Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Two senators target government contractors with back taxes

USA Today  March 8, 2012

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon should garnish payments made to defense contractors who fail to pay their federal income taxes, say a bipartisan pair of senators in a letter sent to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., cited a Feb. 29 USA TODAY report about the growth in Pentagon spending on information operations or propaganda programs.

The article detailed how two owners of Leonie Industries, the Pentagon’s largest such contractor in Afghanistan, owe more than $4 million in unpaid federal taxes since 2006.

Unfortunately, the apparent lack of effective contractor oversight and accountability led to a situation where the Army awarded at least one of these contracts — valued at $20 million — to a company for ‘marketing and media services’ even after the federal government placed a federal tax lien on the company’s two owners for nearly $4.5 million in delinquent federal taxes,” Carper and Coburn wrote in the letter sent Tuesday evening.

Carper is the chairman of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security, and Coburn is a member of the subcommittee.

“As you know, when U.S. military personnel have delinquent debts, the Department of Defense can be ordered to garnish their wages until these debts have been settled,” Carper and Coburn write. “If our wartime contractors — or any of the Department’s contractors, for that matter — have accumulated sizable tax debts, then we believe that similar action should be taken against these contractors

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March 8, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Taxes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trouble Ahead for Contractors in Iraq?

Journal of International Peace Operations
Volume 7, Number 5 – March-April 2012  Posted March 8, 2012

As the mission transitions from one agency to another, some lessons may be lost

LITTLE more than two months ago, with the end of Operation New Dawn, the Department of Defense (DoD) presence that had dominated Iraqi reconstruction efforts for years withdrew, leaving roughly 16,000 State Department personnel in more or less full control of the U.S. mission in Iraq. This mission, the largest in State Department history, has already come into controversy, with early reports indicating that up to half of the contractors and staff employed by the U.S. embassy in Baghdad would be withdrawn. Though spokesmen have denied these rumors, the incident reinforces the widely-held belief that the State Department does not have a well-defined plan to accomplish the remaining reconstruction missions in Iraq. Furthermore, statements from the Department indicate that many of the lessons about contractors learned by DoD did not make the transition to State control along with the Iraqi mission.

March 8, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, State Department | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Homs, Syria: Assad Allies Charge Mossad, CIA, Blackwater Link

International Business Times  March 8, 2012

The press agency of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement charged Wednesday that the CIA, Israel’s Mossad and private security firms have been exposed supporting Syrian rebels in Homs.

Al-Manar, a channel linked to the Shi’ite militia Hezbollah — a close ally of the Assad regime in Syria — asserted that 700 Arab and Western gunmen along with Israeli, American and European-made weapons were seized in the rebellious Homs neighborhood of Baba Amro when government forces overwhelmed and routed the rebel Free Syrian Army last weekend. It said mercenaries of Xe Services LL, formerly known as Blackwater, and Academi were also apprehended

The site quoted one predicting: “Huge and critical surprises will be uncovered in the coming few days, such as the kinds of arms seized, as well as the military tactics the armed groups follows, and the sides that supervised the operations.”

Salim Harba, a Syrian security expert, told Al-Manar that “a coordination office was established in Qatar under American-Gulf sponsorship. The office includes American, French, and Gulf — specifically from Qatar and Saudi Arabia — intelligence agents, as well as CIA, Mossad, and Blackwater agents and members of the Syrian Transitional Council.”

He added, “Qatar had also made deals with Israeli and American companies to arm the armed groups, and Gulf countries have been financing the agreements.”

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March 8, 2012 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Held, Private Security Contractor, Syria | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Were ArmorGroup Allegations Quashed?

CBS News  September 29, 2009

CBS News first reported this month on the hazing and humiliating of local employees and other serious breaches of ethics and policy by civilian security guards during wild parties at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Turns out, the State Department was warned that things weren’t right at the embassy, but nothing was done. Now there are troubling questions for the man once in charge of investigating those problems, reports CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.

As inspector general for the State Department, Howard Krongard was supposed to be an independent watchdog.

It was his job to investigate the very type of misconduct alleged at the U.S. embassy in Kabul: forced sexual hazing of guards, contract fraud and waste of tax dollars.

CBS News has learned that serious allegations about the embassy reached Krongard’s office two years ago – where they apparently vanished into thin air.

How that could’ve happened is even harder to explain when you consider who made the complaint: Sen. Joe Lieberman, head of the Homeland Security Committee. His staffers say they notified Krongard’s office about security and fraud allegations made by high-level whistleblowers from inside ArmorGroup, the company that provides embassy security.

Asked if he remembers that, Krongard said, “No. I Have no knowledge of that whatsoever.”

Watch: Excerpt of Attkisson’s Interview with Krongard

But CBS News has learned Krongard had a special and controversial link to the company he should have been policing. His brother Buzzy, former executive director of the CIA, was on ArmorGroup’s board of directors.

March 8, 2012 Posted by | ArmorGroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Friendly Fire, State Department | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon Contractors are “Second to None” in Salary, AIA Study Shows

POGO Project on Government Oversight  March 8, 2012

Yesterday, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) launched another volley in its “Second to None” campaign to protect the more than $350 billion taxpayer-funded revenue stream flowing to contractors every year from the Pentagon.

AIA released a Deloitte study it commissioned titled “The Aerospace and Defense Industry in the U.S.: A financial and economic impact study,” which, similar to a previous “study” from AIA, is light on unbiased facts and heavy on fear-mongering.

From page one it is clear that the results of this study should not be used to predict, well, anything. But, don’t take my word for it, take Deloitte’s—“These results are not intended to be predictions of events or future outcomes,” says a disclaimer on the cover of the study. So, while it’s usually necessary to remind AIA that the Pentagon gives defense contractors more money than all of our men and women in uniform, and thus don’t deserve subsidies or corporate welfare while our troops get their benefits cut, or that military spending is one of the least effective means the government has to create jobs, we can instead focus on a remarkable statistic provided by Deloitte.

According to the study, the average salary for the aerospace and defense industry was $80,175. By way of comparison, that is more than $36,000 higher than the U.S. national average cited by Deloitte and more than $10,000 higher than the average wage amongst the U.S. military’s civilian workforce, whom these defense contractors often replace. According to the Office of Personnel and Management, the average salary at the Department of Defense (DoD) is $69,218, and the average salary in every branch of the military is lower than the average salary of these defense contractors.

The average salary of defense contractors is also far greater than the pay of the vast majority of uniformed military personnel. For instance, a Sergeant First Class in the Army (E-8 pay grade) with 20 years of service and a family of 4 receives just over $50,000 annually in basic pay. Even when other military benefits, like housing and tax perks, are accounted for the Sergeant First Class’s compensation is still below that of the average defense contractor. The same is true for many officers. For instance, a First Lieutenant (O-2 pay grade) with 20 years of service takes home just over $53,000 annually.

Fortunately, the DoD is become increasingly more reluctant to pay its contractors more than its soldiers. Just this week, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that contracted operational support for the military has grown from a ratio of six troops per contractor during the Revolutionary War to fewer than one troop per contractor in Afghanistan. And Dempsey said, “It can’t keep going that way.”

Dempsey’s concern for the military’s overreliance on contractors should be echoed by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and other Pentagon leaders to remind AIA that troops, not contractors, are second to none

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March 8, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Government Contractor, Pentagon | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

U.S. probes allegations Afghan Air Force involved in drug running

Reuters Kabul March 8, 2012

 U.S. authorities are looking into allegations that some Afghan Air Force (AAF) officials have been using aircraft to transport narcotics and illegal weapons across the country, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

“At this point allegations are being examined,” said Lt. Col. Tim Stauffer, spokesman for the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, which is setting up and financing Afghan security forces, including the Air Force.

“Authorities are trying to determine whether the allegations warrant a full investigation.”

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the allegations, said the U.S. military is also looking into whether the alleged transporting of illegal drugs and weapons is connected to an April incident in which an AAF colonel killed eight U.S. Air Force officers at Kabul Airport.

A U.S. Air Force report about the deaths quoted American officials as saying that the killer was likely involved in moving illegal cargo, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Most of the victims had been taking part in an inquiry into the misuse of AAF aircraft, the newspaper said.

The allegations of drug running come from “credible” Afghan officers inside and outside the AAF and coalition personnel working within the AAF, it added.

An Afghan defense ministry official would not comment on the issue. But he did say that Afghanistan had come under pressure from the West to remove a senior AAF official over corruption allegations.

“They could not provide credible evidence,” he told Reuters.

Major General Abdul Wahab Wardak, the AAF commander, told Reuters the drug-running allegations were “baseless and they must be proven”. “We never do such things,” he added.

The allegations are likely to raise further doubts over the ability of Afghan forces to secure the country before foreign combat troops withdraw at the end of 2014.

The AAF was set up mostly with U.S. funds

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March 8, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan | , , , | Leave a comment

2 German tourists kidnapped in Ethiopia released, official says

AP at the Canadian Press  March 8, 2012

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – An Ethiopian official says two German tourists who were kidnapped during an attack by gunmen in January have been released.

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said the Germans were freed from kidnappers who were associated with the country’s archrival, Eritrea.

He denied claims two days ago by a rebel group from Ethiopia’s northern Afar region that the group had released the tourists.

Dina said he couldn’t give any further details about the Germans’ release, including their health status or when they were freed.

The German Foreign Ministry had had no immediate comment.

Five tourists were killed and two wounded in the Jan. 18 attack in Ethiopia’s arid north

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March 8, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Eritrea | , , , | Leave a comment

Afghan Public Protection Force Signs First Contracts

Defpro News   March 8, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan | The Afghan Public Protection Force signed its first contracts for security service today with three companies, marking an important milestone in the ongoing transition from Private Security Companies to the APPF.

The Minister of Interior, Bismullah Khan Mohammedi, presided over the ceremony and thanked APPF leadership, the NATO International Security Assistance Force, and the U.S. Agency for International Development for their support in executing the transition to APPF-led security services.

“From this day on, the responsibility for security services will transition from private security companies to the APPF, one after the other,” said Minister Mohammedi.

APPF Deputy Minister Jemal Abdul Naser Sidiqi signed three contracts with International Relief and Development (IRD), one with Louis Berger – Black and Veatch, and another with AFGS. IRD and Louis Berger – Black and Veatch are both USAID implementing partners performing development projects around Afghanistan.

“We welcome this security transition as a natural step for Afghanistan,” said Bill Haight, representing the Louis Berger – Black and Veatch joint venture.

In August 2010, President Hamid Karzai ordered private security companies to be disbanded, and the APPF was identified to take over security responsibility from these companies. The APPF is focusing now on taking over security responsibility for development projects, convoys and commercial businesses. By March 2013, all security for ISAF bases and construction sites is scheduled to transition to the APPF

March 8, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, USAID | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment