Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Slaves to the private military in Iraq Cheap help from Uganda

Private security firms won lucrative contracts to supply support staff and security guards to back up US forces in Iraq. They recruited Ugandans and pushed them to the limit, on low pay and no benefits

Like all foreign nationals working for PMCs under contract to the Pentagon, sick or wounded Ugandans repatriated from Iraq are, in principle, covered by the Defense Base Act, which guarantees that their employer’s insurer will reimburse their medical expenses. It also provides for disability pay for the most unfortunate. “But, all too often, the Ugandans do not receive the medical care and disability that they are supposed to,” American lawyer Tara K Coughlin told me.

by Alain Vicky LeMonde Diplomatique  May 6, 2012

“I realised immediately that I’d just made the worst mistake in my life. But it was too late. I’d signed up for a year. I had to take it like a man,” said Bernard (1), a young Ugandan who worked for an American private military company (PMC) operating in Iraq. He was part of the “invisible army” (2) recruited by the US to support its war effort. Bernard returned to Uganda last year. He is ill, but has been denied the welfare and healthcare benefits promised in his contract.

White recruits — from the US, Israel, South Africa, the UK, France and Serbia — hired by PMCs that have won contracts with the Pentagon (worth $120bn since 2003) have received substantial pay, often more than $10,000 a month; “third country nationals” (TCNs) like Bernard have been treated badly and their rights as employees have been abused. Some, sent home after being wounded, get no help from their former employers.

In June 2008, when the US began its withdrawal from Iraq, there were 70,167 TCNs to 153,300 regular US military personnel; in late 2010 there were still 40,776 TCNs to 47,305 regulars. TCNs (men and women) were recruited in the countries of the South to work on the 25 US military bases in Iraq, including Camp Liberty, an “American small town” built near Baghdad, which at its peak had a population of over 100,000. They made up 59% of the “basic needs” workforce, handling catering, cleaning, electrical and building maintenance, fast food, and even beauty services for female military personnel.

Some, especially African recruits, were assigned to security duties, paired up with regular troops: 15% of the static security personnel (guarding base entrances and perimeters) hired by the PMCs on behalf of the Pentagon were Sub-Saharans. Among these low-cost guards, Ugandans were a majority, numbering maybe 20,000. They were sometimes used to keep their colleagues in line: in May 2010 they quelled a riot at Camp Liberty by a thousand TCNs from the Indian subcontinent.

The high ratio of Ugandans was due to the political situation in central Africa in the early 2000s. In western Uganda the war in the Great Lakes region was officially over. In northern Uganda the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels had been brought under control. In neighbouring Sudan the civil war was over, opening up the way to independence for the south (3). More than 60,000 Ugandan troops were demobilised; Iraq seemed like an opportunity. The Ugandan government, a key ally of the US in central Africa, was one of the few to support the Bush administration when the Iraq war began in 2003. US and Ugandan armed forces have collaborated since the mid-1980s. Ugandan journalist and blogger Angelo Izama (4) told me that in 2005 the US needed more paramilitary security — “They were looking for reliable labour from English-speaking countries, veteran labour” — and turned to Uganda.

Please see the original and read the entire article here

May 7, 2012 Posted by | Africa, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, DynCorp, Follow the Money, Iraq | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vetted International Celebrates Their Fifth Anniversary

Vetted International celebrates their five year anniversary on May 5th, 2010.

Before (Vetted) attended to my file, I almost died of infections. This company came to South Africa and negotiated with all of my medical suppliers…Vetted was the best thing that could have happened to the South African Contractors.

Raleigh, NC (PRWEB) May 6, 2010 — Vetted International, Ltd. (http://www.vetted-intl.com) turns five years old today and celebrates their milestone with a reflection on their history and the journey ahead.

As a former US Marine and City of Raleigh Police Officer, Vetted CEO Brian Sjostedt has worked a lifetime of public service and never anticipated celebrating a five year anniversary as a private company’s chief executive. Sjostedt founded Vetted International in May 2005 after spending 14 months in Iraq temporarily assigned from his Police Department to assist with reconstruction efforts. Sjostedt lived “outside the wire” in Baghdad’s Al Mesbah District, and served with a contracted Defense & Logistics firm as the Security Manager and was later promoted to Deputy Director of Operations. Sjostedt ended his assignments in Iraq as the company Director of Operations. Brigadier General Henry Miller (US Army, Retired) described Sjostedt’s reliability in a letter as “being counted on for thoroughly researched advice and an honest appraisal whenever asked…I trust his leadership and decision making abilities in difficult situations.”

While in Iraq, Sjostedt was exposed to extraordinary courage by the local Iraqi personnel assigned to his protection details. “I was always amazed at the level of sacrifice they were willing to make for us at minimal wages,” stated Sjostedt. The employees he was referring to had diverse and useful backgrounds. “Their previous experiences included officers in Saddam Hussein’s former Republican Guard and former US Agency operatives that lost their jobs after the initial occupation was successful.”

Operations in Iraq resulted in catastrophic casualties and fatalities in Sjostedt’s company. Before departing Iraq, Sjostedt started Vetted International to provide additional income to the employees he regarded as his protectors during his stay. Sjostedt learned of a law called the Defense Base Act in which compensation benefits were statutorily due in cases that the contractors were injured or killed while supporting the United States mission. “I never saw those benefits paid when I was there, so Vetted’s employees were trained to investigate facts surrounding incidents.” Insurance companies and injured contractors that had an interest in those facts quickly became the beneficiaries of Vetted’s investigations.

Vetted further identified a lack of sufficient medical care for Iraqis working to support the US mission and quickly assembled a team of doctors and coordinators to provide services according to United States standards of care. Multiple lives were saved as a result. Vetted has specialized in catastrophic injury medical management, impairment assessment, prosthetics procurement, patient training, emergency evacuations and remains repatriation.

Vetted’s services were not only limited to local Iraqis. Other patients covered under the Defense Base Act came from numerous countries such as Fiji, Nepal, Australia, United Kingdom, South Africa, Peru and Chile. Vetted would continue to manage the medical care of those patients after they were evacuated home. In an open letter, a contractor in South Africa describes his care with Vetted; “Before (Vetted) attended to my file, I almost died of infections. This company came to South Africa and negotiated with all of my medical suppliers. Most of all they settled my debts…Vetted appointed a medical professional to take care of my day to day needs. They further looked at how they were going to get my life back to normal as possible….Vetted was the best thing that could have happened to the South African Contractors.”

While services initially started with decisive reactions to incidents, Vetted is now focusing on prevention. “We want to mitigate risk more so than respond to it, so we are encouraging our clients to participate in pre-deployment loss prevention programs that include baseline dental, medical, psychological screening, background checks, and cultural and regional training,” stated Sjostedt.

In the past five years, Vetted International has completed assignments in 54 countries.

Vetted International is a corporate and government solution based company headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Vetted utilizes a global network of integrity driven local national professionals to minimize risk and implement responsive action plans in various permissive and non-permissive environments. Foreign and domestic insurance companies, financial institutions, government departments and ministries, government agencies and contractors and healthcare organizations have relied on Vetted’s unique capabilities.  More on Vetted here

May 6, 2010 Posted by | AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment