Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Joe Biden’s Uncounted Angels

by David Isenberg at Huffington Post  September 11, 2012

No disrespect to Beau, Biden’s son, who served honorably in Iraq but perhaps if he was working  for KBR or Academi, instead of the Delaware National Guard, Biden might have been more sensitive to those who are also sacrificing.

If you weren’t listening closely you might have missed it but last week, at the Democratic national convention, Vice President Joe Biden gave a major diss to the private military and security contracting (PMSC) industry.

In the course of his speech he said:

And tonight — (applause) — and tonight — tonight I want to acknowledge — I want to acknowledge, as we should every night, the incredible debt we owe to the families of those 6,473 fallen angels and those 49,746 wounded, thousands critically, thousands who will need our help for the rest of their lives.
Folks, we never — we must never, ever forget their sacrifice and always keep them in our care and in our prayers.

Biden might actually be a bit off; another famed Biden gaffe perhaps. The official Pentagon estimate through Sept. 7 for fatalities, which includes Defense Department civilians is 6,594 but their wounded estimate is exactly the same as Biden’s.

Don’t get me wrong. As an American and military veteran the toll of the military dead and wounded, especially those killed or wounded in Iraq, a war of choice, not necessity, tears at me. All these deaths and casualties should be remembered.

But as long as we are going to do body counts let us not low ball. What about all the PMSC personnel who have also made the ultimate sacrifice?

I’ve written about this before but since this is such an unappreciated subject, let’s review.

The U.S. Department of Labor publishes figures based on data maintained by its Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, saying, “These reports do not constitute the complete or official casualty statistics of civilian contractor injuries and deaths.” These figures are not that useful as they refer to numbers of claims filed and not actual total fatalities. Their wounded totals also include figures for those injuries where there was no lost time or where lost time was just three or four days.

Still, through June 30 this year, the number of claims filed for Iraq and Afghanistan total 47,673 and 17,831, respectively. The number of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are 1,569 and 1,173. So that’s 2,742 dead “fallen angels”, who were working to support U.S. troops, diplomats, and private firms per overall U.S. goals in those countries, that Biden did not include.

By the way, to get an idea of the sheer Joe Heller surrealism of trying to track contractor casualties see this post by Overseas Civilian Contractors.

A better sense of the toll can be seen in this 2010 paper written by Prof. Steve Schooner and Colin Swan of George Washington University Law School. As they noted:

As of June 2010, more than 2,008 contractors have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another 44 contractors killed were in Kuwait, many of whom supported the same missions. On top of that, more than 44,000 contractors have been injured, of which more than 16,000 were seriously wounded (see Figure 3). While these numbers rarely see the light of day, Figure 1 reflects the startling fact that contractor deaths now represent over twenty-five (25) percent of all U.S. fatalities since the beginning of these military actions.

In fact, in recent years contractors have, proportionately speaking, sacrificed even more than regular forces.

What is even more striking is that — in both Iraq and Afghanistan — contractors are bearing an increasing proportion of the annual death toll. In 2003, contractor deaths represented only 4 percent of all fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan. From 2004 to 2007, that number rose to 27 percent. From 2008 to the second quarter of 2010, contractor fatalities accounted for an eye-popping 40 percent of the combined death toll. In the first two quarters of 2010 alone, contractor deaths represented more than half — 53 percent — of all fatalities. This point bears emphasis: since January 2010, more contractors have died in Iraq and Afghanistan than U.S. military soldiers. In other words, contractors supporting the war effort today are losing more lives than the U.S. military waging these wars. Indeed, two recent estimates suggest private security personnel working for DoD in Iraq and Afghanistan — a small percentage of the total contractor workforce in these regions — were 1.8 to 4.5 times more likely to be killed than uniformed personnel.

No disrespect to Beau, Biden’s son, who served honorably in Iraq but perhaps if he was worked for KBR or Academi, instead of the Delaware National Guard, Biden might have been more sensitive to those who are also sacrificing.

By the way, lest you think I’m a Republican partisan, neither Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney at the Republican national convention so much as mentioned Iraq or Afghanistan, let alone casualties. That might be funny, if it wasn’t so pathetic, given that this is the party that normally falls all over itself, playing up its supposed support for wartime sacrifice.

Follow David Isenberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vanidan

September 11, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, Iraq, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mercenaries may stay beyond 2011

Morning Star Online UK

US Vice-President Joe Biden visited Iraq today to discuss the future of the US presence in the war-torn country.

Some 47,000 US troops are still deployed in Iraq, as well as around 3,000 Western mercenaries or “private security contractors.”

The US troops are scheduled to leave by the end of the year under the terms of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) negotiated between then-US president George W Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in 2008.

But the mercenaries are not bound by the agreement and the US intends to ramp up their number as the soldiers go home.

Mr Biden’s unannounced trip marks the first visit by a top US official since Iraq approved a new cabinet last month, breaking a political deadlock after March’s inconclusive elections.

Before going into talks with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Mr Maliki and Kurdish regional government president Massoud Barzani, the US VP said: “I’m here to help the Iraqis celebrate the progress they’ve made. They’ve formed a government and that’s a good thing.”

But he added that the Iraqi government “had a long way to go” before all foreign troops could withdraw.

Afterwards Mr Biden was tight-lipped but Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said that the discussion had focused on the need to forge a long-term “strategic partnership.”

Iraq’s top military commander has said that US troops should stay until Iraq’s military can defend its own borders – which he said could take until 2020.

But Mr Maliki, under pressure from his political ally Muqtada al-Sadr, has signalled that he wants US troops to leave according to the SOFA schedule.

Mr Sadr, a nationalist cleric who had led several armed uprisings against US occupation forces before going into exile nearly four years ago, returned to Iraq this year – in part to insist that the US occupiers must leave on time or face “all the means of resistance.”

The Obama administration intends to maintain control of several key military bases and a significant portion of Baghdad’s Green Zone.

The bases house a force of about 8,000 mercenaries.

Ongoing negotiations between the US and Iraq will determine the exact number of contractors and bases as well as the number of US soldiers that will stay in the oil-rich country to train Iraqi forces.

Sadrist spokesman Salah al-Obeidi said the cleric and his movement oppose all US influences and would have to “study” whether US mercenaries should be allowed to stay beyond 2011.  Please see the original here

January 14, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Iraq, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , | 1 Comment