Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Burned by the Boss: How To Tell We’ve Been at War Too Long

by Mark Thompson  at Time’s Battleland

There are lots of signs the nation, now amid its longest war ever in Afghanistan – and just finishing up a second lengthy military campaign in Iraq – has been fighting too long. Sure, the budget deficits are one sign. So is the human carnage, both among innocent civilians in both lands, but also among the 2.4 million U.S. troops who have fought there. Beyond the 6,300 Americans killed and 40,000 wounded are the broken families, PTSD and suicides the wars have triggered.

But here’s a new one: 28 firefighters who went to work in the war zones for private contractors KBR and Wackenhut claim they were shortchanged by their employers.

They have filed a class-action suit on behalf of some 2,000 firefighters and maintain they routinely “were required to provide 24/7 fire protection” but paid for only 12 hours. When the firefighters complained, they allegedly were told “that they were lucky to have jobs, that they would be fired and sent back to America, and that many were waiting in line for their jobs,” their suit alleges. “Various phrases were used as shorthand for threats to fire if the Plaintiffs continued to complain, such as `chicken or beef,’ which referred to the dining choices one had on the flight home from Iraq.”

It’s a safe bet the contractors will deny wrongdoing, and it’s a safe bet the firefighters’ claim for $100 million is excessive. But what’s also clear is that any war that generates a need for private firefighting forces – and then drags on so long that the firefighters become aggrieved enough to believe they have a case that they were underpaid – is a war that has gone on too long for the firefighters, the contractors, the military and the country. Not to mention the taxpayers

Please see the original post at Time’s Battleland

More on the Class Action Lawsuit against Wackenhut at www.scottblochlaw.com

December 12, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Follow the Money, KBR, Private Military Contractors, Wackenhut | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Balkan MPRI L-3 Genocide Case Will Stay in Illinois

Courthouse News Service

CHICAGO (CN) – Ethnic Serbs accusing a large defense contractor of arming the Croatian troops that committed genocide in the Krajina region can proceed with a class action in the Northern District of Illinois, where thousands of victims reside, a federal judge ruled.
Operation Storm, the largest European land offensive since World War II, killed or displaced more than 200,000 Serbs in 1995, according to the 2010 complaint filed by Genocide Victims of Krajina.
The umbrella group is seeking billions of dollars in damages from defense contractor L-3 Communications and its subsidiary, Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI), a corporation they say was founded by U.S. military officers who were downsized at the end of the Cold War.
MPRI staff allegedly helped the Croatian army plan and train for the attack, and it monitored and assisted the execution of the operation.
The complaint says that a division of L-3, “negotiated a contract to train and modernize the Croatian Army into a competent fighting force able to invade the Krajina region and expel the ethnic Serbian population from Croatian territory.”
Virginia-based L-3 asked the court to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction, or alternatively, to transfer the case to the Southern District of New York or the Eastern District of Virginia. The contractor argued that either of these courts would be more convenient for the witnesses and parties involved.
U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo refused on both counts, finding ample evidence that the Northern District of Illinois has jurisdiction over L-3

Please read the entire report here

September 15, 2011 Posted by | Balkans, MPRI | , , , , | 2 Comments

Trial set in case of flight crews suing for hazardous-duty pay

By Steve Green (contactLas Vegas Sun

Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010 | 2:33 a.m.

Trial is set to begin Oct. 4 in a class-action lawsuit claiming Vision Airlines Inc. of North Las Vegas pocketed tens of millions of dollars of hazard pay that was due flight crews assigned to dangerous war-related missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The trial was set after Chief U.S. District Judge for Nevada Roger Hunt on Sept. 15 denied motions by both sides to close the case based on their summary judgment motions.

Hunt found there are disputed facts that a jury will have to sort out, making the case ineligible for closure on summary judgment motions.

The trial will likely focus on two of the plaintiffs’ surviving claims, for unjust enrichment and conversion.

The legal dispute erupted in January 2009 when attorneys for former Vision pilot Gerald Hester of Colleyville, Texas, filed suit in federal court in Las Vegas claiming Hester and some 300 other current and former employees hadn’t received extra pay for flying in and out of the war zones since 2005. The lawsuit said at least $21 million was due the flight crews.

The lawsuit brought some unwanted attention to aspects of Vision’s business, including reports its aircraft were involved in CIA “rendition” flights in which alleged terror suspects may have been shuttled around the globe for undisclosed reasons. Locally, Vision is known for more mundane operations like Grand Canyon tour flights.

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Iraq | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Class-action suit: U.S. mercenaries were behind Croatian offensive in Balkan War

Chicago Tribune

Zivka Mijic doesn’t burden people with her troubles — which would be impractical anyway, unless the other person spoke Serbian — but she does want the tragic story of what brought her family to a Chicago suburb told in federal court.

“If I had even a spoon from over there, I’d hang it on the wall to remember,” Mijic, 46, said. Her son Branislav Mijic, 23, was translating. Alternating between his mother’s words and his own, Branislav explained why the Mijics have no souvenirs of their homeland.

On Aug. 4, 1995, artillery shells started falling on a village in Krajina, where the Mijics lived in what had been Yugoslavia before ethnic conflicts tore it apart. The Mijics harnessed their horses Soko and Cestar to a wagon and joined the crowd of fleeing villagers. It was 2 in the morning, the artillery fire lighting up a neighbor who had been traveling with them. He was decapitated by an incoming shell.

“If you weren’t there, you can’t feel what it was like,” said Zivika, who lives with her husband, Nedeljko, 46, three sons and a sister in a modest home in Stickney, no different from neighboring ones except for the bitter memories it houses. In a way, the Mijics’ saga is a common denominator of the immigrant experience: Driven abroad by war, poverty or oppression, families rebuild their lives in America.

But there is an unexpected, albeit difficult to prove, twist to the Mijics’ story: The class-action lawsuit recently filed in Chicago, to which Zivka is a party, alleges that American mercenaries were behind their suffering.

As her lawyers see it, during the Balkan War of the 1990s, America began to “outsource” some of the dirty work of war and diplomacy to private contractors. They allege that behind the early morning attack that the Croats dubbed “Operation Storm” was a northern Virginia-based consulting company called MPRI Inc., made up of former high-ranking U.S. military officers that included a chief architect of Operation Desert Storm a few years earlier in Iraq.

What the Mijics and other Serbs in Croatia went through, their lawyers allege, was a proving grounds for the kind of brutal strategy orchestrated later in Iraq by the now infamous Blackwater Worldwide company, another private military contractor whose security guards were charged by the Justice Department in 2008 with killing at least 17 Iraqi civilians during a firefight the year before.

“MPRI is the granddaddy of Blackwater,” said Robert Pavich, one of the lawyers representing Mijic and other Serbs.

MPRI was acquired in 2002 by another defense contractor, L-3 Communications. Officials from L-3 say the lawsuit is baseless.

“The suit is without merit, and L-3 intends to vigorously defend itself against these charges. Beyond that, the company has no additional comment at this time,” said L-3 spokeswoman Jennifer Barton in an e-mailed statement.

Since the events, the company has consistently denied involvement in the Krajina offensive. But it has benefited from speculation that it took part in it, said a former senior U.S. diplomat deeply knowledgeable in the Balkan Wars.

“The perception that they did run it helped turn them from a small company to a major contractor,” the diplomat said. “Afterwards, everyone wanted them to do what they thought MPRI had done in Croatia.”

The Mijics see the lawsuit as a chance to regain a little of what they had lost.

“Everything we had was taken from us,” said Branislav.

The Mijics lived comfortably as farmers in Yugoslavia, a nation cobbled together out of incompatible parts after World War I. Serbs and Croats, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims were thrown together, despite centuries of mutual antagonisms. When the country began to disintegrate during the early 1990s, it wasn’t possible to separate the pieces neatly, and warring communities mutually committed atrocities.

The Mijic family lived in Krajina, a Serbian enclave inside what became Croatia, which the Croatians were determined to eliminate in 1995.

“Upwards of 180,000 Serbs would flee the province under duress, the worst single incident of ethnic cleansing in the entire sequence of Yugoslav wars,” R. Craig Nation, a historian at the U.S. Army War College, wrote about Operation Storm in his study “War in the Balkans, 1992-2002.”

The Mijics experienced the Croatian offensive as 13 days of terror on roads clogged with refugees fleeing to Serbia, with little food to eat and only rainwater to drink.

“Sometimes you could only go 20 feet,” explained Branislav, who was 8 then but has vivid memories of the bloody journey. “When bombs fell on the column, dead horses and people and wrecked cars blocked the way.”

Read the entire story here

September 4, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Private Military Contractors | , , , , , , | Leave a comment