Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Our Fallen Contractors in our thoughts this Memorial Day

May 30, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties | , , , | Leave a comment

Man in Afghan army uniform kills NATO soldier

Khaleej Times  AFP   30 May 2011
KABUL — A man in Afghan army uniform shot and killed a soldier from the NATO-led force in southern Afghanistan on Monday, the military said, giving no further details in line with policy.“An individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform turned his weapon against an ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) service member in southern Afghanistan today, killing the service member,” it said.

A spokesman was unable to provide information about whether the shooter was shot or managed to flee. It could not be verified if the shooter was an army soldier or merely wearing military uniform.

There have been repeated cases of members of the fast-growing Afghan security forces turning their weapons on international colleagues.

In what is thought to have been the deadliest incident of its kind, an Afghan air force officer killed eight US soldiers and a private contractor last month at a military training centre in Kabul.

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May 30, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Safety and Security Issues | , , | Leave a comment

EOD Airman killed in Afghanistan

Deseret News Friday May 27, 2010

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Base officials announced Friday the death of Tech. Sgt. Kristoff M. Solesbee of Citrus Heights, Calif., an airman deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Solesbee, 32, was assigned to the 775th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight and died May 26 in the Shorabak district of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit

At a press conference held Friday evening at Hill Air Force base, Solesbee’s supervisor Sgt. Steve Hellenbeck said he was very saddened and described Solesbee as energetic and quick-witted.

“He will be very missed,” Hallenbeck said.

Col. Patrick Higby said Solesbee had been in Afghanistan since January. It was Solesbee’s second combat tour since being stationed at Hill in 2008.

“We’re not at liberty to discuss the details of his mission,” Higby said. “What I can tell you is he was on an operation to clear a weapons cache.”

“His sacrifice and service are not forgotten and he will be greatly missed,” Higby said.

Higby praised the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit, saying that it is one of the most dangerous assignments, but also saves many lives.

“I’m extremely proud of our EOD flight here,” Higby said. “They’ve really gone through some tough times. They’re resilient. They’re very proud of their mission and again, every day they serve with the mindset of ‘we are here to save lives.’ When they get hit by an (improvised explosive device), the first thing they want to do is get right back in the fight to keep saving lives.”

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May 29, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Explosive Ordnance Disposal | , , , | Leave a comment

VA crisis hotline takes record number of calls

Army Times  May 25, 2011

The Veterans Affairs Department’s Veterans Crisis Line received 14,000 calls in April, the highest monthly volume ever recorded for the four-year-old suicide prevention program.

“Every day last month, more than 400 calls were received,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee chairwoman who disclosed the call volume during a Wednesday hearing. “While it is heartening to know that these calls for help are being answered, it is a sad sign of desperation and difficulties our veterans face that there are so many in need of a lifeline.”

The hotline, established in 2007, is a suicide prevention and crisis counseling program available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The number is 800-273-8255.

Antonette Zeiss, VA’s chief mental health officer, said that since the 2007 launch, the call center has received more than 400,000 calls, referred 55,000 veterans to local suicide prevention coordinators for same-day or next-day help and initiated 15,000 “rescues” of callers near suicide.

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May 27, 2011 Posted by | Post Traumatic Stress Disorder | , , | Leave a comment

Army Couple Deploys To Iraq, But Only One Returns

NPR by the NPR Staff  May 27, 2011

Max Voelz and his wife, Kim, were both part of the 703rd Explosive Ordnance Detachment, based in Fort Knox, Ky.

Max and Kim Voelz served together in Iraq in the same Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit — that’s the Army’s elite bomb squad.

The couple met on Valentine’s Day in 1997 at EOD school. They married on June 12, 1999.

“We deployed in 2003. We were in the same unit. She ripped bombs apart by hand in Iraq just like I did,” Max says. “There was no being scared, no doubt, no ‘I might die’ — we never talked about that.”

One night in 2003, Max called in the location of an explosive and sent his wife to disarm it.

“That night she was at a different base and I tried to talk to her on the phone before she went — just to tell her, like, an extra, ‘Be careful.’ But she was already on her way to take care of it, so I didn’t get to,” Max says.

Kim, 27, didn’t survive that mission. Her injuries were severe. One leg was blown off and she was in a medically induced coma when Max got to the hospital.

“I talked to her the whole time she was in there,” he says. “The nurses were telling me to talk to her because they assured me that they had seen people come out of comas before and that they remembered hearing things that people said.

“I mean, what are you gonna tell your wife who’s dying? That you love her and you don’t want her to die. But I knew she was dead a long time before the doctors stopped working on her. You hold someone’s hand, and then it feels different. ”

Max called her parents because he didn’t want a stranger knocking on their door in an Army uniform to break the news: “I told them that she died in my arms 10 minutes ago,” he says.

“You know, she did something that most people weren’t willing to do, and I don’t want people to think that because she was killed while she was working that she was bad at her job, or that she died because she was a girl,” Max says. “She did the same job that guys who think they’re tough do. And she did it just as good as I did, and I think I’m the best that there is.”

When the Voelzes got married they had plans to retire from the Army. Now, at 36, Max says he doesn’t have a plan. After Kim died on Dec. 13, 2003, Max was sent home. He stayed in the Army for a few more years.

“I am an Army widower. I don’t think there’s very many of us,” he says. “And when I receive a condolence letter from a high-ranking government official that says, ‘Mrs. Voelz, we’re sorry for the loss of your husband,’ it just makes it seem like nobody knows we exist.

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May 27, 2011 Posted by | Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Improvised Explosive Devices | , , , | Leave a comment

Brits arrested in Somalia with ‘£2.2 million ransom for pirates’

Three Britons, One American, two Kenyans, have been arrested trying to smuggle a cash ransom of more than £2 million into Somalia to secure the release of two hijacked ships from pirates

The Telegraph  May 27, 2011

The Britons, who are among a group of six foreigners also understood to include two Kenyans and an American – were allegedly caught with $3.6 million in cash at the airport in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.

Security sources told The Daily Telegraph that a private security firm, Salama Fikira, with a presence in neighbouring Kenya and Mauritius and ties to retired British military personnel, was involved in the operation. The British men were named by security sources as Andrew Oaks and Alex James from Salama Fikira and Mathew Brown from an aviation company.

The firm offers maritime crisis response resolution as one of its services. A spokesman for Salama Fikira declined to comment.

Somali police intercepted the six foreign nationals on Tuesday after they landed in Mogadishu in two unmarked planes.

A source told The Telegraph that the ransom was to be used to secure the release of two vessels, the Egyptian-owned MV Suez and the Chinese-owned MV Yuan Xiang.

Nick Davies, a maritime security expert with experience with Somali piracy cases, said those taken would most likely be private security agents but the route they had chosen was not one commonly used in the industry.

“It will be a risk consultancy-type operation and typically the guys doing it would be very experienced, military guys that have a clear understanding of the tasks they are going to be undertaking,” he said. “The arrests were probably down to an information leak that caught them out, not the way they were doing it or where they were going because it’s a regular thing.”

Please read the entire story here

May 26, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Pirates, Private Security Contractor, Somalia | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lawmakers bar Us Troops or Private Security Contractors from operating on the ground in Libya

AFP at Google  May 26, 2011

In an overwhelming 416-5 vote, lawmakers barred US troops or private security contractors from operating on the ground in Libya, where rebels are fighting a fierce war against loyalist forces to oust longtime leader Moamer Kadhafi, except to rescue a US service member from “imminent danger.”

May 26, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Libya, Private Security Contractor | , | Leave a comment

Bomb kills eight NATO troops in southern Afghanistan, seven are Americans

BBC Southeast Asia  May 26, 2011

The incident is the deadliest single attack on foreign troops in a month. Nato initially confirmed the deaths but declined to disclose the nationalities.

Earlier, a Nato helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan, killing one soldier, officials said.

Almost 200 foreign troops have been killed by militants in Afghanistan so far this year.

Tafsir Khogyani, commander of the border police for southern Afghanistan, told the BBC’s Bilal Sarwary in Kabul: “According to our initial information, Coalition and Afghan police went to destroy a Taliban container which had some explosives and weapons. As soon as the helicopter landed and other Isaf forces were patrolling, the explosion took place.

“It took place in Shorabak district 19km (12 miles) from the Pakistani border.”

Shorabak district lies between the districts of Registan and Spin Boldak.

Spin Boldak police chief Gen Abdul Raziq told the BBC that insurgents had been cleared from the area only two months ago.

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May 26, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, NATO, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

Detention centre group Serco to run army bases

The Daily Telegraph Australia  May 27, 2011

THE federal government is believed to have signed a contract to outsource the management of defence base operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan to the foreign company running Australia’s immigration detention centres.

Sources claim there was concern within the Australian Defence Force about a private foreign company taking over behind-the-wire operations to support troops in Afghanistan. The ADF said it would announce the successful contractor shortly but would not confirm if that company was Serco.

Serco, which is run by David Campbell, would neither confirm nor deny it had been given the contract.

It is believed the multi-million-dollar contract will be to manage all base operations including catering, cleaning, asset hire and mess facilities at the Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.

Foreign private contractors would also replace uniformed personnel in the provision of maintenance, accommodation and mess services for the first time in Kandahar and Tarin Kowt in Afghanistan.

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May 26, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ratko Mladic arrested: Bosnia war crimes suspect held

BBC News Europe  May 26, 2011

Ratko Mladic, wanted for genocide during the Bosnian war in the 1990s, has been arrested in Serbia.

Serbian President Boris Tadic said the process to extradite the former Bosnian Serb army chief to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague was under way.

Gen Mladic, 69, was found in a village in northern Serbia where had been living under an assumed name.

He faces charges over the massacre of at least 7,500 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.

He was the most prominent Bosnian war crimes suspect at large since the arrest of Radovan Karadzic in 2008.

The detention, the Serbian leader said, closed a chapter in Serbian history, bringing the country and the region closer to reconciliation. It also opened the doors to membership of the European Union, he added.

Serbian media initially reported that Mr Mladic was already on his way to the Hague, but Serbian prosecutors later said the procedure to extradite him might take a week.

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May 26, 2011 Posted by | Balkans, Legal Jurisdictions | , , | Leave a comment

UAE is interested in Azerbaijan’s military goods

ABC AZ   May 25, 2011

Baku, Fineko/abc.az. Within his visit to Azerbaijan Head of UAE’s General Staff General Hamid Mohammad Sani Ar-Rumeysi visited a number of the country’s defense industry facilities.

Defense Industry Ministry of Azerbaijan reports that Head of the Emirates’ General Staff got acquainted with “Iglim”, “Radio construction”,” Telemechanics” enterprises  and electronic computers plant. Within the visit he is expected to meet representative of Azerbaijan Defense Ministry’s management.

Recently the Emirates signed the contract for $529 million with Reflex Responses company assuming formation of private army from 800 soldiers to protect oil pipelines, skyscrapers from terror attacks and suppress disorders. Head of UAE General Staff’s personnel administration general Juma Ali Khalaf Al- Hamiri confirmed that foreign contractors will render operative support, assistance in planning army development to Military forces of UAE and trample upon and train local military men. Reflex Responses was founded by Eric Prince, founder of famous private military company Blackwater ( presently- Xe Services LLC).

Please see the original and more at ABC AZ

May 25, 2011 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , | Leave a comment

American Enterprise Institute (Defense Spending) As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Washington, DC, Tuesday, May 24, 2011

US Department of Defense  May 24, 2011

Thank you Arthur, and thanks for that introduction.  And my thanks to the American Enterprise Institute for hosting this event on relatively short notice.  In many ways it is appropriate that AEI be the setting for my last major policy speech in Washington.  The recent history of this institution and some of its more prominent figures is inextricably tied to the war in Iraq, the conflict that pulled me out of private life and back into the public arena nearly four and a half years ago.

As you know, and as Arthur just said, I am in the final weeks of the greatest privilege of my professional life, serving as America’s 22nd Secretary of Defense.   Most of my time and attention in this post has been dominated by America’s two major post-9/11 conflicts – each marked by swift, exhilarating victories against odious regimes followed by grinding, protracted counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism campaigns.

In the course of doing everything I could to turn things around first in Iraq, then in Afghanistan, from the early months I ran up against institutional obstacles in the Pentagon – cultural, procedural, ideological – to getting done what needed to get done on behalf of those fighting the wars we are in.  Whether it was outpatient care for the wounded, armored troop transport, medevac, ramping up intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support, or any number of urgent battlefield needs.

It became evident over time that changing the momentum of these conflicts – and increasing the odds of military success in the future – would also require fundamentally re-shaping the priorities of the Pentagon and the uniformed services and reforming the way they did business:  How weapons were chosen, developed and produced, how troops and their families were cared for,  how leaders were promoted and held accountable – and, related to all of the above, where money was spent (or misspent as the case may be).

Please read the entire speech here

May 24, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Government Contractor | , , , , | Leave a comment

Billions in Stimulus Funds Paid to Tax Delinquent Contractors

ABC News’ Devin Dwyer (@devindwyer) reports:

The federal government awarded $24 billion in Recovery Act funds to contractors and vendors who owe millions in unpaid taxes, a new Government Accountability Office report has found. 

The nonpartisan watchdog agency reported Tuesday that at least 3,700 recipients owed more than $750 million combined in unpaid federal taxes as of Sept. 30, 2009.  They represent 5 percent of all recipients of the so-called stimulus funds.

“For many years now, we’ve known that a small percentage of federal contractors and grantees who get paid with taxpayer dollars shirk their responsibility to pay their taxes,” said Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan. “Now the executive branch should get on with it and actually debar the worst of the tax cheats from the contractor workforce.”

Levin, who chairs the Senate Permanent Investigations Committee, plans to hold a hearing on the report this afternoon.

“That such a huge amount of the stimulus money went to known tax cheats should be a wakeup call for Congress,” said Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the committee’s ranking member.

The GAO said their report likely underestimates the total amount of unpaid taxes owed by stimulus recipients.  Federal law does not require government agencies to check the tax compliance of prospective grantees.

The report singled out 15 cases of “abusive or potentially criminal activity” for further investigation by the IRS.

One nonprofit health care organization reportedly owes $4 million in payroll taxes and has repeatedly submitted “dishonored checks” to the IRS to pay the bill.   An unnamed security company, which received over $100,000 in Recovery Act funds and still owes more than $9 million in taxes, reportedly paid debts to other creditors but not the IRS and has repeatedly violated federal labor laws.

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May 24, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Government Contractor, Private Security Contractor | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Patriot Act: When Truth Becomes Treason

The Peoples Voice  May 24, 2011

By Susan Lindauer, former Asset covering Iraq & Libya and the second non-Arab American indicted on the Patriot Act

Many Americans think they understand the dangers of the Patriot Act, which Congress has vowed to extend 4 more years in a vote later this week. Trust me when I say, Americans are not nearly frightened enough.

Ever wonder why the truth about 9/11 never got exposed? Why Americans don’t have a clue about leadership fraud surrounding the War on Terror? Why Americans don’t know if the 9/11 investigation was really successful? Why the Iraqi Peace Option draws a blank? Somebody has known the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden— or his grave—for the past 10 years. But nobody’s talking to the people.

In significant part, that’s because of the Patriot Act— a law that equates free speech with sedition. It’s got a big agenda, with 7,000 pages of Machiavellian code designed to interrupt individual questioning of government policy. In this brave new world, free speech under the Bill of Rights effectively has been declared a threat to government controls for maintaining stability. And the Patriot Act has become the premiere weapon to attack whistle blowers and dissidents who challenge the comfort of political leaders hiding inconvenient truths from the public. It’s all the rage on Capitol Hill, as leaders strive to score TV ratings, while demogauging their “outstanding leadership performance” on everything from national security to environmental policy.

Truth has Become Treason

But wait—Congress assures us the Patriot Act only targets foreigners, who come to our shores seeking to destroy our way of life through violent, criminal acts. Good, law abiding Americans have nothing to fear. The Patriot Act restricts its powers of “roving wiretaps” and warrantless searches to international communications among “bad guys.” Congress has sworn, with hand on heart, it’s only purpose is breaking down terrorist cells and hunting out “lone wolf” mad men.

That’s what they told you, right? And you believed them? You trust the government. Well, that was your first mistake. With regards to the Patriot Act, it’s a fatal one. Would the government lie to you? You betcha! And they have.

The Patriot Act reaches far beyond terrorism prevention. In my home state of Maryland, State Police invoked the Patriot Act to run surveillance on the Chesapeake Climate Action Network dedicated to wind power, recycling and protection of the Chesapeake Bay. They infiltrated the DC Anti War Network, suggesting the group might be a front for “white supremacists,” and Amnesty International, claiming to investigate “civil rights abuses.” Opponents of the death penalty also got targeted (in case they got violent).

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May 24, 2011 Posted by | Legal Jurisdictions | , | 1 Comment

L-3 providing C-12 aircraft support

UPI Security Industry  May 24, 2011

NEW YORK, May 24 (UPI) — C-12 aircraft operated by the U.S. Navy and Air Force will receive full life-cycle and maintenance support from a division of L-3 Communications.

The initial contracts to the company’s Systems Field Support division for worldwide service are worth $32.9 million. The total value of the five-year deal, however, could have an estimated value of $300 million, L-3 said.

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May 24, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Government Contractor | , , | Leave a comment