Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Afghans extends deadline on private security ban

Associated Press  March 18, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Afghan government is giving companies extensions ranging from a few weeks to 90 days to change from private security guards to a government-run force, officials said Sunday.

The reprieve comes just three days before the March 21 deadline that the Afghan government had set for the majority of companies to start using government-provided security.

Private development companies have said the move is threatening billions in U.S. aid to the country because companies would delay projects or leave altogether because they didn’t feel safe using strictly local security over whose training and procedures they have little control.

President Hamid Karzai has railed for years against the large number of guns-for-hire in Afghanistan, saying private security companies skirt the law and risk becoming militias.

It’s been part of Karzai’s larger push for more control over the way his international allies operate in Afghanistan, as seen most recently in his call for NATO troops to pull back from village outposts and to hand over security responsibilities to Afghans more quickly.

Karzai said in 2009 that he wanted private security firms abolished and eventually set the March deadline for all companies except military or diplomatic facilities to use government guards. The ban would effectively end the wide-scale presence of foreigners acting as security contractors, an industry that boomed after the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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March 18, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor, USAID | , , , , | Leave a comment

US teacher killed in Yemen

MSNBC World News  March 18, 2012

Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET: A gunman riding on the back of a motorcycle shot to death an American teacher in the city of Taiz, Yemen, on Sunday, a high-ranking government official there told NBC News.

The official said the teacher, an adviser at a Swedish-affiliated institute, died immediately after he was struck by gunfire Sunday morning while in a vehicle. Taiz is about 50 miles south of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.

Officials from the institute identified the victim as Joel Shrun and said he was born in 1983.

A group linked to al-Qaida claimed responsibility. “This operation comes as a response to the campaign of Christian proselytizing that the West has launched against Muslims,” an unidentified person said in a text message to journalists, claiming responsibility on behalf of the Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law).

March 18, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

War is Brain Damaging

The Defense Base Act Insurance Companies and the Department of Labor are as negligent as the Department of Defense when it comes denying the dangers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, and most negligently when a contractor suffers from both.

“a potentially lethal combination of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. When the frontal lobe — which controls emotions — is damaged, it simply can’t put on the brakes if a PTSD flashback unleashes powerful feelings. Seeing his buddy’s leg blown off may have unleashed a PTSD episode his damaged brain couldn’t stop”

The New York Times Sunday Review

These vets suffer from a particular kind of brain damage that results from repeated exposure to the concussive force of improvised explosive devices — I.E.D.’s — a regular event for troops traveling the roads in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It’s Russian roulette,” one vet told me, “We had one guy in our company who got hit nine times before the 10th one waxed him.” An I.E.D. explosion can mean death or at least a lost arm or leg, but you don’t have to take a direct hit to feel its effects. A veteran who’d been in 26 blasts explained, “It feels like you’re whacked in the head with a shovel. When you come to, you don’t know whether you’re dead or alive.”

The news that Robert Bales, an Army staff sergeant accused of having killed 16 Afghan civilians last week, had suffered a traumatic brain injury unleashed a flurry of e-mails among those of us who have been trying to beat the drums about this widespread — and often undiagnosed — war injury. New facts about Staff Sgt. Bales are coming out daily. After we heard about the brain injury that resulted when his vehicle rolled over in an I.E.D. blast, we were told that he had lost part of his foot in a separate incident. Then we learned that the day before his rampage, he’d been standing by a buddy when that man’s leg was blown off. There are also reports of alcohol use.

People with more appropriate professional skills than mine will have to parse these facts, but from what I have learned in my work as a storyteller, this tragedy may be related to something I heard about in my interviews: a potentially lethal combination of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. When the frontal lobe — which controls emotions — is damaged, it simply can’t put on the brakes if a PTSD flashback unleashes powerful feelings. Seeing his buddy’s leg blown off may have unleashed a PTSD episode his damaged brain couldn’t stop. If alcohol was indeed part of the picture, it could have further undermined his compromised frontal lobe function

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March 18, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New case of Afghan killing U.S. Marine

Associated Press  March 18, 2012

WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps has disclosed another case of Afghan troops turning their guns on an American.

They say an Afghan soldier shot and killeda 22-year-old Marine at an outpost in southwestern Afghanistan last month.

This is a previously undisclosed case of apparent Afghan treachery, and marks at least the seventh killing of an American military member by his supposed ally in the past six weeks.

Lance Cpl. Edward J. Dycus of Greenville, Miss., was shot in the head Feb. 1 while standing guard at an Afghan-U.S. base.

The exact circumstances have not been disclosed, but the Dycus family has been told that he was killed by an Afghan soldier. Marine officials discussed the matter on condition of anonymity because it is under investigation.

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March 18, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Friendly Fire, ISAF | , , , | Leave a comment

US Man Captured by Militia in Iraq Released to UN

Associated Press  March 18, 2012

Wearing a U.S. Army uniform and flanked by Iraqi lawmakers, an American citizen announced Saturday that he was being released from more than nine months of imprisonment by a Shiite militia that for years targeted U.S. troops.

The man did not identify himself. But at a bizarre press conference outside the Green Zone in Baghdad, lawmakers showed U.S.-issued military and contractor ID cards that identified him as Randy Michael Hultz.

Speaking calmly and tripping over Arabic names in a monotone voice, Hultz said he was grateful for his release.

“It was explained to me that this is a gift to me, my family and to the American people who oppose the war,” he said at the press conference that was held for Iraqi media.

He gave scant details of what he described as a “kidnapping,” or how he was treated while captured

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March 18, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractors Held, Iraq | , , , , | Leave a comment