Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

PTSD Casualty- Hidden war zone scars claim another soldier/civilian contractor’s life

Another Defense Base Act PTSD failure.

McIntosh took his own life in February in Harlingen, Texas. He was 35

Doug Robinson at Deseret News  June 5, 2012

Dale McIntosh stands with children in Central America. McIntosh did private security work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dale McIntosh was no stranger to death. When it wasn’t everywhere around him, it was a constant threat, something that kept him literally looking over his shoulder for months at a time.

A former Marine, he hired himself out as a privately contracted bodyguard in the Middle East, where he lived on the edge and saw and did things so terrible that it haunted him. He survived firefights, ambushes, exploding cars, road mines, snipers and rocket-propelled grenades. In the end, he escaped without any wounds, or at least none we could see.

When he returned, he seemed to be the Dale that his friends remembered — charming, gregarious, warm, outgoing — but inside, he was hurting and disturbed. McIntosh brought demons home with him.

In 2006, I wrote a lengthy profile about McIntosh, then a student at Westminster who took time off from his studies to pursue quick money and an adrenaline fix in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the postscript: McIntosh took his own life in February in Harlingen, Texas. He was 35

After graduating from Utah State, Dale served five years in the Marines — part of it in special ops — but felt unfulfilled because he never saw action. He compared it to being an athlete who never got in the game. Eager to use his military skills and see action, he signed on to do private security work. At the time, there was a big demand for security firms, the most famous and controversial of which was Blackwater. With a shortage of manpower, the U.S. government hired the firms to protect American interests and personnel in the Middle East. They were largely ungoverned by law, which did not make them popular at home or abroad. McIntosh spent six months in Afghanistan, five months in Iraq, two months in Bosnia and then another two months in Iraq before returning to Utah in the fall of 2005.

Doug Robinson has written at length about his friend Dale.  Please read the entire story here

June 5, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Balkans, Blackwater, Central America, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Iraq, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Private Security Contractor, Veterans | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Evading Accountability: Washington’s Drug War in Honduras

Fellowship for Reconciliation  June 1, 2012

A night-time helicopter drug raid by Drug Enforcement Administration agents and Honduran police May 11 in the remote river community of Ahuas, Honduras killed four villagers, including two pregnant women and a 14-year-old boy. The massacre has led to renewed scrutiny of the U.S. role in Honduras.

973 DEA agents, Honduran police, private contractors, and a Guatemalan pilot participated in the operation.  After the shooting, commandos landed from the U.S.-owned helicopters, broke down doors, and interrogated terrified villagers. Indignant indigenous groups in the area called for U.S. agents to leave the area by the end of May.

A fact-finding delegation led by Rights Action that visited Ahuas on May 22-23 reported that “at least ten, tall, light-skinned English speakers with limited Spanish proficiency wearing military type uniforms exited the helicopters to collect cocaine from a boat near the massacre site. They aimed guns at, threatened to kill, and handcuffed residents of the town who had come to assist the wounded.”

Please read the entire article here

 

June 1, 2012 Posted by | Central America, Civilian Casualties, Civilian Contractors | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

USAID contractor work in Cuba detailed

AP IMPACT by Desmond Butler Associated Press  February 12, 2012

Piece by piece, in backpacks and carry-on bags, American aid contractor Alan Gross made sure laptops, smartphones, hard drives and networking equipment were secreted into Cuba. The most sensitive item, according to official trip reports, was the last one: a specialized mobile phone chip that experts say is often used by the Pentagon and the CIA to make satellite signals virtually impossible to track.

The purpose, according to an Associated Press review of Gross’ reports, was to set up uncensored satellite Internet service for Cuba’s small Jewish community.

The operation was funded as democracy promotion for the U.S. Agency for International Development, established in 1961 to provide economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. Gross, however, identified himself as a member of a Jewish humanitarian group, not a representative of the U.S. government.

Cuban President Raul Castro called him a spy, and Gross was sentenced last March to 15 years in prison for seeking to “undermine the integrity and independence” of Cuba. U.S. officials say he did nothing wrong and was just carrying out the normal mission of USAID.

Please read the entire story here

February 12, 2012 Posted by | Central America, CIA, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Arrested, Contractors Held, Safety and Security Issues, State Department, USAID | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Colombian rebels to free 6 hostages, urging swaps

Among FARC prisoners Marquez named as part of a possible swap was Simon Trinidad, the highest-ranking rebel prisoner, who was jailed in the United States for kidnapping three U.S. military contractors who were rescued in 2008.

BOGOTA (Reuters) – A Colombian FARC rebel commander named six military and police captives the group pledged to free in the coming weeks and proposed a constitutional change to allow the exchange of jailed guerrillas for hostages.

Ivan Marquez, in a video released on Wednesday, called the upcoming release “an act of peace.” The bearded commander, wearing olive-green fatigues and seated at a desk in what he said were the mountains of Colombia, is a member of the drug-funded group’s seven-member governing secretariat.

The video was the latest in a series of peace messages from the nearly 50-year-old Latin American insurgent group since troops killed its leader late last year, and as President Juan Manuel Santos comes under pressure to seek an end to the war.

The six captives are some of the 11 members of the armed forces that the FARC – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – has held for more than a decade. It also holds about 300 civilians.

Please see the original and read more here

January 25, 2012 Posted by | Central America, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Held, Contractors Kidnapped | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Military Cutback We Can’t Afford: Fighting Tropical Diseases

Leishmaniasis at The Iraq Infections

“In the coming years leishmaniasis may become the most important condition you have never heard of among veterans”

Barbara Herwaldt CDC on Leishmaniasis

 Contractors will be even less likely to be diagnosed and/or treated timely or effectively.   Diagnoses normally occurs long after they’ve had contact with their families.

Peter Hotez & James Kazura at The Atlantic

In recent months, many politicians and presidential hopefuls have called for budget reductions, and many have specifically targeted military spending for cutbacks. Unfortunately, even programs proven to be cost effective are vulnerable to cuts. Medical research for our troops is no exception to this rule — programs such as the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) often find themselves low on the priority list despite their crucial role in saving the lives of our troops on the battlefield and here at home.

One important area of research is tropical medicine. During World War II and the Vietnam War, more than one million service members acquired tropical infections such as malaria, dengue fever, hookworm, and typhus, and many of these diseases continued to plague our veterans after they returned home. Today, American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan still face formidable tropical disease threats, especially from a disease transmitted by the bite of sand flies known as leishmaniasis, which can cause a disfiguring ulcer in one form, and a serious systemic condition that clinically resembles leukemia in another. In the coming years leishmaniasis may become the most important condition you have never heard of among veterans.

WRAIR’s leishmaniasis diagnostic laboratory is the only one of its kind in the world, so each time funding is slashed our military loses considerable expertise and capabilities in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of this devastating disease. For example, in the years prior to the Gulf War, the WRAIR leishmaniasis program was officially decommissioned and all research was halted. Only after cases of leishmaniasis among U.S. forces exposed to sand-fly bites in the Iraqi desert were the remaining leishmaniasis experts at WRAIR quickly assembled and tasked with making up for lost time. In 2002, the WRAIR leishmaniasis program was again dissolved only to be urgently activated once more with the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. The interruptions to the WRAIR leishmaniasis program are part of much larger budget cuts across all of WRAIR’s tropical infectious disease research programs. There is no end to the irony of such cutbacks given that they coincide with the activation in 2008 of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), charged with fighting the war on terror across the African continent. Today, sub-Saharan Africa has the largest number of cases of tropical diseases anywhere in the world. Many of these tropical infections, such as river blindness and African sleeping sickness, have been shown to destabilize communities and may actually promote conflict in the region.

Please see the original and read more here

January 21, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Africa, Bug Watch, Central America, Civilian Contractors, Columbia, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Safety and Security Issues, Sudan | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon’s War on Drugs Goes Mercenary

Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room  November 22, 2011

An obscure Pentagon office designed to curb the flow of illegal drugs has quietly evolved into a one-stop shop for private security contractors around the world, soliciting deals worth over $3 billion.

The sprawling contract, ostensibly designed to stop drug-funded terrorism, seeks security firms for missions like “train[ing] Azerbaijan Naval Commandos.” Other tasks include providing Black Hawk and Kiowa helicopter training “for crew members of the Mexican Secretariat of Public Security.” Still others involve building “anti-terrorism/force protection enhancements” for the Pakistani border force in the tribal areas abutting Afghanistan.

The Defense Department’s Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office has packed all these tasks and more inside a mega-contract for security firms. The office, known as CNTPO, is all but unknown, even to professional Pentagon watchers. It interprets its counternarcotics mandate very, very broadly, leaning heavily on its implied counterterrorism portfolio. And it’s responsible for one of the largest chunks of money provided to mercenaries in the entire federal government.

CNTPO quietly solicited an umbrella contract for all the security services listed above — and many, many more — on Nov. 9. It will begin handing out the contract’s cash by August. And there is a lot of cash to disburse.

The ceiling for the “operations, logistics and minor construction” tasks within CNTPO’s contract is $950 million. Training foreign forces tops out at $975 million. “Information” tasks yield $875 million. The vague “program and program support” brings another $240 million.

That puts CNTPO in a rare category. By disbursing at least $3 billion — likely more, since the contract awards come with up to three yearlong re-ups — the office is among the most lucrative sources of cash for private security contractors. The largest, from the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, doles out a $10 billion, five-year deal known as the Worldwide Protective Services contract

Please read the entire story at the Danger Room

November 22, 2011 Posted by | Central America, Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Follow the Money, Government Contractor, Pentagon, Private Security Contractor, State Department | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Billions More Wasted on Anti-Drug Contracts in Latin America

Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky  All Gov  June 15, 2011

It’s impossible to know if the federal government is effectively spending billions of dollars on contractors to help fight the nation’s war on drugs, says a U.S. senator.
Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri, chair of the Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, says there is “insufficient oversight of counternarcotics contracts at the Departments of State and Defense,” making it difficult to assess the success of spending $3.1 billion on such work between 2005 and 2009.
McCaskill points to a lack of transparency at both departments, where no centralized database or system has been established to track counternarcotics contracts. To make matters worse, the Defense Department has admitted that the current systems it is relying on are “inconsistent,” “time-consuming and error-prone.”
Spending on counternarcotics contracts increased by 32% over a five-year period, says McCaskill, but contract management and oversight was found to be insufficient.
The majority of the money, $1.8 billion, went to just five contractors: DynCorp, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, ITT, and ARINC, with $1.1 billion going to DynCorp.
Slightly more than half of the money was spent “on aircraft-related services, maintenance, logistics, support, equipment, and training.” The rest went to other equipment and supplies, intelligence and surveillance, information technology and communications equipment and services, construction and logistics, and personnel.
Although the contracts were spent for operations in eight Latin American countries, almost $2 billion went to Colombia alone.

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Central America, Contract Awards, Contractor Oversight, Contracts Awarded, Department of Defense, Follow the Money, State Department | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Colombia To Train Costa Rica’s Police Force

Inside Costa Rica

The Policía Nacional de Colombia (Colombia’s National Police) will begin tomorrow a training program for Costa Rica’s Fuerza Pública (police force), covering issues such as the training of officers, counter-narcotics and anti-corruption.

The Ministro de Seguridad, José María Tijerino, said at a news conference that it is an “exchange of experiences” to “professionalize” the police, thanks to the co-operation provided by Colombia.

The Colombian group is made of 13 officers that will be in Costa Rica until February 26, experts in counter-narcotics, intelligence, technology, research and human talent management, among others.

The Colombian police lieutenant colonel, Jaime Romero, explained that first they will learn how the police work in Costa Rica within the constitutional framework and the law, then identify the strengths and weaknesses and define strategies that could be applied.

Following in the second phase is the “development and planning” of actions to follow based on the needs raised by the Costa Ricans.

Next is the development and implementation of the strategies and monitor, a process that could take two years to complete, according to government projections.

Romero chose not to be specific on any recommendations for Costa Rica, because he does not yet fully know the security situation, but did say that not necessarily will the strategies used in Colombia be applied in Costa Rica.

Minister Tijerino stressed the importance of international cooperation on security issues for countries like Costa Rica who does not have an army – abolishing it in 1948.

February 18, 2011 Posted by | Central America, Civilian Police | , , , | Leave a comment