Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Left Behind in Iraq

Obama’s withdrawal strategy offers no serious solutions for America’s Iraqi employees, who are likely to enter the war’s worst days once the United States is gone.

by Kirk W Johnson at Foreign Policy

America is leaving Iraq. We already itch to forget. The U.S. media gave more coverage to the elections in Zimbabwe than those held in March across Iraq. We award Oscars to films about Iraq, but don’t particularly care to watch them. The seventh anniversary of the U.S. invasion passed recently, with little notice.

Another regrettable anniversary recently passed, one from which U.S. President Barack Obama might take heed. The fall of Saigon 35 years ago marked the end of the Vietnam War and the beginning of a seismic refugee crisis. An eleventh-hour request for $722 million to evacuate the thousands of South Vietnamese who had assisted the United States went unfunded by a war-weary Congress. What ensued in those early morning hours on the rooftops of Saigon, as desperate Vietnamese clamored beneath departing helicopters, would be the war’s final image seared into the American conscience. Al Jazeera rebroadcast these scenes of abandonment throughout 2005, when I worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Baghdad and Fallujah. My Iraqi colleagues who risked their lives to help us were demoralized by the footage, and constantly worried about what would happen to them when we left.

Since my return, I have been trying to help thousands of Iraqis who fled the assassin’s bullet. They have been tortured, raped, abducted, and killed because they worked for America. My organization, The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies, assists these imperiled Iraqis in navigating the straits of the winding U.S. refugee resettlement bureaucracy. Although it is the largest single list in existence of U.S.-affiliated Iraqis, at several thousand names, our list is only a reflection of a much larger community. Estimates vary, but between 50,000 to 70,000 Iraqis have been employed by the United States over the past seven years. It is likely that thousands have already been killed as “traitors” or “agents” of America. (I have a separate list documenting hundreds of assassinated interpreters who worked for just one contractor, a small but gruesome glimpse.) And while I once thought that the dark years of Iraq’s 2006-2008 civil war were the bleakest for these Iraqis, I am increasingly concerned that the worst days are yet ahead.

The U.S. military is now aggressively redeploying from Iraq and will have pulled half of its 100,000 troops out by the end of August. Lt. Gen. WilliamWebster, who commands the U.S. 3rd Army, reflected on the historic dimension of the logistics operation in March: “Hannibal trying to move over the Alps had a tremendous logistics burden, but it was nothing like the complexity we are dealing with now.” Tens of thousands of troops have been reassigned to this effort, which will dismantle hundreds of bases in the coming months. The military’s logistic experts have planned it out so well, they say, that they can even track a coffee pot on its journey from Baghdad to Birmingham.

Impressive as this might be, it ignores a fundamental oversight in the Obama administration’s vaunted withdrawal strategy: There are no serious contingency plans to evacuate the thousands of Iraqis who’ve worked for the United States and live alongside U.S. troops and civilian officials as interpreters, engineers, and advisors. When the U.S. military shutters its bases, these Iraqis will be cut loose to run the resettlement gauntlet, which typically takes a year or more.  Please Read the Full Story here

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Contractor killed in insurgent attack at U.S. base in Afghanistan

Washington Post

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Insurgents, some of them wearing suicide vests, attacked one of the U.S. military’s largest and most populous bases Wednesday morning, the second ambitious attack in as many days and a sign that the Taliban movement may have launched its yearly spring offensive`

There are few installations as well fortified as Bagram Airfield, but this did not stop insurgents from staging a pre-dawn assault with gunfire, rockets and grenades. The fighting, which broke out at more than one location outside Bagram, killed one U.S. contractor, injured nine U.S. service members and inflicted minor damage on one of the base buildings, military officials said.

The guard force on the base battled insurgents intensely for about two hours, until about 6 a.m., but sporadic gunfire could be heard for several more hours. Ten of the attackers, including four wearing explosives, were killed in the assault, officials said.

“Though it is clear the enemy intended a spectacular event” at Bagram Airfield, “they were unable to breach the perimeter and unable to detonate their suicide vests,” U.S. Army Lt. Col. Clarence Count Jr., a military spokesman, said in a statement.

The assault on Bagram came a day after a suicide car bomber targeted a U.S. convoy in Kabul, killing five U.S. troops, a Canadian and at least 12 Afghan civilians. That was the deadliest day of the year for American troops, as two more died in separate bombings.

he Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks. Earlier this month, the Taliban announced its own planned offensive to counter the NATO efforts that are focused on the southern city of Kandahar. The radical Islamist group called its operation “al-Fatah,” or Victory. Fighting in Afghanistan usually tapers off in the cold winter months and then accelerates in the spring and summer.

The choice of Bagram as a target surprised many people. Insurgents tend to avoid confronting American military might head-on, particularly such a large installation.

Insurgents have fired rockets at the base in the past, but the assault was “not something that commonly happens quite in this way,” said Master Sgt. Tom Clementson, a U.S. military spokesman.

“That’s a dog chasing a school bus. You don’t attack Bagram with 20 guys,” one U.S. official said. “Either they’re crazy or brave or both.”   Original Story here

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties | , , , , , , | Leave a comment