Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

U.S. military contracting out operations in Africa

Contracting out U.S. military operations has the effect of removing the shared experience by the American public, of a “national force in which citizens see the consequences of war illustrated by departing troops in uniforms and flag-draped coffins

The Final Call  May 24, 2012

The number of recruits graduating from boot camps built with U.S. taxpayer dollars and staffed by State Department contractors in Africa is on the increase.

According to World Political Review (WPR), “U.S. contractors will train three quarters of the 18,000 African Union troops deployed to Somalia, and the U.S. government has spent $550 million over the past several years on training and equipment.”

Contracting out U.S. military operations has the effect of removing the shared experience by the American public, of a “national force in which citizens see the consequences of war illustrated by departing troops in uniforms and flag-draped coffins,” according to sociologist Katherine McCoy, writing in the 2009 issue of Contexts magazine

“The use of private, mostly foreign troops externalizes the costs of war because contractors don’t leave the same impression on the public conscience.” For this reason foreign contractors are sometimes used for “high-risk” or “high-visibility” combat roles.

Doug Brooks, an expert on the private military industry and president of the International Stability Operations Association, appears to agree. “A lot of people see the use of contractors as a way of avoiding democratic accountability or a way of undermining democracy,” he said to WPR

He also said contracting helps avoid “an issue (that might come up) in the election,” where you’d never get U.S. support, such as sending troops into Somalia. In 1993 the infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident occurred, in which, 18 U.S. troops were killed in Mogadishu, then Somalia’s capital. “Sending troops to Somalia has not been an option,” Brooks said.

While American casualties might make headlines and political waves, the same is not true of “captured or killed foreign contractors, McCoy said. According to McCoy, these are the “hidden casualties of war.”

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May 25, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Private Military Contractors, State Department | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vehicle hits mine in Niger, killing 7

Official: Vehicle hits mine in Niger, killing 7
May 22, 2012 15:15 GMT

NIAMEY, Niger (AP) — Regional authorities say a vehicle carrying West African migrants toward Libya struck an anti-tank mine in Niger, killing seven people.

Gov. Garba Makibou of Agadez in northern Niger says five people were injured in the accident that happened over the weekend when the vehicle veered off the road to avoid a routine check about 17 kilometers (10 miles) from Dao Timi, the last Niger military post before the Libyan border. He says the injured were evacuated to Agadez for treatment.

Makibou also announced that a weapons cache containing 53 missiles was discovered by people in the same region. He didn’t give further details.

Since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi arms have been circulating in Niger near its northern border with Libya.

May 22, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Landmines, Mine Clearance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uganda nabs top LRA commander Achellam

Al Jazeera  May 13, 2012

Uganda has captured one of the Lord’s Resistance Army’s top five rebels, bringing it a step closer to catching Joseph Kony, the LRA leader accused of war crimes.

The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) said on Sunday that Caesar Achellam, a major general in Kony’s outfit of about 200 fighters, was captured in an ambush on Saturday along the banks of the River Mbou in neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR).

They said Achellam had been armed with just an AK-47 rifle and eight rounds of ammunition. He was being held with his wife, a young daughter and a helper.

‘Big fish’

The army, which has a force hunting for Kony full-time in the jungles of CAR, backed by American troops, said the capture of Achellam would encourage other fighters to abandon the LRA.

“The arrest of Major General Caesar Achellam is big progress because he is a big fish. His capture is definitely going to cause an opinion shift within LRA,” said Felix Kulaigye, UPDF spokesman.

A reporter from the Reuters news agency who accompanied UPDF forces to CAR said Achellam, who was paraded before the media, was walking with a limp, which he attributed to an old wound

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May 13, 2012 Posted by | Africa | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

African piracy a threat to U.S. security?

UPI SecurityIndustry  March 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) — Pirate attacks on merchant vessels in Africa pose a threat with ripple effects for U.S. homeland security and must be tackled as such, security industry experts say.

The industry’s experts want specialist teams from commercial security firms deployed on every ship that sails in the danger zone in east Africa, where most recent piracy incidents have taken place.

“Success at sea by the early Somali pirates has attracted major organized-crime syndicates, Muslim extremists and a more robust and sophisticated confederacy of operatives,” Jim Jorrie, chief executive officer of ESPADA marine services argued in the March 2012 issue of Homeland Security Today magazine.

“While this is all happening half a world away, it has put more operating cash in the hands of extremists, including al-Qaida — and that should be of no small concern for us in the United States,” Jorrie said

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March 19, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Maritime Security, Pirates, Private Security Contractor, Somalia | , , , , | Leave a comment

The expats: ‘No bills, no everyday dramas’ – until the unthinkable happens

The Independent March 10, 2012

Western workers are the civilian mercenaries of Africa. They are easy to spot in the continent’s airports. Generally white and casually dressed, they travel in groups of three or four. They often seem to speak with Scottish accents and have little or no hand luggage, except possibly an iPad. And they are such seasoned travellers that they are generally the last to leave the bar when the flight is called.

“You do it for the money and only for a few years,” said a Scottish welder I met recently at Luanda airport in Angola. All he knew of the country was the international airport and a hotel nearby where he had stayed while waiting for his helicopter transfer to the rig.

He works a 30/30 schedule: non-stop, 12 hours a day for 30 days, followed by a month off for £40,000 per year. That is the favoured work rhythm of employed oil workers who are a long way from home. Others work short stints for different companies as freelance contractors.

The untrained, entry-level staff, with no qualifications can expect to earn about £100 a day, but skilled staff can expect much more: senior construction project managers can pocket as much as £150,000 a year for their work, often much more than they could earn at home. In Nigeria, a project manager can take home £65,000 for helping to build hotels, according to one careers website yesterday.

The welder, a single man, said the best and worst aspect of his work was the monotony: jobs are narrowly defined for safety reasons but there also few surprises: “No bills to pay, no everyday dramas to deal with. They are waiting for me back home,” he said. He was travelling back to Britain with a pipe fitter, a mechanic and a scaffolder, all working the same shift pattern.

Sites housing hundreds of expat specialists have everything: internet, swimming pool, gym and satellite television. Accommodation is five-star and is kept functioning by an army of housekeepers, plumbers and galley hands.

The downside is that the work takes place in remote and often dangerous regions where they risk being kidnapped or worse, as this week’s events showed.

The companies involved are expected to provide security for their workers, but as message boards suggested yesterday, some areas of Africa, particularly Nigeria, remain highly dangerous for expat workers.

“I spent three months in Somalia two years ago and if u [sic] think Iraq is dangerous Somalia is much worse… The Niger Delta isn’t much better. Having worked a lot in Africa I would advise u [sic] to think very carefully about going there at all,” said one blogger.

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March 9, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Kidnapped, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , | 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.

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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

Msg (Retired) DoD Contractor Daniel James “Jim” Boyd dies

Jim, as he was known to his family and friends, was born in Des Moines. He was the eighth child of Daniel and Regina (Lydon) Boyd. He graduated from East High School in May 1979.
In August 1979, Daniel enlisted in the United States Army and served 26 years in the MP Corp. For his faithful service, Jim was awarded several medals and commendations-Korea Defense Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (3rd Award), Army Commendation Medal (5th Award), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal (5th Award), Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Coast Guard Unit Commendation, Army Good Conduct Medal (8th Award), National Defense Service Medal (2nd Award), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal (2nd Award), Noncommissioned Officer’s Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral 3, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (4th Award), Air Assault Badge, and the Driver and Mechanic Badge with Driver-W Bar. Following his retirement in 2005, he was a DOD Contractor in Africa and Afghanistan.
On August 7, 1982, Jim was united in marriage to Kimberly Lynn Six in Des Moines. They were blessed with two children, Matthew and Jennifer.
Jim and Kim own a farm in Richland, Mo., where they enjoyed raising cattle and had started a vineyard. In his spare time, Jim enjoyed hunting and fishing. He was also an excellent marksman and liked to research his family history. He was known as the family historian.
Jim leaves to cherish his memory his wife, Kim; children, Matthew Boyd (Megan) and Jennifer Boyd (Nick Trewett); one grandchild, Anniston Boyd; siblings, Joan Putzke (Ed), Mary Jane Long (Charles), John Boyd (Marilyn), Patricia Starmer (Wendell), Linda Kurz (Ed), Sandra Alitz (Mike), Catherine Chambers (Roger) and Michael Boyd; 11 nieces, nine nephews, seven great nieces, 15 great nephews; several aunts, uncles, cousins, other relatives and friends.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Daniel and Regina Boyd; mother-in-law, Margret R. Six; and one nephew, Frank Robison, Jr.
Visitation was from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, April 15, at Overton Funeral Home in Indianola with a vigil service at 7 p.m. Online condolences may be made to


April 20, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Africa, Civilian Contractors | , , , , | Leave a comment

Foreign Policy: How To Hire A Mercenary

by Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy

As Libya cracks down on the ongoing protests against Moammar Gadhafi’s government, reports have surfaced of African mercenaries attacking protesters and massing to defend the capital city of Tripoli.

“They are from Africa, and speak French and other languages,” said Ali al-Essawi, the Libyan ambassador to India who resigned this week. Libyan police in the town of Benghazi who have turned against the Gadhafi regime have reportedly captured foreign soldiers who are “black, spoke French and were identified by wearing yellow hats” stated an ABC News report. According to varying reports, the foreign mercenaries employed by Gadhafi may be from Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Mali, Sudan and, even Eastern Europe. So how does one go about hiring mercenaries on such short notice these days?

It helps to have friends in the right places. Al-Jazeera has reported that advertisements have been appearing in Guinea and Nigeria offering would-be mercenaries up to $2,000 to come to Gadhafi’s aid. The reports are vague so far, but if the Libyan strongman has indeed been shopping for mercenaries, West Africa would be a good place to start. Recent conflicts in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Ivory Coast have generated a steady supply of unemployed ex-fighters willing to move from conflict to conflict for the right price. Foreign mercenaries, often paid in diamonds, kept Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war going for years. U.N. peacekeepers have reported that the electorally ousted but defiant Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo has brought in mercenaries from Liberia to aid him in his conflict against internationally recognized President Alassane Ouattara.

Please read the entire article here

February 27, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Libya, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , | Leave a comment

African mercenaries in Libya: Fact or racism?

afrol News, 26 February 2011 Protesters in Libya insist that “African mercenaries,” mostly from Niger and Chad, are used against them. Other sources deny this, fearing a possible racist origin of the claim.

Since the beginning of the Libyan revolution, protesters from all over the country have reported of extreme force being used against them by the Libyan army, police forces, plain-cloth regime agents, snipers and – more and more – “black African mercenaries”. The last group increasingly is described as the most brutal group.

Protesters are publishing photos and videos on the internet, with a strong message that “this documents the use of African mercenaries.” Some of these videos indeed show armed groups of dark-skinned persons, with and without uniforms.

February 26, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Libya | , , | Leave a comment

Strengthening the Demining Sector Response to HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa

by Dr. Martin Chitsama [ Demining HIV/AIDS Service Foundation ]

at the Journal of ERW and Mine Action

In this article, the author explores how HIV/AIDS affects deminers in the African areas where the disease is most prevalent. He considers how deminers’ lifestyles make them especially susceptible to HIV/AIDS and suggests mobile HIV/AIDS programs can effectively combat this growing threat.

Demining began in Sub-Saharan Africa in the early 1990s, incidentally commencing just a decade after the HIV/AIDS pandemic started calling on the human race.1 According to the 2007 and 2009 Landmine Monitor Reports and national mine-action centers in Africa, at least 50 national and international demining organizations currently conduct landmine-clearance operations in Sub-Saharan Africa, collectively employing more than 10,000 deminers.2 Angola’s National Demining Institute alone has a contingent of 4,000 deminers organized into 18 brigades that are demining across the heavily mined southern African country.2

Considering that all the African States Parties to the Ottawa Convention are lagging behind their targets under Article 5 and are continually calling for extensions, deminers in Africa are set to clear landmines on the continent for many more years. As reported in 2009 by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the region is also “more heavily affected by HIV and AIDS than any other region of the world.” All in all, “an estimated 22.4 million people are living with HIV in the region—around two thirds of the global total.”3 As a result, large numbers of deminers in Africa are at a significant risk of contracting HIV/AIDS for many reasons, including worker mobility, expatriate labor, extended separation from spouses, remoteness and demining security.

For a deminer, the work-leave cycle provides for limited family time in a year. There is so much to catch up on when families reunite after long separation periods that the question of checking on a spouse’s HIV status is hardly a priority.

The demining-site remoteness means that deminers are cut off from mainstream public-health campaigns, including HIV/AIDS programs. Health workers fear traveling to suspected-mined regions in Africa, which also leaves deminers isolated in terms of outreach programs. Furthermore, deminers are usually 20 to 49 years old, sexually active and tend to have capital to spend while interacting with war-torn communities whose sexually active youths often engage in commercial sex due to limited economic options.

To compound the situation, most demining operators in Sub-Saharan Africa only have informal HIV/AIDS policies, and financial and human resource constraints hamper the transformation of these policies into workplace programs. The inherent risk associated with demining further puts deminers at risk of occupational exposure to HIV transmission when a landmine casualty occurs. All personnel on the demining site are involved if an incident occurs and occupational exposure is probably during the handling of the injured party. Additionally, antiretroviral post-exposure prophylaxis4 is largely absent in the demining industry.

Deminers and HIV/AIDS: An International Perspective

In May 2002, the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development made observations regarding the relationship between deminers and HIV/AIDS risk and recommended that intervention programs be implemented for the sector. The Accelerated Demining Programme in Mozambique claims that while it has lost only one deminer to a mine accident, it has lost 10 to HIV/AIDS.5

The labor laws in some countries, such as Mozambique, demonstrate the difficulties that demining companies face regarding HIV tests and can result in demining operators facing legal problems. For instance, in 2005, Mozambican Labour Minister Helena Taipo rejected an appeal by the U.S.-based demining company RONCO Consulting Corporation against a fine imposed for violating Mozambique’s ban on compulsory HIV tests. In June 2005, the Labour Ministry discovered that when selecting Mozambican sappers to go on a demining mission to Afghanistan, RONCO required them to take HIV tests. Similarly, ArmorGroup was fined in Mozambique for allegedly hiring deminers destined for Cyprus on the basis of HIV results. In addition, Zimbabwe’s Southern Africa Demining Services Agency had to compensate deminers loaned to BACTEC International for South Lebanon operations in 2002 when the deminers were denied deployment on the basis of HIV tests.

Please see the rest of the Article at The Journal of ERW and Mine Action

November 27, 2010 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Demining, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment