Medical: New Research Links Dust From Iraq’s Camp Victory To Ill Soldiers

“We biopsied several patients and found titanium in every single one of them,” said Anthony Szema, an assistant professor at Stony Brook School of Medicine who specializes in pulmonology and allergies. “It matched dust that we have collected from Camp Victory” in Iraq.

I wanted to get this information out there for everyone that has served in Iraq. Although I am not sure if the VA will test non-veterans, I would give it a try anyways. At least file a DBA if you have lung issues that you think came from your time in Iraq or even Afghanistan. If the VA is truly interested in finding trends and sources of this illness, it would be advisable for them to include the thousands of contractors who deployed in Iraq during those years. Either way, get yourself checked if think you need it.

Also, for DBA sake they should be testing contractors. The reason for that is they can plan for the coming claims, if it is found out that contractors are reporting lung illnesses. If there is an illness associated with serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, then contractors should absolutely get the same attention in these studies and treatment.

If you have a lung illness and think it was from serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, by all means make a comment below so others can read it. It mentioned that the metal dust found in the soldier’s lungs matched the same dust found at Camp Victory. There were also multiple camps in Iraq and Afghanistan that were burning trash daily. Balad airbase in Iraq burned 240 tons of trash a day!

With that said, this research and reporting reminds me of the Gulf War Illness studies back when I was in the service. That research is still ongoing and they are still trying to determine what caused Gulf War Illness. The article below also lists a registry you can sign up with if you served in the First Gulf War or in the most recent wars in Iraq. Get the world out guys and gals and pass this one around. -Matt

Study on Iraq dust here.

Register with the VA for Gulf War Registry Health Exam here.

Veterans who served in the Gulf during the 1990-1991 Gulf War, Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation New Dawn are eligible for the Gulf War Registry exam. You do not need to be enrolled in VA health care to take part.

Register with the VA for Airborne Hazards and Burn Pit Registry here.

* Veterans who are eligible for the Gulf War Registry may also join the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, which includes additional data related to airborne hazards.

 

Burn pit in Balad, Iraq.

New research links Iraq dust to ill soldiers
By Kelly Kennedy
June 2, 2014
Titanium and other metals found in dust at a base in Iraq have been linked to the dust found in six sick soldiers’ lungs, according to a study set to be released Monday.
“We biopsied several patients and found titanium in every single one of them,” said Anthony Szema, an assistant professor at Stony Brook School of Medicine who specializes in pulmonology and allergies. “It matched dust that we have collected from Camp Victory” in Iraq.
The dust is different from dust found elsewhere in that human lungs are unable to dispel it through natural immune-system processes. The Iraq dust comes attached to iron and copper, and it forms polarizable crystals in the lungs, Szema said. The particles — each bit 1/30th the size of a human hair — have sharp edges.
“They’ve inhaled metal,” Szema said. “It’s not a little; it’s a lot.”
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Legal News: Leahy, Price Reintroduce CEJA Bill

Interesting news on the legal front. The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act has been brought up before in the past to give DoJ the jurisdiction necessary to prosecute non-military related contractors. Which is a significant portion of US government contractors. This group would include DoS or ‘other government agency’ type contractors, and this legislation would close that gap. Currently the MEJA covers military related contractors.

Why this is important, and especially now, is that contractors currently work in countries where they are not covered by a SOFA or have immunity. They are basically at the mercy of the local judicial process.  CEJA, like MEJA, would give the US government jurisdiction over contractors that it hires for work in these countries that have no SOFA in place to cover them. Iraq is an example of such arrangement and WPS guys and embassy protection forces are there, currently working for DoS.  CEJA would give jurisdiction for prosecution to the US government.

In other words, if you ran into trouble, would you rather be tried in a US legal system or some overseas third world court run by corrupt officials?

Another point with the CEJA is that it further legitimizes the PMSC industry. It helps to take away that argument that we are somehow ‘above the law’ or untouchable. Clients of our services will benefit from having a protective force that can be held accountable.

It will also contribute to a speedier trial. Just ask the contractors involved with the Nisour Square incident, that have been in a legal mess for years. The legal jurisdiction has been a factor.

So we will see where this goes. One critique I do have in regards to this press release is the mention of Jamie Leigh Jones and her case. Whereas the jurisdictional questions about her case are valid to bring up, I find it disingenuous to not mention the fact that she lied about the whole thing.

To read up on the past issues with the CEJA, check out David Isenberg’s commentary on it over the years. Here is a copy of the latest bill and the Congressional Research Service wrote a report on the particulars of why a CEJA is the right thing to do. We will see how the committee treats this one. -Matt

 

Senator Patrick Leahy in a committee.

 

Leahy, Price introduce legislation to hold American contractors overseas accountable
News Release — Sen. Patrick Leahy

July 14, 2014
Contact:?Jessica Brady (w/Leahy) – 202-224-7703?Andrew High (w/Price) – 202-225-1784
Also helps lay groundwork for eventual preclearance arrangements in restoring Vermont-to-Montreal passenger rail service??WASHINGTON (MONDAY, July 14, 2014) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Congressman David Price (D-N.C.) renewed their partnership on bicameral legislation to provide accountability for American contractors and government employees working abroad.
The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (CEJA), which the lawmakers introduced Monday, would close a gap in current law and ensure that government employees and contractors working overseas can be prosecuted for criminal acts they commit abroad. The two lawmakers have worked together on the legislation for years.
The legislation allows the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute government contractors and employees for certain crimes committed overseas. Tragedies like the 2007 killing of unarmed civilians in Baghdad by private security contractors with Blackwater underscore the need for clear jurisdiction and trained investigative and prosecutorial task forces able to hold wrongdoers accountable. Four Blackwater guards involved in the Nisour Square shooting are currently on trial.
“The Blackwater trial is only just now under way, seven years after this tragedy, and the defendants continue to argue in court that the U.S. government does not have jurisdiction to prosecute them,” Senator Leahy said. “This bill would also provide greater protection to American victims of crime, as it would lead to more accountability for crimes committed by U.S. government contractors and employees against Americans working abroad.”

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Cool Stuff: The Flying Tigers Heritage Park In China

“The victories of these Americans over the rice paddies of Burma are comparable in character, if not in scope, with those won by the Royal Air Force over the hop fields of Kent in the Battle of Britain.”-Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the Flying Tigers

Folks, this is quite the thing. I recently stumbled upon this massive memorial park project in China, and no one knows about it. At least I have never heard about it and I track this kind of stuff. And how cool is this?

So why is this significant? I am speculating here, but this would qualify as probably the worlds largest park ever dedicated to the sacrifice and efforts of a private military company, in the history of private military companies.( AVG or The Flying Tigers were a private military company/air force, and the work they did during WW 2 is the stuff of legends.)

The park is being built in Guilin, China. The site itself is located next to Claire Chennault’s command cave, which has been a tourist attraction over the years.  Now, there will be a massive park built right next to it.

The Flying Tigers Heritage Park committee are still seeking donations for the project, but obviously they have received some serious funding to get the park to this level. I recommend checking out the links below, and following their progress via their Facebook page. -Matt

Website for park here.

Facebook page for park here.

 

This is the artist’s rendition of what it will look like when complete.

Here is some of the progress made.

Here is a photo of the command cave with some tourists heading up there to check it out.

With this artist’s concept overhead view, you can see the size of the project.

 

Why the Flying Tiger Historical Park?
The obvious answer is it is a chance to honor, preserve the memory of, and record for history the remarkable story that is the Flying Tigers, the Chinese and the CBI theater of World War II. A story that for many reasons has been overlooked, forgotten, or buried.
Many books have been written about the Flying Tigers and the pilots who flew the Hump (Air supply route from India to China across the Himalayan Mountains… the most dangerous air supply route in the world.) but for the most part the story and record set by these combatants has been passed over when reporting on the larger history of the Pacific War in WW II. The Chinese contribution has all but been ignored and yet their sacrifices were what made it possible for our American fighting men to achieve the success they did.
So, within the park grounds, the museum and the cave, we will tell their story. We will have memorial walls and statues honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice on foreign soil. The museum will have archives which will hold records, books and personal accounts of that dark period in our world history. Photographs and artifacts, both military and personal, will be on display. Archival film footage will allow one to revisit that time and experience a little of what these warriors experienced.
The Less Obvious Answer Is More Compelling…
 
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Publications: Private Military Contractor International

This is a digital publication, and I was not able to get an embed code for it so you can read it here. If you want to read it, just click on the links below and then expand the magazine so you can read it online.

What is cool about this mag is that it is going over some old school stories that happened back in the early days of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, I totally forgot the story about Wolf Weiss. Anyway,  check it out and I have no idea if they will continue to publish this digital magazine or if they are planning to make hard copies and sell on the news stands. -Matt

Edit: Also, it looks like PMCI is looking for writers. h/t Soldier Systems.

 

Private Military Contractor International-April 2014
Published on 9 March 2014
Issue description:
Private Military Contractor International is a digital magazine specifically for PMC Operatives and companies involved in the Private Military and Security sectors. Written by individuals with many years of experience in their particular field, each issue will contain a mix of product reviews, news and general interest features, as well as social and lifestyle articles. The Pre-Launch sample is a small representative example which provides a small snapshot of what future editions will contain.
Magazine description:
Private Military Contractor International is a digital magazine specifically for PMC Operatives and companies involved in the Private Military and Security sectors. Written by individuals with many years of experience in their particular field, each issue will contain a mix of product reviews, news and general interest features, as well as social and lifestyle articles.

Find publication on Joomag here.

Find on itunes here.

PDF of publication here.

Facebook for PMCI here.

 

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Russia: Their Many Uses Of ‘Private Military Companies’…

Russian Prime Minister and president-elect Vladimir Putin on Wednesday supported the idea of private defense companies that would provide protection services and military training programs abroad without the participation of the Russian state.
The idea was proposed by A Just Russia deputy Alexei Mitrofanov during Putin’s report to the lower house of parliament, the State Duma.
Putin said that was “an instrument in the pursuit of national interests without the direct participation of the state.” “I believe that it should be considered, thought over,” he said. -11/04/2012 Riavososti

This is another post I wanted to get out there in regards to what has happened in the industry. The events in the Ukraine have put some more light on Russia’s use of PMSC’s, and also puts some light on how PMSC’s could be used as a propaganda tool.

Specifically, ACADEMI was mentioned in multiple propaganda pieces as supporting the Kiev government with training and ‘mercenary’ services. It was even mentioned that there were 400 elite US commandos from this company, fighting Russian separatists. lol

I am laughing because there would have been an avalanche of chatter on all of the forums and Facebook/Linkedin pages if this was true. You don’t just fire up a 400 man army like this and it not get out amongst this community. Especially if it paid well.

Even ACADEMI had to post a press releases to counter this ridiculous claim. The State Dept, who issues the licenses necessary for PMSC’s to go overseas and do training had to beat down this idiotic propaganda as well in statements. Really, I don’t think anyone in the west believed this stupid story.

But unfortunately, their propaganda efforts were able to reach those that are not savvy online or care to believe otherwise. All war is deception as Sun Tzu would say… Russia was absolutely implementing a social media campaign as a part of their battle plan to take Crimea and justify occupying parts of the Ukraine. That effort is still ongoing and we will see what eventually happens with the Ukraine.

Also expect attacks on Gazprom pipelines, and that reality will require protective services by Gazprom’s massive security apparatus.

The point is, that social media and war is standard business now, and you see combatants all over the world using social media and propaganda to prepare their battlefields and psyche out their opponents. It works if done properly, and just ask the cartels in Mexico or ISIS in Iraq how it is working out for them.

The other part of this story that is not being talked about is Russia’s focus on firing up their own private military industry. Something that can rival the west’s PMSC industry. This is very interesting to me, because it is another market to study and watch. It is also a huge money maker–private security in Russia is said to be a 7 billion dollar market.

Although there has always been a PMSC sector in Russia, and especially after the end of the Cold War. What is interesting though is that I keep picking up on hints here and there of PMSC’s getting support at some very high levels in Russia. Probably because it is a force that can be used by men in power to do things that a standing military could not do. (please note the quote by Putin up top)

For example, a company in the country of Transnistria could be contacted and asked to recruit folks to be ‘pro-Russian separatists’ in the Ukraine. To work with Russian special forces that are also posing as Russian separatists, wear ski masks to mask their identity, and fuel the grass roots movement and divisions within the country using violence. Sounds farfetched? Well that is exactly what some are speculating, and it would make sense to me, purely base off of what the leaders of Russia have said in the past.

Below I have posted recent news on efforts to further legitimize PMSC’s in Russia. To give them the legal authority necessary to operate, and to even use in other countries. This is not new and I posted stuff about Russia’s intent back in 2012. David Isenberg wrote a post on it as well. EA games did a pretty good series on PMSC’s in Russia.

Although I should note that Russia has had some recent embarrassing incidents with the use of PMSC’s in other countries. For example, The Slavonic Corps and their actions in Syria come to mind. Perhaps Russia’s recent legislation and licensing will help to control future ‘Slavonic Corps’ from happening?  Who knows, but I do know that Russia is continuing to explore the many uses of private military companies and we will see where that takes them. -Matt

 

Russian Special Forces operating in the Ukraine and assisting separatists. They are referred to as ‘The Little Green Men’. Weapon is a 9K115 Metis ATGM.

 

Russian ‘Blackwater’? MPs call for local security industry loophole
June 27, 2014
By Iliya Pitalev
Nationalist party LDPR deputies have drafted a law on private military companies to the regional legislature of North Russia’s Pskov. If approved, the draft will be forwarded to the federal parliament.
The authors of the document claim it was born out of the necessity for capable and specialized commercial organizations to enforce national interests in cases when international politics or law prevent the government from using regular military forces.
“The crisis in Ukraine in which the provisionary government in Kiev is actively using Western military contractors in its interests, demonstrate the acute necessity for similar institutions in Russia,” reads the explanatory note published by the Pskov regional legislature.
According to the lawmakers, there are over 450 private military contractors in the world, with 70 percent of the services provided by the US and British companies. These firms solve many foreign policy problems for Western governments, and at the same time bring additional taxes to their national economies.
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History: The Battle For Najaf, By Travis Haley

This is an excellent story on this famous battle, fought by the contractors and military assigned to protect the CPA in Najaf, Iraq back in 2004. By now, most folks familiar with the battle have seen this video of the battle circulating around the net, and it gives a snapshot of what these guys were up against. Travis has added more detail to the big picture of what was happening at the time, to include lessons learned.

You can also read more about Travis and his history and contribution to the training industry over at his website.  He also did a post over at OAF about his experience. Check it out and it is definitely worth your time. -Matt

 

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