Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Theater Clearance Mandatory for USAFRICOM, DoD-Sponsored Travel to Africa

US Africa Command  January 31, 2012


 Jan 31, 2012 — Following an increase in uprisings and various crisis situations in parts of Africa, officials at U.S. Africa Command are taking steps to remind service members assigned to the command and other Department of Defense personnel that a theater clearance is mandatory when traveling to Africa whether in an official capacity or as an active duty service member on leave.

According to the Defense Department’s Foreign Clearance Guide, all DoD-affiliated and sponsored travelers, including military, DoD civilians and contractors, are subject to the clearance process. All DoD members are required to submit a request for clearance, regardless of where they are stationed.

When traveling to Africa, members and their leadership are urged to always check and be familiar with the Foreign Clearance Guide (FCG), which outlines specific requirements for each country and type of travel. Official travel, leave and approval levels differ for each country and travel type. The FCG is the authoritative document that shows the country-by-country requirements for travel to a foreign country.

“For the AFRICOM affiliated countries, clearance is required for all official travel,” said Marla Mann, U.S. AFRICOM theater clearance manager. “What some are surprised about is that it is also required for all military leave travel and recommended for civilian leave travel.”

Mann said there are consequences for violating this directive.

Please read the entire directive here

January 31, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Security Clearances | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Contractors waste billions awaiting clearances

If the INSA report’s estimates are accurate that 10 percent to 20 percent of contractors are awaiting security clearances at any given time, the cost of wasted contractor man-hours to the government would be roughly between $900 million and $1.8 billion a month

by Sarah Chocko Federal Times  January 8, 2012

Federal delays in granting security clearances keep 10 percent to 20 percent of federal intelligence contractors from doing their intended work, wasting billions of dollars, a new report says.

Contractors — many of whom are former federal employees who held clearances in the past — can wait weeks to months for a security clearance when they take on a new assignment with a different federal agency, according to the report by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), a nonprofit group representing federal intelligence and military officials, as well as federal contractors.

Agencies typically do not honor security clearances granted by other federal agencies, even though they are supposed to.

“If the person holds the clearances … you shouldn’t have to go through a lot of process,” said Charlie Allen, former Homeland Security undersecretary for intelligence and analysis, who led the INSA Security Clearance Reform task force. “We think the processes could be greatly improved. Significant savings can be incurred.”

While new employees wait, they still draw the plum salaries reserved for those with security clearances — doing nothing or work that doesn’t require special access.

Please see the original and read more here

January 9, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon in Search of ‘Secret’ Farmers for Afghanistan

Why is the U.S. sending farmers with high security clearance to Afghanistan?

by Max Fisher at The Atlantic  June 15, 2011

The U.S. Department of Defense is looking to hire agriculture specialists to send to Afghanistan. That’s nothing especially new — Afghanistan’s economy is heavily agricultural, the health of the country’s economy is directly tied to the mission of rolling back Taliban influence, and the U.S. has been sending farming consultants there for years. But writer (and former civilian contractor in Afghanistan) Joshua Foust noticed something unusual in reading the job listing, which had been posted to recruitmilitary.com by a defense contractor. The job requires “secret” security clearance.

Then there are secret farmers. Chenega Corporation, one of the ubiquitous Native Alaskan Owned Small Businesses that gets all sorts of exemptions and set-asides from the government, is hiring cleared agricultural specialists to operate in Afghanistan.

… There’s nothing too nefarious about this–as a deployed DOD contractor it makes sense to have a SECRET clearance, as SIPR is how the Army talks to itself. But still: the war in Afghanistan has advanced to the point where importing American farmers to help Afghans farm now requires a security clearance.

There are two things at play here. First, working for the U.S. government in a war zone often requires security clearance, simply because you’re exposed to many classified documents on a day-to-day basis. Second, the U.S. is working to make infrastructure-building (some might call it nation-building) part of its military mission in Afghanistan, understanding that more self-sustaining Afghan industries will reduce the appeal of the Taliban and decrease violence.

Please read the entire story at The Atlantic

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Pentagon, Safety and Security Issues | , , , | Leave a comment

Australian Whistleblowers allege security holes in Defence

Three Defence whistleblowers say they have been directly ordered by superiors to falsify security checks on civilian and military personnel.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation   Broadcast: 16/05/2011   Reporter: John Stewart

ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: Tonight, three whistleblowers say security at Australian military bases and embassies has been significantly compromised by a deliberate fabrication of information to fast-track security clearances.

The three former Defence workers say they were given direct instructions by senior Defence staff to fabricate security checks on civilian and military personnel.

They say the fake security clearances have left a gaping hole in Australia’s national security and compromised ASIO’s records.

John Stewart has this exclusive report here

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Safety and Security Issues | , , , | Leave a comment

Contractors & Employees with Security Clearance Earn Average $141,166 in Middle East

Security-cleared professionals based in the Middle East earned on average $141,166 (with bonuses, overtime and danger pay) a decrease from the $148,427 earned a year ago, according to a new survey from ClearanceJobs.com.

In the two war zones, salaries for security-cleared professionals in Iraq are $82,144, slightly ahead of their counterparts in Afghanistan at $81,501.

Average base salaries in the Middle East are $79,732, and 21 percent higher than European based security-cleared professionals who earn $65,947.

However, total compensation in the Middle East is nearly 50 percent higher than Europe when accounting for bonuses, overtime and danger pay. Middle East-based security-cleared professionals earn on average an additional $61,434 or 77 percent of their salaries in other compensation, while Europe-based professionals earn an additional $28,479 or 43 percent of their salaries.

Government contractors report the highest average wages within those countries, while military personnel report the lowest.

Security-cleared professionals working in Iraq are very satisfied with their salaries. Seventy percent of respondents are satisfied, while 19 percent are dissatisfied. This compares to 65 percent of Afghanistan-based security-cleared professionals who are satisfied and 22 percent who feel the opposite.

Please see the original post with comments at Danger Zone Jobs

February 28, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracting, Government Contractor, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Pushed Relaxed Paksitan Visa Policy, no security clearances

A policy that has brought sheer disaster

By Ansar Abbasi at The International News

ISLAMABAD: The influx into Pakistan of dubious characters and criminals like the double murderer Raymond Davis has not only raised questions about the capability of our agencies but also made the situation extremely vulnerable. 

This situation has built up in the backdrop of last year’s extraordinary laxity allowed in the visa policy for American officials following President Asif Ali Zardari’s personal intervention without the approval of the federal cabinet.

The policy, which has already started pinching many in the Foreign Office and security agencies, has resulted in visas issued by the Pakistani Embassy in Washington without any security clearance.

Now it appears the fallout of this extremely flawed, but flexible policy is becoming evident. People like Raymond Davis, a killer, succeeded in getting the Pakistani visa in the garb of a US consulate official even before the policy was relaxed in mid-July last year. Who else has come in is a huge question.

The American authorities have been exerting immense pressure on the Government of Pakistan to cut delays and refusals in the issuance of visas to those assigned to go to Pakistan, apparently as government officials, diplomats or media men.

Details show that Davis, who is suspected to be either a CIA agent or member of a private agency like Blackwater, had been issued visa before the introduction of the new but extremely vulnerable system under which Pakistan’s Embassy in Washington is free to issue visa to anyone without any security clearance from Pakistani security agencies.

Even before the introduction of the new visa facility for Americans, only in one case more than 50 personnel of DynCorp were issued visas by Pakistan, despite reservations of some security agencies, following a direction coming from the highest levels in the government. Prior to that, it is said, already several dozen DynCorp personnel were already present in Pakistan. DynCorp, apparently a private security agency, was found involved in spying activities in Pakistan.

Sources in the Foreign Office insist that in view of the criminal acts of Raymond Davis and his dubious actions of carrying illicit weapon, more than 80 bullets, face masks, GPS and pictures of sensitive installations, pressure is now on the Government of Pakistan to revisit its present visa policy, besides ensuring that no American is issued a visa without security clearance.

Of late, a senior Foreign Office source had revealed to The News that after the implementation of the new policy, which empowered the Pakistani Embassy in Washington to issue visas to the Americans for one year without referring their cases to Pakistani security agencies, about 400 visas were issued to US citizens in first two days, including a weekend holiday.

Amid reports of national and international media about the presence of innumerable Blackwater and DynCorp personnel, the Pakistani security agencies have been seeking proper screening of American visitors to protect our national interest. However, the US authorities had directly approached the president to get the visa policy relaxed.

It is pertinent to mention here that from January 1, 2010 to 14 July 2010, a total of 1,895 officials and diplomats were issued visas by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington. All these visas were issued following the clearance of the visa seekers by the Pakistani security agencies.

However, following the implementation of this policy on July 14, 2010, the Pakistani Embassy in Washington issued visas to almost 1,445 citizens, including the US officials and diplomats, till end August 2010 i.e. in six weeks time. Out of the 1,445 US citizens, 862 were declared as US diplomats and officials.

Although, under the constitution of Pakistan, all such matters fall in the domain of the prime minister and his cabinet, a Foreign Office letter clearly showed that the visa policy was revised to the advantage of the Americans following the desire of President Zardari.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the Interior Ministry, which in the past too has been offering extraordinary favours to the Americans, has assured the Americans that the issue of diplomatic immunity would be positively settled for the arrested American criminal. The Foreign Office, which was unambiguous a few days ago that Davis does not enjoy diplomatic immunity, now seems uncertain and refers to some ‘remarkable’ work done by the Interior Ministry for the Americans.

Interestingly, it was also the Interior Ministry which, following the request of the American authorities, had issued licences of prohibited bore arms to a Pakistani private security agency called Inter-Risk, which had a security contract with the much condemned DynCorp. A letter written by the then US ambassador Anne W Patterson to Interior Minister Rehman Malik on March 30, 2009 confirming her government’s security contract with DynCorp International and their Pakistani sub-contractors Inter-Risk (Pvt) Ltd, and Speed Flo Filter Industries. The US ambassador also used her influence on the Government of Pakistan to get prohibited bore arms licences for Inter-Risk, which later became a big scandal.

In her letter, the US ambassador sought this special favour from Interior Minister Rehman Malik to enable the Inter-Risk to operate in the territorial limits of Pakistan. It was also in the knowledge of the Interior Ministry that the US Embassy in Islamabad had ordered the import of around 140 AK-47 rifles and other prohibited weapons in the name of Inter-Risk.  Please see the original here

February 13, 2011 Posted by | CIA, Civilian Contractors, Legal Jurisdictions, Pakistan, Private Security Contractor, State Department | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Smuggled Contract Laborers in Afghanistan: The Tip of the Iceberg

See Also at MsSparky

by Neil Gordon Project on Government Oversight

The Washington Examiner obtained an investigative report that uncovered instances of foreign workers without proper security clearances or identification being smuggled onto U.S. and NATO bases in Afghanistan. According to an April 2010 report by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan, two federal contractors, Stallion Construction and Engineering and DynCorp International, violated security procedures at Kandahar Airfield by escorting undocumented foreign laborers onto the base.

Illegal labor practices ranging from contract worker smuggling to human trafficking persist in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of nationals from impoverished countries are lured by the promise of good jobs, but sometimes end up victims of scams that leave them virtual slaves with no way to return home or seek legal recourse. Or, as ISAF documented, they may gain unauthorized access to sensitive war zone locations. In Afghanistan, according to the Examiner’s description of the ISAF report, prospective workers fly into the country, where they are met by “unscrupulous subcontractors” who help them bypass security measures to enter U.S. and NATO bases and work for companies like Stallion and DynCorp. According to the Examiner, the report identified only a small number of what could be hundreds of undocumented employees at Kandahar Airfield, where more than 20,000 U.S. and NATO personnel are stationed.

“This report is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg,” an unnamed U.S. official told the Examiner. “The military police report is only one example of what has been going on for some time at the major bases across the country. This is a serious security issue and human rights issue as well.”

POGO hasn’t seen the ISAF report, but we obtained this DynCorp security incident report [Note: POGO redacted all personally identifiable information] from March 2010 describing an incident that sounds very similar to the activity ISAF investigated. DynCorp discovered that four Filipino citizens gained access to Kandahar Airfield through questionable circumstances with the help of a bus driver “escort” who worked for the company.

According to the Examiner, the ISAF report recommended that Stallion be suspended from contracting but said nothing about sanctioning DynCorp. DynCorp, one of the three primary LOGCAP IV contractors in Afghanistan (along with Fluor and KBR), is no stranger to human trafficking issues. Ten years ago, DynCorp was embroiled in international controversy over allegations that its employees in the Balkans participated in a massive human trafficking and prostitution operation. A movie based on those allegations debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last year.

On Tuesday, the State Department held a briefing on human trafficking. Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca spoke about the government’s new interagency initiatives to combat trafficking in persons. Neither the ISAF report nor anything about contract worker smuggling or human trafficking in Iraq and Afghanistan was mentioned.

Last month, the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General released a report urging DoD contracting officials to do more to combat human trafficking, such as ensuring that contracts contain the required anti-trafficking provisions. This report, the second DoD IG report on trafficking required by law, examined a sample of DoD construction and service contracts valued at $5 million or more awarded in fiscal years 2009 and 2010 for work in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Qatar, and Bahrain. The report found that only about half of the contracts contained the required Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Combating Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) clause. The report warns that such widespread noncompliance with this requirement means many contractors may be unaware of the government’s “zero tolerance” policy with regard to human trafficking, and contracting officers are unable to apply remedies in the case of violations.  Please read the original here

February 5, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, DynCorp, Iraq, NATO, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment