Overseas Civilian Contractors

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U.S. Is Paying European Teams to Hunt Stray Munitions in Libya

The two groups hired by the State Department are the Mines Advisory Group of Britain and the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action.

AP at The New York Times   June 17, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is paying British and Swiss mine-clearing groups nearly $1 million to search for loose antiaircraft missiles in Libya and dispose of them, so they do not fall into the hands of terrorist groups.

The State Department’s hiring of the teams was prompted by fears that terrorists could use scavenged man-portable air defense systems, known as Manpads, to attack civilian aircraft around the world.

The Libyan military had amassed nearly 20,000 of the weapons before the popular uprising began in March. Most of them are still held by the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, but some bases and ammunition dumps in contested or rebel-held areas have been looted, and an unknown number of the weapons have gone astray.

The search teams, who will also keep an eye out for mines and other deadly munitions, will be allowed to work in rebel-held areas away from active combat zones. American and allied authorities have told Libyan opposition figures that their cooperation would be a factor in decisions about future aid, according to American and United Nations officials who are familiar with the discussions.

“From the U.S. point of view, it was an issue of paramount importance,” said Justin Baker, officer-in-charge of the United Nations Mine Action Service, which is overseeing the weapons disposal effort in Libya. “The Libyans seemed to get the big picture of what was necessary to present a credible international face.”

Please read the entire article here

June 18, 2011 - Posted by | Demining, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Landmines, Libya, Mine Clearance, State Department | , , , , , ,

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