Arabian Business June 26, 2012
Dubai-based military contractor Anham has won a contract worth an estimated US $8.1bn to provide food to US troops serving in Afghanistan.
Anham will succeed present contractor Supreme Foodservice after it became embroiled in a billing dispute with the Pentagon.
“We have a long track record of conducting large-scale, successful operations in the most demanding conditions,” said Anham in a statement. “Whether it is our support of the US troops and state department in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan or the US army in Afghanistan, we deliver the best services on time and within budget.”
The present contract with Supreme Foodservice was inked in 2005, costing the US government nearly US$6.8bn.
This year, however, payments to Supreme Foodservice have been reduced, following claims by the Pentagon that they have overpaid the supplier by US$750m.
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
The President of the United States: Include U.S Civilian Contractors in Deaths/Injured in Iraq & Afghanistan
Why This Is Important
As Americans, we all feel a sense of patriotism when it comes to our great country. The men and women who chose to go to Iraq and Afghanistan in a civilian capacity to serve our country are NOT included in the numbers when they tally the numbers of Deaths and Injured. Why should they be included you may ask? Why should they be excluded I ask.
When a civilian contractor is killed or injured the American people are paying the bill. Survivor benefits, worker’s compensation, funeral expenses, medical expenses etc are all paid for by the American people. While the multi-billion dollar private military companies like (DynCorp, KBR, Xe, etc.) sit back and continue to reap the benefits of the continued international conflicts.
If you know a civilian contractor who is currently employed, has been injured, has been killed please sign our petition. Although many of these men and women who chose to serve our country in the civilian capacity are retired military personnel, they receive no acknowldgement of their sacrafices when they are injured or killed.
Instead our Government wants to hide these brave men and women and not include these losses in the numbers of Americans who have sacrificed
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
Project on Government Oversight POGO November 9, 2011
Since Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered the Pentagon to require “senior mentors” to file public financial disclosure documents, 98 percent of the retired senior officers have left the program, according to a Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG) report released on October 31.
The controversial “senior mentors” program refers to the Pentagon’s practice of hiring retired military officers, one to four stars in rank, as part-time government advisors. According to USA Today, in exchange for offering advice to former colleagues, these mentors made as much as $330 an hour—more than triple what they made as active officers.
On top of that, USA Today revealed that of 158 identified senior mentors, 80 percent had financial ties to defense contractors—and 29 were full-time executives of defense companies. As POGO’s former national security investigator Mandy Smithberger pointed out, this practice showed that “the revolving door between the Pentagon and the defense industry is alive and well…and raises many ethical questions that merit additional investigation by Congress and the Inspector General.”
After the Senate Armed Services Committee exerted pressure, the Pentagon ordered an overhaul of the program in April 2010. The resulting memorandum [which was revised again in November, 2010] included subjecting mentors to federal conflict of interest laws, such as preventing mentors from divulging non-public information to defense contractors, or taking action that has “a direct and predictable” effect on their private interests. It also required all members of the program to disclose their employers, earnings and stocks.
The resulting Inspector General audit aimed to determine whether DoD implemented and complied with the memorandum. It determined that of the 194 reported senior mentors in fiscal year 2010, 11 converted to the title of “highly qualified expert” (HQE) and the rest are no longer working in the senior mentor program.
The following numbers do not include State Department/USAID or USACE contracts.
Blog of the Legal Times August 26, 2011
The U.S. Justice Department wants a federal appeals court in Washington to overturn a judge’s ruling that said an American contractor detained in Iraq can sue former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for alleged abuses.
U.S. District Judge James Gwin this month ruled for the contractor, an American civilian and former Army veteran who provided translation services to the military in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. Gwin said Rumsfeld is not entitled to qualified immunity. The judge’s decision is here.
The contractor, whose name is confidential in the suit in Washington federal district court, “has a right to be free from conduct and conditions of confinement that shook the conscience,” Gwin said.
Gwin of Cleveland federal district court took over the case in January 2010 from Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Gwin is sitting by designation in Washington to hear the suit, filed in 2008.
A Justice Department lawyer, James Whitman of the Civil Division’s torts branch, said in a court filing (PDF) this week that Rumsfeld is entitled to the interlocutory appeal because Gwin rejected Rumsfeld’s qualified immunity argument
What this article fails to point out is that Acinetobacter baumannii infections were extremely rare in the US prior to the invasion of Iraq. The Iraq Infections website mapped the spread of this Superbug from the military medical system to community hospitals across our country beginning in 2004. Acinetobacter baumannii spread from Landstuhl and the three main military hospital centers, to the VA hospitals, to the community hospitals.
Severely injured Civilian Contractors were repatriated via the military medical evacuation system then delivered to unsuspecting community hospitals in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and the many third world countries the TCN’s come from.
The quiet civilian epidemic was allowed to propagate due to the DoD and CDC‘s concerted effort to cover up this disaster that the Military had created themselves. The DoD promoted such notions as the insurgents were putting Acinetobacter on bombs and the Main Stream Media (here and here) parroted the propaganda. The CDC claimed they were not “authorized” to talk about it.
The military knew all along that Acinetobacter baumannii was a hospital acquired organism yet promoted the lie that it came from the soil in Iraq. The original strains of Ab infecting soldiers and contractors were matched to the European (Landstuhl) strains which were already fast becoming a problem there.
See some of the Casualties of Acinetobacter baumanii
(Notice even this reporter cannot escape the notion that the dust in Iraq was responsible)
A thick layer of dust covers the blazing hot combat fields of Afghanistan and Iraq, getting under soldiers’ helmets, chalking up their fatigues and covering exposed skin. When enemy fire hits, troops often sustain severe burns and open wounds with shredded surrounding skin. Medical aid is generally faster than in any other U.S. wars, thanks to technology and a transport chain designed for high speed. When medics come, there’s an efficient process of lifting wounded troops onto open transport vehicles, prodding them with devices to assess vitals, wrapping their wounds and giving them fluids and blood. But during all that activity, the dust, the many hands and bandages, open wounds and needle punctures give other enemies — microscopic superbugs — an opportunity to attack from the inside.
For troops wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one of the most prolific superbugs has been an almost exclusively hospital-bred strain of bacteria known as “Iraqibacter,” a mutated version of the common acinetobacter baumannii. While military hospitals have waged a somewhat successful internal battle against the bacteria, for civilian hospitals in the U.S. and around the world, these bugs are a formidable foe.
“The data we were seeing shocked us into action,” (is five years the normal reaction time?) said Colonel Dr. Duane Hospenthal, Infectious Diseases Consultant for the U.S. Army Surgeon General.
What Duane Hospenthal previously told the press:
Hospenthal added that he believes there is little cause for concern. “It’s a low-grade, low-virulence pathogen that can be recovered from soil and water. Without having it blasted into you or your being immunocompromised, it’s not going to hurt you. We still see Acinetobacter, but
now that it’s been recognized, people are less excited about it here. It’s hard for me to even understand if this is a big issue.”
In fall 2008, the military expanded its infection monitoring and control system, also known as GEIS (Global Emerging Infectious Surveillance), to include acinetobacter and other multidrug-resistant organisms. This overhaul followed a spate of high-profile stories in Wired magazine and on the PBS program “Nova” about the prevalence of acinetobacter at Walter Reed Medical Center.
By T Christian Miller and Joaquin Sapien at ProPublica July 11, 2011
If you want more explanation about the military’s troubles in treating troops with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress, read no further than two recent but largely unnoticed reports from the Government Accountability Office.
It turns out the Pentagon’s solution to the problems is an organization plagued by weak leadership, uncertain priorities and a money trail so tangled that even the GAO’s investigators couldn’t sort it out. The GAO findings on the Pentagon’s Defense Centers of Excellence (DCOE) echo our own series  on the military’s difficulty in handling the so-called invisible wounds of war.
“We have an organization that exists, but we have considerable concern about what it is that it’s actually accomplishing,” said Denise Fantone, a GAO director who supervised research on one of the reports. She added: “I can’t say with any certainty that I know what DCOE does, and I think that’s a concern.”
First, some background. After the 2007 scandal over poor care delivered to soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Congress ordered the Pentagon to do a better job treating soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. The Pentagon’s answer was to create DCOE . The new organization was supposed to be a clearinghouse to foster cutting-edge research in treatments.
DCOE was rushed into existence in late 2007. Since then, it has churned through three leaders, including one let go after alleged sexual harassment of subordinates . It takes more than five months to hire each employee because of the federal government’s glacial process. As a result, private contractors make up much of the center’s staff.
“DCOE’s development has been challenged by a mission that lacks clarity and by time-consuming hiring processes,” according to the first report in the GAO series , focusing on “management weakness” at DCOE.
Just as concerning, the GAO says that it can’t quite figure out how much money DCOE has received or where it has all gone. DCOE has never submitted a budget document that fully conformed to typical federal standards, according to a GAO report released last month . In one year, the center simply turned in a spreadsheet without detailed explanations.
U.S. contractors with almost $2 billion worth of counter-narcotics business in Afghanistan will get more scrutiny than they faced for work completed in Latin America over the past decade, government officials said.
The Washington Post June 26, 2011
DynCorp International, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, ITT and ARINC, which are working with the Defense and State departments on anti-drug efforts in Afghanistan, performed similar work in Latin America with inadequate competition and little oversight, according to a report by the majority staff of a Senate Homeland Security subcommittee and a previous investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general.
The contractors should expect new accountability measures at State and the Pentagon, as well as heightened scrutiny from Congress, as the United States seeks to stabilize the government in Afghanistan, where drug trafficking generates as much as $100 million a year for the Taliban, officials said.
“Many of the things we’ve been doing in Afghanistan, it’s not reinventing the wheel — we’ve been doing it in Colombia for a decade, and with many of the same contractors,” said Laura Myron, a spokeswoman for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chairwoman of the subcommittee.
McCaskill is to convene a hearing this week on Afghanistan contracting, at which she’ll address the counter-narcotics work, Myron said in an e-mail.
Why is the U.S. sending farmers with high security clearance to Afghanistan?
by Max Fisher at The Atlantic June 15, 2011
The U.S. Department of Defense is looking to hire agriculture specialists to send to Afghanistan. That’s nothing especially new — Afghanistan’s economy is heavily agricultural, the health of the country’s economy is directly tied to the mission of rolling back Taliban influence, and the U.S. has been sending farming consultants there for years. But writer (and former civilian contractor in Afghanistan) Joshua Foust noticed something unusual in reading the job listing, which had been posted to recruitmilitary.com by a defense contractor. The job requires “secret” security clearance.
Then there are secret farmers. Chenega Corporation, one of the ubiquitous Native Alaskan Owned Small Businesses that gets all sorts of exemptions and set-asides from the government, is hiring cleared agricultural specialists to operate in Afghanistan.
… There’s nothing too nefarious about this–as a deployed DOD contractor it makes sense to have a SECRET clearance, as SIPR is how the Army talks to itself. But still: the war in Afghanistan has advanced to the point where importing American farmers to help Afghans farm now requires a security clearance.
There are two things at play here. First, working for the U.S. government in a war zone often requires security clearance, simply because you’re exposed to many classified documents on a day-to-day basis. Second, the U.S. is working to make infrastructure-building (some might call it nation-building) part of its military mission in Afghanistan, understanding that more self-sustaining Afghan industries will reduce the appeal of the Taliban and decrease violence.
by Robert Brodsky at Government Executive March 28, 2011
Mandatory suspension or debarment of indicted contractors could have a “chilling effect” on contractor relations, the Defense Department’s top acquisition official told the Commission on Wartime Contracting on Monday.
In February, the congressionally chartered commission released an interim report on how the department could reduce waste, fraud and abuse through enhanced oversight and improved deployment of government resources in contingency contracting.
The report offered 32 specific legislative, regulatory and policy proposals, including limiting the government’s reliance on armed private security contractors. The commission’s final report is due out in July and likely will be considered by Congress for possible legislation.
WASHINGTON — Launched in February 2006 with an urgent goal – to save U.S. soldiers from being killed by roadside bombs in Iraq – a small Pentagon agency ballooned into a bureaucratic giant fueled by that flourishing arm of the defense establishment: private contractors.
An examination by the Center for Public Integrity and McClatchy Newspapers of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization revealed an agency so dominated by contractors that the ratio of contractors to government employees has reached 6-to-1.
A JIEDDO former director, Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, acknowledged that such an imbalance raised the possibility that contractors in management positions could approve proposals or payments for other contractors. Oates said the ratio needed to be reduced.
T Christian Miller and Dan Zwerdling ProPublica and NPR March 18, 2011
Acknowledging that commanders have sometimes wrongly denied the Purple Heart to soldiers who suffered battlefield concussions, the Army plans to issue new guidance to clarify when such recognition is warranted, Army officials said Wednesday.
In addition, the Army is planning to prioritize appeals from brain-injured soldiers who feel they should not have been turned down for the medal, a hallowed military honor that recognizes those injured in combat.
Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s second in command, said hereviewed the Army’s policies on the Purple Heart and called for the new guidelines as a result of an investigation byProPublica and NPR . In a report published last September , we found that Army commanders denied Purple Hearts to some soldiers who sustained concussions, despite regulations that make those who suffer such wounds eligible for the medal.