Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Mercenaries Sue Blackwater Over Fake Gun Tests

Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room  July 16, 2012

The security firm once known as Blackwater has repeatedly tried to distance itself from its bad old days of wrongful death and corporate misconduct. But a new lawsuit filed by two former employees raises questions about whether the firm’s kinder, gentler rebranding is more than skin deep.

Two former employees of the firm, now called Academi, say that they were fired from their jobs in Afghanistan after blowing the whistle on an attempt by a colleague to falsify dozens of marksmanship tests for security contractors. Robert Winston and Allen Wheeler thought that they were following Academi’s new ethics guidelines, which require employees to report suspected instances of waste, fraud and abuse. But not only were Winston and Wheeler fired, they allege Academi arranged with the State Department to blacklist the two security contractors from finding future work with private security firms.

According to the lawsuit, which Nation reporter Jeremy Scahill first tweeted about on Thursday, Winston and Wheeler witnessed a fellow firearms instructor twice fail to record the results of shotgun and machine-gun training amongst dozens of Colombian employees of Academi. The State Department, which hires Academi to protect its diplomats in conflict zones, requires weapons certification from the guards: If contractors can’t properly fire their weapons, they’re a danger to diplomats in need of protection and innocent civilians nearby.

But on two occasions in March 2012, Winston and Wheeler say that instructor Timothy Enlow informed the State Department inaccurately that Academi’s guards were proficient with shotguns and machine guns. On the second occasion, Enlow failed to bring an M249 belt-fed machine gun to the test range near Kabul, but reported a successful test anyway.

“I know there is a lawsuit about Academi not qualifying contractors properly with the belt fed machine guns,” Enlow told the would-be marksmen, according to the lawsuit, “but I am going to help you guys out.”

Please see the original and read more here

July 16, 2012 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Expands Its Footprint At Bagram Air Force Base

Jason Linkins Huff Post

Sometime around the spring of 2011, lawmakers will begin to ramp up a debate on whether or not the United States should begin withdrawing forces from Afghanistan according to the “conditions-based” timetable established by the announced July 2011 “deadline” — a term I am using with as much flexibility as I can muster. But over in Afghanistan, the debate may be largely settled.

Danger Room’s Spencer Ackerman is at Bagram Air Force Base today for the first time since 2008, and he sees the base expanding and hardening into something very permanent. The base is packed with planes of all stripes and the base’s main road has become a “two-lane parking lot of Humvees, flamboyant cargo big-rigs from Pakistan known as jingle trucks, yellow DHL shipping vans, contractor vehicles and mud-caked flatbeds.” There are hangars going up, cranes everywhere, and cement is “being manufactured right inside Bagram’s walls” by a Turkish contractor. Ackerman captures the change thusly:

I haven’t been able to learn yet how much it all cost, but Bagram is starting to feel like a dynamic exurb before the housing bubble burst. There was actually a traffic jam this afternoon on the southern side of the base, owing to construction-imposed bottlenecks, something I didn’t think possible in late summer 2008.

And here’s your population-centered counterinsurgency update:

Troops here told me of shepherd boys scowling their way around Bagram’s outskirts, slingshotting off the occasional rock in hopes of braining an American. Again, something else I wouldn’t have believed two years ago.

Ackerman’s bottom line: “Anyone who thinks the United States is really going to withdraw from Afghanistan in July 2011 needs to come to this giant air base an hour away from Kabul.”

August 9, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , | Leave a comment

Taliban Pays Its Troops Better Than Karzai Pays His

By Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room

Are the Taliban shelling out more money for their fighters than the U.S. and the international community are for Afghan security forces? The American military says no, and e-mails the chart below to make its case. But it’s not the most persuasive document. And it’s undermined by one of the reports in WikiLeaks’ trove of war logs.

In February 2008, a U.S. military report from southern Afghanistan documented how a Taliban leader offered a brigade commander in the Afghan National Army $100,000 to quit his job. (He also had his family’s safety threatened as an or-else.) That would be a lucrative bribe for most people. But as the American chart shows, a colonel in the Afghan national security forces would have to put in 24 years of service before pulling down $805 per month.

That should give a sense of what the incentive structure is for Afghans caught in their country’s war — including those willing to answer the call of the Karzai government to join the army and police forces. In December, now-retired General Stanley McChrystal testified to Congress that the pay scale of the Afghan security forces was “almost at parity” with the estimated $300 that the Taliban pays its foot soldiers per month. But look at the chart, issued before McChrystal testified. An Afghan policeman or soldier with under three years in uniform pulls in $165 per month.  See the Chart and read the entire story here

July 27, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan | , , , , , | Leave a comment