Tom Boyle, Civilian Contractor, Highly Decorated Marine, Heroic Former Police Officer Killed in Afghanistan
CBS Chicago June 22, 2012
Tom Boyle, 62, of Barrington Hills died in one of the latest attacks on a coalition forces in Kandahar Province. He’d been working as a civilian security consultant, training Afghan police officers.
He was well-qualified.
Boyle had been a highly decorated Marine in Vietnam before becoming a Chicago police officer.
“Tom was a hero in Vietnam, he was a hero in Chicago,” says longtime friend Steve Kirby, an Elmhurst private investigator. “He was a hero in 1985 when he caught the Strickland brothers.”
The boot camp here, known as the Singo Training School, is operated by the Ugandan military, but the instruction is overseen by MPRI, a subsidiary of L-3 Communications, based in the District. It is one of four State Department contractors that are training African troops for Somalia.
The Washington Post May 13, 2012
KAKOLA, Uganda — The heart of the Obama administration’s strategy for fighting al-Qaeda militants in Somalia can be found next to a cow pasture here, a thousand miles from the front lines.
Under the gaze of American instructors, gangly Ugandan recruits are taught to carry rifles, dodge roadside bombs and avoid shooting one another by accident. In one obstacle course dubbed “Little Mogadishu,” the Ugandans learn the basics of urban warfare as they patrol a mock city block of tumble-down buildings and rusty shipping containers designed to resemble the battered and dangerous Somali capital.
“Death is Here! No One Leaves,” warns the fake graffiti, which, a little oddly, is spray-painted in English instead of Somali. “GUNS $ BOOMS,” reads another menacing tag.
Despite the warnings, the number of recruits graduating from this boot camp — built with U.S. taxpayer money and staffed by State Department contractors — has increased in recent months. The current class of 3,500 Ugandan soldiers, the biggest since the camp opened five years ago, is preparing to deploy to Somalia to join a growing international force composed entirely of African troops but largely financed by Washington.
Washington Post January 26, 2012
MEXICO CITY — With the Iraq war over and the American presence waning in Afghanistan, U.S. security contractors are looking for new prospects in Mexico, where spreading criminal violence has created a growing demand for battle-ready professionals.
After years of lucrative work in the Middle East and Central Asia, where their presence has been occasionally marred by incidents of excessive force and misconduct, contractors and private security firms of varying sizes and specialties are being drawn into a battle closer to home. But Mexico’s restrictive gun laws mean that foreign contractors must enter the bloody drug war unarmed as they take jobs ranging from consulting and technical training for the Mexican military to guarding business executives from kidnapping gangs and extortionists
Virginia-based DynCorp International has job openings in Mexico for aviation instructors and mechanics. The Manhattan consulting firm Kroll hires anti-kidnapping specialists to protect Mexican business executives. MPRI, a company based in Alexandria, is training Mexican soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques.
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.
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.
CHICAGO (CN) – Ethnic Serbs accusing a large defense contractor of arming the Croatian troops that committed genocide in the Krajina region can proceed with a class action in the Northern District of Illinois, where thousands of victims reside, a federal judge ruled.
Operation Storm, the largest European land offensive since World War II, killed or displaced more than 200,000 Serbs in 1995, according to the 2010 complaint filed by Genocide Victims of Krajina.
The umbrella group is seeking billions of dollars in damages from defense contractor L-3 Communications and its subsidiary, Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI), a corporation they say was founded by U.S. military officers who were downsized at the end of the Cold War.
MPRI staff allegedly helped the Croatian army plan and train for the attack, and it monitored and assisted the execution of the operation.
The complaint says that a division of L-3, “negotiated a contract to train and modernize the Croatian Army into a competent fighting force able to invade the Krajina region and expel the ethnic Serbian population from Croatian territory.”
Virginia-based L-3 asked the court to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction, or alternatively, to transfer the case to the Southern District of New York or the Eastern District of Virginia. The contractor argued that either of these courts would be more convenient for the witnesses and parties involved.
U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo refused on both counts, finding ample evidence that the Northern District of Illinois has jurisdiction over L-3
NBC Conneticutt July 10,2011
Former Trooper First Class Paul Protzenko, 47, was killed late Friday or early Saturday, according to a spokesperson for Military Professional Resources Inc., the company for which Protzenko was working.
Protzenko’s son Matthew Protzenko, who served in Iraq, said he was notified of this father’s death the day it happened.
Matthew Protzenko’s said his father served for 20 years as a Connecticut State Trooper.
Lt. Paul Vance Protzenko was conducting police training with the private contractor in Afghanistan. It was unclear Sunday how Protzenko was killed.
MPRI is working with the family to return Protzenko’s body to Connecticut, according to company spokesperson Rick Kirnan.
An official statement and further details will be released by MPRI on Monday, Kirnan said.
The Department of Defense is conducting an investigation into Protzenko’s death.
Hartford Courant July 10, 2011
A retired state trooper died Saturday in Afghanistan while working for a military contractor.
Trooper First Class Paul Protzenko, who retired in 2009, was killed in action, said a state police sergeant who used to be his supervisor.
“I don’t think you could find anyone in the state police who would say anything bad about him,” said Sgt. Lauren Rondinone of the Troop W barracks, where Protzenko used to work
Protzenko was in the Army before he spent some 20 years working for the state police, he said.
“He was a gentleman, a guy who dedicated his life to the service of his country and service to his state.”
Protzenko was employed by Military Professional Resources Inc., a firm that does extensive training and security work for the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army, among many other clients.
Some of his duties with the military contractor involved training Afghanistan national police members in crime-scene work.
In a recent article in Washington Business Journal, I wrote about the federal government’s growing influence over contractor pay through labor-rate freezes. Interestingly, an award decision by the Army reaffirmed that intended influence, but with the opposite result: Denying a contract win to a company based on the belief that the employees were not going to get paid enough.
Here’s what happened: Military Professional Resources Initiative Inc., an Alexandria-based subsidiary of L-3 Services Inc., bid as the incumbent for a contract to provide mentoring, training, subject-matter expertise and program support to the Afghan military, in the ongoing effort to prepare its troops to take over its own security. Stating in its proposal that it was updating salaries based on the current market conditions, MPRI proposed a significant reduction in direct labor rates to its employees relative to those under its incumbent contract.
As submitted, this did give MPRI a more cost-competitive bid than DynCorpDynCorpFollow this company International LLC, the Falls Church-based company that eventually won the contract (MPRI bid $212.7 million for the contract, while DynCorp bid $249.1 million). But the Army changed that, stating that MPRI “grossly underestimated” its labor costs, which would result in high turnover, a lack of qualified personnel, and high risk of performance disruptions or failures. It then increased MPRI’s labor rates to the current levels under its incumbent contract.
Warranted argument by the Army? The Government Accountability Office didn’t think so, sustaining a protest filed by MPRI and stating in the decision that the Army’s analysis was not reasonable, and resulted in an excessive upward adjustment to MPRI’s proposed labor rates.
Perhaps MPRI’s employees are less than satisfied with that decision, given that they’d receive a pay cut if awarded the contract after the proposals are reevaluated, but this may actually be deemed a victory for contractors that prefer agencies leave compensation decisions up to company managers and executives.
Five contractors this week secured another chunk of a $10 billion global law-enforcement project of the U.S. State Dept., which is deploying hired guns and consultants worldwide.
Although the department yesterday (May 11) identified the companies to whom it awarded new contracts, it did not specify the destination or mission assigned to the respective vendors. Rather, it will pay the vendors on an Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity, or IDIQ, basis.
DynCorp International, Justice Services International, MPRI, PAE Government Services, and Civilian Police International will provide a variety of “civilian police” (CIVPOL), corrections, and advisement services to clients of the State Dept.’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). The contractors on their websites are vigorously recruiting applicants in preparation of carrying out “task orders” that the State Dept. may submit.
According to a modified solicitation for the program, one of INL’s responsibilities is:
the provision of a wide array of support to criminal justice sector development programs worldwide. Program countries/areas include Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo, Lebanon, Liberia, Sudan, and the West Bank… The contracts provide criminal justice advisors and life and mission support (LMS). LMS includes office and living facilities, subsistence, vehicles, and associated equipment and supplies.
Contractors must be able to deploy staff to targeted nations with as little as 72 hours notice from the State Dept., the Statement of Work (SOW) says.
His wife, Sandy McLaughlin, said Thursday she was notified that he had been shot to death, but was not told any of the circumstances.
“The only thing I know is an Afghan pilot opened fire and my husband was shot and killed,” she said.
Her husband retired as a lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Army in 2007, after 25 years in the service.
The following year, he began training helicopter pilots in Afghanistan for L-3 MPRI, an Alexandria, Va., division of the giant defense contractor, said Rick Kiernan, a vice president of communications for L-3.
“He was one of 12 trainers we have,” Kiernan said. “Having been a retired lieutenant colonel, his skills were in aviation.”
McLaughlin, who had lived in Sonoma County since 1987, was also an avid ham radio enthusiast. He helped set up a digital communications system for the ham operators who are part of the Sonoma County Office of Emergency Services disaster communications network, said Ken Harrison of Santa Rosa, a friend for 20 years and fellow ham operator.
In Afghanistan, McLaughlin worked on the U.S. Army Military Auxiliary Radio System, a Department of Defense-funded ham radio program that helped keep U.S. troops in contact with family at home.
“He didn’t talk too awful much about the danger,” Harrison said. “I think he liked to downplay that end of that. He didn’t want people to worry.”
McLaughlin’s death sent shock waves through the close-knit ranks of ham radio operators. He had been home in Santa Rosa two weeks ago before returning to Kabul.
“My gut hurts,” Harrison said. “He was just in town. I am upset that I didn’t get to see him.”
Wednesday’s attack was the fourth in the past two weeks in which someone wearing an Afghan security-force uniform struck from within a government compound.
The shooting occurred during a morning meeting between American and Afghan officers. Nine Americans were killed and five Afghan soldiers were wounded.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces killed the attacker in a gunfight.
L-3’s Kiernan said the shooting occurred in what has been considered a secure compound in Kabul.
“They are looking into the incident to find out what would have motivated the perpetrator,” said L-3’s Kiernan.
The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, identifying the assailant as a Taliban militant named Azizullah from a district of Kabul province.
The gunman’s brother insisted he was not a Taliban sympathizer. The attacker, identified as Ahmad Gul Sahebi, 48, was an officer who had served as a pilot in the Afghan military for two decades and was distressed over his personal finances, said the brother, Dr. Mohammad Hassan Sahibi.
“He was under economic pressures and recently he sold his house. He was not in a normal frame of mind because of these pressures,” Sahibi said. “He was going through a very difficult period of time in his life.”
Since March 2009, 48 NATO troops and military contractors have been killed in at least 16 attacks in which Afghans have turned their weapons on coalition forces, for reasons investigators later attributed to battlefield stress and personal animosity toward coalition soldiers, rather than Taliban infiltration.
Sandy McLaughlin said she was naturally concerned about his work in the war-torn country.
“This job was offered, he was using his military background and he was doing something he loved,” she said. “He loved doing the work.”
The couple had been married 28 years. They have three adult children, Adam McLaughlin, Eve McLaughlin-Suttif and James McLaughlin, all of Santa Rosa.
Sandy McLaughlin said her husband’s body is being brought back to Dover, Del., on Friday and then will be returned to Santa Rosa.
Special honor escort scheduled for Friday evening
Desert Dispatch April 21, 2011
BARSTOW • A Barstow man killed last week while working as a military contractor in Afghanistan will be honored on Friday evening with a law enforcement escort as he is brought back to Barstow.
Paul Almryde, 46, was working for military contractor MPRI in Afghanistan as part of the Afghan National Army Corps support battalion on April 16 when he was killed by a suicide bomber, said his wife, Pamela Almryde. According to reports, a Taliban bomber dressed like an Afghan soldier in order to infiltrate a joint Afghan-U.S. base in the eastern province of Laghman. Four Afghan soldiers and five NATO service members — including Paul — were killed in the attack.
Rick Kiernan, a spokesman for MPRI, said the company wanted to express its condolences to the Almryde family and said that Paul was a “dedicated and professional member” of its team.
“At tragic times like these, we are reminded that we can never take for granted the sacrifices of L-3 MPRI employees worldwide,” said Kiernan. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Almryde family during this difficult time.”
Pamela said her husband was working as a mechanic at the base and was teaching Afghan troops how to repair their vehicles. Paul had served in the military for 21 years — with 12 years of active service in the Army and 9 years in the National Guard — before retiring in 2010 as a Master Sergeant. Paul joined MPRI last May. He was scheduled to come back to Barstow in June and was planning to sign another year-long contract with MPRI, said Pamela.
Zivka Mijic doesn’t burden people with her troubles — which would be impractical anyway, unless the other person spoke Serbian — but she does want the tragic story of what brought her family to a Chicago suburb told in federal court.
“If I had even a spoon from over there, I’d hang it on the wall to remember,” Mijic, 46, said. Her son Branislav Mijic, 23, was translating. Alternating between his mother’s words and his own, Branislav explained why the Mijics have no souvenirs of their homeland.
On Aug. 4, 1995, artillery shells started falling on a village in Krajina, where the Mijics lived in what had been Yugoslavia before ethnic conflicts tore it apart. The Mijics harnessed their horses Soko and Cestar to a wagon and joined the crowd of fleeing villagers. It was 2 in the morning, the artillery fire lighting up a neighbor who had been traveling with them. He was decapitated by an incoming shell.
“If you weren’t there, you can’t feel what it was like,” said Zivika, who lives with her husband, Nedeljko, 46, three sons and a sister in a modest home in Stickney, no different from neighboring ones except for the bitter memories it houses. In a way, the Mijics’ saga is a common denominator of the immigrant experience: Driven abroad by war, poverty or oppression, families rebuild their lives in America.
But there is an unexpected, albeit difficult to prove, twist to the Mijics’ story: The class-action lawsuit recently filed in Chicago, to which Zivka is a party, alleges that American mercenaries were behind their suffering.
As her lawyers see it, during the Balkan War of the 1990s, America began to “outsource” some of the dirty work of war and diplomacy to private contractors. They allege that behind the early morning attack that the Croats dubbed “Operation Storm” was a northern Virginia-based consulting company called MPRI Inc., made up of former high-ranking U.S. military officers that included a chief architect of Operation Desert Storm a few years earlier in Iraq.
What the Mijics and other Serbs in Croatia went through, their lawyers allege, was a proving grounds for the kind of brutal strategy orchestrated later in Iraq by the now infamous Blackwater Worldwide company, another private military contractor whose security guards were charged by the Justice Department in 2008 with killing at least 17 Iraqi civilians during a firefight the year before.
“MPRI is the granddaddy of Blackwater,” said Robert Pavich, one of the lawyers representing Mijic and other Serbs.
MPRI was acquired in 2002 by another defense contractor, L-3 Communications. Officials from L-3 say the lawsuit is baseless.
“The suit is without merit, and L-3 intends to vigorously defend itself against these charges. Beyond that, the company has no additional comment at this time,” said L-3 spokeswoman Jennifer Barton in an e-mailed statement.
Since the events, the company has consistently denied involvement in the Krajina offensive. But it has benefited from speculation that it took part in it, said a former senior U.S. diplomat deeply knowledgeable in the Balkan Wars.
“The perception that they did run it helped turn them from a small company to a major contractor,” the diplomat said. “Afterwards, everyone wanted them to do what they thought MPRI had done in Croatia.”
The Mijics see the lawsuit as a chance to regain a little of what they had lost.
“Everything we had was taken from us,” said Branislav.
The Mijics lived comfortably as farmers in Yugoslavia, a nation cobbled together out of incompatible parts after World War I. Serbs and Croats, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims were thrown together, despite centuries of mutual antagonisms. When the country began to disintegrate during the early 1990s, it wasn’t possible to separate the pieces neatly, and warring communities mutually committed atrocities.
The Mijic family lived in Krajina, a Serbian enclave inside what became Croatia, which the Croatians were determined to eliminate in 1995.
“Upwards of 180,000 Serbs would flee the province under duress, the worst single incident of ethnic cleansing in the entire sequence of Yugoslav wars,” R. Craig Nation, a historian at the U.S. Army War College, wrote about Operation Storm in his study “War in the Balkans, 1992-2002.”
The Mijics experienced the Croatian offensive as 13 days of terror on roads clogged with refugees fleeing to Serbia, with little food to eat and only rainwater to drink.
“Sometimes you could only go 20 feet,” explained Branislav, who was 8 then but has vivid memories of the bloody journey. “When bombs fell on the column, dead horses and people and wrecked cars blocked the way.”
The Contract Company in this incident was MPRI
KABUL — A suspected Afghan army trainer on a shooting range in northern Afghanistan opened fire on his fellow instructors Tuesday, killing two American civilian trainers and one other Afghan soldier before being killed himself, NATO officials said.
Few details were immediately available about the circumstances surrounding the shooting, and NATO officials said they had started a joint investigation into the incident with the Afghan Ministry of Defense. The name of the contractor that provided the U.S. trainers was also not disclosed.
The shooting, which also wounded one NATO soldier and one Afghan soldier, took place on a range as part of a routine weapons proficiency class at the Regional Military Training Center’s eight-week Afghan army basic training course at Camp Shaheen. Across the country, about 20,000 Afghan National Army trainees are currently involved in such a course, NATO officials said.