Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Burn Pit Claims Against KBR and Halliburton can Continue

Strike Two on “Just Following Orders” Defense

To paraphrase Yogi Berra it’s déjà vu all over again for KBR.

By David Isenberg at Huff Post

In my Aug. 31 post I wrote about a significant pro-veteran ruling in the Oregon KBR Qarmat Ali litigation. This is the case where Oregon National Guard troops allege KBR’s liability for negligence and for fraud arising out of plaintiffs’ exposure to sodium dichromate and resultanthexavalent chromium poisoning while assigned to duty at the Qarmat Ali water plant in 2003.

Paul Papak, the federal district judge rejected the motion by KBR and co-defendants to dismiss the suit for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and rejected it.

I noted that the end result was that the “we were just following orders” defense is looking even lamer than ever.

Now it turns out another judge, ruling on another KBR issue, its running of burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, has ruled the same way. Sick soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan filed claims against the corporations because of “alleged failures of the military contractors to treat water and dispose of waste in a manner required” by their contract with the US military.

Today federal court judge Roger W. Titus ordered that claims against military contractors, KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root) and Halliburton, may proceed.  Please read the entire post here

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Iraq, KBR, Legal Jurisdictions, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soldiers With Brain Trauma Denied Purple Hearts, Adding Insult to Injury

By T Christian Miller ProPublica and Daniel Zwerdling NPR

The U.S. Army honors soldiers wounded or killed in combat with the Purple Heart, a powerful symbol designed to recognize their sacrifice and service.

Yet Army commanders have routinely denied Purple Hearts to soldiers who have sustained concussions in Iraq, despite regulations that make such wounds eligible for the medal, an investigation by NPR and ProPublica has found.

Soldiers have had to battle for months and sometimes years to prove that these wounds [1], also called mild traumatic brain injuries, merit the honor, our reporting showed. Commanders turned down some soldiers despite well-documented blast wounds that wrenched their minds, altered their lives and wracked their families.

Please see the entire presentation here

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Iraq, Pentagon, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon watchdog broken, U.S. money at risk: report

The Pentagon’s top watchdog has abandoned efforts to do in-depth audits of defense contracts, leaving billions of dollars in taxpayer money at risk because of overpayments and fraud, according to an investigative report due to be made public on Thursday.

Rueters by Scot J Paltrow

The report, written by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley’s staff and obtained by Reuters, concludes that the Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General has focused instead on less important types of audits, and that its productivity has plunged in recent years.

It said the inspector general’s office in fiscal 2009, which ended September 30, 2009, did not audit any “major or non-major weapons contract or contractor.”

The report contends too that the inspector general’s office has failed to follow up even when it finds evidence of serious misdeeds.

In one example, auditors in 2007 stumbled upon a recurring error in the Pentagon’s overall financial statements, because military officials had failed to record $1 billion in proceeds from the sale of closed U.S. military bases in Europe.

They also found that about $107 million of the money had disappeared. However, senior officials turned down the auditors’ recommendation to launch an investigation.

The watchdog’s poor performance, the report says, has resulted in little oversight in recent years of annual payments to contractors, which currently total more than $390 billion, up from $154 billion in 2001.

The report said that misdirected efforts by the watchdog left “huge sums of the taxpayers’ money vulnerable to fraud and outright theft.”

It said this lack of thorough audits occurred despite a 35 percent increase in the inspector general’s staff since 2003, to 765 employees.

The Grassley report, however, also puts heavy blame on the Defense Department itself for inadequate oversight of contracts.  Please read the entire story here

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, DynCorp, Iraq, Kuwait, Pentagon | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mathew Attilai, PSC, Killed by IED in Afghanistan

A Canadian man with connections to Upper Michigan has been killed in Afghanistan.

26-year-old Matthew Attilai was working security for a private contractor when he was killed by an IED.

He was on the Finland Calling program with his grandfather, George Koskimaki, who’s a World War II veteran and author.

Attilai followed in his grandfather’s footsteps by serving in the U.S. Army until 2009.

A memorial service is planned for this weekend at Faith Lutheran Church in Tilden Township.

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Contractor Casualties, Private Security Contractor | , , , , | Leave a comment

Chris Jarod Vaile, PSC, Killed by bomb in Afghanistan

Randallstown native killed by bomb in Afghanistan

He worked for private security firm after serving five years in Marine Corps, three tours in Iraq

When Chris Vaile was severely wounded by an improvised explosive device in January 2008, the Marine Corps sergeant refused to leave his squad in Iraq.

It was his final tour. The wound permanently left shrapnel in his foot and earned him a Purple Heart, but he would not leave.

“He was fearless and full of adventure,” Cara Vaile said of her son.

Chris Jarrod Vaile, 25, a Randallstown native, was killed Sunday by an IED in Afghanistan, where he was working for a private security firm. The bomb exploded while Vaile was riding in a vehicle, killing him and another man, his mother said.

“He’s taken many roads; this was another,” his mother said. “He took a risk every day. He was always so fortunate — so many of his buddies were killed.”

Vaile graduated from the Carver Center for Arts & Technology, where he played varsity lacrosse for four years and was a culinary arts major. He loved cooking but didn’t have much time for it after he joined the Marines.

Vaile enlisted in 2003 at age 17. His lifelong friend, cousin, lacrosse teammate and “brother,” Adam Stewart, also joined the military, choosing the Army.

“He was a point of strength,” Stewart said.

“We were brothers to the end,” he said, who “did everything together.”

Stewart said Vaile loved the military and “was an adventurer. He lived life to the fullest.” He said Vaile was blunt, but also kind and extremely loyal.

Vaile served until 2008, earning the rank of sergeant and serving three tours in Iraq. He swam on a Marines swimming team while stationed in Okinawa, Japan, his mother said.

Vaile left the military after five years to work for SOC Inc., a consulting and security management company based in Nevada.

His mother said he liked the job, which he’d had for 10 months, but “he always loved the military. I always thought he would go back.”

She said he also “loved fast cars, fast food and lacrosse.” After serving in Iraq, he bought a sports car.

He had planned to return to marry his fiancee, Lauren McGowan, and wanted to have four or five children, his mother said. The couple planned to move to California.

“This is my only child. It makes it very hard,” she said. “I am just going to take this day by day. I’m going to love him and miss him.”

Vaile’s body has not yet been brought home.

No funeral arrangements had been made, his mother said.

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Private Security Contractor | , , , , | Leave a comment