Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

As Iraq, Afghan wars end, private security firms adapt

Rueters October 21, 2012

* Iraq, Afghan withdrawal may mean leaner times for contractors

* Shift to guarding private sector’s oil fields and mines

* Some see big shakeout in private security industry

* U.N. member states wary of private security forces

By Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (Reuters) – On a rooftop terrace blocks from the White House, a collection of former soldiers and intelligence officers, executives and contractors drink to the international private security industry.

The past decade – particularly the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – provided rich pickings for firms providing private armed guards, drivers and other services that would once have been performed by uniformed soldiers.

But as the conflicts that helped create the modern industry wind down, firms are having to adapt to survive. They must also, industry insiders say, work to banish the controversial image of mercenary “dogs of war” that bedevil many firms, particularly in Iraq.

“This industry has always gone up and down,” Doug Brooks, president of the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA), told Reuters on the sidelines of its annual conference in Washington. “What we’re seeing now is that it is becoming much more mature – and much more responsible.”

The free-for-all atmosphere that pervaded the industry, particularly in the early years of the war in Iraq, insiders say, appears gone for good. A string of high profile incidents – often involving armed private guards firing on sometimes unarmed Iraqis – trashed the reputation of firms such as Blackwater, a Virginia-based firm since renamed several times, as well as the wider industry.

Members of the ISOA – which include some but not all of the major contracting firms as well as smaller players – subscribe to a code of conduct that they say helps identify responsible firms.

Despite these efforts, industry insiders and other observers say quality remains mixed. Some firms providing armed guards for merchant ships passing through the Somali pirate-infested Indian Ocean, for example, only hire elite personnel who have served in the Marines or special forces. Others, however, have a reputation for being less discriminating and for unreliable staff and weapons.

Please read the entire article here

October 21, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Iraq, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Somali pirates less a scourge of the seas as private security firms proliferate

The Daily Exclusive Benjamin Carlson July 30, 2012

Somali pirate attacks are plunging — thanks, in part, to a group of heavily armed ex-Navy SEALs putting their skills to use in the private sector.

In the first six months of 2012, pirate attacks plummeted 33 percent, according to the International Maritime Bureau. Through June, Somali pirates made 69 attacks, resulting in 212 captured hostages. That was down from 163 attacks in the same six-month period in 2011.

Piracy hit its highest point last year, with attacks on 544 ships from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.

One of the biggest factors spurring the drop is the use of maritime security companies that specialize in anti-piracy.

“The fact of the matter is, if you didn’t have private armed guards, it would definitely be much more dangerous — the drop would not have been so significant,” said Michael Frodl, chairman of C-Level Maritime Risks, a consulting company.

For $50,000 per voyage, shipping companies can hire a team of four ex-Navy SEALs to accompany their vessel on a 10-day voyage through the most dangerous waters in the world — the Gulf of Aden, Straits of Malacca and northern Indian Ocean — to thwart hijackings and hostage-taking.

How good are they? Thus far, not a single ship that has had armed guards aboard has been taken, said Doug Brooks, president of the International Stability Operations Association. “It’s a 100 percent solution.”

August 2, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Maritime Security, Pirates, Private Security Contractor, Somalia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.”

Please see the original and read more here

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

Green Zone empties out under Iraqi control

Dan Norse The Washington Post  February 19, 2012

BAGHDAD — Green Zone. International Zone. The Bubble. To the foreigners still living there, the Iraqi capital’s fortified center has a new name: Ghost Town.

The Iraqi government has taken full control of the former heart of the American occupation. It decides who gets past the 17-foot-tall concrete blast walls encircling the zone

On the inside, Iraqi police and military forces have raided the offices of private security companies, prompting the firms and commercial companies that rely on them to relocate.

“They have hit a point where it’s virtually impossible to stay,” said Doug Brooks, president of the International Stability Operations Association, a trade group that represents foreign firms and nonprofit organizations in Iraq.

The result: The International Zone has become the Iraqi Zone, and an increasingly isolated one at that

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February 19, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Iraq, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ISOA Highlights Speaker Line-Up for 2011 Annual Summit

Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) October 11, 2011

The 2011 Annual Summit of the Stability Operations Industry takes place in two weeks and ISOA is pleased to highlight featured speakers for the event.

Jack Straw, UK Foreign Secretary under Prime Minister Tony Blair from 2001 – 2006, will be addressing the Summit dinner on 25 October. Straw was instrumental in crafting and coordinating international missions in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. He currently serves as an MP in the UK Parliament.

Chris Shays and Michael Thibault, Co-Chairs of the Commission on Wartime Contracting, will offer valuable insight in to the recent CWC Final Report and its implications for the industry on the morning of 25 October.

Lieutenant General Robert Van Antwerp, Former Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will address participants on the following day and discuss the role and value of the private sector in supporting vital U.S. policies abroad.

“This year’s speaker line-up is the most impressive collection of expertise and influence in the history of our Summit,” stated Doug Brooks, ISOA President and Founder. “It is a must-see for companies looking toward their future bottom-line.”

The Summit kicks off on Monday 24 October, with opening remarks from Summit chair, Ambassador David Litt (ret.) and former, long-time Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Ike Skelton. Lunch speakers include Ambassador Eric Edelman (ret.), former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and David T. Johnson, current Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

The ISOA Annual Summit is the premier event of the stability operations industry, drawing a diverse group of speakers and attendees from government, military, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. A detailed agenda and further information about the Summit can be found online at http://www.stability-operations.org/summit2011.

The ISOA Summit is sponsored by Mission Essential Personnel, Dyncorp International, SOC, LLC, Triple Canopy, L-3 MPRI, PAE, Inc., Olive Group and EOD Technology.

Summit sponsorships, exhibitor spaces and advertising opportunities can be found on the event website, or requested from Melissa Sabin at msabin(at)stability-operations(dot)org.

About ISOA

ISOA is the international trade association of the stability operations industry, promoting ethics and standards worldwide and advocating for effective utilization of private sector services. ISOA members are leaders in the industry and are supported by ISOA’s outreach, education and government affairs initiatives.

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October 11, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracting, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

State Department Says No to Mercs at Sea

The U.S. State Department may have given rise to modern-day private armies with its personnel security contracts to protect diplomats in Iraq. But that doesn’t mean department officials want to see guns-for-hire on the high seas.

by Sharon Weinberger at Wired’s Danger Room

The prospect of having armed security guards ward off pirates presents a number of legal problems, according to Donna Hopkins, the Coordinator for Counter Piracy and Maritime Security in the State Department. “I think the legal and political implications of private, armed escorts at sea are hugely problematic and not likely to be answered in the next year or two,” she said earlier this week at the Navy League Sea Air Space Exposition.

The number of Somali-based pirate attacks has exploded over the past few years, as have the ransoms the pirates demand for safe return of ships and crewmembers. Pirates holding hijacked ships now often command between $3 and $5 million in ransom.

Despite that growing security threat, the State Department is wary of companies providing security services to combat piracy. “As a matter of policy and philosophy for many years, governments have reserved for themselves the right maintain a monopoly on the use armed force,” Hopkins said. “The idea of armed escorts on the high seas calls into question some serious philosophy in that regard.”

In fact, most ship-owners have been hesitant to turn to private security contractors, fearing the liability associated with playing host to armed guards outweighs any benefits they might provide. That may now be changing, with more companies looking to private companies to protect them from pirates.

“I do think you see a growth in the market,” said Doug Brooks, president of the International peace Operations Association, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group that represents private security and stability operations contractors.

The lack of support from State Department for such contractors could be viewed as ironic, given that the department’s Diplomatic Security bureau was responsible for one of the most notorious armed security contracts of all times: the Worldwide Personal Protective Services contract to Blackwater Worldwide, now known as Xe Services.  The Blackwater contract in Iraq eventually ran afoul of the local government, particularly after the Nissour Square massacre.

At sea, ships face different government laws at each port they visit, making such services even more complex. Even some companies interested in the market have balked at the potential barriers.

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Pirates, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, State Department | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Support Grows for Private Anti-Pirate Fleet

What is driving the concept is the increasing number of attacks, said Doug Brooks, president of the International Stability Operations Association, a Washington D.C.-based trade association for private security contractors.

Sharon Weinberger AOL News

With too many pirates and not enough warships, the insurance companies that have been forced to pay huge ransoms for hijacked ships have come up with their own solution: They are proposing a privately operated fleet that would accompany ships through pirate-infested waters.

This convoy escort program would establish a fleet of fast, armed patrol boats to combat the spate of pirate attacks in the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and elsewhere. And the push for it is not coming from ship owners, but rather from those who pay the price when a ship is hijacked — the insurers.

Please read the entire story here

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Pirates, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , | 1 Comment

International Stability Operations Association: IPOA’s New Name

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The association that represents the stability operations industry, formerly called IPOA, is now the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA). The new name and logo are designed to better reflect the broad industry that provides vital services and support to the international community in conflict, post-conflict and disaster relief operations.

“From the beginning, our goal has been to make international stability operations more successful by increasing accountability, ethics and standards within the industry,” said ISOA’s President, Doug Brooks. “For almost ten years we have grown as the ethical core of a unique and valuable international resource. Our new name reflects that evolution as an association and as an industry, and positions us for the future.”

ISOA’s Director, J.J. Messner, unveiled the organization’s new name and logo at the IPOA 2010 Annual Summit in Washington, D.C. last week. The change is the result of an association-wide vote and is designed to better represent the broad mission and clientele of the industry as a whole.

The announcement of the ISOA name is part of a progressive effort to ensure the support and participation of all key actors in the Stability Operations Industry, including private firms, non-governmental organizations, and governmental and commercial clients.

ISOA’s mission is to serve as a valued and trusted association representing ethical and professional organizations partnering in stability, support and development efforts worldwide. The Association develops and implements ethical standards that enhance the missions of clients and raise the quality of the larger industry. ISOA does advocacy for the interests and values of the membership using a proactive, unified industry voice, and engages in education and outreach regarding the industry and the capabilities of the association’s membership.

Contact: Doug Brooks
International Stability Operations Association
Washington, DC
Tel: +1 (202) 464-0721
Email: DBrooks@stability-operations.org

October 25, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight | , , , , | Leave a comment

Doug Brooks on the Stability Operations Industry

August 21, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Africa, Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracting, Contractor Oversight, Haiti, Iraq, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Wartime Contracting | , , , | Leave a comment

Security contractors could face new rules

Roxanna Tiron at The Hill

House defense authorizers are pressing ahead with efforts to weed out fraud, waste and performance debacles that have plagued private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee are expected to approve several provisions in the 2011 defense authorization bill that would establish standards for how private security contractors would win Pentagon business.

Private security contractors have lobbied for the changes, arguing that higher standards and more oversight would ensure that contracts go to legitimate companies. The Armed Services Readiness subcommittee already vetted the provisions under consideration.

House lawmakers are trying to establish a third-party certification process to determine whether private security contractors should be eligible for Pentagon contracts. Defense authorizers are requiring the Defense secretary to establish a third-party certification process for “specified operational and business practice standards to which private security contractors must adhere” as a condition of being selected as contractors.

It has not yet been determined whom the “third party” issuing the certifications would be, but the provisions aim to establish a baseline for acceptable contractor performance, industry officials said.

It would ensure that “everybody is up to the same standard,” said Doug Brooks, the president of the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA), which represents the Association of the Stability Operations Industry and has advocated for the provision. “We support the concept that somebody would check on how these companies do everything they are supposed to.”

Private security contractors have tried to convince lawmakers to support contracts that offer the best value rather than just the lowest price. As a result, defense authorizers are seeking to establish a pilot program within the Pentagon that would implement best-value standards for private security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The contracts awarded under the pilot program would continue until they are supposed to expire even if the pilot program is terminated, according to language in the defense authorization bill awaiting a full committee vote. The Defense secretary has to provide to the committee each Jan. 15 for three years a report identifying the contracts awarded under the pilot program, including the consideration that led to the award of the contract.

“The best-value language would avoid the race to the bottom,” said Jeff Green, who lobbies for IPOA.

Avoiding contracts that are awarded solely on the lowest-cost criterion would go to the heart of the private security industry’s efforts to preserve good standing. Lowest bidders often trim “some of the ethical aspects of their operations to save money,” said IPOA’s Brooks.

Companies could cut their training standards or the vetting of their own employees to keep costs low, explained Brooks.

“In the long run it will provide enormous value for U.S. taxpayers,” Brooks said. The best-value concept “focuses more on getting the mission done right rather than simply saving money.”  Read the full story here

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

At Long Last: IPOA is Right !

David Isenberg at Huff Post

oug Brooks, founder and head of IPOA, a trade group for private military and security contractors, has long claimed that using such contractors is more effective than their public sector counterparts. Indeed, search online for “Doug Brooks and cost effectiveness” and you get 33,500 results.

Now, it appears that he is right, at least mostly, in his view, according to a report released today by the Government Accountability Office.

The report “Warfighter Support: A Cost Comparison of Using State Department Employees versus Contractors for Security Services in Iraq” focused on determining the costs to the Department of Defense and the State Department of using private security contractors for security services versus using federal employees to provide the same services.

The report reviewed four task orders of the Worldwide Personal Protective Services (WPPS) II contracts and one contract for Baghdad embassy security. WPPS is the way the State Department hires private security firms to protect its personnel around the world.

GAO based its review on assumptions provided by the State Department. These included that the State Department would have to recruit, hire, and train new employees who would all be U.S. citizens; the employees would serve 1 year in Iraq and then return to the United States; and the State Department would use the same number of employees the contractors use to provide security.

What the GAO found was:

Our comparison of likely State Department costs versus contractor costs for four task orders and one contract awarded by the State Department for security services in Iraq showed that for three of the task orders and the contract, the cost of using State Department employees would be greater than using contractors, while the State Department’s estimated cost to use federal employees was less for the other task order. For example, using State Department employees to provide static security for the embassy in Baghdad would have cost the department approximately $858 million for 1 year compared to the approximately $78 million charged by the contractor for the same time period.

In regard to the remaining task order, the result was only slightly less favorable.

In contrast, our cost comparison of the task order for providing personal security for State Department employees while in the Baghdad region–which required personnel that have security clearances–showed that for this task order, the State Department’s estimated annual cost would have been about $240 million, whereas the contractor charged approximately $380 million for 1 year. However, because the State Department does not currently have a sufficient number of trained personnel to provide security in Iraq, the department would need to recruit, hire, and train additional employees at an additional cost of $162 million.

Overall, the difference between the contractors’ cost and the estimated State Department cost ranged from about $3 million for one task order to over $785 million for the contract.

See Table 1 on page 6 for a cost comparison for one contract and four task orders using a one-to-one ratio of deployed to stateside employees.

GAO did note that contract requirements are a major factor in determining whether contractors or government personnel are less expensive–especially factors such as whether personnel need security clearances.

For instance, unless the State Department specifies a need for personnel with security clearances–which are generally not available to non-U.S. citizens–contractors typically choose to employ a large percentage of third-country nationals and local nationals to lower contract cost. For example, the contractor providing embassy security in Baghdad employed a large percentage of third-country nationals and local nationals (about 89 percent), whose lower wages contributed to the lower cost of the contract. In contrast, our comparison of the task order for providing personal security for State Department employees while in the Baghdad region–which required personnel that have security clearances–showed that for this task order, the State Department’s estimated annual cost would have been about $240 million, whereas the contractor charged approximately $380 million for 1 year.

And when using contractors, the department also incurs administrative costs for awarding the task orders and contract and providing oversight; however, the State Department was unable to estimate these costs. These costs can vary depending on the complexity and sensitivity of the contract. For example, according to State Department officials, the Baghdad Embassy contract provides static security at a fixed site which requires less oversight than the Worldwide Personal Protective Services II contracts which provide for the protective security of U.S. government officials and other individuals traveling in unsecured areas in theatre.

This does not definitively settle the debate as there were some things GAO did not look at such as whether the quality of the services provided by the contractors or whether better services could be provided by the State Department. It also did not evaluate the policy implications of using contractors to perform security functions.

Yet when you look at the availability of bodies for security functions it becomes clear why the State Department will continue to rely on private security contractors. GAO notes:

That in order for the State Department to perform these security missions with its own employees it would cost the State Department approximately $162 million to recruit, hire, and train 6,330 employees. When determining total costs for the department to provide security services, these recruitment and training costs would be in addition to the State Department’s estimated annual cost. Overall, for these four task orders and one contract, the State Department is using 3,165 contractors for security in Iraq. However, the State Department only has about 1,500 security agents who are already performing other missions and according to State Department officials, these agents would not be available to perform the security missions provided by the contractors. According to State Department officials, based upon recent experience in establishing a new skill specialty, it would take about a year to have the first security personnel on-board; however, they would not be in sufficient numbers to completely replace the contractors. They said it could easily take them 3 years or longer to hire, train, and fully staff all positions necessary to accomplish the mission. As an example of the length of time it would take to hire and mobilize more employees, State Department officials informed us that after the attacks on September 11, 2001, under their current hiring process it took the State Department 2 years to hire 327 employees using existing career fields (to include recruitment, training, and completing the security clearance process).

But, compared to past efforts, such as this 2005 report and 2008 report by the Congressional Budget Office the GAO report is as close as we have yet seen in comparing apples to apples.

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