Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

The Pirate Surge That Never Was

MarineLink
David Rider, Neptune Maritime
Thursday, February 16, 2012, 1:45 PM

In September 2011, as the monsoon began to blow itself out, there were grave warnings from a number of sources and analysts that the shipping industry could expect to see a significant surge in pirate activity as conditions in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean became more favorable. Captain Keith Blount, chief of staff with EU NAVFOR, told the press1, “I think we are going to see a surge in piracy because we always have done at this time when the southwest monsoon abates and the seas become flatter.”

But as conditions cleared, the anticipated increase in pirate activity failed to materialize, to the surprise of many in the industry. This was all the more remarkable given the business model of Somali pirates, which demands that they hijack high value targets which can be ransomed for huge sums which are then used to pay off the investors who supply the equipment used by the pirates, their food and that of their hostages and so on. Without a reasonable turnover of hijacked vessels, pirates begin to run up big bills in their home ports and those cut into their profit margins. Pirates towards the end of 2011 were very much on the back foot, and successful hijackings were suddenly few and far between.

Please read the entire article here

February 16, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Pirates, Somalia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US embassy to ‘localise’ Iraq operations

AFP February 16, 2012

BAGHDAD — The United States embassy in Iraq is to increase its reliance on local goods and services as part of efforts to cut the size of its mission, the largest in the world, a top State Department official said on Wednesday.

Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Thomas Nides told reporters during a visit to Baghdad that as part of such efforts, “we’ll look at the contract piece,” specifically “purchasing more local goods and services.”

“We’re basically telling our contractors we expect them to source more of the food internally than bringing it over the border, and so that will obviously lessen our dependence on some of the contracts,” Nides said.

“We have a very much aggressive hire … Iraqi programme, meaning that we’re being very clear not only to our contractors but even here for our staff to begin to localise much of our operations,” he said.

Contractors, he said, have been given targets to reach.

Please read the entire article here

February 16, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, State Department | , , , | Leave a comment

Contractor Global Aviation Files for Bankruptcy Amidst Military Cuts

Bankruptcy News  February 16, 2012

Global Aviation Holdings Inc., which provides more chartered flights for the U.S. military than any other company, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to a recent report from the Reuters news service.

In its bankruptcy filing, Global Aviation listed a number of different reasons for its decision to seek debt relief through bankruptcy. These reasons included the U.S. pullout from Iraq, cuts in defense spending by the federal government, and high debt and labor costs.

Global Aviation, which is the parent company of North American Airlines Inc. and World Airways Inc., filed in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Brooklyn, New York, just two weeks after the Defense Department announced that it plans to reduce military spending by $487 billion over the next ten years.

February 16, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors | , , , | Leave a comment

Armored SUV could not protect U.S. agents in Mexico

The Washington Post  February 16, 2012

MEXICO CITY — When U.S. special agent Jaime Zapata was shot dead one year ago on a notorious stretch of highway in central Mexico, he was driving a $160,000 armored Chevy Suburban, built to exacting government standards, designed to defeat high-velocity gunfire, fragmentation grenades and land mines.

But the vehicle had a basic, fatal flaw.

Forced off the road in a well-coordinated ambush, surrounded by drug cartel gunmen brandishing AK-47s, Zapata and his partner, Victor Avila, rolled to a stop. Zapata put the vehicle in park.

The door locks popped open.

That terrifying sound — a quiet click — set into motion events that remain under investigation. When Zapata needed it most, the Suburban’s elaborate armoring was rendered worthless by a consumer-friendly automatic setting useful for family vacations and hurried commuters but not for U.S. agents driving through a red zone in Mexico.

Please read the entire story here

February 16, 2012 Posted by | Mexico, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eritrea opposition figure feared abducted in Sudan

AFP  February 16, 2012

An Eritrean opposition party official has been missing for two days in eastern Sudan and there are fears he may have been kidnapped by Asmara’s security agents, the party alleged on Thursday.

Mohammed Ali Ibrahim, a member of the People’s Democratic Party central council, left his house in Kassala town at 8:00 am (0500 GMT) on Tuesday and has not been seen since, the party said in a statement emailed to AFP.

Sudanese police and the Kassala hospitals had no word on him, it said.

“The big fear prevailing in Kassala is that he might have been kidnapped by security agents of the Eritrean regime, who enjoy free mobility in the region,” it said.

Eastern Sudan is home to tens of thousands of ethnic Eritreans

Please see the original and read more here

February 16, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Eritrea, Sudan | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

KBR’s Blood Money

War profiteering has never been so profitable for the wrongdoer and so dangerous for our troops and the taxpayer. Please sign my petition (SIGN HERE)

MsSparky’s Toxic Exposure

More than 200 soldiers are suing KBR for knowingly exposing them to toxic chemicals in Iraq, whose effects started with nose bleeds and could end with cancer. KBR says that didn’t happen. But even if it did, the company isn’t responsible. Taxpayers are.

even if KBR is found liable, an indemnity clause in the company’s contract means that it won’t have to cover legal costs. There’s a reason both KBR and the Army wanted a last-minute addition to the contract to remain classified for as long as possible: It indemnifies KBR for any soldier’s on-site injury or death — even if due to the company’s willful misconduct.

The Houston Press  February 15, 2012

Larry Roberta, a specialist in the Oregon National Guard, sat on a stack of sacks brimming with one of the most carcinogenic chemicals known to man and chomped on his chicken patty.

Unsuccessful in his mission to swap his rations with any of the British soldiers, who were stocked with heavenly corned beef hash and chocolate pudding, he braved the mystery meat’s gooey coating while keeping an eye on the contractors’ trailer a few yards away. While the Kellogg Brown & Root guys ate inside the trailer, Roberta could’ve taken lunch in one of the vehicles, but he figured vehicles were prime targets for any insurgents or Saddam loyalists who might be scouring the area. Better to suffer the hundred-plus-degree heat.

To Roberta’s knowledge, the chicken patty, with its gooey coating, was the only toxic substance he was currently in contact with. The sand around the sacks was mixed with a dark-orange, crystalline powder, but it didn’t faze him — the entire water-injection facility he was guarding was filthy with chemical residue.

The facility, Qarmat Ali, was a sprawling, approximately 50-acre plant where chemically treated water was pumped deep underground to maintain balance in the reservoirs while the oil was extracted. The plant had already felt the pains from years of U.N. sanctions before looters descended like human twisters in early spring and ran away with whatever wasn’t bolted down, and much of what was, knocking out electricity and leaving some buildings as mere husks. One building was littered with human feces; exposed machinery was coated with sludge and sand and colored powders.

Please read this very important story in it’s entirety here

February 16, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Halliburton, Iraq, KBR, Lawsuits, Legal Jurisdictions, Safety and Security Issues, Toxic | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nation in a State: Meals ready, on America’s frontline pressure cooker

Youth from Odaipatti village in Tamil Nadu risk their lives to work as cooks in U.S. forward military bases.  It’s no cakewalk

Their pay did not include medical or life insurance, neither was there any clarity about compensation in case of death. That they could be summarily removed — sometimes with just three hours notice — in case of a health problem or vision difficulty was something the young men did not know about before taking up their jobs.

The Hindu February 16, 2012

Odaipatti may not be aware of it but the far-flung village, tucked away in the foothills of Megamalai in southwestern Tamil Nadu, has played a substantive role in subsidising U.S. war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan. For many years, this fertile village, along with neighbouring Govindanagaram, has provided an army of formally trained bakers, cooks, and other catering specialists to various U.S. military bases in active combat zones for salaries from as low as $550 to $700 a month.

Bharathkumar Sekar is only 25 years old, but he is already a two-war veteran. He served as a head baker at the U.S. Forward Operative Base Kalsu, located in Iskandariya, Iraq, and later at Kandahar in Afghanistan. The equally young B. Thangaraj managed dining halls at U.S. army camps in Kirkush, Iraq, before moving to Helmand in Afghanistan.

E. Srinivasan, K. Manikandan … the list is long. Villagers tell me that by now more than 100 youth from the two villages have worked at military camps either in Iraq or Afghanistan or both, and those with the right qualifications continue to be recruited by U.S. military contractors.

“We knew we were taking risks. There were many rocket attacks inside our army camps. At times rockets even landed on top of my kitchen, Bharathkumar said, explaining that “it was bombproof.”

Please read the entire article here

February 16, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, DynCorp | , , , , , | Leave a comment