Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Colombian rebels say they’ll no longer kidnap, will free all captives

AP at Washington Post  February 26, 2012

BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombia’s main rebel group said Sunday it is abandoning the practice of kidnapping and will soon free its last remaining “prisoners of war,” 10 security force members held for as long as 14 years.

The leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, announced on its website that it would no longer kidnap civilians “for financial ends,” marking the first time the rebels have unequivocally renounced a tool they have long employed against Colombia’s well-heeled.

It is not clear whether an order has been given to release ransom-kidnapping victims currently held by the rebels, whose number is not known.

The FARC did not provide a date for the liberation of the 10 security force members, two fewer than the government says it holds

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February 26, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Columbia | , , , , , | 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

Red Cross brands assaults on medics in conflict zones a ‘humanitarian tragedy’

Violence against medical personnel in areas of unrest costing millions of lives, according to ICRC report

Global Development at The Guardian UK  August 10, 2011

International Committee of the Red Cross director Yves Daccord

Attacks on doctors and healthcare workers in conflicts from Somalia to Afghanistan have a drastic knock-on effect by jeopardising the health of millions, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a report on Wednesday.

“Violence that prevents the delivery of healthcare is currently one of the most urgent, yet overlooked, humanitarian tragedies,” Yves Daccord, ICRC director-general, said in a statement. “Hospitals in Sri Lanka and Somalia have been shelled, ambulances in Libya shot at, paramedics in Colombia killed, and wounded people in Afghanistan forced to languish for hours in vehicles held up in checkpoint queues. The issue has been staring us in the face for years. It must end.”

According to Dr Robin Coupland, who led research carried out in 16 countries, millions could be spared if the delivery of healthcare were more widely respected.

“The most shocking finding is that people die in large numbers not because they are direct victims of a roadside bomb or a shooting,” he said. “They die because the ambulance does not get there in time, because healthcare personnel are prevented from doing their work, because hospitals are themselves targets of attacks or simply because the environment is too dangerous for effective healthcare to be delivered

August 10, 2011 Posted by | Humanitarian Assistance, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Billions More Wasted on Anti-Drug Contracts in Latin America

Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky  All Gov  June 15, 2011

It’s impossible to know if the federal government is effectively spending billions of dollars on contractors to help fight the nation’s war on drugs, says a U.S. senator.
Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri, chair of the Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, says there is “insufficient oversight of counternarcotics contracts at the Departments of State and Defense,” making it difficult to assess the success of spending $3.1 billion on such work between 2005 and 2009.
McCaskill points to a lack of transparency at both departments, where no centralized database or system has been established to track counternarcotics contracts. To make matters worse, the Defense Department has admitted that the current systems it is relying on are “inconsistent,” “time-consuming and error-prone.”
Spending on counternarcotics contracts increased by 32% over a five-year period, says McCaskill, but contract management and oversight was found to be insufficient.
The majority of the money, $1.8 billion, went to just five contractors: DynCorp, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, ITT, and ARINC, with $1.1 billion going to DynCorp.
Slightly more than half of the money was spent “on aircraft-related services, maintenance, logistics, support, equipment, and training.” The rest went to other equipment and supplies, intelligence and surveillance, information technology and communications equipment and services, construction and logistics, and personnel.
Although the contracts were spent for operations in eight Latin American countries, almost $2 billion went to Colombia alone.

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Central America, Contract Awards, Contractor Oversight, Contracts Awarded, Department of Defense, Follow the Money, State Department | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment