Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

KBR: Feds Should Pay Lawsuit Damages

Associated Press at ABC News  November 28, 2012

An Iraq war contractor that lost an $85 million verdict to a group of sickened Oregon soldiers has filed a lawsuit seeking to force the federal government to pay the soldiers’ damages.

In early November, 12 Oregon National Guard soldiers won the verdict against Kellogg Brown and Root, an engineering and construction firm that helped lead the reconstruction work in post-war Iraq. The soldiers were exposed to a toxin while guarding an Iraqi water plant.

In the new lawsuit, KBR also demands that the government pay more than $15 million in its attorneys’ fees.

At the heart of the suit is a so-called indemnification clause that KBR alleges it agreed to with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in March 2003. The clause was designed to protect KBR against “unusually hazardous risks” in its work in Iraq.

In a Nov. 16 filing in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, KBR argues the clause makes the government responsible for the results of its actions in Iraq, including the Oregon verdict.

“Based upon an erroneous legal and factual analysis of the terms of the indemnification agreement, (the Army Corps) has refused to indemnify (KBR) for the costs of defending against the various third-party lawsuits,” KBR attorneys wrote, “and has refused to participate or assume direct responsibility in defending (KBR) in the underlying tort litigations.”

KBR said in the suit that it had no insurance to cover its wartime work, and the government’s refusal to involve itself in lawsuits constitutes a breach of the indemnification agreement.

Please read the entire article here

November 28, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Follow the Money, Iraq, KBR, Toxic, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US sues contractors over troop trailers in Iraq

Associated Press at The Blaze  November 20, 2012

The U.S. government has filed a civil lawsuit accusing a Houston-based global construction company and its Kuwaiti subcontractor of submitting nearly $50 million in inflated claims to install live-in trailers for troops during the Iraq War.

The lawsuit names KBR Inc. and First Kuwaiti Trading Co., alleging they overcharged for truck, driver and crane costs, and misrepresented delays in providing around 2,250 trailers meant to replace tents used by soldiers earlier in the invasion.

In one instance, the contractors allegedly claimed they paid $23,000 to lease one crane per month when the actual price was about $8,000, according to the lawsuit, which was filed this week in U.S. District Court in Rock Island, Ill., and first appeared in federal court records Tuesday.

KBR, once the engineering and construction arm of Halliburton, has faced lawsuits before related to its work in Iraq. One of the most prominent involved a soldier electrocuted in his barracks shower at an Army base. That case was eventually dismissed.

In the case involving the trailers, Jim Lewis, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois, said “KBR and First Kuwaiti did not provide an honest accounting.”

Stuart Delery, a U.S. deputy assistant attorney general, said in a Department of Justice statement regarding the lawsuit that contractors “are not permitted to profit at the expense of the taxpayers at home who are supporting our men and women in uniform.”

November 21, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Follow the Money, Government Contractor, Halliburton, Iraq, KBR, Lawsuits | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

$85 million awarded to 12 Oregon soldiers; KBR guilty of negligence, not fraud

Oregon Live  November 2, 1012

Oregon National Guard soldiers

A Portland jury found defense contractor KBR Inc. was negligent, but did not commit fraud against a dozen Oregon Army National Guard soldiers who sued the company for its conduct in Iraq nine years ago. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak announced the decision about 3:35 p.m. the U.S. Courthouse in Portland. Each soldier was awarded $850,000 in non-economic damages and $6.25 million in punitive damages.

“It’s a little bit of justice,” said Guard veteran Jason Arnold, moments after the verdict was announced Friday afternoon. Arnold was one of four of the soldier-plaintiffs in the courtroom was the verdict was read.

The verdict should send an important message to those who rely on military troops, he said.

“We’re not disposable,” said another soldier, Aaron St. Clair. “People are not going to make money from our blood.”

KBR’s lead attorney, Geoffrey Harrison, said the company will appeal.

“We will appeal the jury’s incorrect verdict,” he said. “We believe the trial court should have dismissed the case before the trial.”

Harrison said the soldiers’ lawyers produced a medical expert, Dr. Arch Carson, who offered “unsupported, untested medical opinions” that each soldier had suffered invisible, cellular-level injuries as a result of their exposure to hexavalent chromium.

The verdict means the jury did not hear clear and convincing evidence that KBR intended to deceive the soldiers in the way it operated at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant, near Basra, Iraq. But they did find that the company failed to meet its obligations in managing the work at the plant.

Friday’s verdict closes the first phase of a web of litigation between National Guard and British troops against KBR Inc., the defense contractor they accuse of knowingly exposing them in 2003 to a carcinogen at Qarmat Ali. KBR has denied the accusations.

In Oregon another set of Oregon soldiers are waiting in the wings for their day in court. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak and the attorneys agreed earlier to hold an initial trial with the first 12 soldiers, in order to keep the proceedings from becoming too unwieldy. A second trial, featuring all or some of the remaining 21 plaintiffs, could begin in federal court in Portland this winter.

Another lawsuit brought by Indiana soldiers against KBR is on hold in federal court in Texas, while an appeals court considers a jurisdictional issue.

The cases stem from the chaotic aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The Army Corps of Engineers hired KBR Inc. to run a massive program called Restore Iraqi Oil. The program involved dozens of sites throughout Iraq — sites that neither the Army nor KBR had visited before the invasion. The project was intended to quickly restore the flow of Iraq’s oil, partly to fund the war. The Pentagon remembered the way Saddam Hussein had lit the fields on fire during the first Gulf War, and feared a repeat in 2003.

Qarmat Ali was a compound where water was pumped underground to drive oil to the surface elsewhere. For decades, Iraqis had treated the water with sodium dichromate, an anticorrosion agent that contains hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen. (Sodium dichromate is banned in the United States.)

Iraq’s Southern Oil Co. took delivery of sodium dichromate, an orange-yellow crystalline powder, in bags that were stored on site. Soldiers and others testified that the material was loose and drifting around the site, and had contaminated areas even outside the chemical injection building where it was added to the water.

How contaminated was it? Accounts differ. Even one of the plaintiffs in this case said he didn’t notice any soil discoloration. One of the British soldiers whose testimony was prerecorded said it was everywhere. Another Oregon soldier said it settled heavily on the clothing of the soldiers, who unwittingly carried it back to their camps over the border in Kuwait.

Much of KBR’s defense in the first Oregon trial focused on just how unlikely it was that any soldier — who visited the plant at durations from one day to 21 days — could have been exposed to dangerously high levels of sodium dichromate. But one of the most gripping portions of the testimony was when Oregon veteran Larry Roberta described eating a chicken patty that had been coated with the orange crystals, which he said immediately burned in his esophagus, causing him to vomit.

Roberta now is confined to a wheelchair and takes oxygen from a tank in his backpack. He had a history of gastrointestinal issues, but attributes much of his poor health to his time at Qarmat Ali.

Harrison, KBR’s lawyer, said the company “believes in the judicial process and respects the efforts and time of the jurors,” but believes the process that brought the case to conclusion Friday shouldn’t have been allowed to come so far.

“KBR did safe and exceptional work in Iraq under difficult circumstances,” he said in a brief, prepared statement. “We believe the facts and law ultimately will provide vindication.”

Soldier-plaintiff Arnold said the message of the verdict is unmistakable. He said service members are being exploited “to this day.”

Now, he said, “the voice will be out. There will be a lot more scrutiny.”

November 2, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Casualties, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Friendly Fire, Halliburton, Iraq, KBR, Lawsuits, Private Military Contractors, Toxic | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

United States Sues Virginia-based Contractor Triple Canopy for False Claims Under Contract for Security in Iraq

Allegedly Billed US for Security Guards Who Did Not Meet Contract Requirements

Contractor Faked Guard Weapon Tests In Iraq, US Says

Department of Justice  October 31, 2012

The United States has filed a complaint against a Virginia-based contractor alleging that the company submitted false claims for unqualified security guards under a contract to provide security in Iraq, the Justice Department announced today. The company, Triple Canopy Inc. is headquartered in Reston, Va.

In June 2009, the Joint Contracting Command in Iraq/Afghanistan (JCC-I/A) awarded Triple Canopy a one-year, $10 million contract to perform a variety of security services at Al Asad Airbase – the second largest air base in Iraq. The multi-national JCC-I/A was established by U.S. Central Command in November 2004, to provide contracting support related to the government’s relief and reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

The government’s complaint alleges that Triple Canopy knowingly billed the United States for hundreds of foreign nationals it hired as security guards who could not meet firearms proficiency tests established by the Army and required under the contract. The tests ensure that security guards hired to protect U.S. and allied personnel are capable of firing their AK-47 assault rifles and other weapons safely and accurately. The government also alleges that Triple Canopy’s managers in Iraq falsified test scorecards as a cover up to induce the government to pay for the unqualified guards, and that Triple Canopy continued to bill the government even after high-level officials at the company’s headquarters had been alerted to the misconduct. The complaint further alleges that Triple Canopy used the false qualification records in an attempt to persuade the JCC-I/A to award the company a second year of security work at the Al Asad Airbase.

“For a government contractor to knowingly provide deficient security services, as is alleged in this case, is unthinkable, especially in war time,” said Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “The department will do everything it can to ensure that contractors comply with critical contract requirements and that contractors who don’t comply aren’t permitted to profit at the expense of our men and women in uniform and the taxpayers at home who support them.”

“We will not tolerate government contractors anywhere in the world who seek to defraud the United States through deliberate or reckless conduct that violates contractual requirements and risks the security of government personnel,” said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The government’s claims are based on a whistleblower suit initially filed by a former employee of Triple Canopy in 2011. The suit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provision of the False Claims Act, which allows private persons to file suit on behalf of the United States. Under the act, the government has a period of time to investigate the allegations and decide whether to intervene in the action or to decline intervention and allow the whistleblower to go forward alone.

This matter was investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia; the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Justice Department’s Civil Division; and the Army Criminal Investigative Command (CID) and Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) of the Department of Defense.

The claims asserted against Triple Canopy are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability. The government is not aware of any injuries that occurred as a result of the alleged misconduct.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, and is captioned United States ex rel. Badr v. Triple Canopy, Inc.

November 1, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Government Contractor, Iraq, Lawsuits, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, Vetting Employees, Whistleblower | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Ronco Riff

October 25, 2012

Voluntary Today, Involuntary Tomorrow

Another Successful Flush by Wackenhut G4S

Will the last Ronco Consulting Corporation Employee out please close the lid ?

October 25, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, ArmorGroup, Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractor Oversight, Demining, ERW, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Follow the Money, Friendly Fire, G4S, Government Contractor, Iraq, Landmines, Lawsuits, Mine Clearance, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, State Department, Sudan, Taxes, United Nations, United Nations Board of Inquiry, Vetting Employees, Wackenhut | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iraq bomb hits private security convoy, kills four

Business Recorder October 4, 2012

BAGHDAD: A car bomb hit a private security convoy in Baghdad on Thursday, killing four people and wounding at least nine others, security and medical officials said.

The bomb exploded in the Mansur area of west Baghdad about 9:00 am (0600 GMT), killing four people and wounding nine, an interior ministry official said.

A medical source from Al-Yarmuk hospital confirmed the facility had received four bodies, but put the number of wounded at 14.

It was not immediately clear whether the casualties were bystanders, people travelling the convoy, or both. Neither official gave details on the name of the security company.

October 22, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Iraq, Private Military Contractors, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

As Iraq, Afghan wars end, private security firms adapt

Rueters October 21, 2012

* Iraq, Afghan withdrawal may mean leaner times for contractors

* Shift to guarding private sector’s oil fields and mines

* Some see big shakeout in private security industry

* U.N. member states wary of private security forces

By Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (Reuters) – On a rooftop terrace blocks from the White House, a collection of former soldiers and intelligence officers, executives and contractors drink to the international private security industry.

The past decade – particularly the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – provided rich pickings for firms providing private armed guards, drivers and other services that would once have been performed by uniformed soldiers.

But as the conflicts that helped create the modern industry wind down, firms are having to adapt to survive. They must also, industry insiders say, work to banish the controversial image of mercenary “dogs of war” that bedevil many firms, particularly in Iraq.

“This industry has always gone up and down,” Doug Brooks, president of the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA), told Reuters on the sidelines of its annual conference in Washington. “What we’re seeing now is that it is becoming much more mature – and much more responsible.”

The free-for-all atmosphere that pervaded the industry, particularly in the early years of the war in Iraq, insiders say, appears gone for good. A string of high profile incidents – often involving armed private guards firing on sometimes unarmed Iraqis – trashed the reputation of firms such as Blackwater, a Virginia-based firm since renamed several times, as well as the wider industry.

Members of the ISOA – which include some but not all of the major contracting firms as well as smaller players – subscribe to a code of conduct that they say helps identify responsible firms.

Despite these efforts, industry insiders and other observers say quality remains mixed. Some firms providing armed guards for merchant ships passing through the Somali pirate-infested Indian Ocean, for example, only hire elite personnel who have served in the Marines or special forces. Others, however, have a reputation for being less discriminating and for unreliable staff and weapons.

Please read the entire article here

October 21, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Iraq, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraq convoy was sent out despite threat

Unarmored trucks carrying needed supplies were ambushed, leaving six drivers dead. Records illuminate the fateful decision.

“Can anyone explain to me why we put civilians in the middle of known ambush sites?”

“Maybe we should put body bags on the packing list for our drivers.”

T Christian Miller The LA Times  September 3, 2007

Senior managers for defense contractor KBR overruled calls to halt supply operations in Iraq in the spring of 2004, ordering unarmored trucks into an active combat zone where six civilian drivers died in an ambush, according to newly available documents.

Company e-mails and other internal communications reveal that before KBR dispatched the convoy, a chorus of security advisors predicted an increase in roadside bombings and attacks on Iraq’s highways. They recommended suspension of convoys.

“[I] think we will get people injured or killed tomorrow,” warned KBR regional security chief George Seagle, citing “tons of intel.” But in an e-mail sent a day before the convoy was dispatched, he also acknowledged: “Big politics and contract issues involved.”

KBR was under intense pressure from the military to deliver on its multibillion-dollar contract to transport food, fuel and other vital supplies to U.S. soldiers. At Baghdad’s airport, a shortage of jet fuel threatened to ground some units.

After consulting with military commanders, KBR’s top managers decided to keep the convoys rolling. “If the [Army] pushes, then we push, too,” wrote an aide to Craig Peterson, KBR’s top official in Iraq.

The decision prompted a raging internal debate that is detailed in private KBR documents, some under court seal, that were reviewed by The Times.

One KBR management official threatened to resign when superiors ordered truckers to continue driving. “I cannot consciously sit back and allow unarmed civilians to get picked apart,” wrote Keith Richard, chief of the trucking operation.

Six American truck drivers and two U.S. soldiers were killed when the convoy rumbled into a five-mile gauntlet of weapons fire on April 9, 2004, making an emergency delivery of jet fuel to the airport. One soldier and a seventh trucker remain missing.

Recriminations began the same day.

“Can anyone explain to me why we put civilians in the middle of known ambush sites?” demanded one security advisor in an e-mail. “Maybe we should put body bags on the packing list for our drivers.”

Please read the entire story here

October 9, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractor Oversight, Contractors Missing, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, Follow the Money, Halliburton, Iraq, KBR, Lawsuits, Politics, Private Military Contractors, Safety and Security Issues, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Contractors in War Zones: Not Exactly “Contracting”

There are more contractors than troops in Afghanistan

Time’s Battleland  October 9, 2012 by David Isenberg

U.S. military forces may be out of Iraq, but the unsung and unrecognized part of America’s modern military establishment is still serving and sacrificing — the role played by private military and security contractors.

That their work is dangerous can be seen by looking at the headlines. Just last Thursday a car bomb hit a private security convoy in Baghdad, killing four people and wounding at least nine others.

That is hardly an isolated incident. According to the most recent Department of Labor statistics there were at least 121 civilian contractor deaths filed on in the third quarter of 2012. Of course, these included countries besides Iraq.

As the Defense Base Act Compensation blog notes, “these numbers are not an accurate accounting of Contractor Casualties as many injuries and deaths are not reported as Defense Base Act Claims. Also, many of these injuries will become deaths due to the Defense Base Act Insurance Companies denial of medical benefits.” To date, a total of 90,680 claims have been filed since September 1, 2001.

How many contractors are now serving on behalf of the U.S. government?

According to the most recent quarterly contractor census report issued by the U.S. Central Command, which includes both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as 18 other countries stretching from Egypt to Kazakhstan, there were approximately 137,000 contractors working for the Pentagon in its region. There were 113,376 in Afghanistan and 7,336 in Iraq. Of that total, 40,110 were U.S. citizens, 50,560 were local hires, and 46,231 were from neither the U.S. not the country in which they were working.

Put simply, there are more contractors than U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

These numbers, however, do not reflect the totality of contractors. For example, they do not include contractors working for the U.S. State Department. The CENTCOM report says that “of FY 2012, the USG contractor population in Iraq will be approximately 13.5K.  Roughly half of these contractors are employed under Department of State contracts.”

While most of the public now understands that contractors perform a lot of missions once done by troops – peeling potatoes, pulling security — they may not realize just how dependent on them the Pentagon has become.

Please read the entire post here

October 9, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractor Oversight, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, Iraq, KBR, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, State Department, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Civilian Contractor Bitten by Bat in Contra Costa, Dies of Rabies

NBC Bay Area  October 4, 2012

A Contra Costa man who was bitten by a bat in June, has died of rabies.

The 34-year-old unidentified man, died July 31st, in Zurich, Switzerland, according to the CDC. The man had previously been getting treatment in a Dubai hospital in the United Arab Emirates.

He had been a civilian contractor in Iraq, and traveled back and forth between the States and Iraq. The man is believed to have been on eight international flights between the time he was bitten and the time he died.

Rabies is almost always fatal after symptoms are present. It can be transmitted from person to person if the infected individual’s tears or saliva are introduced into another person’s open wounds or mucous membranes.

The CDC interviewed others believed to have come in contact with the man, and no secondary cases have been identified

October 5, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Iraq | , , , , , | Leave a comment

At Least 121 Civilian Contractor Deaths in Third Quarter of 2012

According to the Department of Labor’s Defense Base Act Claim Summary Reports there were at least 121 Civilian Contractor Deaths filed on in the third quarter of 2012.

Keep in mind that these numbers are not an accurate accounting of Contractor Casualties as many injuries and deaths are not reported as Defense Base Act Claims. Also, many of these injuries will become deaths due to the Defense Base Act Insurance Companies denial of medical benefits.

Many foreign national and local national contractors and their families are never told that they are covered under the Defense Base Act and so not included in the count.

At least 18 death claims were filed for Iraq

At Least 90 death claims were filed for Afghanistan

At least 3,195 Defense Base Act Claims were filed during this quarter

At least 121 were death claims

At least 1,138 were for injuries requiring longer than 4 days off work

At least  85 were for injuries requiring less than 4 days off work

At least 1,879 were for injuries requiring no time off of work

A total of 90,680  Defense Base Act Claims have been filed since September 1, 2001

October 2, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Iraq, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

American Science and Engineering to provide contractor logistic support to Government of Iraq

 Defpro  September 20, 2012

American Science and Engineering Inc., Billerica, Mass., was awarded a $20,799,851 firm-fixed-price contract.

The award will provide for the contractor logistic support services to the Government of Iraq.

Work will be performed in Iraq, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 9, 2013

One bid was solicited, with one bid received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting activity

(W911SR-12-C-0058).

September 20, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contracts Awarded, Iraq | , , , , | Leave a comment

Joe Biden’s Uncounted Angels

by David Isenberg at Huffington Post  September 11, 2012

No disrespect to Beau, Biden’s son, who served honorably in Iraq but perhaps if he was working  for KBR or Academi, instead of the Delaware National Guard, Biden might have been more sensitive to those who are also sacrificing.

If you weren’t listening closely you might have missed it but last week, at the Democratic national convention, Vice President Joe Biden gave a major diss to the private military and security contracting (PMSC) industry.

In the course of his speech he said:

And tonight — (applause) — and tonight — tonight I want to acknowledge — I want to acknowledge, as we should every night, the incredible debt we owe to the families of those 6,473 fallen angels and those 49,746 wounded, thousands critically, thousands who will need our help for the rest of their lives.
Folks, we never — we must never, ever forget their sacrifice and always keep them in our care and in our prayers.

Biden might actually be a bit off; another famed Biden gaffe perhaps. The official Pentagon estimate through Sept. 7 for fatalities, which includes Defense Department civilians is 6,594 but their wounded estimate is exactly the same as Biden’s.

Don’t get me wrong. As an American and military veteran the toll of the military dead and wounded, especially those killed or wounded in Iraq, a war of choice, not necessity, tears at me. All these deaths and casualties should be remembered.

But as long as we are going to do body counts let us not low ball. What about all the PMSC personnel who have also made the ultimate sacrifice?

I’ve written about this before but since this is such an unappreciated subject, let’s review.

The U.S. Department of Labor publishes figures based on data maintained by its Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, saying, “These reports do not constitute the complete or official casualty statistics of civilian contractor injuries and deaths.” These figures are not that useful as they refer to numbers of claims filed and not actual total fatalities. Their wounded totals also include figures for those injuries where there was no lost time or where lost time was just three or four days.

Still, through June 30 this year, the number of claims filed for Iraq and Afghanistan total 47,673 and 17,831, respectively. The number of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are 1,569 and 1,173. So that’s 2,742 dead “fallen angels”, who were working to support U.S. troops, diplomats, and private firms per overall U.S. goals in those countries, that Biden did not include.

By the way, to get an idea of the sheer Joe Heller surrealism of trying to track contractor casualties see this post by Overseas Civilian Contractors.

A better sense of the toll can be seen in this 2010 paper written by Prof. Steve Schooner and Colin Swan of George Washington University Law School. As they noted:

As of June 2010, more than 2,008 contractors have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another 44 contractors killed were in Kuwait, many of whom supported the same missions. On top of that, more than 44,000 contractors have been injured, of which more than 16,000 were seriously wounded (see Figure 3). While these numbers rarely see the light of day, Figure 1 reflects the startling fact that contractor deaths now represent over twenty-five (25) percent of all U.S. fatalities since the beginning of these military actions.

In fact, in recent years contractors have, proportionately speaking, sacrificed even more than regular forces.

What is even more striking is that — in both Iraq and Afghanistan — contractors are bearing an increasing proportion of the annual death toll. In 2003, contractor deaths represented only 4 percent of all fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan. From 2004 to 2007, that number rose to 27 percent. From 2008 to the second quarter of 2010, contractor fatalities accounted for an eye-popping 40 percent of the combined death toll. In the first two quarters of 2010 alone, contractor deaths represented more than half — 53 percent — of all fatalities. This point bears emphasis: since January 2010, more contractors have died in Iraq and Afghanistan than U.S. military soldiers. In other words, contractors supporting the war effort today are losing more lives than the U.S. military waging these wars. Indeed, two recent estimates suggest private security personnel working for DoD in Iraq and Afghanistan — a small percentage of the total contractor workforce in these regions — were 1.8 to 4.5 times more likely to be killed than uniformed personnel.

No disrespect to Beau, Biden’s son, who served honorably in Iraq but perhaps if he was worked for KBR or Academi, instead of the Delaware National Guard, Biden might have been more sensitive to those who are also sacrificing.

By the way, lest you think I’m a Republican partisan, neither Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney at the Republican national convention so much as mentioned Iraq or Afghanistan, let alone casualties. That might be funny, if it wasn’t so pathetic, given that this is the party that normally falls all over itself, playing up its supposed support for wartime sacrifice.

Follow David Isenberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vanidan

September 11, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, Iraq, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Limited Discovery in USA v. KBR Case

Courthouse News  September 6, 2012

WASHINGTON (CN) – Kellogg Brown & Root can force Uncle Sam to produce records on the Army’s alleged failure to provide force protection for KBR logistical services workers in Iraq, a federal judge ruled.
KBR could face civil penalties of more than $300 million, on the United States’ claims that it billed the federal government more than $100 million for private security contractors it hired.
The government says its LOGCAP III contracts with KBR prohibited the use of such contractors.
U.S. Chief Judge Royce Lamberth ruled on Aug. 31 that he would allow discovery, after dismissing, in April, the contractor’s argument that the federal government failed to provide adequate security.
KBR also asked the government to identify which KBR claims it believes are false, by releasing the invoices, and it sought documents relating to government contracts with other contractors in Iraq, and their relations with private security firms.
Lamberth ruled that the government already has released information relating to the specific claims in question, and that the government’s relationship with other contractors is not KBR’s business.

Please read the entire story here

September 6, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Iraq, KBR, Lawsuits, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Burn, Baby! Burn

Remember when rioters in Watts, Calif., began shouting “Burn, Baby! BURN!” in the turmoil of 1965? I’m sure they didn’t have the following future in mind.

That would be the various lawsuits against KBR for operating burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we should all be paying attention to this and not just for the human toll it has taken on soldiers and contractors. It also says something disturbing about the ability of the federal government to exercise proper control over its private contractors.

by David Isenberg at Huffington Post  September 4, 2012

An article, “Military Burn Pits in Iraq and Afghanistan: Considerations and Obstacles for Emerging Litigation” by Kate Donovan Kurera, in the Fall 2010 issue of the Pace Environmental Law Review provides the necessary insight.

For those who haven’t been paying attention the last four years the background goes thusly:

Burn pits have been relied on heavily as a waste disposal method at military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning of United States military presence in these countries in 2001 and 2003, respectively. Little attention was paid to the pits in Iraq and Afghanistan until Joshua Eller, a computer technician deployed in Iraq, filed suit in 2008 against KBR for negligently exposing thousands of soldiers, former KBR employees, and civilians to unsafe conditions due to “faulty waste disposal systems.” Eller and a group of more than two hundred plaintiffs returning from their tours of duty, attribute chronic illnesses, disease, and even death to exposure to thick black and green toxic burn pit smoke that descended into their living quarters and interfered with military operations.

The plaintiffs assert that they witnessed batteries, plastics, biohazard materials, solvents, asbestos, chemical and medical wastes, items doused with diesel fuel, and even human remains being dumped into open burn pits. Defense Department officials say this waste stream contained items now prohibited pursuant to revised guidelines. Plaintiffs contend that KBR breached these contracts by negligently operating burn pits.

As of August 2010 there were an estimated two hundred and fifty one burns pits operating in Afghanistan and twenty two in Iraq. The most attention has focused on the burn pit operating at Joint Base Balad in Iraq, which was suspected of burning two hundred and forty tons of waste a day at peak operation

While the health impact of the pits is what the media focuses on, Kurera sees even more important legal issues: She writes:  Please read the entire article here

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Burn Pits, Civilian Contractors, Iraq, Lawsuits, Safety and Security Issues, Toxic | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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