, when they were taken by gunmen in police uniforms.

Five Iraqi men travelling with them were also seized, but released a few days later.

Mr Durant, who has collected more than 500 pages of evidence in the search for his brother, believes that the League of the Righteous — the same Iranian-backed Shia terrorist group that kidnapped Mr Moore and his guards in May 2007 — is behind the abduction. He also suspects that the four are being held in a secret Iraqi jail, a theory reached after the covert conversation with his brother.

“He kept on saying that ‘they are keeping us in atrocious conditions’,” Mr Durant said, recalling the phone call, which was made from a restaurant in south Baghdad. “He described to me how they are being treated in the jail — he used the word jail. He said that they are given food every three days and tortured.”

The hostage, 39, told his brother that he was with two of his colleagues but did not know the whereabouts of the fourth man.

Mr Durant, a former prosecutor who paid $5,000 (£3,300) to a middleman to make the call, said that he had no doubt the person he spoke to was his brother.

“I spoke to my brother in Afrikaans. I asked him three questions that only he could answer. He was very downhearted. His mental condition was not good. But he got upbeat again because I had spoken to him. I said we are looking for him.”

The South African Government — which has no embassy in Iraq — along with the Iraqi Government and the American Embassy in Baghdad, insist that they are trying to find the four men — but, so far, without any tangible result.

The families feel abandoned. The last time that the wives of the hostages had an official meeting with their Government was two years ago. Chris Enslin, the brother of Johann, 48, said: “There is no help from anyone. It is frustrating because there are no answers after all this time. I am sitting here looking at my parents growing old and that is killing me — the fact that I am basically helpless.”

Safenet, which no longer operates under that name in Iraq, said that it was in regular contact with a hostage negotiator who continues to investigate the matter. The company’s efforts, however, have been criticised by the families. “They’re not giving us any support. The only person looking for these four men is me,” Mr Durant said.

His work appears to be the one element keeping hope alive for the nine children, four wives, ageing parents and other anxious relatives of the hostages. Mona Scheepers, 73, the mother of Mr Scheepers, 49, said she believed that her son was still alive. In a message to the kidnappers she said: “Soften your hearts and please send them back to us, in the name of God.”

Original here

Previous Story Wives of Baghdad four appeal for help

See Also  Still No Progress on Kidnapping of South African Contractors

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, State Department | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment