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.
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.
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This update reports DoD contractor personnel numbers in theater and outlines DoD efforts to improve management of contractors accompanying U.S. forces. It covers DoD contractor personnel deployed in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Iraq, and the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR).
In 3rd quarter FY 2012, USCENTCOM reported approximately 137,000 contractor personnel working for the DoD in the USCENTCOM AOR. This was approximately a 10.5% decrease from the previous quarter. The number of contractors outside of Afghanistan and Iraq make up about 11.5% of the total contractor population in the USCENTCOM AOR.
A breakdown of DoD contractor personnel is provided below:
DoD Contractor Personnel in the USCENTCOM AOR
|Total Contractors||U.S. Citizens||Third Country Nationals||Local & Host Country Nationals|
|Other USCENTCOM Locations||15,829||7,049||8,157||623|
*Includes DoD contractors supporting U.S. Mission Iraq and/or Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq
The distribution of contractors in Afghanistan by contracting activity are:
|Theater Support – Afghanistan:||20,291||(18%)|
|U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:||7,743||(7%)|
|*Includes Defense Logistics Agency, Army Materiel Command, Air Force External and Systems Support contracts, Special Operations Command and INSCOM.|
OEF Contractor Posture Highlights:
There are currently approximately 113.7K DoD contractors in Afghanistan. The overall contractor footprint has decreased 3% from the 2nd quarter FY12.
The contractor to military ratio in Afghanistan is 1.19 to 1 (based on 95.4K military).
Local Nationals make up 42% of the DoD contracted workforce in Afghanistan.
There was a 33% decrease in the number of DoD contractors as compared to the 2nd quarter 2012 due to the continued transition of DoD contracts to the Department of State.
The Department of Defense and Department of State continue to refine the requirements for contract support. We project that by the end 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. Although the remainder are employed under DoD contracts, only approximately 4,000 will be directly supporting DoD mission areas. The remaining contractor personnel employed under DoD contracts are supporting State Department and other civilian activities under the Chief of Mission, Iraq. These DoD contractors are provided on a reimbursable basis.
General Data on DoD Private Security Contractor Personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan
In Afghanistan, The Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF) Advisory Group is developing the planning for contracts to transition to the APPF in accordance with Presidential Decree 62. The original intent was for all convoy and development contracts to transition by 20 March 2012, however, this timeline has been extended to enable the APPF to come to full operational capability. The APPF Advisory Group has established a transition plan to facilitate the transition of security for development sites and convoys. International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) fixed site and military construction PSC contracts have until 20 March 2013 to be transitioned to the APPF.
USCENTCOM reports, as of 3rd quarter FY 2012, the following distribution of private security contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq:
|Total*||U.S. Citizens||Third Country National||Local & Host Country National|
|DoD PSCs in Afghanistan||28,686||480||821||27,385|
|DoD PSCs in Iraq||2,407||116||2,074||217|
*These numbers include most subcontractors and service contractors hired by prime contractors under DoD contracts. They include both armed and unarmed contractors. They do not include PSCs working under DoS and USAID contracts
The Virginian Pilot June 25, 2012
Academi plans to build a 235-bed lodge at its Moyock, N.C.,-based compound with plans to expand operations where it trains military and law enforcement personnel how to shoot better under stress, protect officials from terrorist attacks, and storm criminal hideouts, among other things.
The $3.2 million lodge is the largest expansion of facilities on the 7,000-acre compound in at least four years. It comes after a tumultuous period during which the company name changed twice and management rolled over.
Formerly known as Blackwater, Academi is the largest taxpayer in Camden County. With about 250 workers on site, it also is the largest private employer in the county, where most its facilities are based.
BEST KEPT SECRET OF THE WARS
The Majority of ExPat Civilian Contractor Casualties first served their country in the military.
Many of them gave twenty and more years of service before deploying in a civilian capacity.
Many of them were buried with military honors.
Yet we are not supposed to know their names or even that they died in our wars.
Defense Base Act War Profiteers are encouraged to abuse the families they leave behind
You can see some of these nameless hero’s at
Please keep them and their families in your thoughts today and everyday
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
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.”
David Isenberg Huffington Post April 30, 2012
Today the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) has released its latest quarterly report. Here is what happening with private contractors in Iraq.
As of April 3, 2012, the Department of State (DoS) reported that 12,755 personnel supported the U.S. Mission in Iraq, down about 8 percent from the previous quarter. Current staffing comprises 1,369 civilian government employees and 11,386 (U.S., local national, and third country national) contractors. (89 percent of the total).
Of these contractors, DoS estimated that about 2,950 provided security-related services for DoS sites, down more than 22 percent from last quarter (3,800).
In February, Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides said that DoS will continue to reduce the number of contractors over the coming months in an attempt to “right size” Embassy operations.
The Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq (OSC-I) manages U.S. security assistance to the Government of Iraq. OSC-I is staffed by 145 U.S. military personnel, nine Department of Defense (DoD) civilians, and 4,912 contractors.
But according to SIGIR, DoS tends to undercount the number of contractors working in Iraq. It found that:
In early April, DoS asserted that only 6 U.S. government employees and 48 contractors work on what it considers reconstruction programs. This total does not include any of the several hundred personnel working under the auspices of the PDP, [Police Development Program] which remains the single-most expensive ongoing initiative financed by DoS for the benefit of Iraq. Nor does it include any of the hundreds of employees and contractors supporting the missions of OSC-I and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), though both agencies oversee projects paid for with U.S. reconstruction funds.
According to the Defense Department, if you include the OSC-I contractors, the total for private security contractors rises to 3,577.
The takeaway is that after all these years the U.S. government still has problems tracking the number of contractors working in Iraq. The SIGIR report found that:
While SPOT [Synchronized Predeployment and Operational Tracker database, administered by DoD] data provides SIGIR with a comprehensive view of contractor and grantee personnel in Iraq, significant apparent differences exist between agency-reported contractor numbers and SPOT data. For example, DoS reported to SIGIR that there were almost 11,400 contractors supporting Mission Iraq as of April 3, 2012, while SPOT data shows 5,172 working for DoS.276 In addition, USAID reported that 1,854 contractors are currently working on USAID projects in Iraq.277 However, SPOT data shows only 110 USAID contractor and grantee personnel in Iraq as of April 1, 2012. SIGIR intends to investigate these discrepancies and provide an update in the July 2012 Quarterly Report.
With regard to security contractors the Government of Iraq (GOI) announced in February that 124 private security firms were registered to work for foreign government entities and private firms engaged in activities in Iraq, but the GOI has taken steps to minimize the presence and scope of these firms. According to the GOI, the Security and Defense Committee of the Council of Representatives has drafted legislation to reduce the number of PSC firms working in Iraq from 124 to 63. Of the remaining firms, 15 to 20 would be foreign firms and the rest would be Iraqi.
On the fraud front, some of SIGIR’s noteworthy investigations were:
Three former officers of a U.S. defense contractor, the wife of one of the officers, and four foreign nationals were indicted for their alleged roles in a fraud and moneylaundering scheme involving contracts for reconstruction projects in Iraq. The defendants were also are charged with an aggregate of 74 wire-fraud offenses.A British citizen and his company were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and pay kickbacks in exchange for receiving more than $23 million in DoD subcontracts from April 2006 to August 2008. The British contractor allegedly paid more than $947,500 in unlawful kickbacks to two employees of a prime contractor to the U.S. government in order to obtain these subcontracts for work performed in support of the Coalition Munitions Clearance Program (CMCP).
David Welch, a former U.S. civilian contract employee, pled guilty to conspiring to steal 38 U.S. military generators and sell them on the Iraqi black market.
As of April 10, SIGIR is continuing to work on 110 open investigations.
There are a number of PSC firms working on the Police Development Program; especially in providing security at the Baghdad Police College Annex (BPAX). At BPAX, Triple Canopy, Inc., contractors provide protective details and escort PDP convoys. Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, LLC, provides perimeter security, with Iraqi Security Forces guarding the outer perimeter. EOD Technology, Inc., operates the counter-mortar and counterrocket system, and three U.S. military personnel are attached to the RSO explosive ordnance disposal unit. Another U.S. contractor provides a computer technician who manages the classified email system used by PDP personnel.
Yonhap Seoul, Korea January 2, 2012
The famous Korean Admiral Yi Sun-shin never battled Blackbeard, Calico Jack or Captain Kidd, but his distant descendants are now joining the struggle against 21st century sea wolves — on a freelance basis.
With Korea’s economy hinging on global trade, mostly seaborne, there is a clear requirement for maritime security. And with Korea’s military generating a pool of trained professionals, private military contractors (PMCs) are supplying the security demands of Korean merchant shipping.
These “sea marshals” are not easy to find. They are virtually invisible on the Internet (a considerable feat in itself). A meeting with an executive required an introduction from a private investigator. The executive asked to meet in a coffee shop rather than his office and declined to be photographed.
Lim Yong-beom was casually dressed and in his early 40s. Of average height, he has a gentle handshake, but when he removed his jacket, a Homeric physique was apparent beneath his shirt. Lim, a special forces veteran, is the chief intelligence officer of IntelEdge, a PMC founded in 2010 that provides maritime security, consulting, intelligence and specialized hardware.
“We have around 20 regular contractors, all ex-Special Forces, and another 20 temporary, mostly British,” said Lim, whose post-military service experience with PMCs includes work in West Africa and the Middle East.
Korean sea marshals are recruited from veterans of the most elite units, Lim explained. These comprise the army special forces of the 707 Battalion (similar to the US Delta Force or British SAS); the naval commandos of SEAL-UDT, or Sea-Air-Land/Underwater Demolition teams (who won fame for the storming of the captured “Samho Dream” last January); and the operators of HID, or Headquarters Intelligence Detachment (a black operations unit so secret that the Ministry of National Defense denies its existence).
Jan Schakowsky says that former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince has “attempted intimidation” of her in response to Schakowsky’s campaign to reduce U.S. reliance on private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Schakowsky spoke on the House floor Wednesday about a letter from Prince’s attorneys, dated October 7, 2011, that was delivered by hand to Schakowsky’s office. The letter accuses Schakowsky of making “false and defamatory” statements against Prince.
The letter cites a September 8 article published by the Independent in London about Prince’s Blackwater video game. The article quotes Schakowsky as saying: “If Mr. Prince had not emigrated to the United Arab Emirates, which does not have an extradition agreement with the US, he too would now be facing prosecution.”
“Your statement to [the Independent], which imputes commission of a crime, is per se libelous,” the letter from Prince says, adding: “Your malice cannot be questioned. You have a multi-year history of making derogatory comments about Mr. Prince and his former company, Blackwater. You have abused your Congressional power to request that Mr. Prince be investigated.”
Blackwater has received more than $1 billion in federal contracts in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and became infamous after four employees were charged with the deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians after allegedly opening fire in Nisour Square in Baghdad in 2007. In December 2009, a judge dismissed the charges citing missteps by the Department of Justice, but earlier this year an appeals court panel ordered the judge to reconsider the case.
Prince resigned in 2009, and the company was rechristened “Xe Services” when it was sold last year.
Schakowsky has introduced the Stop Outsourcing Security Act since 2007, as a way to phase out private contractors like Blackwater. “While the problem applies to other private contractors,” she said Wednesday, “there is one company that has become synonymous with misconduct: Blackwater.”
The withdrawal of the remaining troops from Iraq — 33,000 at last count — has caused U.S. officials to move quickly to fill a series of security gaps to ensure the continued protection of American diplomatic personnel as well as U.S. goods.
The latest example comes from the Army, which said in a recent notice that it has increased the number of contracted security teams hired to escort convoys of food and fuel coming in from Kuwait.
The U.S. military had previously provided security for truckers hired by the Defense Logistics Agency for such convoys, and the truckers’ contracts require that they have security escorts.
In justifying the expanded contract, the Army said that if it were forced to delay the hiring of more contractors, “the U.S. military would have to stay in theater longer than planned to provide the escorts and postpone their re-deployment operation.”
Getting food and fuel from Iraqi sources was not an option
Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room September 1, 2011
It’s not that the Iraqi government has suddenly grown to love private security contractors. It’s just, from the perspective of Iraq’s politics, at least the hired guns aren’t U.S. troops.
For most of the year, the U.S. military has been pressing the Iraqis to relax a 2008 deal governing the final withdrawal of all troops by the end of December. The U.S. claims that Iraqi military officials privately concede a need for a small residual force to teach them how to use all the hardware they’re buying from the U.S., including (possibly) long-coveted F-16s. Only Iraqi politicians, who don’t want to face a backlash from citizens exhausted with a U.S. presence in its eight year, aren’t actually asking the U.S. to stay.
But Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister whom the U.S. thinks wants troops to stay, thinks he’s found an elegant, Solomonic solution. U.S. troops still have to pack up their forward operating bases and leave. But Iraq may hire American trainers from private security firms — who’ll probably be U.S. military veterans — to show Iraqi soldiers, cops and pilots the ropes of their new equipment.
In a televised interview this week, Maliki signaled that even if he wants the U.S. to stick around, he hasn’t found a way to break a parliamentary impasse with his reluctant political allies. “The agreement on the withdrawal of American forces will be implemented on schedule by the end of the year,” Maliki told al-Ittijah TV, ”and there will not be any bases for U.S. forces here.”
Except that Maliki already has an asterisk affixed to that statement. His aides told Reuters last month that they want a corps of up to 3,000 trainers, who’d be “contractors with military or security backgrounds.” Those contractors would staff seven “training centers” around Iraq. Just don’t call ‘em “bases.”
“There is only one group of American society that is benefiting from America’s wars around the world: at this point it’s military contractors,” Flanders said in an interview with Press TV’s U.S. Desk recently.
The private military contractors are “eating up a total of $1.2 trillion every year from the U.S. budget and that is not anything that this country can afford,” she added.
“We are paying for it through the nose and we have an arms race now with ourselves,” she noted.
Flanders concluded that the “never-ending military budget is driving the U.S. economy into a ditch.”
The number of private security contractors employed by the Department of Defense in Afghanistan has reached a new record high, according to DoD statistics in a recently updated report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service.
“In Afghanistan, as of December 2010, there were 18,919 private security contractor (PSC) personnel working for DOD, the highest number since DOD started tracking the data in September 2007. The number of PSC personnel in Afghanistan has more than tripled since June 2009,” the CRS report said.
“The United States relies on contractors to provide a wide variety of services in Afghanistan and Iraq, including armed security. While DOD has previously contracted for security in Bosnia and elsewhere, it appears that in Afghanistan and Iraq DOD is for the first time relying so heavily on armed contractors to provide security during combat or stability operations.” Please read the entire article here