KBR Awarded U.S. Central Command’s Multiple Award Task Order Contract
BusinessWire – June 30, 2011
KBR (NYSE:KBR) today announced that it has been awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Middle East District the U.S. Central Command’s (CENTCOM) Multiple Award Task Order Contract (MATOC). This new MATOC program has an overall value of $3.8 billion, with a period of performance currently at two base years, with one-year options available for the following three years.
Under the previous CENTCOM MATOC program, KBR successfully executed $620M worth of projects across 32 separate task orders, thereby establishing a longstanding history with this client. The current MATOC program will support design-build and construction projects throughout the 20 countries of the CENTCOM area of responsibility, including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, U.A.E., Uzbekistan and Yemen. A large majority of the task orders anticipated for this MATOC program include vital projects directly supporting the U.S. Military and U.S. Government in the various regions.
“It is a privilege for KBR to be given the opportunity to continue to work with the Middle East District USACE, and to continue to offer a high level of services and quality facilities to our military personnel located throughout the world,” said Mark Williams, Group President, Infrastructure, Government & Power.
KBR is a global engineering, construction and services company supporting the energy, hydrocarbon, government services, minerals, civil infrastructure, power, industrial, and commercial markets. For more information, visit www.kbr.com. (Click HERE for original article)
Bloomberg News June 29, 2011
L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. (LLL), whose biggest investor is pushing for the defense company to dispose of underperforming assets, may extract as much as $2.2 billion more for shareholders in a takeover than a breakup.
L-3’s equity may garner a price tag of $12.9 billion in an acquisition, based on the median 8.7 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization offered for military electronics company deals in the past 10 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Selling the New York-based company’s four units separately may generate $10.7 billion, estimates from Lazard Capital Markets LLC show.
US-led forces have killed at least five private security contractors and injured nine others in an airstrike
US-led raid kills five in Afghanistan
The strike took place on a NATO logistics convoy in Sayedabad district of Wardak province, a Press TV correspondent reported on Thursday.
The US led forces reportedly hit the convoy after it was attacked by militants.
NATO officials claim they have only killed militants in the air strike.
“Today Eritrea is becoming more like a private company that belongs to President Isaias Afewerki rather than a country with 5 million inhabitants. Even worse, President Isaias doesn’t seem is interested in promoting peace, stability and democracy in the country mainly to protect his grip on power for many years to come. Therefore, there is little hope for better Eritrean foreign relationships with the world and its neighbours without a radical change in direction by the regime.”
Addis Ababa — Tensions between the Eritrean government and Britain escalated in recent months as a result of the continued detention of four British citizens since December 2010 until their release on 12 June 2011.
In a statement the Eritrean Ministry of Information claimed that the detainees admitted to having committed a crime. The Eritrean government also said the detainees regretted trying to escape from the port of Massawa, where there was an apparent dispute with local businessmen about payment for fuel and supplies. In addition, the statement declared that the detainees bore accountability for acts of invasion, organizing terrorism and espionage”.
In response to the Eritrean regime’s defiance to release its nationals, the British government, on 6 June 2011, restricted the Eritrean embassy in London from providing any other services to the large Eritrean community in the country, other than consular services and the issuing of visas. Prior to this restriction, the British government had given two directives to the embassy in retaliation for the imprisonment of British citizens. First, Eritrean diplomats and visiting officials were to be restricted to the London area only; and second, the UK government banned the collection of taxes from the Eritrean community in the UK by the Eritrean regime. As one of one of the detainees is an Australian citizen, the Australian government imposed similar restrictions on Eritrean diplomats based in Australia.
According to the report from the Cambodian Mine and Explosive Remnants of War Victim Information System, from 1979 to May 2011, a total of 63,901 mine/ERW casualties were recorded. Of the casualties, 19,595 were killed and 44,306 injured from mine/ERW accidents.
It added that 81 percent of the victims were men, 8 percent were women, and 11 percent were children.
Cambodia is one of most mine affected nations in the world as the result of 30 years of armed conflict. Mines had been laid in Cambodia during the decades of chronic conflicts from the late 1960s to the mid-1990s.
Cambodia’s five most mine-laid provinces are Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Pailin and Preah Vihear.
The mobilization of resources to a humanitarian disaster zone is as much political as it is logistical. Recent conflicts have called into question the neutrality principle to which humanitarian actors traditionally adhere. But delivering assistance in times of crisis depends largely on gaining access to reliable resources and information – often from biased actors.
As the media continues to roll out scenes from Japan and Libya, the complexity of delivering humanitarian aid in times of crisis – be they natural or man-made – is abundantly clear. Each year, approximately 500 disasters kill an average of 75,000 people and affect nearly 200 million more. In 2009, the international community contributed a total of $15.1 billion to humanitarian efforts through government and private channels.
The alleviation of human suffering during humanitarian crises is largely an exercise in the efficient and rapid mobilization of material resources and human capacity. As a logistical exercise, humanitarian efforts require the synchronized delivery of human resources and both durable and perishable goods in difficult and uncertain environments. But the complexity is more than merely logistical. While resource mobilization has obvious human and economic implications, humanitarian efforts often have less evident political implications. Access to and allocation of resources and information is contingent on the cooperation of those wielding power.
Prior to the 1990s, relief work was confined to a relatively small number of organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), operating according to widely held principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality. These organizations were allowed to operate in ‘safe zones’ because of their perceived independence from political and military motivations. However, this philosophy has come under scrutiny in the last two decades, as both the scale and complexity of crises have increased, while, at the same time, the number and variety of organizations have proliferated, creating a cacophony of players and motivations.
NZ Herald June 30, 2011
Prime Minister John Key said last night the men played a “crucial” role in thwarting the terrorist attack that left at least 10 civilians dead at the Inter-Continental hotel in Kabul.
At least six suicide bombers stormed the five-storey building about 9pm local time (5am NZ time).
Once inside, they went from room to room, attacking the residents, before taking over the roof of the building.
At least 10 Afghan civilians were killed in the battle, which ended when a Nato helicopter attacked the militants on the roof, killing them all.
Mr Key said a “handful” of New Zealand’s SAS troops – fewer than a dozen, he thought – went to the raid with the Afghani Crisis Response Unit in a mentoring role to observe.
SAS forces are in Kabul to train local forces with a view to handing back security responsibilities soon.
“The incident obviously escalated,” the Prime Minister said.
Joe Davidson The Washington Post June 29, 2011
With Congress considering so many ways to make the lives of federal employees more difficult, even small, symbolic efforts to recognize them are notable, even when they’re dead.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has approved legislation that would allow agencies to present an American flag to the families of federal employees who are killed while on duty or because of their status as a government employee.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the committee, said he was pleased the panel considered the Civilian Service Recognition Act of 2011, “especially since they received so much negative attention and criticism recently for simply doing their jobs.”
The bill stands in contrast to unrelated proposals that would extend the federal pay freeze, make employees pay more for health and retirement benefits, cut the federal workforce and allow workers to be fired if they are seriously behind on their federal taxes.
Huge Bank Corruption Plot In Afghanistan Might Have Been Covered Up By This Central Banker, Who Just Fled To The U.S.
Courtney Comstock at Business Insider June 29, 2011
Abdul Qadeer Fitrat, the former governor of the Afghan central bank, fled the country Monday amid a scandal over corruption at Kabul Bank, which was taken over by the government last year.
Now the IMF’s support of Afghanistan is said to be in jeopardy.
Fitrat says he fled because his life was in danger. He says he flew to the U.S. because, “The government, and particularly the president, knew that I knew a lot of facts about how they stole public depositors money [including] the deposits of small Afghans, farmers, carpenters … that they [had] saved in Kabul Bank … they [the government] had used that money for political campaigns and they knew I had evidence for that.”
Pentagon Contractor Employee Investigated for Human Trafficking, Fired… But No Prosecutions or Contract Terminations
Yesterday, the State Department released its latest annual report on combating human trafficking. The report said that although one Department of Defense contractor employee was investigated and dismissed in the last year, there have been no prosecutions and no contract terminations:
Allegations against federal contractors engaged in commercial sex and labor exploitation continued to surface in the media. During the reporting period, allegations were investigated and one employee was dismissed by a DoD contractor. The Inspectors General at the Departments of State and Defense and USAID continued their audits of federal contracts to monitor vulnerability to human trafficking and issued public reports of their findings and reparations. USAID also created an entity dedicated to proactively tracking contractor compliance with the authority to suspend contracts and debar contracting firms, a positive step toward increasing enforcement in this area. No prosecutions occurred and no contracts were terminated.
Earlier this month, POGO published an investigation into a case of alleged labor trafficking by a DoD subcontractor in Iraq. In that instance, there were no prosecutions or contract terminations. Last year, I and Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig wrote that there have been zero prosecutions or contract terminations ever since a tough-sounding “zero tolerance” policy that emphasized prosecutions went into place nearly a decade ago. Experts inside and outside the government told us there is little appetite and investigative resources to go after these crimes. “Zero prosecutions,” we quoted attorney Martina Vandenberg, a former Human Rights Watch investigator, “suggests zero effort to enforce the law.”
Nick Schwellenbach is POGO’s Director of Investigations. Please see the original here
The Justice Department is investigating the mishandling of remains at Arlington National Cemetery in a broad criminal inquiry that is also seeking evidence of possible contracting fraud and falsification of records, people familiar with the investigation said Tuesday.
A federal grand jury in Alexandria has been subpoenaing witnesses and records relating to the scandal at the nation’s most venerated military burial ground, sources said. The investigation, conducted by the FBI and the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, has been underway for at least six months, according to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The Justice Department’s investigation significantly escalates the level of scrutiny faced by the cemetery, and the probe joins several ongoing inquiries by Congress, which last year passed a law mandating that the cemetery verify that remains are properly accounted for at every one of its 330,000 graves. The law also requires the Government Accountability Office to look into the cemetery’s contract management procedures, and whether the Army-run cemetery should be turned over to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which oversees 131 national cemeteries.
In a report released last June, the Army inspector general found widespread problems at the cemetery: a dysfunctional management system; millions wasted on information technology contracts that produced useless results; misplaced and misidentified remains; and at least four cases in which crematory urns had been dug up and dumped in a dirt pile.
Elaine Ganley Associated Press at Seattle PI June 29, 2011
PARIS (AP) — French television has reported that two journalists held hostage in Afghanistan since December 2009 were freed Wednesday.
France-3 television said in a flash across their screen that their reporters Stephane Taponier and Herve Ghesquiere have been released, without providing further details. Their translator, Reza Din, was also released.
Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the two men were in good health and would be returning shortly to their homeland after one of France’s longest hostage ordeals.
The television journalists were kidnapped together with three Afghan associates while working on a story about reconstruction on a road east of Kabul. The Taliban said the insurgency movement was holding them and made a set of demands — never published — in exchange for the men’s freedom.
By Pratap Chatterjee at Think Progress Security June 29, 2011
The number of contractors in Afghanistan is likely to increase significantly in the next year as the Obama administration pulls back some of the extra 68,000 troops that it has dispatched there since January 2009.
Typically, the U.S. pays one contractor to support every soldier that has deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. The ratio of contractors to troops increases dramatically during a military surge as well as during a drawdown, and often stays higher than troop levels when military numbers are low, i.e. down to 30,000-50,000.
The reason is simple — the military needs extra workers to build new bases as well as to shut them down. Just like a hotel or restaurant, a military base also needs a minimum number of people to do the basics like janitorial or food service work. And as troops withdraw, U.S. diplomats are likely to hire extra security contractors as they are doing now in Iraq.
Using a range of 1.3 to 1.4 (based on what Afghanistan needed before the surge and Iraq needed after the drawdown), I would project that if the Obama administration draws down to 68,000 troops in Afghanistan by September 2012, they will need 88,400 contractors at the very least, but potentially as many as 95,880:
The majority of these workers do maintenance and other support tasks. But the one group that has seen demand explode since Obama became president is the number of private security contractors (men or women with guns), which spiked from a flat line of about 4,000 to almost 19,000 today. Given the attack on the Intercontinental in Kabul yesterday, that number seems very unlikely to drop:
To be sure, there are two reasons that might change — a dramatic slowdown in reconstruction activity or if President Karzai decides to disband the private security contractors in the country as he has threatened to do in the past.
Despite the killing of Osama bin Laden in May, violence in Afghanistan is on the rise. If this potential surge in private security contractors sparks any violent incidents like the shootout in Nissour Square in Baghdad in 2007, the U.S. could see an increasing drumbeat from Afghan politicians like President Karzai to leave the country altogether.
by Noah Shachtman at Wired’s Danger Room June 29, 2011
Rarely does a report warn its readers to take its data with a grain of salt. But that’s exactly what a new Brown University study does with what they say is a deliberate undercount of the civilian deaths from ten years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At least 132,000 civilians have died since 2001, say researchers at Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies. Between 12,000 and 14,000 of them died in Afghanistan — the most recent of which came from Tuesday’s audacious insurgent attack on Kabul’s most famous hotel. Another 120,000 died in Iraq. If you want to include Pakistan in that mix — and since the U.S.’ shadow war there is an adjunct of the Afghanistan conflict — add another 35,000 deaths, although the report says it can’t “disaggregate civilian from combatant death” there, which is kind of a big deal.
No one can say with certainty how many civilians have died in these wars. But even by the Institute’s own admission, the death toll is far higher. The Institute only counts direct violence that killed civilians — bombings, gunshot wounds, missile strikes, whatever. It doesn’t include indirect deaths, as occur when war creates refugees that can’t find food, clean water or adequate medical care. Nor does it include the lost limbs and emotional suffering that are a part of every war. Nor does it attempt to count civilian deaths in U.S. shadow wars like Yemen or Somalia.
And its data is reliant on existing tallies from the U.S., the United Nations, nongovernmental organizations and media reports. Some of them lack precision and aren’t able to go where conditions are most dangerous. Many of them disagree about exactly who is a civilian non-combatant: the National Counterterrorism Center, for instance, categorizes Afghan police and security contractors as civilians killed by terrorism. (The U.S. doesn’t officially keep body counts — at least not for U.S.-caused civilian deaths.) Think of the Institute’s data as a tally of civilian-death tallies.
Sami Zubeiri AFP June 29, 2011
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan told the United States to leave a remote desert air base reportedly used as a hub for covert CIA drone attacks, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar was quoted by state media as saying on Wednesday.
His remarks are the latest indication of Pakistan attempting to limit US activities since a clandestine American military raid killed Osama bin Laden on May 2. Islamabad also detained a CIA contractor wanted for murder in January.
“We have told them (US officials) to leave the air base,” national news agency APP quoted Mukhtar as telling a group of journalists in his office.
Images said to be of US Predator drones at Shamsi base have been published by Google Earth in the past. The air strip is 900 kilometres (560 miles) southwest of the capital Islamabad in Baluchistan province.
A US embassy spokeswoman told AFP there were no US military personnel at Shamsi.
American drone attacks on Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan’s northwestern semi-autonomous tribal belt are hugely unpopular among a general public opposed to the government’s alliance with Washington.
Despite condemning the drone strikes in public, US documents leaked by Internet whistleblower Wikileaks late last year showed that Pakistani civilian and militant leaders had privately consented to the drone campaign.