Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Rules of disengagement in Afghanistan

Karzai, foreign officials differ on transition timeline

The Prague Post February 16, 2011

As the Czech Republic boosts its 2011 military troop deployment by 30 percent in the NATO mission in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai is suggesting very different ideas on the future of foreign forces in his war-torn country.

In a speech at the Munich Security Conference Feb. 6, Karzai called for the withdrawal of “parallel organizations and mechanisms that bypass the state,” which he said includes private security firms, provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) and contractors. He also called for ending “spending of resources through channels other than the Afghan government,” adding that he wanted “Afghan responsibility for security” by 2014.

NATO officials were quick to counter Karzai’s statements, insisting PRTs – units consisting of military, diplomatic personnel, police trainers and civilian experts from the United States and ISAF nations – contribute to the goal of strengthening the central government. But the president’s speech highlighted the cracks in agreements on the country’s future reached at the Kabul Conference in July 2010 and raised questions from some coalition states about their willingness to contribute through the central government as opposed to through individual PRT groups.

Please read the entire article here

February 17, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Themis Applies JSOC Techniques to Citizens “Extorting” from Corporate Clients

This is a bunch of veterans proposing to go to war against citizen activism on behalf the Chamber of Commerce and other corporations.

by Empty Wheel at Firedoglake

I have a feeling I’ll be doing a lot of these posts, showing how Hunton & Williams asked “Themis” (the three firm team of HBGary, Palantir, and Berico Technologies) to apply counterterrorism approaches to combat First Amendment activities.

This particular installment comes from an early presentation and accompanying proposal Themis prepared for Hunton & Williams. These documents were attached to an email dated November 2, 2010 sent out by Berico Technologies’ Deputy Director. He explains that the presentation and proposal would be briefed to H&W the following day.

The Powerpoint includes a slide describing the purpose of Themis’ pitch to H&W.

Purpose: Develop a corporate information reconnaissance service to aid legal investigations through the open source collection of information on target groups and individuals that appear organized to extort specific concessions through online slander campaigns.

Now, this is in the period when H&W was only beginning to discuss the Chamber of Commerce project with Themis, long before the BoA pitch. That is, this is the period when they were discussing generalized opposition to Chamber of Commerce.

And of that they got “extortion”? “slander”?

Please read the entire post and comments here

February 17, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized, Veterans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baghdad to US: You owe us $1bn

From Press TV You S Desk

Baghdad has asked the U.S. to apologize and pay $1 billion for the damage wrought by Humvees and blast walls during the Iraq war.

“The U.S. forces changed this beautiful city (Baghdad) to a camp in an ugly and destructive way, which reflected deliberate ignorance and carelessness about the simplest forms of public taste,” the city said in a statement.

The statement makes no reference to damage caused by bombs, Reuters notes. Officials instead made mention of the concrete blast walls constructed throughout the city, which they say tend to cause traffic jams and have damaged sewer and water systems, pavement, and parks. Only 5% of the walls have been removed since violence in the country died down. They also say U.S. Humvees, which were driven over gardens and street medians, caused further damage.

The Iraqi capital city’s government issued its demands in a statement on Wednesday, Feb 16, that said Baghdad’s infrastructure and aesthetics had been seriously damaged by the American military.

‘The U.S. forces changed this beautiful city to a camp in an ugly and destructive way, which reflected deliberate ignorance and carelessness about the simplest forms of public taste,’ the statement said.

‘Due to the huge damage, leading to a loss the Baghdad municipality cannot afford … we demand the American side apologize to Baghdad’s people and pay back these expenses.’

Baghdad’s neighborhoods have been sealed off by miles of concrete blast walls, transforming the city into a tangled maze that contributes to massive traffic jams.

Despite a reduction in overall violence in recent years only 5 percent of the walls have been removed, officials said.

The heavy blast walls have damaged sewer and water systems, pavement and parks, said Hakeem Abdul Zahra, the city spokesman.

U.S. military Humvees, driven on street medians and through gardens, have also caused major damage, he said.

‘The city of Baghdad feels these violations, which have taken place for years, have caused economic and moral damage,’ he said.  Read more on this story at Press TV

February 17, 2011 Posted by | Iraq | , , , , , | Leave a comment

ArmorGroup Vodka Butt-Shot Contractor STILL Guarding the Kabul Embassy

ArmorGroup caused an international scandal and lost its State Department contract. Why’s the company still protecting one of America’s most dangerous diplomatic outposts?

“If there’s a better argument for making this mission an inherently governmental function, this situation is it,” she says. “We’ve got one discredited company to be replaced by another discredited company.”

by Daniel Schulman at Mother Jones

More than a year has passed since the State Department decided to drop its contract with the security firm protecting the US embassy in Kabul, following an international scandal featuring drunken debauchery fit for a Van Wilder flick. But the company that introduced the world to vodka butt-shots is still on the job—and it doesn’t seem to have plans to stand down anytime soon. Long after the expiration of its initial contract, in fact, ArmorGroup North America is currently hiring more guards to protect the Kabul embassy.

The firm sparked controversy in September 2009, when a Washington-based watchdog group sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighting a list of violations by the company, from a chronic guard shortage to the hiring of personnel who couldn’t speak English and would be unable to communicate with their colleagues in an emergency. But the most shocking charges concerned what the Project on Government Oversight called a “Lord of the Flies environment”—hazing and wild partying depicted in a series of graphic photographs showing members of the Kabul embassy security force drunk, half-naked, and engaged in an array of NSFW behavior.

Embassygate tainted not just ArmorGroup North America (AGNA) and its parent company, the security conglomerate G4S, but the State Department, too, leading to investigations by Congress and State’s inspector general. In the years leading up to the scandal, it turned out, the State Department had repeatedly found fault with the company’s performance—at one point stating in an internal memo that “the security of the US Embassy in Kabul is in jeopardy” as a result—but failed to fire AGNA. A former high-level AGNA employee also came forward to say that he’d warned the State Department about “lewd, aberrant, and sexually deviant behavior” by the company’s recruits more than two years before this conduct made global headlines. Again, no action was taken.

In December 2009, deeply embarrassed by the controversy, the State Department said it planned to axe AGNA once its contract came up for renewal that summer. But when that time came, the agency ended up extending the firm’s contract for another six months while it brought in another security provider. “Because the current KESF [Kabul Embassy Security Force] contract can only be extended through December 30th, we must have the company on the ground and operating by then,” a spokesman for the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security told Mother Jones last summer.

In late September, the agency selected the Tennessee-based firm EOD Technology to take over the contract. But December 30 came and went with no changing of the guards. And AGNA apparently believed it was staying put, at least for a while. In mid-January, the company posted a job ad on Careerbuilder noting that it was “recruiting Protective Security Specialists to provide security to the U.S. Embassy in, Kabul, Afghanistan.”

A spokeswoman for AGNA, Susan Pitcher, confirmed that the firm is still protecting the embassy, but declined to comment further, citing a State Department policy about contractors speaking to reporters. EODT also declined to comment. But a Diplomatic Security spokesman told Mother Jones that the transition has been delayed. Now, he said, the handover won’t happen until May. “In order to provide EODT with adequate time to make an orderly transition, it has been given 120 days from the end of AGNA’s contract,” the spokesman said.

Sources familiar with the security force contract questioned whether the delay has anything to do with the transition process; one suggested that the State Department may merely be stalling after unwittingly selecting a replacement for AGNA that also has a controversial background.

In October, a week after the agency chose EODT for the job, the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has conducted a years-long investigation into private security firms in Afghanistan, released a report leveling serious allegations at both EODT and AGNA. It accused the companies of relying on local warlords to staff their guard forces—strongmen with unclear allegiances and possible Taliban ties. In one case, according to the report, EODT hired a group of Afghans who had recently been fired by ArmorGroup for “providing sensitive security information to…a Taliban-affiliated warlord.” (In response, EODT claimed that “all leaders which EODT utilized were made known to the US military at every stage of mobilization.” AGNA countered that it only relied on Afghans who had been recommended by special operations troops.)

Making matters worse for EODT, federal agents raided its offices in early December in connection with an investigation into potential export violations involving the transit of weapons or other military-grade materials. The company has said it is cooperating with the investigation and has denied any wrongdoing. “We obviously would not have been selected for some of the sensitive and important projects we handle for our country around the world had we not been thoroughly investigated before and found to be trustworthy,” the firm said in a statement. A State Department official said the agency was unaware the company was the subject of a federal investigation until stories about the raid appeared in the press, and insisted the probe “has not held up the transition.”

For Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, the fact that the State Department handed the embassy job to a company saddled with its own serious baggage illustrates the flawed logic of placing contractors in roles that she believes should be performed by US government personnel. “If there’s a better argument for making this mission an inherently governmental function, this situation is it,” she says. “We’ve got one discredited company to be replaced by another discredited company.”

Please see the original at Mother Jones

February 17, 2011 Posted by | ArmorGroup, Civilian Contractors, Contract Awards, Contractor Oversight, EODT, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, State Department | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sole-Sourcing the Pentagon

February 17, 2011 by JD at The Economist

IN LAST week’s paper we reported that America’s fiscal crisis seemed to have put even the once-sacrosanct defence budget on the chopping block. But one of the surprising features of Barack Obama’s proposed budget is how little it reduces military spending (and Republicans seem just as reluctant to cut the Pentagon’s allowance). Instead, what Mr Obama has urged is greater efficiency in defence spending, including more competition for contracts. In the last fiscal year the Pentagon spent over half of its $366 billion contracting budget on projects that were awarded in an uncompetitive manner.

Please read the entire article here

February 17, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Government Contractor, Iraq, Pentagon | , , , , | Leave a comment

DynCorp International Director to Serve on President’s Export Council Subcommittee on Export Administration

FALLS CHURCH, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)DynCorp International today announced that director of trade compliance Darrell Coleman has been appointed to the President’s Export Council Subcommittee on Export Administration (PECSEA).

The President’s Export Council is the principal U.S. national advisory committee on international trade. Its subcommittee, PECSEA, provides advice and counsel on issues involving U.S. export control policy and matters related to security and global competitiveness.

“Darrell’s leadership and expertise on compliance issues are great assets to DI, and we are thrilled that his valuable experience will now be shared through the PECSEA,” said DI chief compliance officer Joe Kale.

Manufacturers are traditionally well-represented on the PECSEA and Mr. Coleman’s participation and experience will strengthen the voice of service providers.

“Export control is equally important to service companies and I look forward to presenting a service-provider’s point of view on issues related to our country’s export of goods, technology and services,” said Mr. Coleman.

The PECSEA advises the U.S. Government on matters and issues pertinent to implementation of the provisions of the Export Administration Act and the Export Administration Regulations, and related statutes and regulations. These issues relate to U.S. export controls as mandated by law for national security, foreign policy, non-proliferation, and short supply reasons. The PECSEA draws on the expertise of its members to provide advice and make recommendations on ways to minimize the possible adverse impact export controls may have on U.S. industry. The PECSEA provides the Government with direct input from representatives of the broad range of industries that are directly affected by export controls

February 17, 2011 Posted by | DynCorp | , , , | Leave a comment

17 Veterans Sue Pentagon for Indifference to Military Rapes

Courthouse News February 17, 2011

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – Seventeen veterans, male and female, claim they were raped, sexually assaulted or harassed on active duty while officials turned a blind eye to the crimes and even promoted the assailants. “After plaintiffs and other victims reported the crimes against them, they were retaliated against, drummed out of the services, or, in some tragic cases, killed,” the veterans say.

The veteran-plaintiffs say Defense Secretaries Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates “failed to investigate rapes and sexual assaults, prosecute perpetrators, provide an adequate judicial system as required by the Uniform Military Justice Act, and abide by congressional deadlines to implement congressionally ordered institutional reforms to stop rapes and other sexual assaults.”
The veterans say that military leaders “ran institutions in which perpetrators were promoted and where military personnel openly mocked and flouted the modest congressionally mandated institutional reforms.

Defendants ran institutions in which plaintiffs and other victims were openly subjected to retaliation, were encouraged to refrain from reporting rapes and sexual assaults in a manner that would have permitted prosecution, and were ordered to keep quiet and refrain from telling anyone about the criminal acts of their work colleagues.”
The 42-page complaint relates grisly tales of sexual assault.

Please read the entire article here

February 17, 2011 Posted by | Department of Defense, Pentagon, Rape, Safety and Security Issues | , , | Leave a comment

Iraq police official charged in bomb device scandal

By Suadad al-Salhy at Rueters Africa

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi authorities have arrested a high-ranking police official in connection with the purchase of a bomb detector that the British government says does not work, officials said on Thursday.

Iraq spent about 75 million pounds on the devices, which are widely used by police and soldiers at security checkpoints and were meant to be a key defence against insurgents.

A series of blasts that killed hundreds in recent years had Iraqis questioning how militants got trucks, buses and cars packed with explosives through Baghdad’s numerous checkpoints.

The government began investigations after reports the ADE651 bomb detection devices purchased from a British-based company were practically useless.

“Major General Jihad al-Jabiri, the commander of the bomb squad, was arrested five days ago,” a senior police official close to the investigation told Reuters. “There are documents and incriminating evidence in the explosives detector case.”

An Iraq Supreme Judicial Council official confirmed Jabiri’s arrest on corruption charges but declined to provide details.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced in January 2010 it would ban exports to Iraq and Afghanistan of the ADE651 device. It is shaped like a pistol and features a swivelling antenna meant to point at explosives.  Continue reading here

February 17, 2011 Posted by | Iraq | , , | Leave a comment