Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Former Navy officer, Frankie J Hand, gets 3 years

NORFOLK, Va., April 28 (UPI)

A former U.S. Navy officer was sentenced to three years in federal prison Thursday for bribing a master sergeant to steer contracts to his girlfriend’s company.

Frankie J. Hand of Chesapeake, Va., who left the Navy with the rank of lieutenant commander, pleaded guilty to one count of bribery, The Virginian-Pilot reported. A judge told him to surrender by May 31.

Investigators say Hand met Michelle Adams, a government contractor, in Iraq. He began a relationship with her and became a silent partner in her company, Global Procurement Inc.

Hand agreed to help Adams and her business partner, Peter Dunn, get contracts for mess halls in Iraq. He received $19,000 in kickbacks and paid $50,000 plus an expensive watch to Master Sgt. Mark Carnes, who was in charge of fixing up the eating facilities at Camp Taji.

All four pleaded guilty. Carnes was sentenced to 20 months and Dunn to 14, while Adams is awaiting sentencing.

Please read more here

April 29, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Government Contractor | , , , , , | Leave a comment

James McLaughlin, MPRI Contractor, Killed in Afghanistan Attack

Press Democrat. com April 28, 2011

James McLaughlin Jr., 55, and eight U.S. troops died early Wednesday when a veteran Afghan pilot opened fire during a meeting in a military compound near the airport.

His wife, Sandy McLaughlin, said Thursday she was notified that he had been shot to death, but was not told any of the circumstances.

“The only thing I know is an Afghan pilot opened fire and my husband was shot and killed,” she said.

Her husband retired as a lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Army in 2007, after 25 years in the service.

The following year, he began training helicopter pilots in Afghanistan for L-3 MPRI, an Alexandria, Va., division of the giant defense contractor, said Rick Kiernan, a vice president of communications for L-3.

“He was one of 12 trainers we have,” Kiernan said. “Having been a retired lieutenant colonel, his skills were in aviation.”

McLaughlin, who had lived in Sonoma County since 1987, was also an avid ham radio enthusiast. He helped set up a digital communications system for the ham operators who are part of the Sonoma County Office of Emergency Services disaster communications network, said Ken Harrison of Santa Rosa, a friend for 20 years and fellow ham operator.

In Afghanistan, McLaughlin worked on the U.S. Army Military Auxiliary Radio System, a Department of Defense-funded ham radio program that helped keep U.S. troops in contact with family at home.

“He didn’t talk too awful much about the danger,” Harrison said. “I think he liked to downplay that end of that. He didn’t want people to worry.”

McLaughlin’s death sent shock waves through the close-knit ranks of ham radio operators. He had been home in Santa Rosa two weeks ago before returning to Kabul.

“My gut hurts,” Harrison said. “He was just in town. I am upset that I didn’t get to see him.”

Wednesday’s attack was the fourth in the past two weeks in which someone wearing an Afghan security-force uniform struck from within a government compound.

The shooting occurred during a morning meeting between American and Afghan officers. Nine Americans were killed and five Afghan soldiers were wounded.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces killed the attacker in a gunfight.

L-3’s Kiernan said the shooting occurred in what has been considered a secure compound in Kabul.

“They are looking into the incident to find out what would have motivated the perpetrator,” said L-3’s Kiernan.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, identifying the assailant as a Taliban militant named Azizullah from a district of Kabul province.

The gunman’s brother insisted he was not a Taliban sympathizer. The attacker, identified as Ahmad Gul Sahebi, 48, was an officer who had served as a pilot in the Afghan military for two decades and was distressed over his personal finances, said the brother, Dr. Mohammad Hassan Sahibi.

“He was under economic pressures and recently he sold his house. He was not in a normal frame of mind because of these pressures,” Sahibi said. “He was going through a very difficult period of time in his life.”

Since March 2009, 48 NATO troops and military contractors have been killed in at least 16 attacks in which Afghans have turned their weapons on coalition forces, for reasons investigators later attributed to battlefield stress and personal animosity toward coalition soldiers, rather than Taliban infiltration.

Sandy McLaughlin said she was naturally concerned about his work in the war-torn country.

“This job was offered, he was using his military background and he was doing something he loved,” she said. “He loved doing the work.”

The couple had been married 28 years. They have three adult children, Adam McLaughlin, Eve McLaughlin-Suttif and James McLaughlin, all of Santa Rosa.

Sandy McLaughlin said her husband’s body is being brought back to Dover, Del., on Friday and then will be returned to Santa Rosa.

Please read more about James McLaughlin here

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, NATO, Private Military Contractors, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

President Obama, Stand Up to the U.S. Chamber and Fight for Disclosure

Sign the Petition to Support the President’s Executive Order

“We will fight it through all available means […] To quote what they say every day on Libya, all options are on the table.”

That’s what the chief lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told the New York Times after hearing the White House may issue an executive order requiring corporations that do business with the government to disclose their political spending.

The Chamber’s pledge to fight tooth and nail to keep the American people in the dark about conflicts of interest in government is appalling, but not surprising.

If corporations and their executives are spending on politicians in an effort to “win” government contracts, the American people should know.

Urge President Obama to stand up to the U.S. Chamber and fight for disclosure. Sign the petition today!

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Follow the Money, Government Contractor | , , , | Leave a comment

Landmines still plague Angola as aid dries up

by Cecile de Comarmond  MySinchew 2011.04.28

BENGUELA, April 28, 2011 (AFP) – Nine years after the end of Angola’s civil war, landmines are still scattered across the country and a full clean-up looks decades away as international aid has dried up.

“During the war, landmines protected the population here” by keeping the rebels at bay, said Yacinta Alfredo, teacher in a village close to the Biobio hydro-electric dam, 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the port town of Lobito, in one of the most heavily mined parts of the country.

“But later they became a danger. My cousin died, just there, not far,” added the single mother, who fears for the safety of her seven children.

Biopio dam provides power to the nearby cities of Lobito and Benguela, and was a strategic point during the 27-year war that devastated Angola.

“A 14-kilometre area was mined in 1994 by the Angolan army to protect the dam from attack by UNITA,” the Union for the Total Independence of Angola which battled the government, said Cesar Coimbra, an official with anti-mining group Halo Trust.

The area around the village has been demined, so Alfredo can go out to collect water and let her children play outside without worry.

But a few kilometres away, on the other side of the river, red and white sticks dot the grass and the screech of metal detectors recalls the still-present danger. About 20 landmines are found there every day.

Halo Trust is the most prominent de-mining charity in Angola, but its budget has halved since 2008, after losing two-thirds of its donors. That forced the closure of its Benguela office for a while. It was eventually reopened because of the demand.

“Around Benguela, we have demined 86 areas in 12 years, which represents about half the work to be done. But we had 14 demining teams in this region and are down to just two. It could take 40 years to finish the job,” Coimbra said.

Government acknowledges the problem, and has its own de-mining operation that aims to clear “priority” areas by the end of 2012.

“At the beginning, just after the war, we received enormous aid in this area. Many NGOs were present,” said Jose Roque Oliveiro, an official with Angola’s government de-mining agency.

“Now many of them have left because of the lack of outside funding,” he said.

“There was the global economic crisis. And then the image of Angola changed. The country is considered less in need of aid,” he added.

The danger posed by landmines has grown as oil-rich Angola embarks on a vast reconstruction project.

Repaired roads are opening up previously isolated areas, exposing people to regions still pocked by landmines.

The government’s drive to revive Angola’s farms, among Africa’s most productive during Portuguese colonial times, also poses risks.

The scheme aims to lower Angola’s astronomical cost of living by producing more food locally, while also creating jobs. But many people in rural areas are wary, having suffered or witnessed landmine accidents.

“Now in Biopio, if people are worried, they send their animals in first,” said Marie Demulier, also of Halo Trust.

That means more animals than humans are caught in the explosions, but even the loss of cattle is a steep financial burden, she said.

“The animals are their breadwinners, and often their safety net against food prices,” she added.

Landmines killed 80 people in Angola in 2010, against 28 the year before.

Please see the original here

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Demining, NGO's, Safety and Security Issues | , , | Leave a comment

Reducing Influence Pedaling in Government Contracting

Truthout April 27, 2011

This week’s column tackles a very significant problem that keeps the public, Congress and the administration from overseeing and controlling influence peddling via lobbying. This type of influence peddling is prevalent throughout our government and especially within the Department of Defense (DoD). The example that is highlighted in this column, the Boeing tanker scandal, shows how lobbyists who used to work for the government can manipulate the weapons procurement process. This type of influence can cause important military funds to be used to bail out an ailing company instead of buying the best weapons for our security.

The solution laid out here can be done without Congressional legislation. The basic law has already been passed, so this administration can solve the problem within its own jurisdiction. The problem of rampant influence peddling will not be completely solved by this solution, but we will begin to see and be able to track who is influencing the government and their past affiliations with the government. Two weeks ago in this column, I suggested some strong solutions for the problem of the revolving door in the DoD. This solution can be a good first step to show just how big and prevalent the problem is. If the administration would implement this solution, Congress will have a record of the escalating problem of lobbying on our national defense and other areas and may be willing to pass effective legislation to curb the problem. It should be noted that this solution could and should apply to all areas of the federal government in order to increase transparency and shine a light on any undue influence in the federal procurement process.

This article is written by two staff members of OMB Watch, an important nonprofit watchdog that has been keeping an eye on government spending for 28 years. “OMB Watch exists to increase government transparency and accountability; to ensure sound, equitable regulatory and budgetary processes and policies; and to protect and promote active citizen participation in our democracy.” I have been impressed by their work for years.

Gary Therkildsen is a fiscal policy analyst at OMB Watch.

Gary D. Bass is the executive director of OMB Watch.

-Dina Rasor, Truthout Solutions Editor

Today, the Unites States Air Force relies on a fleet of aerial refueling tankers – overwhelmingly comprised of the jet-powered, Eisenhower-era KC-135 Stratotanker – to project power around the world. The Air Force has consistently evaluated theaircraftto be flight-worthy until 2040, in spite of its age.

A decade ago, while suffering through the tumultuous financial upheavals caused by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, defense contractor Boeing Co., with the support of the Air Force, convinced the Pentagon to begin replacing its refueling fleet early. The plan was for the DoD to lease a bundle of Boeing’s commercial jets redesigned as tankers, financially aiding the defense contractor along the way.

Then, a contracting scandal involving improper communications between the government and Boeing blew up, throwing the lease into turmoil. In fact, the fallout of the scandal so immensely complicated the Air Force’s later competitions to find a tanker replacement that the situation has only just recently ended, with Boeing winning one of the largest defense contracts ever.

Please read the entire article here

April 27, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Government Contractor | , , , , | Leave a comment

Nine killed in Kabul attack were Americans-Pentagon

Reuters Washington  April 27, 2011

Eight troops and a civilian contractor killed in a Kabul airport shooting on Wednesday were all Americans, a Pentagon spokesman said.

“The current information we have from ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) is that eight service members and one civilian were killed in the attack. … All U.S.,” said Colonel David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman.

The troops and contractor were killed in a shooting incident involving an Afghan Air Force pilot at Kabul’s airport on Wednesday, NATO said. It was one of the deadliest incidents of “rogue” Afghans turning their weapons on foreign soldiers.

April 27, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, ISAF, NATO, Safety and Security Issues | , , , | Leave a comment

Nato soldiers and one foreign contractor killed in shootout with Afghan officer

The Guardian     April 27, 2011

Officer said to be veteran Afghan air force pilot fired on US military mentors, killing eight soldiers and a civilian contractor

Eight Nato soldiers and a foreign civilian contractor have been killed after a shootout in Kabul between an Afghan air force officer and his US military mentors.

The incident, which happened at about 11am on Wednesday, is one of the worst episodes yet involving Afghan soldiers turning their weapons on their foreign colleagues.

The Afghan defence ministry claimed the shooting broke out following an argument. However, a Taliban spokesman has claimed the officer was an insurgent who had infiltrated the force.

The killings occurred in a management office responsible for overseeing air traffic control on the second floor of a building in the Kabul headquarters of Afghanistan‘s air force, where the officer had been working.

The man, who a pilot contacted by the Guardian named as 50-year-old Ahmad Gul, was killed during the shooting.

Because it happened in an office environment in a secure building, none of the Nato soldiers – almost certainly all Americans – would have been wearing protective body armour, although they all would have had personal firearms.

A spokesman for the air force said that people in other offices in the building thought the huge facility that shares the same runway as Kabul’s civilian airport was under attack.

“Some of the other officers thought it was a suicide bombing and they jumped out of second-floor windows to try to escape,” said Lieutenant Colonel Badur.

The incident, which happened as most of the country’s pilots and top brass were meeting elsewhere to discuss plans for Thursday’s Victory Day national celebrations, is yet another setback for western hopes of handing over security duties to the Afghan army.

It follows a series of incidents where foreign soldiers have been killed either by angry Afghan servicemen, undercover insurgents or Taliban wearing illegally acquired uniforms.

The government said the shooter, who had 20 years’ experience flying planes under the various regimes that have ruled Afghanistan, was shot and killed during the fight. But according to the pilot contacted by the Guardian, Gul rejoined the force only five months ago, having been out of work for nearly a decade.  Please see the original here

April 27, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Navy suspends contracting at RI facility

Associated Press   April 26, 2011

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The U.S. Navy says a submarine research laboratory in Rhode Island temporarily will not be able to issue contracts after an employee and a Navy contractor were charged in a multimillion-dollar kickback and bribery scheme.

The Naval Sea Systems Command, or NAVSEA, said Tuesday it had suspended the contracting authority of Newport’s Naval Undersea Warfare Center.

Prosecutors say Navy contractor Anjan Dutta-Gupta paid $8 million in bribes to Ralph Mariano, a civilian employee at the Newport facility. Authorities say Mariano then increased funding to Dutta-Gupta’s now-defunct company, Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow. The firm was based in Roswell, Ga., with offices in Rhode Island.

An internal NAVSEA investigation revealed several contracting problems it says enabled the scheme.

NAVSEA headquarters will take over contract duties until the Newport facility addresses the problems.

April 26, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Government Contractor | , , , | Leave a comment

Firms plan private war against pirates

UPI.com Security Industry  April  26,2011

MOGADISHU, Somalia, April 26 (UPI) — International naval forces are expected to step up operations against Somali pirates but private security companies are seeking to provide armed escorts for merchant ships to counter the pirates’ expansion into the Indian Ocean.

The leading British insurer Jardine Lloyd Thompson is organizing a fleet of 18 gunboats to shepherd convoys of vessels across the Gulf of Aden, which runs into Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, vital trading and oil routes now under increasing threat.

The project is known as the Convoy Escort Program, was conceived several months ago by Jardine Lloyd Thompson, which insures around 15 percent of the world’s maritime cargo ships.

It is working with the London security firm BTG Global Risk Partners. Its founder, Liam Morrissey, a former major in the Canadian army, is the principal consultant.

Although business sources say much of the funds to finance the program have been secured, the CEP has not yet been approved by the European Union.

Jardine Lloyd Thompson has been seeking to get other maritime insurance companies, as well as major shipping lines, to support the project.

If the project comes together, CEP could be operational this year, say insurance sources in London.

Please read the entire article here

April 26, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Pirates | , , , , , | Leave a comment

MARSOC bomb tech killed in Afghanistan

The Marine Corps Times  April 26, 2011

A North Carolina-based Marine was killed in Afghanistan over the weekend, according to his family.

Sgt. David P. Day, 26, of Gaylord, Mich., was an explosive ordnance technician assigned to Camp Lejeune’s 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. He was killed by a roadside bomb, his father told local media in Michigan, though it’s unclear where the incident occurred.

Day’s death has not been announced by the Defense Department. No other information was immediately available.

April 26, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Department of Defense, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Improvised Explosive Devices | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Should we care if a contractor dies in the war zones?

“I’ll say it, because it’s true. If a few contractors get killed nobody seems to care,” he said. “We’ve over-relied on contractors because they’re, like, free.”   Christopher Shays April 25, 2011

Acquisitive Mind at Federal Computer Week

By Matthew Weigelt

How vital are contractors to U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan?

A former senior Defense Department official said April 25 contractor employees, who encompass half of the workers overseas, are at least worth a notice from the government when they are killed during their work in contingency operations.

DOD sends out multiple notices each day about military casualties, particularly in war zones in southwest Asia. The announcements note the soldier’s age, hometown, rank and battalion. They also say in very general terms how the solider died.

Meanwhile, contractors are seen as expendable or of little consequence, although they are vital to fulfilling operations, said Jacques Gansler, formerly undersecretary of defense for acquisition, logistics and technology. He made the comment to the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. DOD operations wouldn’t succeed without contractors, he said..

“Last week by coincidence I talked with the Department of Defense person who publishes the weekly listing of people killed, and I insisted that they also list the contractors,” he said, adding that more contractors have died often times than people in uniform.

Contractors are critical to the government’s success in contingency operations yet they’re undervalued despite being half of the total workforce and the crutch on which the government rests.

Gansler, who led the Commission on Army Acquisition and Program Management in Expeditionary Operations and is now with the University of Maryland’s Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise, said language matters in how contractors are described in publications and reports — or the lack of any mention — from the government.

If contractors are depicted only as the default option, they will continue to be cast in the same light, he said.

Christopher Shays, co-chairman of the commission and former House member, agreed with that view of contractors.

“I’ll say it, because it’s true. If a few contractors get killed nobody seems to care,” he said. “We’ve over-relied on contractors because they’re, like, free.”

Does the government — particularly DOD — need to give more attention to the deaths of contractors in combat zones? What do you think?  Please go to the original post and leave your comments

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracting, Contractor Casualties, Department of Defense, Government Contractor, Iraq, Wartime Contracting | , , , | Leave a comment

For U.S., managing foreign media is a no-win proposition

By Walter Pincus at the Washington Post  April 25, 2011

When is the Defense Department going to quit trying to manage other countries’ media?

This month, the United States Forces-Afghanistan is back in the market for a contractor to assist the command’s deputy chief of staff of communications in carrying out “proactively” public affairs activities and countering “misinformation in the media,” according to a solicitation notice.

It carries the same old slogans: “The information domain is a battle space and it is one in which [the U.S. Afghan command] must take aggressive actions to win the important battle of perception.”

This not the first of these multimillion-dollar Pentagon PR contracts. Nor is it the first one that potentially could run for five years. By the way, that would it expires in 2016, two years after our combat troops are scheduled to have left.

Face it. The overall U.S. record of influencing media in a foreign country — particularly those where U.S. troops have fought — is not very good, and recent attempts by U.S. military units have been even worse.

Take Iraq, for example……

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Government Contractor, Journalists, Propaganda | , , , , | 1 Comment

ArmorGroups Danny Fitzsimons was facing racially motivated assault charges

Murderer was facing race attack charges in UK before killing in Iraq

Daily Gazette  April 25, 2011

A DOUBLE murderer who served with the Army in Colchester was due to stand trial for racially aggravated assault in the UK before he killed two contractors in Iraq.

Former paratrooper Danny Fitzsimons, 31, was sentenced to at least 20 years in an Iraqi prison earlier this year.

But his violent tendencies had already surfaced with Fitzsimons facing an assault charge at Bolton Crown Court, according to the Manchester Evening News.

See Tuesday’s Gazette for the full story.  See original at The Daily Gazette

April 25, 2011 Posted by | ArmorGroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , | Leave a comment

NATO Chopper crashes in East Afghanistan

The Associated Press Kabul Afghanistan  April 23, 2011

The coalition helicopter crashed Saturday morning in Alasay district of Kapisa province, northeast of Kabul. No further details have been disclosed about the crash, which is under investigation.

Aziz Rahman Tawab, acting provincial governor in Kapisa province, said the helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press in a telephone conversation that Taliban insurgents shot down the helicopter with a rocket. He claimed other coalition helicopters later flew to the crash site and fired weapons to destroy the wreckage.

Aircraft are used extensively in Afghanistan by both NATO and the Afghan government forces to transport and supply troops because the terrain is mountainous and roads are few and primitive.

April 23, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, NATO, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

$8.7 Million Settlement Reached in Iraq Contractor Whistleblower Suit

At Blog of the Legal Times  April 22, 2011

The U.S. Department of Justice announced this afternoon that it has settled a whistleblower lawsuit against two companies under contract with the U.S. Department of State.

DynCorp International LLC and its subcontractor, The Sandi Group (TSG), were sued by two former TSG employees in a qui tam lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act.

In the settlement, DynCorp will pay $7.7 million and TSG will pay $1.01 million, according to the DOJ release. The two former TSG employees will also receive a share up to $481,710.

A copy of the lawsuit filed against the two companies was not immediately available this afternoon, but according to the DOJ release, DynCorp was accused of inflating claims made to the government for construction costs, while TSG was accused of seeking reimbursement for danger pay that it had never actually paid out to U.S. employees working in Iraq.

“The hard work of stabilizing Iraq is challenging enough without contractors and subcontractors inflating the cost of rebuilding by making false claims at taxpayers’ expense,” Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, said in the DOJ release. “This case demonstrates that the Department of Justice will pursue these cases that undermine the integrity of our public contracting process.”

Stuart Bowen Jr., the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said in a statement that “false claims filed by contractors have been a problem in Iraq.”

April 22, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Iraq, SIGIR, Whistleblower | , , , , , , | Leave a comment