Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Security contractors could face new rules

Roxanna Tiron at The Hill

House defense authorizers are pressing ahead with efforts to weed out fraud, waste and performance debacles that have plagued private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee are expected to approve several provisions in the 2011 defense authorization bill that would establish standards for how private security contractors would win Pentagon business.

Private security contractors have lobbied for the changes, arguing that higher standards and more oversight would ensure that contracts go to legitimate companies. The Armed Services Readiness subcommittee already vetted the provisions under consideration.

House lawmakers are trying to establish a third-party certification process to determine whether private security contractors should be eligible for Pentagon contracts. Defense authorizers are requiring the Defense secretary to establish a third-party certification process for “specified operational and business practice standards to which private security contractors must adhere” as a condition of being selected as contractors.

It has not yet been determined whom the “third party” issuing the certifications would be, but the provisions aim to establish a baseline for acceptable contractor performance, industry officials said.

It would ensure that “everybody is up to the same standard,” said Doug Brooks, the president of the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA), which represents the Association of the Stability Operations Industry and has advocated for the provision. “We support the concept that somebody would check on how these companies do everything they are supposed to.”

Private security contractors have tried to convince lawmakers to support contracts that offer the best value rather than just the lowest price. As a result, defense authorizers are seeking to establish a pilot program within the Pentagon that would implement best-value standards for private security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The contracts awarded under the pilot program would continue until they are supposed to expire even if the pilot program is terminated, according to language in the defense authorization bill awaiting a full committee vote. The Defense secretary has to provide to the committee each Jan. 15 for three years a report identifying the contracts awarded under the pilot program, including the consideration that led to the award of the contract.

“The best-value language would avoid the race to the bottom,” said Jeff Green, who lobbies for IPOA.

Avoiding contracts that are awarded solely on the lowest-cost criterion would go to the heart of the private security industry’s efforts to preserve good standing. Lowest bidders often trim “some of the ethical aspects of their operations to save money,” said IPOA’s Brooks.

Companies could cut their training standards or the vetting of their own employees to keep costs low, explained Brooks.

“In the long run it will provide enormous value for U.S. taxpayers,” Brooks said. The best-value concept “focuses more on getting the mission done right rather than simply saving money.”  Read the full story here

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Silence May be Golden, But It is Also Confusing

by David Isenberg at Huff Post

Back In January I wrote about an article by Air Force Maj. Chad Carter who wrote an article in the fall 2009 issue of Military Law Review that contested legal popular wisdom that the “political question doctrine” means that tort claim cases by military members and U.S. civilians injured in Iraq and Afghanistan must not proceed.

Now another military lawyer has weighed in on the subject. Lt Col. Chris Jenks, of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, who is currently assigned as the Chief of the International Law Branch, the Office of the Judge Advocate, writes in an article titled “Square Peg in a Round Hole: Government Contractor Battlefield Tort Liability and the Political Question Doctrine” in the Berkeley Journal of International Law, that while reliance on contractors is nothing new, the current utilization of contractors is both quantitatively and qualitatively different than in previous military operations. While the sheer number of contractors used by the military on the battlefield is unprecedented the U.S. Government does not know how many contractors it employs in Iraq and Afghanistan nor is it tracking the number of contract employees wounded or killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Please Read the Full Post here

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cyberwar Cassandras Get $400 Million in Conflict Cash

The Danger Room at Wired

by Noah Shachtman

Coincidences sure are funny things. Booz Allen Hamilton — the defense contractor that’s become synonymous with the idea that the U.S. is getting its ass kicked in an ongoing cyberwar — has racked up more than $400 million worth of deals in the past six weeks to help the Defense Department fight that digital conflict. Strange how that worked out, huh?

Everyone in the Pentagon from Defense Secretary Bob Gates on down says that the military needs to cut its reliance on outside contractors. But few firms are as well-connected as Booz Allen, the one-time management consultancy that today pulls in more than $2.7 billion in government work. And few firms sound the alarm as loudly about a crisis that they’re in the business of fixing. Back in February, for instance, former National Security Agency director and Booz Allen Hamilton executive vice president Mike McConnell declared that “the United States is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing.” The White House’s information security czar is one of many experts who calls such rhetoric overheated, at best. That hasn’t stopped Booz Allen from pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars from Washington to wage those battles.

Booz Allen’s latest awards were announced last Thursday — nine contracts with the Air Force, totaling over $150 million. One deal gives the firm $24 million to “provide combat-ready forces to conduct secure cyber operations in and through the electromagnetic spectrum.” A $19.8 million contract asks Booz Allen to “define information assurance scientific and technical analysis to be applied to future military satellite communication systems development.” Earlier in the month, the company got $14 million to “provide threat monitoring, detection, characterization, and actionable information for the computer network operations in order to help advance Department of Defense Global Information Grid initiative and nationally oriented cyber security priorities.”  Read the More of the Story here

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contract Awards, Contracts Awarded | , , , , | Leave a comment

Air Force team transfers base security

Master Sgt. Martie Moore
506th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

5/17/2010 – Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq (AFNS) — More than 280 security contractors arrived here May 9 to aid in the U.S. Air Force drawdown in Iraq.

The 506th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron will transfer authority for base security to the Army May 21. The contractors employed by Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions are part of the Army’s overall security plan.

The squadron is the first Air Force unit to fully withdraw from Kirkuk Regional Air Base since the buildup of forces happened on April 23, 2003, nearly one month after Operation Iraqi Freedom started.

“We leave first because we are the ones the Air Force support function is here for,” explained Lt. Col. Theodore Ruminsky, 506th ESFS commander.

“Security forces personnel make up more than a third of the personnel in the 506th Air Expeditionary Group. When security forces leave, the burden on the other 506th AEG functions that support the ESFS mission is greatly reduced,” said Colonel Ruminsky, who is deployed from the 934th Security Forces Squadron at Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station, Minn.

The security contractor guards from Sierra Leone started integrating and training immediately.

“They will take over all the security forces and force protection requirements on the base such as perimeter security posts, main entry control point operations and escort duty,” said Maj. Sam Dickson, 506th ESFS operations officer who is deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif.

The plan is that the transition will be seamless to the base populace. However, with any major change there will be growing pains.

“There may be delays at the gates and there will no longer be police services patrols which the (unit) provided,” said Major Dickson.

After Aug. 31, the mission of United States forces in Iraq will change. U.S. forces will have three tasks: train, equip, and advise the Iraqi security forces; conduct targeted counterterrorism operations; and provide force protection for military and civilian personnel.

With the drawdown of the security force members at Kirkuk they are now available to pursue other missions.

“This frees up more than 250 security forces troop requirements, currently filled by the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard, which would have otherwise levied active duty members,” said Colonel Ruminsky. “This will help reduce the one to one dwell rate on the active duty side of the career field, so this is a big deal. Now forces are available for other emerging AOR requirements.”

“The Air Reserve component security forces personnel have been averaging a one to four dwell for mobilization, which is actually pretty high considering these are citizen Airmen with full-time careers outside of the Air Force,” added the colonel.

As for the security at Kirkuk the contractors are soaking up the knowledge of the seasoned security forces team.

“They’ve got a really good attitude, I think it’s going to work out fine,” said Senior Master Sgt. Steven Fode, 506th ESFS sector superintendant deployed from Beale AFB, Calif.  “They are eager to learn.”

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Civilian Contractors Receive Defense of Freedom Medal

War on Terror News
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – Three KBR, Inc. employees received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Defense of Freedom in a ceremony, May 1, at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.The Defense of Freedom Medal is the civilian equivalent of the military’s Purple Heart Medal. It is awarded to civilian employees working in support of the Department of Defense who are injured or fatally wounded by hostile fire while in the line of duty.Robert Martin Jr., a heavy truck driver with KBR’s

Iraq Theater Transportation Mission and a Lindale, Texas, native, sustained a gunshot wound while driving in a flatbed convoy mission Dec. 5, 2005.

Lawrence Reynolds, a heavy truck driver with KBR’s Iraq’s TTM and a Tulsa, Okla., native, received shrapnel wounds and later had a cardiac episode as a result of an improvised explosive device detonation on his convoy, June 6, 2006.

Lemmis Stephens Jr., a tank driver and fuel technician with KBR and a Houston native, sustained bilateral eye injuries when an incoming round exploded 70 feet from his bus, sending shrapnel through his windshield.

All three contractors have since returned to work in Iraq.

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, KBR | , , , , , , | Leave a comment