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.

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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

Contractors in War Zones: Not Exactly “Contracting”

There are more contractors than troops in Afghanistan

Time’s Battleland  October 9, 2012 by David Isenberg

U.S. military forces may be out of Iraq, but the unsung and unrecognized part of America’s modern military establishment is still serving and sacrificing — the role played by private military and security contractors.

That their work is dangerous can be seen by looking at the headlines. Just last Thursday a car bomb hit a private security convoy in Baghdad, killing four people and wounding at least nine others.

That is hardly an isolated incident. According to the most recent Department of Labor statistics there were at least 121 civilian contractor deaths filed on in the third quarter of 2012. Of course, these included countries besides Iraq.

As the Defense Base Act Compensation blog notes, “these numbers are not an accurate accounting of Contractor Casualties as many injuries and deaths are not reported as Defense Base Act Claims. Also, many of these injuries will become deaths due to the Defense Base Act Insurance Companies denial of medical benefits.” To date, a total of 90,680 claims have been filed since September 1, 2001.

How many contractors are now serving on behalf of the U.S. government?

According to the most recent quarterly contractor census report issued by the U.S. Central Command, which includes both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as 18 other countries stretching from Egypt to Kazakhstan, there were approximately 137,000 contractors working for the Pentagon in its region. There were 113,376 in Afghanistan and 7,336 in Iraq. Of that total, 40,110 were U.S. citizens, 50,560 were local hires, and 46,231 were from neither the U.S. not the country in which they were working.

Put simply, there are more contractors than U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

These numbers, however, do not reflect the totality of contractors. For example, they do not include contractors working for the U.S. State Department. The CENTCOM report says that “of FY 2012, the USG contractor population in Iraq will be approximately 13.5K.  Roughly half of these contractors are employed under Department of State contracts.”

While most of the public now understands that contractors perform a lot of missions once done by troops – peeling potatoes, pulling security — they may not realize just how dependent on them the Pentagon has become.

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October 9, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractor Oversight, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, Iraq, KBR, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, State Department, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SHIVER ME TIMBERS

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

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

Flexing Muscle, Baghdad Detains U.S. Contractors

“While private organizations are often able to resolve low-level disputes and irregularities, this issue is beyond our ability to resolve,” the International Stability Operations Association, a Washington-based group that represents more than 50 companies and aid organizations that work in conflict, post-conflict and disaster relief zones, said in a letter on Sunday to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Doug Brooks, president of the organization, said in a telephone interview that the number of civilian contractors who have been detained was in the “low hundreds.” He added in an e-mail on Sunday, “Everyone is impacted, but the roots have more to do with political infighting than any hostility to the U.S.”

The New York Times  January 15, 2012

BAGHDAD — Iraqi authorities have detained a few hundred foreign contractors in recent weeks, industry officials say, including many Americans who work for the United States Embassy, in one of the first major signs of the Iraqi government’s asserting its sovereignty as a result of the American troop withdrawal last month

The detentions have occurred largely at the airport in Baghdad and at checkpoints around the capital after the Iraqi authorities raised questions about the contractors’ documents, including visas, weapons permits, and authorizations to drive certain routes. Although no formal charges have been filed, the detentions have lasted from a few hours to nearly three weeks.

The crackdown comes amid other moves by the Iraqi government to take over functions that had been performed by the United States military and to claim areas of the country it had controlled. In the final weeks of the military withdrawal, the son of Iraq’s prime minister began evicting Western companies and contractors from the heavily fortified Green Zone, which had been the heart of the United States military operation for much of the war.

Just after the last American troops left in December, the Iraqis stopped issuing and renewing many badges, weapons licenses and other authorizations. The restrictions created a curious sequence of events in which contractors were being detained for having expired documents that the government would not renew.

The Iraqi authorities have also imposed new limitations on visas, a new twist on a longstanding issue for foreigners in Iraq in which the rules for gaining approval appear to change every few months. In some recent cases, contractors have been told they have 10 days to leave Iraq or face arrest in what some industry officials call a form of controlled harassment.

Earlier this month, Iraqi authorities kept scores of contractors penned up at Baghdad’s international airport for nearly a week until their visa disputes were resolved. Industry officials said more than 100 foreigners were detained; American officials acknowledged the detainments but would not put a number on them.

Latif Rashid, a senior adviser to the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, and a former minister of water, said in an interview that the Iraqis’ deep mistrust of security contractors had led the government to strictly monitor them. “We have to apply our own rules now,” he said.

Private contractors are integral to postwar Iraq’s economic development and security, foreign businessmen and American officials say, but they remain a powerful symbol of American might, with some Iraqis accusing them of running roughshod over the country.

An image of contractors as trigger-happy mercenaries who were above the law was seared into the minds of Iraqis after several violent episodes involving private sector workers, chief among them the 2007 shooting in Baghdad’s Nisour Square when military contractors for Blackwater killed 17 civilians.

Iraq’s oil sector alone, which accounts for more than 90 percent of the government’s budget, relies heavily on tens of thousands of foreign employees. The United States Embassy employs 5,000 contractors to protect its 11,000 employees and to train the Iraqi military to operate tanks, helicopters and weapons systems that the United States has sold them.

The United States had been providing much of the accreditation for contractors to work in Iraq, but after the military withdrawal, that role shifted to the Iraqi bureaucracy around the time when the government was engulfed in a political crisis and when Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, fearing a coup, was moving tanks into the Green Zone.

The delays for visa approvals have disrupted the daily movement of supplies and personnel around Iraq, prompting formal protests from dozens of companies operating in Iraq. And they have raised deeper questions about how the Maliki government intends to treat foreign workers and how willing foreign companies will be to invest here.

“While private organizations are often able to resolve low-level disputes and irregularities, this issue is beyond our ability to resolve,” the International Stability Operations Association, a Washington-based group that represents more than 50 companies and aid organizations that work in conflict, post-conflict and disaster relief zones, said in a letter on Sunday to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

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January 15, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractors Arrested, Contractors Held, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, State Department | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ISOA’s 2011 Annual Summit Kicks Off Next Week

ISOA Members and conference participants from around the world are preparing for the 2011 Annual Summit, which kicks off next week with a networking lunch at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center. Spaces are still available and registration is open.

Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) October 17, 2011

ISOA Members and conference participants from around the world are preparing for the 2011 Annual Summit, which kicks off next week with a networking lunch at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center. Spaces are still available and registration is open.

The Annual Summit offers insights and partnership opportunities essential for the success of any business operating in conflict, post-conflict and disaster relief environments. The Summit includes key policy-makers, discussions on the critical issues facing the stability operations industry, networking opportunities, a summit dinner and an exhibition.

“This year’s Annual Summit is shaping up to be our most valuable yet,” says ISOA President Doug Brooks. “With our strongest program of keynote speakers ever, as well as timely panels on critical topics, this event is vitally important for anyone doing business in the stability operations industry.”

Highlights include:

Jack Straw, UK Foreign Secretary under Prime Minister Tony Blair from 2001-2006

Ike Skelton, former long-time Chair of the House Armed Services Committee

Chris Shays and Michael Thibault, Co-Chairs of the Commission on Wartime Contracting

Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp, Former Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Ambassador Eric Edelman, Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

Ambassador David T. Johnson, Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

The ISOA Annual Summit is the premier event of the stability operations industry with key speakers and attendees from government, military, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. A detailed agenda and more information about the Summit are available online at http://www.stability-operations.org/summit2011.

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

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

October 18, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracting, Contractor Oversight | , , , | 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

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