Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Brett Linley deactivated five bombs before his death

Birmingham Mail  March 20, 2012

A BRAVE Birmingham soldier died a hero as he tried to defused his SIXTH Taliban bomb in two days, an inquest has heard.

Staff Sergeant Brett Linley, 29, was killed instantly by blast injuries while trying to deactivate an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Afghanistan, a week before he was due to return home on leave.

The Royal Logistic Corps soldier, from Bournville, was later posthumously awarded the George Medal for his actions, which saved the lives of many colleagues.

Yesterday, a Birmingham inquest heard Staff Sgt Linley had defused 22 bombs in three months while in Afghanistan.

He made two IEDs safe the day before his death and deactivated another three the following morning – before he set out on his fatal sixth operation.

The soldier was working with his team from the 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment to secure a crucial route from Lashkar Gar to Gereshk, in Helmand Province, when he was killed on July 17, 2010.

Insurgents were active in the area and had filled the route with hidden IEDs.

Major Charlie Crowe told the inquest: “Brett was the expert on IEDs and had cleared an enormous number of them. Each IED he had pulled out of the ground saved one life. He was better than anyone else.”

Staff Sgt Linley was working alongside American forces when a mechanical digger used to pull IEDs out of the ground malfunctioned

After a discussion, the bomb disposal expert, who was in full armour, went to defuse the IED alone, while colleagues withdrew to a safe distance.

Please see the original and read more here

March 20, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Bomb Disposal, Explosive Ordnance Disposal | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

War is Brain Damaging

The Defense Base Act Insurance Companies and the Department of Labor are as negligent as the Department of Defense when it comes denying the dangers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, and most negligently when a contractor suffers from both.

“a potentially lethal combination of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. When the frontal lobe — which controls emotions — is damaged, it simply can’t put on the brakes if a PTSD flashback unleashes powerful feelings. Seeing his buddy’s leg blown off may have unleashed a PTSD episode his damaged brain couldn’t stop”

The New York Times Sunday Review

These vets suffer from a particular kind of brain damage that results from repeated exposure to the concussive force of improvised explosive devices — I.E.D.’s — a regular event for troops traveling the roads in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It’s Russian roulette,” one vet told me, “We had one guy in our company who got hit nine times before the 10th one waxed him.” An I.E.D. explosion can mean death or at least a lost arm or leg, but you don’t have to take a direct hit to feel its effects. A veteran who’d been in 26 blasts explained, “It feels like you’re whacked in the head with a shovel. When you come to, you don’t know whether you’re dead or alive.”

The news that Robert Bales, an Army staff sergeant accused of having killed 16 Afghan civilians last week, had suffered a traumatic brain injury unleashed a flurry of e-mails among those of us who have been trying to beat the drums about this widespread — and often undiagnosed — war injury. New facts about Staff Sgt. Bales are coming out daily. After we heard about the brain injury that resulted when his vehicle rolled over in an I.E.D. blast, we were told that he had lost part of his foot in a separate incident. Then we learned that the day before his rampage, he’d been standing by a buddy when that man’s leg was blown off. There are also reports of alcohol use.

People with more appropriate professional skills than mine will have to parse these facts, but from what I have learned in my work as a storyteller, this tragedy may be related to something I heard about in my interviews: a potentially lethal combination of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. When the frontal lobe — which controls emotions — is damaged, it simply can’t put on the brakes if a PTSD flashback unleashes powerful feelings. Seeing his buddy’s leg blown off may have unleashed a PTSD episode his damaged brain couldn’t stop. If alcohol was indeed part of the picture, it could have further undermined his compromised frontal lobe function

Please see the original and read more here

March 18, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ManTech Awarded $28 Million Contract to Provide Logistics Support for U.S. Army Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Capabilities

Press Release

FAIRFAX, Va., Dec 06, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — ManTech International Corporation /quotes/zigman/87046/quotes/nls/mant MANT +1.16% was awarded a subcontract by PD Systems, Inc. to provide contractor logistics support services to the U.S. Army’s Product Manager, Improvised Explosive Device Defeat/Protect Force (PM IEDD/PF). The award is valued at $28 million, with an initial period of performance of 12 months plus a base option and two additional option years.

Under the contract, ManTech will provide PM IEDD/PF with system integration and installation, equipment repair, troubleshooting, training, parts management and asset tracking for the entire range of PM IEDD/PF equipment. The work will be performed at sites in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman and 40 other sites in the U.S. and abroad.

“Fielding and sustaining equipment to neutralize the threat posed by IEDs is an important function that directly saves lives,” said Kevin C. Cody, president of ManTech Technical Services Group’s Systems Sustainment and Integrated Logistics business unit.

“Our in-theater experience and expertise will be great assets to the program,” said Louis M. Addeo, president and chief operating officer of ManTech’s Technical Services Group. “We are proud to have been selected again to help support this important mission.”

About ManTech International Corporation read more here

 

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Contracts Awarded, Government Contractor, Improvised Explosive Devices | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Explosives Experts killed/wounded in two incidents in Iraq

Alsumaria Iraqi Satellite TV Network  June 18, 2011

In Anbar, a police major was killed and three policemen were wounded in a roadside bomb explosion in Al Khamsa kilo region, western Ramadi. The bomb exploded when explosives experts were disabling it, a source told Alsumaria.

In a similar incident, four people were wounded including two explosives experts, northern Baaquba.

Two roadside bombs were placed at the road leading to Al Amin region. One of them exploded and wounded two civilian passers-by. While explosives experts were disabling the second bomb, it detonated wounding two of them. Four suspects were arrested on account of the incident.

June 20, 2011 Posted by | Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Improvised Explosive Devices, Iraq | , , , | Leave a comment

In Effort to Stop Roadside Bombs Pentagon hires 1,666 contractors

Center for Integrity and McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Launched in February 2006 with an urgent goal – to save U.S. soldiers from being killed by roadside bombs in Iraq – a small Pentagon agency ballooned into a bureaucratic giant fueled by that flourishing arm of the defense establishment: private contractors.

An examination by the Center for Public Integrity and McClatchy Newspapers of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization revealed an agency so dominated by contractors that the ratio of contractors to government employees has reached 6-to-1.

A JIEDDO former director, Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, acknowledged that such an imbalance raised the possibility that contractors in management positions could approve proposals or payments for other contractors. Oates said the ratio needed to be reduced.

Please read the entire story here

March 27, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Pentagon, Private Military Contractors | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Explosive Ordnance Disposal Killed in Afghanistan

2 based at Aberdeen killed in Afghanistan

Chauncey Mays

Christopher Stark

Chauncey Mays in Iraq as part of the EOD squad in 2006. Courtesy Photo

Christopher Stark, shown wearing protective gear,

BALTIMORE — The Pentagon says two soldiers assigned to the Aberdeen Proving Ground have been killed in Afghanistan.

Twenty-five-year-old Staff Sgt. Chauncy Mays of Cookville, Texas, and 22-year-old Spc. Christopher Stark of Monett, Mo., died Monday in Wardak province when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.

They were assigned to the 63rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, 20th Support Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground

March 4, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Improvised Explosive Devices | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

IED Casualties Up Despite Increased Vigilance

Military’s outgoing head of IED-combating task force says insurgents will continue to use the cheap, deadly weapons.

Yochi J. Dreazen at National Journal

Shortly after taking command of the military’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization more than 14 months ago, Lt. Gen. Michael Oates and several of his top aides went to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington to visit troops who had been wounded by the makeshift bombs, the insurgent weapon of choice in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

As Oates and his staff made their way through the sprawling hospital, the mother of a soldier who had just lost a leg to an IED asked Oates what he did in the military. Oates responded that he was in charge of the military task force charged with reducing the number and effectiveness of the roadside bombs.

“And she said, ‘Well, you failed with my son,'” Oates recalled during a conversation with a small group of reporters on Wednesday.

For Oates, the encounter was a vivid illustration of the military’s halting progress against IEDs, the primary cause of American casualties in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The general believes he and his team have significantly improved the military’s ability to dismantle insurgent bomb-making networks and find specific IEDs before they can be set off. But as he prepares to relinquish command this Friday, Oates acknowledged that the IED fight is far from won. Please read the entire article here

March 3, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Improvised Explosive Devices, Iraq | , , , | Leave a comment

Widow of bomb hero Olaf Schmid accuses Army of inquest cover-up

ATTENTION DEPLOYED CONTRACTORS:  Always get a copy of any visit for any kind of medical you receive no matter where you go for help.  Missing medical records are the Defense Base Act Insurance Companies biggest defense when denying you medical and lost wage benefits no matter how seriously you may be injured

The Daily Mail Co Uk

The widow of bomb disposal hero Olaf Schmid has criticised the inquest into his death and accused Army chiefs of covering up the ‘true reasons’ he died.

Christina Schmid, 35, said she felt ‘betrayed’ by the Ministry of Defence.

The inquest last week into the 30-year-old’s death in Afghanistan in 2009 recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.

The coroner stated there was ‘nothing in the operation which fell below what might have been expected and that could have contributed to his death’.

But Mrs Schmid said: ‘The inquest was futile and rushed. They didn’t seem to want to look into the true reasons for his death. All they wanted to talk about was what happened to his body parts when I have always been more concerned about what was happening in his brain leading up to that point.’

She added that a fainting fit the staff sergeant had before his death was caused by exhaustion.

Mrs Schmid said: ‘I feel betrayed – but I should have learned by now that the MoD is nothing more than an institution which covers its back and does what’s easiest.’

Sources claimed last night that the MoD had lost the medical records of Staff Sergeant Schmid, who was known to his family and colleagues as Oz.

They say the missing records would have shown that he was suffering medical issues in the lead-up to his death which could have impacted on his ability to do his job.

Staff Sgt Schmid was trying to disarm improvised explosive devices (IEDs) when he was killed the day before he was due to return home for a break. He won a posthumous George Cross for gallantry.

At the inquest in Truro, Cornwall, several of his colleagues gave statements saying he had appeared ‘unsettled and impatient’ after his five-year-old stepson told him in a phone call the night before: ‘Daddy, it’s time to come home.’

But according to sources who knew him, his agitation could also have been the result of the severe digestive complaints he experienced during his five months in Helmand, which were not raised at the inquest.

One source said: ‘It was widely known that Oz suffered from chronic irritable bowel syndrome and colitis.

‘All the boys would joke about it but he was in a lot of discomfort and had to use the toilet up to 15 times a day. He received treatment for his problems during the tour but no evidence exists of this because the MoD have said that they cannot find his medical records.’

Mrs Schmid has previously spoken of the stress her husband was under after working for 129 days without a break.

How dare they blame my son for Olaf’s death:

The widow of Olaf Schmid accused the Army yesterday of trying to blame her young son for the bomb disposal expert’s death.

Christina Schmid, 35, said she felt betrayed by the Ministry of Defence and described his inquest last week as ‘futile and rushed’.

The hearing had been told that the night before Staff Sergeant Schmid died his stepson, Laird, now seven, had told him: ‘Daddy, it’s time to come home.’

It was claimed the poignant phone call had unsettled him just hours before he was due to fly back from Afghanistan for two-weeks leave.

But his distraught wife dismissed the suggestion that he was impatient and suffering from ‘last-day jitters’ when he was killed by an improvised explosive device in October 2009.

She insisted that her husband, posthumously awarded the George Cross, was overworked, stressed and exhausted.

The MoD, she claimed, wanted that ‘brushed under the carpet’ at the inquest because it hoped to mask the shortage of bomb disposal experts in Afghanistan

I feel betrayed but I should have learned by now that the MoD is nothing more than an institution which covers its back. I believe there has been a cover-up because all the facts haven’t come out. I am deeply disappointed by the verdict.’

The inquest was told of a fainting fit her husband had had while on parade a month before his death. Mrs Schmid said it had been caused by him falling asleep standing up – and not dehydration.

She said that according to Army guidelines he should have been on rest and recuperation leave six weeks before his death.

But because of the chronic shortage of bomb disposal experts in Afghanistan – the Army was 50 per cent short at the time – he remained on duty. ‘There were only three of them to do the work when they needed 25,’ said Mrs Schmid. ‘Oz had so many IEDs to deal with he was being made to work at a pace he wasn’t comfortable with.

‘They were trying to say he wanted to work at that tempo. But Oz didn’t think it was right. There was no other option for him.’

Two days before his death he had told his wife he had been working too long without a break.

February 13, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Safety and Security Issues | , , , | Leave a comment

IED casualties in Afghanistan spike

How many Contractor Deaths and Injured due to IED’s?

The number of U.S. troops killed by roadside bombs in Afghanistan soared by 60 percent last year, while the number of those wounded almost tripled, new U.S. military statistics show.

Justice for Injured Contractors

by Craig Whitlock at The Washington Post

All told, 268 U.S. troops were killed by the improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in 2010, about as many as in the three previous years combined, according to the figures, obtained by The Washington Post. More than 3,360 troops were injured, an increase of 178 percent over the year before.

Military officials said an increase in attacks was expected, given the surge in U.S. and NATO troops, as well as the intensified combat. Even so, the spike comes despite a fresh wave of war-zone countermeasures, including mine-clearing machines, fertilizer-sniffing dogs and blimps with sophisticated spy cameras.

The U.S. military has struggled for years to find an antidote to the homemade explosives. IEDs – concocted primarily of fertilizer and lacking metal or electronic parts that would make them easier to detect – are the largest single cause of casualties for U.S. troops, by a wide margin.

Army Lt. Gen. Michael L. Oates, the director of a Pentagon agency dedicated to combating the bombs, noted that the percentage of IED attacks that have inflicted casualties – on U.S., NATO and Afghan forces, as well as Afghan civilians – has actually declined in recent months, from 25 percent last summer to 16 percent in December, according to U.S. military statistics.

“My main concern is driving these effective attacks down,” he said. “We’re enjoying success there, and I do believe we’re going to continue to reduce [the enemy’s] effectiveness.”

Oates and other military officials have emphasized figures showing that IEDs killed fewer troops in the NATO-led coalition last year than in 2009 – a slight decline, from 447 to 430.

A further examination of those numbers, however, shows that casualty rates among U.S. troops have skyrocketed as they have taken over responsibility from European allies for fighting in southern Afghanistan, where resistance from insurgents has been most fierce. Meanwhile, casualty rates among allies have dropped.  Please read the entire story here

January 26, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , | Leave a comment

British bomb expert’s widow recalls ‘he was so tired’

Staff Sgt Olaf “Oz” Schmid, a highly trained member of the military’s elite bomb disposal unit, died while attempting to defuse a bomb in Afghanistan. His widow, Christina Schmid, has been looking into her late husband’s final days and the pressures faced by his unit.

On 29 October last year, my husband called me from Afghanistan. He was due home in just a few days after being out there for more than five months.

He sounded so very tired.

He said he had not really slept for four days and told me, not for the first time, that there simply were not enough of them.

Oz was one of an elite, highly-trained band of bomb disposal experts. They are the ones who have the dangerous task of defusing the home-made improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that litter Afghanistan.

During that phone call, Oz told me that the work was both relentless and overwhelming.

Please Read the Entire Story here

Panorama: A Very British Hero, BBC One, Monday, 24 May at 2030 BST.

May 24, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Explosive Ordnance Disposal | , , , | Leave a comment

Soaring IED attacks in Afghanistan stymie U.S. counteroffensive

Washington Post

Taliban fighters more than doubled the number of homemade bombs they used against U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan last year, relying on explosives that are often far more primitive than the ones used in Iraq. An Afghan Army engineer tries to photograph an IED they dug up after local residents reported it at Howz-e-Madad in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. (John Moore – Getty Images)

Taliban fighters more than doubled the number of homemade bombs they used against U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan last year, relying on explosives that are far more primitive than the ones used in Iraq.

The embrace of a low-tech approach by Taliban-trained bombmakers — they are building improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, out of fertilizer and diesel fuel — has stymied a $17 billion U.S. counteroffensive against the devices in Iraq and Afghanistan, military officials say. Electronic scanners or jammers, which were commonly deployed in Iraq, can detect only bombs with metal parts or circuitry.

“Technology is not going to solve this problem,” said Army Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, director of the military’s Joint IED Defeat Organization, or JIEDDO. “I don’t think you can defeat the IED as a weapon system. It is too easy to use.”

U.S. military officials said they expected the number of IED attacks to climb further this year as 40,000 U.S. and NATO reinforcements pour into Afghanistan.

Oates said technological advances have enabled the military to save lives by providing better armor and other forms of protection for troops. But he said the high-tech approach — despite billions of dollars in research — has failed to produce an effective way to detect IEDs in the field. About four-fifths of the devices that are found before they explode are detected the old-fashioned way: by troops who notice telltale signs, such as a recently disturbed patch of dirt that might be covering up a bomb.

Despite the insurgents’ crude approach, the explosive power of their IEDs is growing. Each bombing in Afghanistan, on average, causes 50 percent more casualties than it did three years ago, Oates said Wednesday at a House committee hearing. U.S. officials say even armored troop-transport vehicles that were designed to protect against roadside bombs are now vulnerable.   Recommend reading the full story here

March 23, 2010 Posted by | Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Private Military Contractors, Wartime Contracting | , , , | Leave a comment