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

ISOA Releases new Stability Operations Magazine

The International Stability Operations Association (ISOA) has launched an updated flagship publication, Stability Operations magazine. The updated publication is a significant improvement that will enhance ISOA’s communications with all members and partners, while continuing to provide valuable industry information, news and trends.

Washington, D.C. PRWEB July 10, 2012

The International Stability Operations Association (ISOA) has launched an update of its flagship publication, Stability Operations magazine. The new magazine marks a significant improvement that will enhance ISOA’s communications with all members and partners, while continuing to provide valuable industry information, news and trends.

“Stability Operations has a new format, an updated look and revitalized focus”, explained Jessica Vogel, Editor-in-Chief. “Through SO magazine, ISOA will be able to inform our international audience about the activities of our members and the challenges and best practices from the stability operations community writ-large.”

July 11, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors | , , | 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.”

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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

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.

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

The Future of Private Forces

By ISN (International Relations and Security Network)

Despite a tarnished image, the private military security industry is thriving – and is likely to continue to do so for some time to come. In fact, these private companies continue to expand their reach beyond security and military matters into nearly every facet of government service.

A recent report from ProPublica, based on analysis of US Department of Labor statistics, showed that “more private contractors than soldiers were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent months,” making 2010 the “first time in history that corporate casualties have outweighed military losses on America’s battlefields.”

The swelling numbers of contractor deaths could only result from the greatest foreign policy experiment in privatization in US history. These numbers call for a closer look at the changing role of private force and its impact on the industry.

Damage control

For years the private military and security industry has dealt with a troubled, tarnished image resulting from several high-profile abuses perpetrated in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade. As Blackwater quickly became the most recognized and controversial name in the industry, it long ago set out to rebrand its image, changing its name to Xe Services. More recently the entire industry appears to have felt the need for a new marketing strategy. For example, the industry’s trade union and lobbying group, the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA), changed its name to the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA).

Further, 60 private security companies – Blackwater included – signed a global Code of Conduct (COC) in Geneva last November, pledging to “curb their use of force, vet and train personnel, and report any breaches [of contract].” But even this prompted the criticism that the COC was merely symbolic, arriving nine years too late. For others, however: better late than never.

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January 12, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Private Military Contractors, 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
President
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