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

Two Private Security Firms Disbanded in Western Afghanistan

Afghan Islamic Press  April 30, 2012

Herat:  Two private security firms were disbanded in western Afghanistan, an official said Monday (April 30).

Two private security firms, Khurasan and Salahuddin, responsible of providing services to Kabul Bank, Alfalah Bank and Roshan Telecommunication Company, had been disbanded and their security handed over to police, the western police zone spokesman, Abdul Rauf Ahmadi told the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP).

They handed over their 80 weapons to the security forces, he added. Observers believe closing down activities of private security firms would help improve security situation. They believe some of the private security firms are involved in incidents of insecurity in various parts of the country.

April 30, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Piracy fighters use floating armories

Associated Press  March 22, 2012

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Private security firms are storing their guns aboard floating armories in international waters so ships that want armed anti-piracy guards for East Africa’s pirate-infested waters can cut costs and circumvent laws limiting the import and export of weapons, industry officials say.

Companies and legal experts say the operation of the armories is a “legal gray area” because few, if any, governments have laws governing the practice. Some security companies have simply not informed the governments of the flag their ship is flying, industry officials said.

Some members of the private security sector are urging governments and industry leaders to impose standards on the unchecked practice of storing weapons offshore to equip anti-pirate forces off Somalia’s coast.

Storing guns on boats offshore really took off as a business last year. Britain — where many of the operators are from — is investigating the legality of the practice, which has received little publicity outside of shipping industry circles.

Floating armories have become a viable business in the wake of increased security practices by the maritime industry, which has struggled for years to combat attacks by Somali pirates. But those in the industry say the standards vary widely

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March 22, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Maritime Security, Pirates, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, Somalia | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon plays down Karzai plan to dissolve security firms

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon Tuesday played down Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s announced plans to dissolve all private security firms in Afghanistan, saying the issue was under discussion.

“I don’t know that it’s a decision; it’s concerns that President Karzai has expressed,” said Colonel David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman.

Karzai’s spokesman Waheed Omer said earlier in Kabul that the Afghan president will soon set a deadline for dissolving the private security firms, calling it “a serious program that the government of Afghanistan will execute.”

Lapan said the Pentagon understood there were problems with the private security firms, but was working to address the issues raised by Karzai in a way that also met US security needs.

“There are security needs that we have, that our forces have, that fall into that category so we want to make sure that we are addressing the Afghan government’s concerns but meeting our requirements as well,” he told reporters.

US contractor DynCorp refused to comment on the development Tuesday, while the former Blackwater security firm Xe could not be reached for comment.  Read the full story here

August 11, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Blackwater, Contractor Oversight, DynCorp, Pentagon, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment