Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

US to stockpile cluster bombs in Australia?

Brisbane, Australia: A US military “base” in Darwin, Australia (spun as a “rotational deployment” for China, I suspect), will necessitate foreign weapons systems and armaments being stockpiled, retained and transited on and in Australian territory.

Although they are long-standing and committed allies, Australia and the United States hold different positions on many matters relating to both arms control and humanitarian law. One recent normative development where the US and Australia’s views have diverged is the ban on cluster bombs, a weapon that has inside multiple – often hundreds – of small explosive sub-munitions or “bomblets” that are dispersed over an area the size of several football fields from either the air or ground. As a result, the final location of each bomblet is impossible to control for those deploying them, and so whom they maim or kill is both unknown and indiscriminate. Roughly 30 per cent of those deployed “fail” to explode on impact, and so the unexploded bomblets become de facto landmines.

When the Convention on Cluster Munitions came into effect in August last year, the Gillard government was part of a chorus of NGOs and governments that saw “an end for all time” of the use of cluster munitions by prohibiting their production, use, stockpiling and transfer. At present, a bill sits with the senate that will criminalise Australian deployment of the weapon under domestic law, thereby ratifying the international convention.

With the formation of a US military base in Darwin, Gillard will effectively make use of certain “loopholes” in the bill that arise from US’ non-signatory status to the Convention, and obfuscation of negotiations that are currently taking place for an additional arms control measure this week. Best estimates are that the US forces presently have a quarter of the world’s four billion cluster munitions in stockpiles across both its territory and existing overseas bases. The US last deployed cluster munitions during the Iraq War in 2003, despite the emerging norm.

In my view, there’s a fair degree of probability cluster munitions will be stockpiled in Darwin, since there are known plans for the US to base a number of B-52 bombers historically used to deploy cluster bombs. It is already known that nuclear weapons will not be permitted onto Australian territory, but a number of the US’ naval fleet are nuclear-powered vessels, which will be allowed

Please read the entire story at Al Jazeera English

November 17, 2011 Posted by | Department of Defense, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diplomatic tit for tat over held WA skipper in Eritrea

Head shot of Adrian Troy, skipper with WA Broome based Arrow Pearls, arrested in Eritrea

ABC Australia  July 21, 2011

The Federal Government has imposed travel restrictions on the Consul General of Eritrea after being refused access to a Broome skipper detained in the African nation.

Five months after Western Australian pearling skipper Adrian Troy and three British men were detained in Eritrea, the British and Australian Governments have made their first move, imposing limited sanctions.

The United Kingdom has barred Eritrean diplomats from travelling outside London and the Australian Government has responded with similar restrictions.

The Eritrean Consul General now cannot travel outside a 100 km radius of Melbourne, without permission from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The four men were arrested in December over what is believed to have been a dispute with the Eritrean Navy.

The Federal Government says it will continue to push for consular access until it is granted.

July 20, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Eritrea, Pirates, Propaganda | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Iraq evacuation we weren’t meant to see

The Sydney Herald  June 4, 2011   by Tim Young and Tim Lester

IMAGES showing the evacuation of Iraqi interpreters by the Australian Defence Force in 2008 have been obtained by The Saturday Age under freedom of information.

The first locally engaged employees who worked with the Australian Defence Force in Iraq start their journey to a new life in Australia. Photo: ADF

 

Defence released 301 photos and 70 minutes of video shot in May 2008 at Tallil airbase in southern Iraq.

The images show Australian-employed interpreters and their families arriving at the base, then undergoing medical checks and security briefings before boarding C130-Hercules transports

Interpreters who worked for coalition forces in Iraq were under constant threat from militias, who regarded them as traitors for helping foreign troops. Many have been attacked and killed because of their work.

As Australian troops prepared to withdraw from Iraq, concerns were raised for the safety of the ”locally engaged employees” Defence was leaving behind.

Australian soldiers pleaded the interpreters’ case directly to then prime minister Kevin Rudd during his Christmas 2007 trip to Iraq, and on April 8, 2008, the government announced that permanent residency visas would be offered to the interpreters and their families.

Please read the entire story and view the photo display here

June 3, 2011 Posted by | Iraq | , , , | Leave a comment

Australia sends Israeli diplomat packing

CANBERRA, Australia, May 24 (UPI) — Australia’s foreign minister told Parliament that Israel has a week to send home a diplomat at its embassy after evidence that Israel forged Australian passports.

In a strongly worded speech Steven Smith rebuked Israel for faking four Australian passports used in the assassination of senior Palestinian Hamas official Mahmud al-Mabhuh in a Dubai hotel room in January.

Australian Federal Police along with the Australian Security Intelligence Organization and its externally oriented counterpart the Australian Secret Intelligence Service investigated the forgeries.

Other faked passports used in the elaborately planned killing were from France, Germany, Ireland and Britain.

“The high quality of these counterfeited passports points to the involvement of a state intelligence service,” Smith said.

“Investigations and advice have left the government in no doubt Israel was responsible for the abuse and counterfeiting of these passports. Read the full story here

May 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment