Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Congress’ Human Terrain Assessment Vanishes: Politically Charged Study Withdrawn from Military Website

by John Stanton at Crytome

The Center for Naval Analyses report (CNAR) on the US Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS) was available online at DTIC about 24 hours ago.

Now the CNAR report is MIA. Fortunately a download is available at this website:

http://openanthropology.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/gettrdoc.pdf

Activating any of the links to the CNAR brings back these messages:

“The resource you requested has been withdrawn for administrative reasons. For additional information, contact the DTIC help desk at 800-225-3842 or help@dtic.mil. No full text document exists for this AD Number.”

A call into the DTIC Help desk on 19 February (wait music featured WASH FM soft rock from the Average White Band, Casey and the Sunshine Band, Madonna, Seal, Lady Gaga, U2, Katie Perry, et al). After holding for 2 hours it was not possible to handle the recorded message “currently all agents are busy, please hold for the next available agent…” breaking into each song every 20 seconds or so. The last straw was the song “Shake Your Booty” mixed with “please hold for the next available agent.”

The CNAR is a huge file so the download time to retrieve the report was fairly lengthy. So it could be that there were too many requests and the DTIC network could not handle them all.

On the other hand, the CNAR report is as much a Washington, DC, political exercise as it is an “objective” technocratic assessment. Apparently the downloadable report is not the original document, that being far more critical of HTS and the TRADOC leadership led by General Martin Dempsey, US Army. Dempsey has been nominated for Chief of Staff of the US Army.

There are some that claim the CNAR FOIA request (filed by the author) to the Pentagon OSD/Intelligence (five month wait thus far) was delayed in order to soften the severely critical tone of the original document and time its release until after General Dempsey secured the US Army Chief of Staff position. He is also under fire for his handling of other programs within TRADOC.

Though his nomination seems assured by the US Senate, he should be made to answer for the operation of a $300 million program that was mired in public controversy for over two years and led to many senseless deaths/casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Please read the entire post here

February 19, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Iraq, Pentagon, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hundreds of Army Social Scientists Unqualified, Former Boss Says

by Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room

Nearly five years after the Army began a controversial program to embed social scientists in combat units, the former director and chief bureaucratic force behind the program says that over a third of those researchers never should have been part of the program in the first place.

“Thirty to 40 percent of the people were not qualified,” says Steve Fondacaro, the retired Army colonel who ran the Human Terrain System from its 2006 birth until he was ousted in June. He’s speaking out in a rare post-firing interview because the contract to supply HTS with social-science experts is up for grabs — and the company that handled the job for the last five years hobbled the program, he says.

The Army’s Training and Doctrine Commands disagrees, and the company, BAE Systems, didn’t answer Danger Room’s questions. But with the program expanding, the ability of the next HTS contractor to provide local commanders with quality cultural advisers could make an enormous difference in the American combat efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Simply put, if the United States can’t understand the populations it deals with in complex, irregular wars like Afghanistan — their traditions, their social structures, their power dynamics — then American counterinsurgency efforts are in deep trouble.

“Dealing with BAE was extremely difficult,” Fondacaro tells Danger Room. The contractor found it staggeringly difficult to provide “what I needed in terms of people and functions” for the program. That is, social scientists who both were physically and intellectually fit to operate in austere conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who were “flexible enough to work with a military organization.”

But BAE struck Fondacaro as “unwilling to do the hard work in terms of screening and testing, finding the people capable of working with the energy, the intellectual capacity and the competence for this exercise we were about to embark on.” In one case, BAE provided HTS with an octogenarian Iraqi-American for a job translating in Iraq.

In another case, it gave HTS an applicant with a warrant out for her arrest for vehicular manslaughter — “which could have been easily ascertained through a cursory background investigation,” says Montgomery McFate, until recently the program’s top social scientist. “While BAE sent us some amazing people, they also sent us some people who were clearly not deployable,” she adds.

“Some of the people they were sending me were not up to par, and I had to let them go from the program,” Fondacaro says. “We had some people who did not work out downrange. It was just a very uncooperative arrangement.”

Please read the whole story here

Human Terrain’ Chief Ousted

Human Terrain’ Contractors’ Pay Suddenly Slashed

Petraeus Quietly Disses ‘Human Terrain’

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Iraq, Pentagon | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US says missing contractor in Iraq, Issa Salomi of El Cajon returns

Family rejoices at release of contractor in Iraq

SAN DIEGO—The family of an Iraqi-American contractor said to have been kidnapped in Baghdad in January rejoiced Saturday over his release, saying they did not believe they would see him alive again.

Issa Salomi, 60, spoke with his 27-year-old son Roger Friday and told him that memories of the birth of the oldest of his four boys sustained him during captivity, said Vivian Tilley, a niece.

A few hours later, Salomi called his wife of 30 years, Mura Salomi, and asked for her homemade tabbouleh when he arrived home.

Update March 27

Civilian believed to be kidnapped in Baghdad, returns

An Army civilian contractor from El Cajon, believed kidnapped in Baghdad in January, has been “returned to military control,” the Pentagon announced Saturday.

Issa T. Salomi, 60, turned up on Thursday, but the military released no information about where or how he returned to the military.

The Pentagon referred questions to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which has not responded to questions. Salomi was unaccounted for on Jan. 23 and believed to have been kidnapped in Baghdad, where he was assigned to U.S. Forces-Iraq, the Defense Department said. Salomi was declared “Excused Absence Whereabouts Unknown.”

But the circumstances of his disappearance remained under investigation, and the Times of London reported that Salomi, an Iraqi-American, left the military base in Baghdad without permission to visiting relatives in the Karrada district of central Baghdad.

The AP reported from Iraq that terrorists had lured Salomi into central Baghdad by promising to assist him track down his kin. An Iranian-backed terrorist group, the League of the Righteous, announced that it was holding Salomi and released a video of him on the Internet.

In it, Salomi was dressed in a U.S. military uniform, read a text calling for the release of Iraqi prisoners and denounced America.

The Times of London reported that Salomi relayed a demand “to bring proper justice and the proper punishment to those members of Blackwater company that have committed unjustifiable crimes against innocent Iraqi civilians.”

(AP) – 1 hour ago

WASHINGTON — The U.S. says an Iraqi-American contractor said to have been kidnapped in Baghdad in January by Shiite militiamen is back in American hands.

A Shiite extremist group claimed responsibility for the Jan. 23 kidnapping of Issa Salomi of El Cajon, Calif. A Pentagon statement on Saturday gave no details about Salomi’s return on Thursday or about his disappearance.

The statement said the circumstances of the case are under investigation.

An Iraqi defense official said in February that Salomi was kidnapped by the militiamen who had lured Salomi into central Baghdad by promising to help find distant relatives.

Salomi’s permanent assignment is at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

See Also

Pentagon Indentifies Contractor Missing in Iraq

The Missing Man

March 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment