Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

First new civilian medal presented posthumously to Norfolk suicide bomb victim Nic Crouch

Norwhich Evening News  March 3, 2012

The first of a new set of civilian medals has been presented posthumously to a Norfolk man who died in a suicude bomb blast

But the small piece of metal carries a huge message of hope and comfort for the family of Nic Crouch.

The Civilian Service Medal recalls his service as a private security worker in the Middle East – and sees the fulfilment of a wish he penned in a poignant letter to his parents in north Norfolk in case he was killed.

After Mr Crouch died, aged just 29, in a suicide car bomb blast in Iraq in July 2010, his family received a letter saying: “If I should be killed in Afghanistan/Iraq and the media is interested, I should like them to know how I and all the other former soldiers contributed to the Great Game.

“I seek no personal glory, but many good Paras and ex-Servicemen have died supporting these operations with little or no recognition of their bravery.”

Now after an 18-month battle by his parents, who have moved from Trimingham to Sheringham since Nic’s death, Mr Crouch has been awarded the first of the newly-created Civilian Service (Afghanistan) Medals.

His father Clive Crouch said: “I am pleased we have managed to get a tick in the box for one of Nic’s requests. The medal is not just for him, but for all his colleagues, particularly those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

With more and more civilian workers doing support duties for shrinking armed forces it was all the more important to get recognition for their service, which was a far cry from the mercenary “dogs of war” that some people associated with overseas security duties.

What Nic did was “duty in a tough environment” and the MP was pleased the posthumous medal was presented at the Foreign Office this week by Alistair Burt, the foreign secretary for Middle Eastern affairs.

“Bereavement is incredibly difficult particularly when a young man is involved, and when you feel there has not been proper recognition of what your child has done. It hurts profoundly,” said Mr Lamb, who hoped the award would help the family move on.

A Foreign Office spokesman said the Queen approved the introduction of the new medal last June, which would be awarded to UK civilians who, like Mr Crouch, had “served in direct support of Her Majesty’s Government’s objectives in Afghanistan since 2001.

“It recognises their dedicated work in this challenging, often dangerous environment. Their important work is integral to the achievement of a stable and secure Afghanistan,” he added, confirming Mr Crouch was the first recipient

Please see the original and read more here

March 4, 2012 Posted by | Aegis, Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Iraq, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Contractor Chris Willden rescues children from freezing river

AP Salt Lake City

Former police officer Chris Willden didn’t hesitate when he realized children were trapped in an upside down car in an icy Utah river. He pulled his handgun, pushed it up against the submerged windows and shot out the glass.

Then he reached inside.

“I was trying to grab arms, but I couldn’t feel anything,” Willden said. “I’m thinking … ‘What are we going to do?'”

He turned to see up to eight other passers-by had scrambled down the 10-foot embankment to help after coming upon the accident along U.S. 89 in Logan Canyon on Saturday afternoon.

The driver, Roger Andersen, 46, of Logan, had lost control of the car as he tried to brake while heading northbound in slippery conditions. Andersen was able to free himself, but his 9-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son were trapped along with a second 9-year-old girl.

Highway Patrol Lt. Steve Winward said that after shooting out a window, the rescuers helped turn the Honda Accord upright in the Logan River and rescue all three trapped children.

“(The driver) was panicked, doing everything he could to get in through the doors, but they wouldn’t budge,” said Willden, who had jumped into the water with his own father.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘You’re going to see some dead kids, get ready.’ I’ve got three of my own and it was going to be (an awful) start to the New Year.”

Willden said he tried unsuccessfully to open windows and doors. He then used his firearm just as he had done in training for his current job as a bodyguard and Department of Defense contractor.

One of the girls had found an air pocket and was breathing fine but was trapped in her seat belt. Willden cut it with a pocket knife and pulled her from the rear passenger window.

Please read the entire story here

January 2, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , | Leave a comment

Blackwater gets an even bigger makeover “ACADEMI”

By Suzanne Kelly, CNN

Suzanne Kelly Simons is a CNN Senior National Security Correspondent and author of Master of War: Blackwater USA’s Erik Prince and the Business of War

The company once known as the world’s most notorious private security contractor, Blackwater, is changing its name and its look once again in a bid to prove that it has outgrown its toxic reputation.

Renaming the company “ACADEMI” tops a number of changes that have been made by a private equity consortium that purchased the company from former owner Erik Prince last year.

“The message here is not that we’re changing the name,” said Ted Wright, who came on as the new company CEO in June. “The message is that we’re changing the company, and the name just reflects those changes. We have new owners, a new board of directors, a new management team, new location, new attitude on governance, new openness, new strategy – it’s a whole new company.”

Blackwater was dogged by controversy as it rose from a training facility in Moyock, North Carolina, in the late ’90s, to a private security powerhouse at the height of the war in Iraq. But as business boomed, so did the demand for growth, and rules regarding issues like compliance and governance were sometimes not followed. There were also accusations that some Blackwater guards operating in Iraq’s virtually lawless environment were heavy-handed, and then a deadly shooting in a Baghdad traffic circle in 2007 was the beginning of the end for the company

Please read the entire post at CNN

December 12, 2011 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Triple Canopy Appoints New Chief Operating Officer

Jay Christy to Lead Operations at Security and Mission Support Company

RESTON, Va., Dec. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Triple Canopy, Inc., a leading provider of security and mission support services, announced today the appointment of Harold “Jay” Arthur Christy, Jr. as Chief Operating Officer (COO), effective Dec. 27.

Christy will be responsible for directing global operations and overseeing daily activities at Triple Canopy. He is taking over the position from Kelvin Kai, who has made the decision to step down in order to spend more time with his family.

“I would like to thank Kelvin for his leadership and appreciate everything he has done for the company during his time as COO,” said Triple Canopy CEO Ignacio “Iggy” Balderas. “I anticipate a smooth transition of responsibilities over the course of the next few weeks, and look forward to working closely with Jay as we continue to grow and diversify Triple Canopy.”

A certified security professional, Christy brings a combination of program management, business development and military experience to the position. “Having worked at both corporate headquarters and in the field for Triple Canopy, I now look forward to leading operations and working with the fine men and women whose individual contributions have made this company what it is today,” said Christy

Please read the entire Press Release here

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Triple Canopy | , , , , | Leave a comment

The rise of the UK’s private security companies

Major General Graham Binns is not your typical chief executive.

As a lifelong soldier, he is more used to commanding an armoured division than a company boardroom.

In 2003 he commanded British troops invading southern Iraq, and in 2007 returned as the commander of British forces overseeing the handover of Basra to the Iraqis.

But now, four months into his new job as chief executive of Aegis Defence Services – a British private security company (PSC) – he has left army life behind.

“It’s liberating,” he says, sitting in Aegis’s comfortable headquarters in a plush office building in central London.

“Thirty-five years in government service was a wonderful experience. But in the world of business, ex-military people have got a lot to offer – I certainly hope so anyway.”

For Aegis, netting a leading figure from the Iraq war can only be good for business – particularly when your business is in the often-controversial world of armed private security.

Now one of the UK’s biggest PSCs, Aegis has made millions from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan since it was founded just eight years ago.

Iraq bubble

“It’s liberating,” he says, sitting in Aegis’s comfortable headquarters in a plush office building in central London.

“Thirty-five years in government service was a wonderful experience. But in the world of business, ex-military people have got a lot to offer – I certainly hope so anyway.”

For Aegis, netting a leading figure from the Iraq war can only be good for business – particularly when your business is in the often-controversial world of armed private security.

Now one of the UK’s biggest PSCs, Aegis has made millions from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan since it was founded just eight years ago.

Please read the full story here

November 2, 2010 Posted by | Aegis, Civilian Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , | Leave a comment

Aid workers’ security situation spurs talks on Afghan contractor ban

Washington (CNN) Concerned a ban on security contractors in Afghanistan will curtail the efforts of development workers, the State Department is feverishly negotiating with the Afghan government about a set of conditions that will allow private security details to operate in the country, senior U.S. officials told CNN.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations, said the United States is concerned about a four-month deadline Afghanistan’s president imposed last month to phase out the country’s 52 private security companies by year’s end. If implemented, the move would leave critical aid personnel unprotected and unable to continue their work, a key pillar of the U.S. strategy as it seeks to stabilize Afghanistan.

The U.S. is in intense negotiations with the Afghan interior ministry for a “clarification letter” that would spell out a consistent and uniform set of guidelines by which contractors would be allowed to remain in the country and under what conditions they can operate. The guidelines should be finished within the next week, they said.

Diplomatic missions, including the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, rely on private forces to protect their compounds, and NATO uses private forces to guard convoys along their supply routes.

Recent events, including the kidnapping and slaying of a British aid worker, have underscored the need for security to accompany aid workers.

“The four-month deadline is going to be extremely difficult to meet,” one senior official said. “We have to be more realistic.”

Officials said discussions over the past several weeks with the Afghan government about the phasing out of contractors have given the United States “very unclear” information about the fate of the contractors protecting nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working on U.S.-funded projects.

For years, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has criticized the private security industry operating in his country — a mix of legally registered international companies and unregulated Afghan paramilitaries. Officials say they are sympathetic to his desire to phase out the illegal companies, but are concerned about the way Karzai has tried to address the issue by decree without any clarification.

In the meantime, USAID officials from several NGOs say discussions have been under way about the need for contingency plans for their staffs in the event of the worst-case scenario, under which all contractors would have to leave the country.

“We are trying to make sure that doesn’t happen,” the senior official said. “We hope it will be resolved shortly.”  Original story here

October 12, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Private Security Contractor, State Department | , , , , | Leave a comment

Former soldier, Private Security Contractor, Karl Bowen 30, killed after returning to war zone

September 23 Wales Online

A VALLEY man has been killed while working for a security firm out in Iraq.

For eight years Karl Bowen, 30, of Abercwmboi, served in 2 Company 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, touring war-torn countries like Bosnia and Iraq.

In 2007 he was discharged from the Army and began working in HR recruitment – but decided that life on ‘civvy street’ was not for him.

Earlier this year he returned to Iraq to work for a close protection unit. He died in a freak road accident in Iraq on September 14.

Tributes have flooded in describing Mr Bowen as a great father, a “legend”, and an outstanding friend and football player who was the life and soul of the party and lived life to the extreme.

A father of two young girls, Elise, 11, and eight-year-old Lois, Mr Bowen had returned to Iraq just days before the car he was driving suffered a double blow out. He was killed instantly in the crash alongside an Iraqi interpreter and an American colleague was critically injured.

His distraught mother Clare Bowen said: “He always said he would not live to see his 31st birthday.

“Karl was never afraid to die, and he lived his life to the full.

“He fitted so much into such a short time – he was very intelligent and an absolute party animal. He had hundreds of friends.

“Life on civvy street was just not for him. He wanted to go back to the Army, but he couldn’t so he decided to take up this job.”

The former Blaengwawr Comprehensive School pupil started his army career with the Welsh Guards in November 1999.

His career took him to Bosnia on a peacekeeping mission in 2002 and again in 2006, and to Iraq in 2004 after qualifying as a sniper.

In 2007 he left the army and worked as a recruitment consultant before joining a private security company, working in Iraq for seven months.

Mr Bowen’s body has been flown to Kuwait while paperwork is completed.

It is expected to be flown to Cardiff later this week so that his family can organise funeral arrangements.

“The last few days have been an absolute mess for us – his younger brother Adam is in bits,” said his mother.

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Iraq, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , | Leave a comment

DynCorp charges imperil US anti-narco project in Pakistan

The Nation

ISLAMABAD – Fate of the multi-million dollars US counter-narcotics programme for Pakistan has hit snags after its notorious contractor DynCorp has blamed Islamabad for failure in meeting the desired targets ostensibly in an attempt believed to cover its corruption.
Well-placed sources informed TheNation on Friday that DynCorp had allegedly siphoned off million of dollars from $388 million US programme for Afghanistan and Pakistan and cleverly shifted the responsibility on Pakistan for failure in meeting the targets set out for the country.
The programme was launched in 2005 through the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Air Wing programme.
According to the informed sources, the US Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors Office of Inspector General in the four-year Performance Audit March 2010 Report and blamed the contractor DynCorp and the officials of the US Embassy in Afghanistan.
One of the key findings of the Report blames Personnel Services Contractors (PSC) hired by the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Air Wing Programme had not reviewed contractor charges, resulting in weak contract oversight and cost controls.
It further said that DynCorp has been unable to meet the required number of flying hours in Pakistan as well.
“Pakistan has been successfully meeting the programme targets over the years,” a senior government official requesting anonymity told The Nation.
The US Pakistan Embassy official spokesman when contacted defended DynCorp saying the US private contractor that is largely responsible for maintenance works of the air fleet of Pakistan Interior Ministry, actually has been facing serious problems relating to visa for its mechanics as well as shipment of spares for the helicopters. He, however, had no convincing answer when this scribe diverted his attention that visa issues were a recent problem while the DynCorp was involved in the programme for more than four years.
Government sources were of the view that DynCorp has been trying to get the agreement amended in order to engage US personnel for different segments of the programme. The officials dismissed the notion that Pakistan had failed in any respect in meeting the assigned targets of the programme that largely envisages steps to deny terrorists networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Original here

May 3, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, DynCorp, State Department | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fuel convoy hit in eastern Afghanistan

KABUL — An Afghan police official says at least two private security guards have been wounded and two fuel tankers set on fire in eastern Afghanistan when militants attacked a supply convoy for NATO forces.

Provincial police spokesman Ghafor Khan says the two were injured in a battle Sunday near Jalalabad between the enemy combatants and private guards providing security for the convoy. He says other tankers were damaged along the highway, a main supply route between Pakistan and the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Original Story here

November 8, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Respect

Colonels’ Corner by Ollie North

OllieNo Respect

Bagram, Afghanistan —  It is amazing how a change of geography can alter perception. In the weeks leading up to this, my 16th FOX News deployment to cover the fight against radical Islamic terror, the news was full of attacks on civilian contractors. The target: Those who have been providing support for U.S. military and intelligence operations since Sept. 11, 2001.

“Contractor” is the new dirty word in the so-called mainstream media and in Washington. On Capitol Hill, contractors are the Rodney Dangerfields of the war – they just don’t “get no respect.” Here, where the war is being fought, contractors are regarded as essential to victory.

The attacks on civilian contractors didn’t begin with this summer’s hemorrhage of congressional leaks, sensational disclosures of classified information, threats of inquisitions and the appointment of a special prosecutor. Civilian contractors have been in the crosshairs of Congress since George Washington had to defend buying beans, bread, bandages and bullets from sutlers accompanying the Revolutionary Army. In the opening days of World War II, then-Senator Harry Truman became famous for threatening to “lock up” civilian contractors for producing sub-par munitions and President Dwight D. Eisenhower ominously warned against the threat of a “military-industrial complex.”

However, all that is pale by comparison to the viscera now being aimed at civilian contractors supporting the campaigns in the land between the Tigris and Euphrates and in the shadow of the Hindu Kush. Though the mainstream media and congressional critics initially ignored the essential role played by civilian security and logistics contractors in the opening months of Operation Enduring Freedom, they went into high dudgeon when the Bush administration began preparations for liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein.

It has gone downhill since.

Critics on the left are quick to point to events like the 2007 incident in Baghdad that led to the prosecution of security contractors for using excessive force in carrying out protective duties. On Capitol Hill, members of Congress have threatened to cut the budgets of federal agencies that use security contractors instead of government employees to protect key personnel and sensitive installations. At the Pentagon — which uses more civilian contractors in the war effort than any other U.S. government entity — the response to the criticism was capitulation.

In April, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced plans to hire 30,000 additional Department of Defense employees to cut the percentage of work being done by contractors. The FY 2010 Defense Budget request replaces nearly 14,000 contractor personnel with government employees, even though the “lifetime cost” — counting government benefits and retirement — will more than double the expense to American taxpayers. The numbers don’t mesh, but when it comes to getting the press and politicians off the backs of Pentagon poobahs, cutting contractors loose is apparently a small price to pay.

Unfortunately, dollars may not be the only thing lost.

Last week, in the midst of the firestorm over U.S. intelligence agencies using private contractors, General Michael Hayden, CIA director from 2006-09, asked a telling question: “Who is the best individual available for this task at this moment?” With more than 30 percent of his former agency’s work being performed by contractors, the answer is obvious. He went on to note that the CIA uses contractors for their “very discreet skill sets” and “as an integral part of our workforce.”

The CIA isn’t alone. Here in Afghanistan there are more than 74,000 military contractors and the number is increasing as more U.S. and NATO troops “surge” into the theatre. Though it’s unlikely to make the lead story in any of the mainstream media, contractors are performing tasks that U.S. government entities either cannot do or that cannot be done as economically. A few non-sensational, but essential examples:

— The Afghanistan Border Police (ABP) has the mission of securing the country’s porous borders — an absolutely crucial task if the fight against the Taliban is to be won. The ABP is being recruited, screened, trained, equipped and advised by fewer than 140 private contractor personnel. To date they have deployed more than 3,600 new ABP officers.

— The Counter Narcotics Police and the Afghanistan Narcotics Interdiction Unit (NIU) are being mentored, trained and supported by fewer than 40 private contractors. These law enforcement units are key components in denying the Taliban and Al Qaeda revenues from opium production.

— In the 11 months since I was last in Afghanistan, private contractor aircraft have flown more than 12,000 sorties, delivering nearly 6 million pounds of cargo, 5 million pieces of U.S. mail and 59,000 personnel to installations around the country. Contractor aircraft have also air-dropped more than 640,000 pounds of urgently needed, food, water, ammunition, and medical supplies to troops on the battlefield. For last week’s presidential elections, contractor aircraft airdropped equipment and ballots to remote polling stations.

Like it or not, our modern, all-volunteer military cannot fight or even prepare to do so without civilian contractors. Propagandists for the left know it is no longer politically correct to attack young Americans in uniform, so they aim their viscera at military, logistics, security and intelligence support contractors instead.

Disparaging and de-funding civilian contractors is just one more way of disarming America, but at the end of the day, we won’t win without them.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stuart Murray Dies Working in Afghanistan

A man from County Londonderry has died in Afghanistan.

BBC News Channel

Stuart Murray, 40, from Ballykelly, died in an ambush in Herat in the north-west of the country on Saturday.

The father-of-two had been working for a private security firm. Mr Murray had served in the army for 21 years before leaving in 2006.

His widow, Sheena, told the BBC that he was preparing to leave the country when he was killed. It is not known when his body will be brought home.

Mr Murray was due to leave the country on Sunday but had decided to leave a day early, she said.

It was the second time Mr Murray had travelled to Afghanistan for private security work.

August 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Industry Talk: Justice in Iraq, Contractors with PTSD and Taking Care of Our People

Feral Jundi

Mr Fitzsimons posted details about his military past on a Facebook page set up to honour fallen service personnel. He tells of his time in 2 Para and his 3½ years in private security work. He advises soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan: “Stay safe and to those who will return to fight a different battle … A war inside your head.”

Ever since this story came out in regards to the Armor Group shootings and this Fitzsimons guy, I have been thinking about the FJ point of view on this.  More specifically, the Jundism point of view.  The one thing I keep coming back to as far as the correct point of view, is ‘have the courage to do what is right’ or in the case of this story, have the courage to say what is right.

Even though this guy killed two of his comrades in cold blood, as well as wounding an Iraqi, I think what is even more important out of all of this, is that Mr. Fitzsimons gets a fair trial in Iraq.  And if he cannot get a fair trial there, then I think it would be better to get him back to the UK to try him.  I want justice, as do most, but I do not want to witness something that is even more ‘ugly’ and vile.  So the question is, would he get a fair trial in Iraq?

Undoubtedly, contractors are not liked in Iraq, and it would not surprise me that he would be given a death sentence in Iraq.  And you know, the death sentence is a part of the Iraqi justice system (they have hanged quite a few guys, to include Saddam).  It’s just that in this case, Fitzsimons killed an Australian and a Briton, and wounded an Iraqi, while in Iraq.  I guess he would fall under the laws of Iraq, based on the SOFA agreement, but there is an argument that he should fall under British law or even UCMJ, if he was under contract through a DoD gig.  I don’t know, but I do know that the imagery of a contractor hanging from the gallows of Iraq would be quite the message.  Not only to the industry but to the public and especially to Iraqis.  That message is another area we need to go over.

Is Iraq a better place now that Saddam is gone, would be one message?  Under Maliki, is there true justice, would be another? I think what is extremely important in this case, is that the trial for this individual has all the trappings of a fair trial, and if this thing is at all taken as a ‘lynching of one of those evil contractors’, then that would not be good for Iraq.  It would also not be good for those that have fought so hard to get Iraq where it is today.  All that sacrifice and death, and for what cause?  The justice system of Iraq, and what they do to this guy, would be on display to the world.  I guess what I am saying, is that I want justice for the victims, but what is even more important is a fair trial for the guy and as a representation of the kind of justice in Iraq we can all respect and be proud of.

If this trial becomes some kind of politicized parade just before Iraqi elections, with politicians using this trial as a sort of ‘this is for the Blackwater deal, so let’s hang this contractor good’, then I think we need to rethink what justice is in this case.  We can only watch, and wait and see, and there really isn’t much that can be done other than to demand a trial that is just.

Now if Iraq truly approaches this with an utmost respect for a fair trial and the rule of law, then I could accept the outcome.  It is their country, and their laws, and we are all there as ‘guests’, wether we want to acknowledge this or not.  The SOFA and UCMJ, and the laws of our homelands should all be respected and adhered to.  This upcoming trial will make this point pretty clear to all of us, if we hadn’t already gotten the picture.  I just hope it doesn’t swirl out of control and turn into something even more ugly than what it is.

One more thing while I am on a roll.  For all of you supposed human rights folks and anti-contractor journalists, I better hear you speak up in defense of a fair trial for this guy.  Because if I don’t hear that, then I really do know that you assholes could care less about the rights of humans.  Also, as much as you might hate us or hate this individual, the purpose for us being in these war zones was to defend life and property in the first place.

We are not warmongers, because we were never hired to be warmongers.  Nope, we are there to protect your dad or mom, brother or sister, aunt or uncle, son or daughter.  We are there because most who could be there, are not.  We are there, so that your special loved one will get their food or water or mail or ammo delivered, so that they can do the war fighting and live as comfortably as possible while doing it.  We are a service provider, and our job is to protect.  Certainly someone with a pen could eventually comprehend this concept as a noble one? (Wait, my bad, that would take a dedication to the truth, and that is just way too much work for some folks in the MSM…..)

And on to the companies. You guys do have a responsibility to insure that you are hiring individuals that are not a risk to self or others.  That means doing a background check on folks, and properly vetting people.  It also requires fielding sound leadership that is trained to identify these kinds of things.  Once folks are identified as being a risk, then get rid of them!  There are so many hundreds, if not thousands of guys and gals out there that are hungry for work and come with excellent backgrounds, that to continue hiring folks that suck is just mind boggling.  This guys slipped through the cracks big time, and with a little bit of effort, he could have been identified as a liability.

The drinking thing needs to be re-evaluated as well.  I know guys like their booze, but personally folks, when I am working in a war zone, the drug called alcohol has no place. (I don’t drink anyways, so I am biased).  In Iraq and Afghanistan, I am surprised we haven’t seen more of these incidents?  There are better ways to cut loose and de-compress out there, and booze is not the way.  I know some would disagree with me, but that is my opinion.  Wait to go home to get drunk and play hard.  But when you are on the job in a war zone, stay away from the stuff because it is a quick ticket to losing control and losing your job.  And losing control is the last thing you want to do in a war zone.

And for those that are staunch supporters of drinking in war zones, then at least do the right thing and keep each other in check.  To have a firearm while drinking is just not a good practice to get into and you should put away that firearm at the least.  Companies would be wise to initiate common sense policies in regards to this stuff, and make sure your leaders are strong enough to do the right thing.  Notice that one of the dead in this incident, was a detail leader.

Not to mention that the countries we are operating in, are muslim countries.  The cultural offense of drinking, is a no-brainer, even though there those in these countries that drink. But still, on a grand scale, the white Christians hanging out in a muslim dominated country would do well by at least respecting the host nation’s practices.  Especially if we want to be a good idea amongst the local populations (hint, hint–COIN alert)

Another way to look at this is preservation of the contract.  How would the customer react if they saw their protective detail armed and getting drunk?  How does this incident look to Armor Group’s customer(s) now?  It has embarrassed the company, shamed the industry, infuriated the local populations as well as the folks back home, and has taken away two lives and crushed the souls of their family and friends, all because a guy with PTSD got drunk and went on a shooting spree.

Which takes me to the next point.  PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious thing.  It is really bad in the military forces right now, and it is an issue that is constantly being worked on and addressed by leadership in the armed forces.  The commercials on AFN are riddled with suicide prevention and PTSD announcements by various commanders, and there is a genuine push on this stuff to get a handle on it.  Where is the compassion in the security contracting industry?

Perhaps the companies out there, in their quest to be the best, could initiate some programs dealing with PTSD and trying to help folks out?  Boy, how cool would that be, if a contractor knew the company they were working for cared about their mental welfare? (Jundism hint- ‘take care of your people’)  Think about it, and start investing in your leaders and people a little.  Or you can continue to foster the image of the money hungry company with little regard for their contractors or for the local populations in these war zones.

I mention the local populations, because if you hired the guy that went psycho, that wounded or killed an Iraqi or Afghani while drunk, and didn’t do the things necessary to vet this person or insure they were not a liability, then you are a part of the problem as well.  You seek out contractors with extensive combat experience, who have plenty of wartime trauma experience already, and ask them to protect life and property with their lives.  The decent thing to do here is actually be a company that cares if any of your guys need help. Or even offer post contract assistance that contractors could come back to if needed. In fairness to some companies, I have heard of this practice of offering help to contractors, but believe me, it isn’t that common of a practice.

Lets not forget that contractors are experiencing trauma in the war zone as well.  When these men and women go back home, and they have left the company and are off on their own, what do we do for them?  You have all heard of the stories of guys committing suicide back home on leave, or getting into some extreme trouble or whatever deal, and you have to think, that some friend or comrade could have seen something that was a clue.  Sometimes, you just can’t see it in a person, and it is a shock to all.  But others, it is outright blatant that they have PTSD, and what do we do for that?

The big one, is be a friend and let them know you care.  The other one, is tell them to maintain contact with their buddies–either from the military or that company they worked for.  Often times, these groups that the individual was a part of, became the support group for that person.  As soon as persons go back into the wild, and left on their own, they tend to get lost in their own demons and thoughts.  It sounds like Fitzsimons was one of those guys. Be the friend, and reach out to those that need it.

If you think you have PTSD, then I advise maintaining contact with your buddies.  Get on Facebook or the phone, and just keep contact.  If you are prior service, try to take advantage of any veterans groups through the VA or whatnot. Seek therapy and find a solution to your set of problems. Things will get better, but you have to reach out and get that help brother.  The big one, is do not get lost within your head.  Find your people, and keep talking and get help, because it will be alright.  You are not alone and all it takes is for you to apply Kaizen to your working through your set of issues.  Don’t give up, and have the resolve necessary to find a way.

I also think war time service is a big reason why guys get into contracting in the first place, and that is for the comradery.  The money is good too, because most have a family or some house payment to support, or lost a job at home, or that job at Home Depot just isn’t cutting it.  So guys get back into contracting to be with their people again, and that is good.  I say people meaning other veterans who know exactly what they have been through.

I guess that would be the positive side of contracting, that most in the world would have a hard time understanding.  Guys join to serve in the war again, yet they just don’t want to go back into the military.  Shorter deployments and having control is a huge appeal to the veteran who wants to get back into the mix.  The money is cool too, but there is a lot more to it than that. Maybe that is why we haven’t seen more incidents like this happen, because in essence, contracting is a great place for a veteran to be? Or not.  Each guy has their reasons.

I don’t know, but I do know that we need to watch out for one another and keep the industry in check or others will put it in check for us.  My view is that we have been doing well out there, and certainly have sacrificed for the cause.  But we can always do better, because that is the Kaizen way.

And for Fitzsimons and for the families and friends of the victims, I only wish for a fair trial and that justice is served.  I feel bad for Fitzsimons, but I also feel bad for those that lost loved ones in this deal.  I would not be surprised if he gets the death penalty, and I hope that a verdict like this was only reached via true justice and a strict adherence to a fair application of the law, and not some politically fueled public lynching.

The real tragedy and question that I keep thinking about, is could this have been prevented with a little dose of humanity and some vetting by the company, along with some strong leadership or some aware friends and co-workers?  This is a tragedy on many levels, and not unlike the tragedy that happened at Camp Liberty in Iraq where a soldier shot and killed five comrades. Like with the military, this incident should be a wake up call to our industry and get us thinking about what we need to do to ‘take care of our people’.-Matt

August 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

The battle over private security

The killing of two security contractors in Iraq has again raised the issue of governments’ inability to regulate the industry

Once again, it appears that a lapse in discipline by an individual has brought the spotlight back to bear on the world of private security contractors. It is a world on which everyone seems to have an opinion, but one bedevilled by an emotive past and present that often obscures the issues at the heart of the argument for and against their existence and use.

The timing of the latest security contractor horror story, as Danny Fitzsimons is arrested in Iraq on two murder charges, is ironic. Only last week, David Miliband announced that the British government’s large-scale use of private security contractors was here to stay, saying that they had an important role to play enabling government foreign policy. If that wasn’t enough to get people to sit up and listen, he went on to say that rather than attempt to regulate the industry the government proposed it regulate itself. It has taken the government seven years since a green paper on the subject in 2002 and much experience to reach these conclusions. They stem from the interventionist doctrine espoused by Tony Blair, the sub-war conflict scenarios that this doctrine either sought to address or inadvertently created and the inadequate resourcing of the UK’s participation.

The private security industry has expanded rapidly from a niche business providing private personal protection to a multibillion-dollar sector working directly or indirectly for national governments. Indeed, governments now rely heavily on the sector and it is arguable whether the US and UK reconstruction programme in Iraq or Afghanistan would be possible without it. The attraction of private contractors to government is obvious: flexibility, responsiveness, force multiplication and arguably, economy. Such advantages come at a price though. The part-privatisation of security, where unregulated contractors are perceived as another arm of an occupying country’s military presence, can lead to justified questioning of the legitimacy of those governments’ actions. This is particularly so in the case of contractor abuses, such as Blackwater’s killing of 17 Iraqi civilians while protecting a US state department convoy in Baghdad in 2007. Less sleep will be lost over contractors shooting each other while off duty, other than as an indicator of the volatility of this form of security solution.

Yet for all governments’ inclination and desire for regulation of the sector, attempts to formulate a regulatory regime have foundered on the multinational and multi-jurisdictional nature of the industry. At the heart of this issue is the problem of definition. In an echo of the old adage that one man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist, today’s security contractor is one government’s “legitimate enabler” and another’s mercenary. The foreign secretary’s announcement that regulation is unfeasible and an industry code of conduct his preferred solution is simply an admission that no amount of international talk will produce a viable method of regulation.

Of course, such an admission lays Miliband open to the charge that abandoning any attempt to regulate the industry is a convenient way of continuing to resource security on the cheap while failing to protect the interests of those on the receiving end of contractor abuses. To some degree he has mitigated his stance by undertaking that the government will only employ contractors who sign up to the “stringent” proposed code of conduct. However, the British government falls far short of the measures taken by the US government, albeit belated, to try to ensure the accountability of contractors. These include extending US legal jurisdiction over contractors directly and indirectly funded by government.

International regulation of the security sector remains an unattainable goal and governments’ continuing dependence on security contractors is a reality. The British government, among others, will have to look hard at the way in which it employs and controls security contractors if it is to avoid damage to its foreign policy aims and this country’s reputation.

August 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Armed Security Guards/Private Security Providers

Armed Security Guards/Private Security Providers

Solicitation Number: ASG_PSC_First_Notice
Agency: Department of the Army
Office: Army Contracting Agency, ARCENT
Location: JLC Forward Contracting Office-Bagram
Synopsis:
Added: Jul 10, 2009 2:14 am

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION FROM PSC/ASG COMPANIES

July 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment