Cool Stuff: Shadow Warriors Project

Now this is some cool stuff. Recently, a book came out that detailed the security contractor role during the Benghazi attack in 2012 . An incident where four Americans were killed–to include the death of a US Ambassador. The book is called 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi. The authors of this book are the actual guys involved in the battle and boy do they have a story to tell. It is a story of security contractors saving lives and dealing with a really bad situation. It is also about what happens after the battle when everyone comes home, which is the part of contracting that does not get much attention. I would not be surprised if a movie came out about this.

But what is really awesome about their story is that one of the authors of this book and participant in the battle named Mark Geist, started an association that all contractors can really get behind and support. Here is a snippet from their web site and organization called Shadow Warriors Project. I also like that his wife is involved, because she represents the sacrifice that families make in this business.

Mark and Krystal Geist, the founders of Shadow Warriors Project have committed their lives to benefitting American people. Mark served our country in the Marine Corp for 12 years and continued on to serve the American people as a Special Operative Contractor where he worked in the most dangerous places on the globe. Mark returned home wounded and broken, leaving the pieces of their lives scattered. After a full recovery, Mark and Krystal are back at what they do best, helping Americans, in their efforts with the Shadow Warriors Project.
Letter from the founders:
Our goal with the Shadow Warriors Project is to create a better everyday life for as many American contractors and their families as possible. We decided to start SWP when Mark returned home from an incredibly dangerous operation. He was hurt both mentally and physically and we wished there was a system that could have helped us repair.
After having almost lost my life and going through almost two years of surgeries and rehabilitation my family and I have found that there is limited short term and virtually no long term support system in place for the contractor.
We can do better, we must do better for those that choose to continue serving our beloved country and in doing so become injured or killed in that service. We want the contractor and his family to not have to worry, should the unthinkable occur.
We thank you for your interest and hope that you will join forces with us to give American contractors a more fruitful life.
Sincerely,
Mark & Krystal Geist

Outstanding, and I really hope this takes off, hence why I am promoting it here on the blog. This is a group started by a wounded security contractor, and focused on taking care of wounded contractors and their families. Or helping the families of those contractors killed in the war.

The other thing to mention here is that there are very few groups dedicated to helping the contractor and his family when injuries or deaths happen. TAPS is another group that will help contractors. Other groups like Wounded Warriors Project will not help contractors and their families, which is disappointing to say the least, but that is their thing. Something to think about if you are looking for a group to donate time or money too, that helps contractors and their families specifically. -Matt

Website for Shadow Warriors Project here.

Facebook Page for Shadow Warriors Project here.

Mark Geist bio here.

 

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Highly recommend watching this documentary on what these men had to say. Mark Geist discusses his injuries and the impact to family was mentioned as well.

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Industry Talk: In Memory Of The Security Contractors Killed On 9/11

On this day, we memorialize all those that perished on September 11, 2001 at the hands of terrorists. We remember the sacrifice of those that responded to the incident and died or were wounded. Much attention in fact is given to the sacrifice of the brave fire fighters, police officers, first responders and soldiers that were killed that day. What is not really talked about is the sacrifice of private security contractors that died on that day.

Below I have found a list compiled by one website that did the work to find these names. I have also searched through the various databases that lists the deaths to find out how many died within the various companies involved. According to the statistics, Summit Security Services lost the most personnel on that day. That number was eleven. OCS Security lost five personnel that day.

In the world of security contracting, just one or two guys getting killed in an incident is huge. An IED here, a shooting incident there–these deaths send shockwaves throughout the community. This is because usually guys know the contractors killed or have one degree of separation. I look back at my time in this industry and I have met quite a few folks, and this is a very small community.

Within the company though, deaths really hit hard because these guys are a part of the ‘family’. The human resource office, the project manager, the CEO, the friends and families, and even the clients the companies serve, all grieve when one of their own is killed. They also build memorials to those killed.

So when I see that Summit Security Services lost eleven men that day, I just imagine how devastating that really was to the company. An example of other great sacrifices within a non-security company that day was Cantor Fitzgerald. They lost 658 people… A truly horrible loss and it takes real leadership to carry the company forward and heal.

In the past I have written about the sacrifice and heroism of Rick Rescorla, who is probably the most familiar security contractor to have died on 9/11. Today in my little corner of the internet and blogosphere, I wanted to not only remember the deaths and sacrifices of all persons involved on 9/11, but also give a special remembrance to those security contractors that died that day in defense of their client. Below are a list of 36 security contractors killed, and this post is dedicated to them. -Matt

 

FOB Rescorla in Afghanistan. Photo credit to the Rick Rescorla Memorial.

 

 

Patrick Adams – 60, Brooklyn, NY, Security officer, Fuji Bank

Godwin Ajala – 33, New York, NY, Security officer, Summit Security Services

Andrew J. Bailey – 29, New York, NY, Security supervisor, Marsh & McLennan

Lawrence F. Boisseau – 36, Freehold, NJ, Fire safety director, OCS Security

Francisco Bourdier – 40, New York, NY, Security guard, Deutsche Bank

Larry Bowman – 46, New York, N.Y., security officer, Summit Security Services

Edward Calderon – 43, Jersey City, NJ, Security guard, Port Authority

Mannie Leroy Clark – 54, New York, NY, Security guard

Francisco Cruz – 48, Staten Island, NY, Security officer, Summit Security Services

Denease Conley – 43, New York, N.Y., Summit Security

Samuel Fields – 36, New York, NY, Security officer, Summit Security Services

John R. Fisher – 46, Bayonne, N.J., security consultant, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Richard Fitzsimons – 57, Lynbrook, NY, Fire safety inspector, OCS Security

Ervin Gailliard – 42, New York, NY, Security officer, Summit Security Services

Jorge Luis Morron Garcia, 38, New York, N.Y., security officer, Summit Security Services

Charles Gregory John – 44, Security officer, Royston and Zamani

Philip Thomas Hayes – 67, East Northport, NY, Fire safety director, OCS Security

Ronald Hoerner – 58, Massapequa Park, NY, Security manager, Summit Security Services

Mohammed Jawara – MAS Security

Douglas G. Karpiloff – 53, Mamaroneck, NY, Security director, Port Authority

Barry Kirschbaum – 53, Staten Island, NY, Security manager, Marsh & McLennan

Leon Lebor, Security guard, Summit Security Services

Daniel Lugo – 45, New York, NY, Security officer, Summit Security Services

Anthony Luparello Jr., 63, SecurityWguard, American Building Maintenance

Sara Manley – 31, New York, N.Y., vice president and senior security analyst, Fred Alger Management

Robert Martinez – 24, Long Island City, N.Y., security officer, Summit Security Services

Robert J. Mayo – 46, Marlboro, NJ, Fire safety director, OCS Security

Stanley McCaskill – 47, New York, NY, Security guard, Advantage Security

John P. O’Neill – 50, NY, Security, Silverstein Partners

Alexander Ortiz – Security guard, Grubb & Ellis Inc

Rick Rescorla – 62, head of security for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

Esmerlin Salcedo – 36, New York, NY, Security officer, Summit Security Services

Nolbert Salomon – 33, Security guard

Francis Joseph Trombino – 68, Clifton, NJ, Security guard, Brinks

Jorge Velazquez – 47, Passaic, NJ, Security specialist, Morgan Stanley

William Wren – 61, Lynbrook, NJ, Resident manager, OCS Security

List compiled here.

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Publications: Sandia Report Draws Lessons Learned From 23 ‘Perfect Heists’

Deception, patience are common ingredients
While methods and implementation of the heists varied greatly, there were common factors. At least one form of deception was used in 21 of the heists, ranging from impersonating law enforcement to use of decoy vehicles to concealing surveillance equipment. Insiders — willing, unwitting and coerced — played a role in the majority of cases. The Antwerp Diamond Center’s building manager even provided blueprints to the heist mastermind, thinking he was just another tenant.
“I learned from this study that these thieves have a lot of patience. Most spent months and even years planning. They were very deliberate in how they defeated security measures and those methods were often very low-tech, like using hair spray to disable infrared sensors,” said Lafleur. “In most of these heists, multiple security measures were defeated.”
Another finding is that weapons aren’t needed to steal a lot of money. Four of the top five heists, in terms of value, were weaponless.

For obvious reasons, this report will have immense value for those out there that are in the business of countering this kind of crime. There is such a thing as the perfect heist, and this is an excellent study of those types of heists.  I was particularly interested in the lessons learned aspect of the report.

In it, they listed 44 items of interest for security professionals. They also described the average successful criminal. Here is a snippet.

Several key lessons are identified in each focus area, and an overview of the commonalities and bounds of criminal team characteristics and capabilities is provided. In brief, the typical criminal is a 30-39 year old man and experienced career criminal who is native to the country whose valuables he is targeting. The typical on-scene criminal team consists of 2-8 accomplices, typically perpetrating the robbery as a single team, although breaking into multiple sub-teams is not uncommon. Use of weapons is typical but in many cases not required for success. Thieves are willing to devote substantial resources to planning, spending in some cases more than two years, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and procuring transportation for thousands of pounds of loot. Thieves are frequently thorough and innovative in their planning, developing security defeat methods that are physically simple but highly targeted toward vulnerabilities the thieves have identified in advance of the heist. In the identification and exploitation of these vulnerabilities, deceptions and insiders almost always play a role. Multiple insiders, unwillingly or willingly colluding, are not uncommon; and while insiders span a variety of origins and roles, by far the most common type is the coerced insider who unwillingly assists in the crime, often upon threat of losing his own life or the lives of his family members.

That is some serious patience and ‘know your enemy, know yourself’ stuff there. The use of insiders, willing or not, is also very interesting.

Now what this report did not include was the vast group of criminals that absolutely need to be studied in Russia, South Asia, East Asia and Australia. It would also be helpful for them to go older than the 1970’s, but at least they have a good smattering of successful modern day heists. Here is a quote.

This expansion might continue to track down details of thefts that commonly make published lists of top heists, or it might take the direction of purposefully widening the scope geographically (e.g., to include heists in Russia, South Asia, East Asia, and Australia) and temporally (e.g., to include heists prior to the 1970s, perhaps as far back as the early 1900s, or farther back to the 1800s or even 1700s) to ensure the representation of a greater diversity of criminal methods and techniques in the data.

Check it out and this thing is filled with the good stuff. -Matt

Read the report here.

 

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Sandia report draws lessons learned from ‘perfect heists’ for national security
August 19, 2014
In 2003, the unthinkable happened at Belgium’s Antwerp Diamond Center. Thieves broke into its reputedly impenetrable vault and made off with hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of diamonds, gold, cash and other valuables.
Through years of meticulous planning, they got past police officers less than 200 feet away, access controls into the building, a combination-and-key-lock vault door, a magnetic seal on the vault door and motion, infrared, light and seismic detectors within the vault.
The Antwerp Diamond Center theft and other sophisticated, high-value heists show that motivated criminals can find ways to overcome every obstacle between them and their targets. Can the Energy and Defense departments, responsible for analyzing, designing and implementing complex systems to protect vital national security assets, learn from security failures in the banking, art and jewelry worlds?
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Industry Talk: FBO–Security Assistance Mentors And Advisors Services In Iraq

This just popped up on my radar screen about Iraq. Of course things have really gotten bad in Iraq with the advance of IS/ISIL/ISIS/Daash and Iraq is having a heck of a time stopping them. Of course this is of grave concern to those that have an interest in a stable Iraq or want the ISIS threat to be stopped.

What is significant here is that contractors are a way to get more ‘boots on the ground’, when politically it is very difficult to do so. Especially when President Obama made promises to the world that we will ‘not’ have soldiers fighting in Iraq, nor will we have ‘boots on the ground’. He also made campaign promises that the US will have nothing to do with Iraq and really trumped up his achievement of pulling all the troops out back in 2011…Well, I guess plans change? lol

At this time, there are several hundred military advisors on the ground, and that number just keeps going up as the situation gets more dire in Iraq. But this also counters the politics of this administration’s views on Iraq involvement. So how do you stop the bleeding in Iraq, but still hold to your promise of not getting involved in Iraq? Enter contractors, the ultimate American Express of contingency operations.

I should also note that contractors are a huge component of security at the Embassy in Baghdad. I have heard estimates thrown around, and given the situation, I would say these are pretty close. Triple Canopy, according to some of my sources, has anywhere from 300 to 350 guys, and SOC has about 200-250 ERT guys. (I am open to any corrections there) That is a pretty substantial force and goes in line with what has been reported over the years in reports. It is also a massive facility, and if ISIS presses the fight closer into the city, those defenses will be tested. That is on top of the current military staffing at the Embassy which was reported to be about 100. As for DoD or OGA contractors, who knows?…

Now back to this FBO. The submission deadline is August 25th, so I imagine all the companies interested will be jumping all over this one and scrambling to put something together. How much this is worth, who knows? This part was interesting thought.

‘The proposed contract is for a single Firm Fixed Price (FFP) DoD contract with a period of performance of twelve (12) months and two (2) twelve month option periods. Security Assistance Mentors and Advisors (SAMA) services in Iraq’.

We will see how this goes and if any other contracts spin up or requests, I will be on the look out. H/T the Washington Post for picking up on this one. -Matt 

 

A police liaison officer, hired by DynCorp to help build the Iraqi police force, walks among the rubble of a police station in 2005 in Fallujah. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

 

Security Assistance Mentors and Advisors (SAMA) services in Iraq
Solicitation Number: W560MY-14-R-0004
Agency: Department of the Army
Office: Army Contracting Command
Location: ACC – Rock Island (ACC-RI)
Aug 11, 2014
Solicitation Number: W560MY-14-R-0004
Notice Type: Sources Sought
Synopsis:
Added: Aug 11, 2014 10:54 am
SOURCES SOUGHT to locate interested vendors with the capability of performing Security Assistance Mentors and Advisors (SAMA) services in Iraq. The contractor shall provide advice and assistance to the Office of Security Assistance – Iraq (OSC-I) senior personnel in their mission to support the Government of Iraq (GoI), cognizant of the goals of goals of reducing tensions between Arabs and Kurds, and Sunni and Shias, with key focus on core process and systems which involve, but are not limited to administration, force development, procurement and acquisition, contracting, training management, public affairs, logistics, personnel management, professional development, communications, planning and operations, infrastructure management, intelligence and executive development.
Contract personnel shall assist the military and government personnel assigned to OSC-I in the assessment of MoD, CTS, or MoP processes, policies, and systems and then advising, coaching, mentoring, training, and liaising with MoD, CTS, or MoP officials to improve and refine these processes, policies, and systems. The contractor shall also ensure that training facilitation and the degree of interaction between contractor personnel and Iraqis being trained will conform to evolving local Iraqi requirements as may be agreed upon between the contractor and the Contracting Officer.
MISSION STATEMENT: The Office of Security Assistance – Iraq (OSC-I) has a requirement to provide Security Assistance Mentors and Advisors (SAMA) services to mentor and assist the Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) to build processes and institutional capacity within the ministry or bureau in order to place them on the critical path towards Iraqi security self-reliance.
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Games: Call Of Duty Advanced Warfare

This game is of interest to our community because it involves a future where PMSC’s are the dominate players. It is a game that asks ‘what if?’.

This franchise has made a ton of money off of the Call of Duty games, and this latest game is the next evolution of that franchise. When they hired a heavy duty actor like Kevin Spacey to play the CEO of the fictional PMSC in this game called Atlas Corporation, then you know these guys are not fooling around. These games are essentially interactive movies, complete with premieres and premier parties and awards for best games. It really is amazing how far these things have come along.

It is also telling that video games would invest so much into PMSC related stories. Mercenary type games must really do well for them to put so much money and resource into the concept. I should also mention that I have a ton of traffic coming from places like Los Angeles and other areas of the country where games or other bits of PMSC related entertainment are made. I am sure on Facebook, the same kind of thing is happening. An industry that makes their money on good story and great action in a game, will find inspiration wherever it can–to include this blog. Which is great and I hope they take the ideas and run with them. Just know that I can’t control what the gamers or other contractors feel about the game, so if it sucks, it is on you guys. lol

So we will see how the game does? For the record, I had no involvement with the development of this game. Check out the other behind the scenes videos that talk about the weapons and ideas of the game. Lots of technology and future warfare type stuff going on. -Matt

Pre-order game here.

 

 

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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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