On Tuesday of this week, Staff Sergeant Joseph D’Augustine was killed in Afghanistan by an IED. He was 29 years old.
Staff Sergeant D’Augustine was an EOD tech in the United States Marine Corps, and he had four tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq to his credit. He enlisted in the Marine Corps the day after he graduated from Waldwick High School in New Jersey in 2001. As an EOD tech, Staff Sergeant D’Augustine displayed the full extent of his bravery by clearing explosive threats in defending the lives of his fellow marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors.
EOD techs, like Staff Sergeant D’Augustine, play an invaluable role in securing our freedom and in combating terrorism, but too often their heroic deeds go unreported
North Jersey.com March 28, 2012
Twenty four hours after four Marines showed up at his parent’s home on Campbell Street in Waldwick with news of his death, the family had gathered and members were rifling through boxes of photos of the 2001 Waldwick High School graduate to find one in which he was flashing just the right smile.
D’Augustine is survived by his parents, Anthony and Patricia, and sisters, Nicole, Jennifer and Michele and her husband, Len Kulesa of Mahwah. He also had two nephews and one niece.
As of 3:30 p.m. March 28, the Department of Defense had not released information surrounding D’Augustine’s death.
Joseph D’Augustine left for boot camp the day after his graduation from Waldwick High School in 2001, his sisters said. This was his fourth tour; previous deployments had taken him to Iraq and Fallujah, Afghanistan.
“We loved him. He was a great brother, great uncle and great son,” said Michele Kulesa. “My parents were really proud of him. His nephews looked up to him and couldn’t wait for him to come home. He was a happy guy. God just took him too soon.”
The family said they planned to leave in several hours for Delaware on March 28 to await the arrival of D’Augustine’s remains.
D’Augustine was a member of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit and belonged to Waldwick VFW Post 1049 and American Legion Nightengale Post 57, according to VFW commander Michael Echevarria.
“Not only did he want to be a Marine, but he wanted to be wherever the action was,” Echevarria said in an interview March 28. “That’s true of him with everything. In high school he was a hell of a linebacker and he was a great wrestler.”
Echevarria described D’Augustine as someone who “wasn’t happy unless everyone around him was laughing.”
Arabian Oil and Gas March 25, 2012
Iraq has taken another step in taking ownership of its oil infrastructure, with the Oil Ministry recently telling companies which provide goods and services to the operators of the oil fields in the south that that private security companies are now forbidden, and subcontractors should instead rely on the country’s Oil Police for protection.
“All the security services related to the drilling contracts of the subcontractors who are contracting with the lead contractors for oil fields development […] should be cancelled and it will never be accepted from now on,” said a memo from the South Oil Company. “The Oil Police will provide the necessary protection.”
The memo goes on to state that the Oil Ministry requires security licences issued to private firms working for subcontractors, including oilfield services companies, be suspended immediately. Operators themselves can still use private security.
A bipartisan group of members from the House and Senate proposed legislation on Monday that seeks to crack down on human trafficking by contractors that the U.S. military hires for work in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act is a reaction to reports from the Commission on Wartime Contracting and the inspectors general of the Defense and State departments that overseas contractors are known to engage in practices that are illegal under U.S. employee rights standards. These include seizing workers’ passports to trap them at a work site, lying about compensation, engaging in sexual abuse and generally keeping workers in a state of indentured servitude.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the lead Senate sponsor of the bill, said the legislation would help improve the treatment of third-country workers who are lured to work in Iraq and Afghanistan only to be defrauded or enslaved.
“Modern-day slavery by government contractors — unknowingly funded by American taxpayers — is unconscionable and intolerable,” Blumenthal said. “Current law prohibiting human trafficking is insufficient and ineffective, failing to prevent or punish abuses
Blumenthal’s bill, S. 2234, is also co-sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
The House companion bill, H.R. 4259, was sponsored by Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), and is co-sponsored by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.).
Issa’s committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill Tuesday morning at 10 a.m., with Blumenthal and Portman expected to testify on the bill at that time
ATLANTA (AP) – A high-ranking Department of Defense employee who pleaded guilty to taking a bribe from an Afghanistan-based contractor was sentenced to 20 months in prison for his crime.
Desi Deandre Wade was also ordered on Wednesday to pay a $4,000 fine for taking a backpack stuffed with $95,000 in cash to influence a lucrative contract.
Wade is a U.S. Army veteran and firefighter who was the department’s Chief of Fire and Emergency Services in Afghanistan when he was arrested in August.
Authorities say he received a $4,000 bribe in Afghanistan to award a maintenance contract to a firm and later proposed steering a $4.5 million contract to the same company in exchange for a payoff. He was arrested at a conference in Atlanta moments after taking the backpack.
The Daily Star March 20, 2012
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s efforts to recover from rampant land mines and cluster bombs in the south have received a new donation from Italy, it was announced Friday.
The Italian Foreign Ministry’s Development Cooperation Department has approved a financial contribution of 500,000 euros ($677,350) to the UNDP for the Lebanon Mine Action Program (LMAP), the ministry said in a statement. The initiative aims at empowering communities affected by cluster bombs, through a demining program to reduce the risk of death and injuries and alleviate the socio-economic impact of cluster bombs.
RTT Global Financial News March 27, 2012
An Australian civilian has been injured in an apparent suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said on Tuesday.
Carr said the injured man was “an AusAID adviser deployed through the Australian Civilian Corps.” He added that the civilian “was working in Uruzgan with local communities on development activities” when he was injured in the bomb attack.
According to Carr, the injured man was in a serious but stable condition following the attack. No other Australians were injured in the attack. Carr said the injured was currently receiving medical treatment in Kandahar, and added that his “next of kin have been advised and are receiving support from the Australian government.”
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the incident was “incredibly bad news” for the injured man’s family. She said he was “involved in work outside the wire,” implying that his work was being carried out outside the Australian base at Tarin Kowt.
Neither Carr nor Gillard identified the injured man by name, citing a request made by his family for privacy. Nevertheless, they said further details would be announced when received.
My Fox Tampa Bay March 26, 2012
As you can imagine, she was concerned.
“I was just worried to death that he would be in harms way,” Kleinfelder said of where St. Pierre would be spending a majority of his time.
But she also understood.
St. Pierre, a retired Pasco County sheriff’s deputy and father of three, had dedicated his life to service and training K-9s.
In Afghanistan he would be doing both.
“He wanted to help people and those were the best times,” said Kleinfelder.
Friday Kleinfelder’s fears were confirmed, St. Pierre died in Afghanistan of a heart attack at the age of 51.
“I’ll miss him,” she said. “His family will miss him terribly.”
St. Pierre worked as a contractor in Afghanistan for American K-9 Detection Services as a narcotics detection dog handler.
The company says he and his partner Jowi had found drugs on numerous occasions during their two years in the country.
St. Pierre also worked with K-9’s with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, but his love for dogs started long before his work as an officer.
“When we were children, going to Sunshine Elementary School he had a shepherd here,” said David McConnell.
McConnell had known St. Pierre since childhood. They grew up together.
“He was more like a brother to me, basically all my life,” McConnell said Sunday.
He adds that St. Pierre’s parents are distraught over their son’s death.
Friend and family say he’ll be sorely missed.
“A terrific guy, great sense of humor but also a great sense of duty and honor,” said McConnell. “He was serious about his work but he didn’t take himself too seriously so that made him fun to be around.”
They also hope his death reminds folks of the many contractors who have died in the war-torn country.
“I just don’t want people to forget that there are thousands of men and women just like him who are serving and we need to remember them and honor them as well,” said Kleinfelder
IRIN March 26,2012
KABALO, 26 March 2012 (IRIN) – Landmines planted about a decade ago in parts of Kabalo territory in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) southeastern Katanga Province are adversely affecting farming livelihoods, and an important World Food Programme (WFP) project.
“In our area, there are villages where we get much harvest but the road leading to those villages [has] landmines,” a food trader from Kabalo said.
Lorries often get blown up by the landmines, Birindwa Murhula, a leader of one of the local food traders’ associations, told IRIN.
Kabalo, formerly the breadbasket of mineral-rich Katanga Province, was affected by DRC’s 1998-2003 civil wars. The Mpaye area, for example, served as a demarcation zone separating belligerents when Zimbabwean-backed DRC army troops clashed with the rebel Rassemblement Congolais Pour la Democratie, which was backed by the Rwandan Army.
Mpaye is still affected by landmines, making the transportation of food from local villages to trading centres and beyond a challenge.
In the past, the NGO Danish Church Aid (DCA) helped to demine Kabalo but stopped work in the first half of 2012 due to a lack of funding
BY DION NISSENBAUM AND ZIAULHAQ SULTANI WSJ Update
KABUL, Afghanistan—An Afghan soldier opened fire on Western forces in southern Afghanistan on Monday, killing two British troops at the gate of their base in the capital of Helmand province, Afghan and coalition officials said.
Hours later, a man believed to be a member of the Afghan Local Police opened fire on coalition forces as they approached a checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan, killing one, according to coalition officials.
Al Jazeera March 26, 2012
A gunman in an Afghan army uniform has killed two NATO soldiers at a base in southern Afghanistan, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has said.
Monday’s late morning attack in the capital of southern Helmand province took place at the main entrance to a base
housing military and civilian reconstruction teams, the provincial governor’s office said in a statement.
Afghan and Western security sources identified the two NATO soldiers as British troops. An Afghan soldier was also shot dead and one Briton was wounded in the attack according to a Western security source speaking on condition of anonymity to the AFP news agency.
Associated Press March 22, 2012
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Private security firms are storing their guns aboard floating armories in international waters so ships that want armed anti-piracy guards for East Africa’s pirate-infested waters can cut costs and circumvent laws limiting the import and export of weapons, industry officials say.
Companies and legal experts say the operation of the armories is a “legal gray area” because few, if any, governments have laws governing the practice. Some security companies have simply not informed the governments of the flag their ship is flying, industry officials said.
Some members of the private security sector are urging governments and industry leaders to impose standards on the unchecked practice of storing weapons offshore to equip anti-pirate forces off Somalia’s coast.
Storing guns on boats offshore really took off as a business last year. Britain — where many of the operators are from — is investigating the legality of the practice, which has received little publicity outside of shipping industry circles.
Floating armories have become a viable business in the wake of increased security practices by the maritime industry, which has struggled for years to combat attacks by Somali pirates. But those in the industry say the standards vary widely
Daily Beast March 21, 2012
On Tuesday afternoon, in the small inland Somali town of Adado, law enforcement officials gazed skyward as a single-engine aircraft circled close overhead. The plane—a U.K.-owned KingAir 200 operated by the British company Phoenix Aviation and reportedly chartered by the British private security firm Salama Fikira—dropped a sack containing an estimated $800,000 to $1 million in cash. The stash was ransom for 56-year-old Judith Tebbutt, a British citizen held hostage for nearly seven months by Somali pirates.
Adado has been a hotbed of hostage rescues this year: Navy SEALs staged a dramatic operation to recover American Jessica Buchanan from the town in January. Tebbutt had been in the pirates’ possession since September 11 of last year, when a Somali gang kidnapped her from an upscale resort in a remote region of Kenya near Somalia’s lawless border. During the abduction, the pirates shot and killed her husband, David; then slipped into a boat and glided north into the country that even locals call “the Land of Death”.
Tebbutt’s initial captors, a dozen or so fishermen and former hotel employees in the area, are thought to be originally from the Bajuni islands in Kenya, and are purported to have connections with the radical Somali terror group Al-Shabab. They sold Tebbutt to a second band of pirates based in Haradhere, on the northern Somali coast. The group that received the ransom this week was from the Ceyr and Saleeban—two parts of the large Hawiye clan—and the gangleader is known to be a man called Bashir.
Birmingham Mail March 20, 2012
A BRAVE Birmingham soldier died a hero as he tried to defused his SIXTH Taliban bomb in two days, an inquest has heard.
Staff Sergeant Brett Linley, 29, was killed instantly by blast injuries while trying to deactivate an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Afghanistan, a week before he was due to return home on leave.
The Royal Logistic Corps soldier, from Bournville, was later posthumously awarded the George Medal for his actions, which saved the lives of many colleagues.
Yesterday, a Birmingham inquest heard Staff Sgt Linley had defused 22 bombs in three months while in Afghanistan.
He made two IEDs safe the day before his death and deactivated another three the following morning – before he set out on his fatal sixth operation.
The soldier was working with his team from the 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment to secure a crucial route from Lashkar Gar to Gereshk, in Helmand Province, when he was killed on July 17, 2010.
Insurgents were active in the area and had filled the route with hidden IEDs.
Major Charlie Crowe told the inquest: “Brett was the expert on IEDs and had cleared an enormous number of them. Each IED he had pulled out of the ground saved one life. He was better than anyone else.”
Staff Sgt Linley was working alongside American forces when a mechanical digger used to pull IEDs out of the ground malfunctioned
After a discussion, the bomb disposal expert, who was in full armour, went to defuse the IED alone, while colleagues withdrew to a safe distance.
BBC News March 20, 2012
Two Britons arrested in Afghanistan in early January for carrying unlicensed guns have been released without charge
The unidentified men were in a vehicle with a local interpreter and driver when they were stopped east of Kabul.
The private security contractors, among thousands of guards operating in the country, had been held in Kabul prison.
Officials reportedly found a number of AK-47 assault rifles – one of the most commonly used weapons in Afghanistan – which did not have serial numbers.
Kabul police had called on the men’s employers to explain why they were transporting the guns without proper documentation.
All private security companies must buy weapons with serial numbers through the interior ministry, but, according to local police and intelligence officials at the time of the arrests, the weapons the men were carrying had been purchased on the black market.
Afghan sources confirmed the release of the men to the BBC. The Foreign Office has not commented on the case.
The BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Kabul says President Karzai has accused foreign guards of undermining security in the country and controversial moves are now under way to replace them with Afghan forces
Spy Talk March 19, 2012
Tens of thousands of Americans in the Middle East–not just Israelis–are potentially vulnerable to Iranian retaliation for attacks on its nuclear facilities, a fact underscored by the mysterious emergence last week of an American contractor who said he’d been kidnapped by a pro-Iran shiite militia in Iraq.
The American embassy in Baghdad said it had no records of the disappearance of Randy Michael Hultz, a former U.S. Army soldier who had returned to pursue business opportunities in Iraq. Hultz said h’d been held for nine months by a paramilitary group connected to Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Iraqi shiite leader who is allied with Iran.
But even before the last U.S. combat troops left Iraq in December, the American Embassy had issued an official warning to its approximately 16,000 employees, 80 per cent of them security contractors, about the threat of kidnapping.
The threat came mainly from pro-Iran militias, analysts said.
UPI SecurityIndustry March 19, 2012
WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) — Pirate attacks on merchant vessels in Africa pose a threat with ripple effects for U.S. homeland security and must be tackled as such, security industry experts say.
The industry’s experts want specialist teams from commercial security firms deployed on every ship that sails in the danger zone in east Africa, where most recent piracy incidents have taken place.
“Success at sea by the early Somali pirates has attracted major organized-crime syndicates, Muslim extremists and a more robust and sophisticated confederacy of operatives,” Jim Jorrie, chief executive officer of ESPADA marine services argued in the March 2012 issue of Homeland Security Today magazine.
“While this is all happening half a world away, it has put more operating cash in the hands of extremists, including al-Qaida — and that should be of no small concern for us in the United States,” Jorrie said