Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Security Contractors and U.S. Defense: Lessons Learned from Iraq and Afghanistan

David Isenberg at the CATO Institute  June 14.2011

David Isenberg is an analyst in national and international security affairs and a US Navy veteran. He is also a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute, and the author of a new book, Shadow Force: Private Security Contractors in Iraq.

Although the United States has been using private contractors in one way or another since the founding of the country, it is the experience of the past decade, since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, that has focused attention on private military and security contractors (PMSCs) to unprecedented levels.

The U.S. Defense Department and State Department, as well as other U.S. agencies and other countries, have used contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan both for logistics work, which accounts for the vast majority of contractors, as well as for much more publicized, but numerically far smaller, security roles. As a result, even if much of the most useful information is closely held by governments and companies and thus not available to the public, we now have a rich source of information on contractors that allows us to draw some tentative lessons and conclusions as to their impact and proper role.

Before going further, however, it is important to note that while some of the following points have implications for the use of PMSCs around the world, it would be wrong to assume they can be applied globally. It is a simple fact that the United States has privatized and outsourced former military and associated national security functions to a degree unmatched by any other country. Thus, the lessons described here should be viewed through a U.S.-centered lens.

A look through that lens reveals that contractors are fully integrated into U.S. national security and other government functions. To paraphrase a popular commercial about the American Express credit card, the United States cannot go to war without them.

Please read this in it’s entirety here

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Iraq, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , | Leave a comment

Shuttle’s End Leaves NASA a Pension Bill

The New York Times  June 14, 2011

The nation’s space agency plans to spend about half a billion dollars next year to replenish the pension fund of the contractor that has supplied thousands of workers to the space shuttle program.

The shuttle program accounts for a vast majority of the business of United Space Alliance, originally a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. With the demise of the shuttle program, United Space Alliance will be left without a source of revenue to keep its pension plan afloat. So the company wants to terminate its family of pension plans, covering 11,000 workers and retirees, and continue as a smaller, nimbler concern to compete for other contracts.

Normally, a company that lost a lifeblood contract would have little choice but to declare bankruptcy and ask the federal insurer, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, to take over its pensions. But that insurer limits benefits, meaning not everyone gets as much as they had been promised. United Space Alliance’s plan also allows participants to take their pensions as a single check and includes retiree health benefits, neither of which would be permitted by the pension insurer.

United Space Alliance, however, has a rare pledge from a different government agency to pay the bill. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration says in its contract with the company that it will cover its pension costs “to the extent they are otherwise allowable, allocable and reasonable.” NASA interprets this to include the cost of terminating its pension plans outside of bankruptcy.

Please read the entire story at The New York Times

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Follow the Money | , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon in Search of ‘Secret’ Farmers for Afghanistan

Why is the U.S. sending farmers with high security clearance to Afghanistan?

by Max Fisher at The Atlantic  June 15, 2011

The U.S. Department of Defense is looking to hire agriculture specialists to send to Afghanistan. That’s nothing especially new — Afghanistan’s economy is heavily agricultural, the health of the country’s economy is directly tied to the mission of rolling back Taliban influence, and the U.S. has been sending farming consultants there for years. But writer (and former civilian contractor in Afghanistan) Joshua Foust noticed something unusual in reading the job listing, which had been posted to recruitmilitary.com by a defense contractor. The job requires “secret” security clearance.

Then there are secret farmers. Chenega Corporation, one of the ubiquitous Native Alaskan Owned Small Businesses that gets all sorts of exemptions and set-asides from the government, is hiring cleared agricultural specialists to operate in Afghanistan.

… There’s nothing too nefarious about this–as a deployed DOD contractor it makes sense to have a SECRET clearance, as SIPR is how the Army talks to itself. But still: the war in Afghanistan has advanced to the point where importing American farmers to help Afghans farm now requires a security clearance.

There are two things at play here. First, working for the U.S. government in a war zone often requires security clearance, simply because you’re exposed to many classified documents on a day-to-day basis. Second, the U.S. is working to make infrastructure-building (some might call it nation-building) part of its military mission in Afghanistan, understanding that more self-sustaining Afghan industries will reduce the appeal of the Taliban and decrease violence.

Please read the entire story at The Atlantic

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Pentagon, Safety and Security Issues | , , , | Leave a comment

Billions More Wasted on Anti-Drug Contracts in Latin America

Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky  All Gov  June 15, 2011

It’s impossible to know if the federal government is effectively spending billions of dollars on contractors to help fight the nation’s war on drugs, says a U.S. senator.
Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri, chair of the Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, says there is “insufficient oversight of counternarcotics contracts at the Departments of State and Defense,” making it difficult to assess the success of spending $3.1 billion on such work between 2005 and 2009.
McCaskill points to a lack of transparency at both departments, where no centralized database or system has been established to track counternarcotics contracts. To make matters worse, the Defense Department has admitted that the current systems it is relying on are “inconsistent,” “time-consuming and error-prone.”
Spending on counternarcotics contracts increased by 32% over a five-year period, says McCaskill, but contract management and oversight was found to be insufficient.
The majority of the money, $1.8 billion, went to just five contractors: DynCorp, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, ITT, and ARINC, with $1.1 billion going to DynCorp.
Slightly more than half of the money was spent “on aircraft-related services, maintenance, logistics, support, equipment, and training.” The rest went to other equipment and supplies, intelligence and surveillance, information technology and communications equipment and services, construction and logistics, and personnel.
Although the contracts were spent for operations in eight Latin American countries, almost $2 billion went to Colombia alone.

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Central America, Contract Awards, Contractor Oversight, Contracts Awarded, Department of Defense, Follow the Money, State Department | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CONGO: Outbreak of dengue-like viral disease

BRAZZAVILLE, 15 June 2011 (IRIN) Almost 1,000 suspected cases of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne viral disease that causes fever and severe joint pain, have been recorded in the Republic of Congo’s capital over the past two weeks.

“More than 900 people are showing symptoms of chikungunya, which is transmitted by mosquito,” Director-General of Health Alexis Elira Dokekias told a news conference on 14 June.

The disease’s symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash, and are similar to those of dengue fever. There is no known cure; treatment consists of relieving the symptoms.

Dokekias said the first cases appeared in early June in the poor neighbourhoods of Bacongo and Makelekele in the south of Brazzaville.

Of 48 samples analysed in a laboratory in neighbouring Gabon, just over half tested positive for the virus, he said.

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Bug Watch, Health Watch | , , , | Leave a comment

Falsely condemned to an Afghanistan jail, threatened by Taliban fanatics, the nightmare of British army major Bill Shaw

by Tom Parry The Daily Mirror UK   June 15, 2011

TOUGH Major Bill Shaw had faced some of the world’s most hostile combat zones but being falsely jailed nearly broke him.

Bill, 53, had served everywhere from Northern Ireland to Iraq during 28 years in the Royal Military Police but nothing could prepare him for being incarcerated in a hellish Afghan jail.

He languished in the vermin-infested prison, an innocent victim of corruption charges trumped up by local officials.

A year on the experience is still raw and he makes sure Liz, 52, his partner of 34 years, is not in earshot before he speaks.

His voice shakes with emotion as he says: “I remember precisely how I felt when I was told they were actually going to send me down. I wasn’t expecting it. I was shocked, stunned. Everyone was shocked. It was totally unfounded. I was being accused of being a criminal.”

Bill, originally from Salford, had believed the whole mess would have been sorted out. “I went back to the cell. The most upsetting thing was that I couldn’t communicate with my family. It was so hard.

“The Afghans I was with had told me the judge might double my sentence just for appealing.”

Grandad Bill was working for a private security contractor guarding the British Embassy in Kabul, the Afghan capital, when two of his staff had their armoured 4×4 vehicle impounded at a roadblock on a lawless highway, nicknamed Route Violent.

Afghan agents at the checkpoint claimed it lacked the proper documents but when Bill arrived his vehicle was also confiscated. Bill, awarded an MBE for services to the armed forces, was told he would have to pay a security “official” nearly £20,000 to get them back.

It turned out to be little more than an illegal bribe but worse was to come.

Police claimed Bill was tangled up in the corrupt scam and the dad of two was remanded in a Kabul jail on charges neither he, his colleagues nor his family could understand.

Please read the entire story on Bill Shaw here

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Legal Jurisdictions, Safety and Security Issues | , , , | Leave a comment