Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Toxic Sand: Another Enemy in Afghanistan?

American forces in Afghanistan, who already face roadside bombs and insurgent attacks, may be dealing with an environmental enemy as well — toxic sand that can damage their brains, according to a recent Navy study.

In a presentation at a neurotoxicology conference in Portland, Ore., earlier this month, Palur G. Gunasekar, a senior scientist with the Navy Environmental Health Effects Laboratory, said that dust kicked up in sandstorms contains manganese and other metals. “The sand is a risk factor for inducing neurotoxicity,” Gunasekar said. Compounds that are neurotoxic are those that damage the nervous system or the brain.

The Navy said the findings are preliminary and that so far no definitive link has been found between the inhalation of sand and brain damage. Still, the study followed reports that returning soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq are experiencing impairments such as memory loss and difficulty concentrating, which may not always be attributable to traumatic brain injuries.

Gunasekar told the group, most of them academic and government scientists, that he and his colleagues focused on “subtle environmental issues that our soldiers face.” Troops caught in sandstorms may inhale toxic particles, which can be carried to the brain, lungs and other organs. “Once they return…they complain about respiratory problems and also they complain about some of the cognitive functions,” he said.

June 27, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Iraq, Pentagon, Private Military Contractors, Toxic | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Troubled contractor gets Afghanistan security deal

By KIMBERLY DOZIER

The Associated Press at the Washington Post
Sunday, June 27, 2010; 11:11 AM

WASHINGTON — CIA Director Leon Panetta says the agency has hired Xe (zee) Services – the company once known as Blackwater – for a $100 million contract to provide security in Afghanistan.

He says Xe underbid others by $26 million and that a CIA review concludes that the contractor has cleaned up its act.

Panetta says Moyock, N.C.-based Xe does not engage in actual CIA operations, but instead helps secure agency bases in war zones. Seven CIA employees, including security contractors, were killed in a suicide bombing in Khost, Afghanistan, in December.

Blackwater guards allegedly opened fire on unarmed civilians in Baghdad in 2007, killing 17 people. A federal grand jury has indicted five Blackwater officials on conspiracy weapons and obstruction of justice charges.

June 27, 2010 Posted by | Blackwater, CIA, Civilian Contractors, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, State Department, Wartime Contracting | , , | Leave a comment

Testimony of Allison Stanger June 18 Commission on Wartime Contracting

Testimony of Allison Stanger
Russell Leng ’60 Professor of International Politics and Economics
Director, Rohatyn Center for International Affairs
Middlebury College
At a Hearing on
“Are Private Security Contractors Performing Inherently Governmental Functions?”
Before the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan
June 18, 2010

June 27, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Wartime Contracting | , , , , | Leave a comment

Testimony of Danielle Brian before the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan Regarding Private Security Contractors

Testimony of Danielle Brian, Executive Director
Project On Government Oversight (POGO)

before the
Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan
“Are Private Security Contractors Performing Inherently Governmental Functions?”

June 27, 2010 Posted by | Private Security Contractor, Wartime Contracting | , , , , | Leave a comment