Archive for category Iraq

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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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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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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Industry Talk: ACADEMI And Triple Canopy Merge Under Constellis Holdings!

After being away for awhile, and coming back into the blogging and social media scene, I had to choose what story I wanted to talk about that is the most interesting to the community. There is so much going on out there that it is kind of overwhelming to find an entry point back into the mix. With that said, this site is dedicated to PMSC news and I believe this merger story is pretty damn interesting. Enter ‘Triple Academi’… lol

This is big news. A merger between Triple Canopy and ACADEMI, along with other companies that were part of the Constellis Group package, are now all gathered under the Constellis Holdings, Inc. umbrella. The list of companies in the form of a graphic is posted below, complements of Danger Zone Jobs.

So the first thing to go over, seeing how I am coming in late on this story, is to see what has been said. Over at Soldier Systems, they posted the news and the comments are telling. Some fear that pay will drop now that the companies are consolidating. Especially when TC and ACADEMI are running contracts that mirror each other in Afghanistan, like the Leatherneck and Dwyer gigs, and yet both companies have different pay schemes. I suspect that the current contracts signed by independent contractors will remain in place. But for future contracts signed by IC’s, will the pay be the same now that both companies are under the same ownership? Who knows?…

The other fear is that one company’s culture might clash with the other company’s culture and the way they do business. There is always the perception with competing companies, that the other guy doesn’t know what they are doing or are poor service providers or have a terrible culture/system in place. My guess is that the companies will still do their own thing and any changes will be minor. But you never know, and there might be plans to ‘change’ things around.

The changes that were announced were the consolidation of training at ACADEMI’s training facility, which will be a huge savings. Triple Canopy has a portion of the WPS contract as well, and to be able to tap into a world class training facility at Moyoc, will absolutely lead to savings. Hopefully those savings will help all companies involved realize that salaries should not be messed with, especially since IC’s and employees will know of these savings.

To get a feel for what the WPS guys and other contractors are saying about this merger’s impact on the WPS program, go over to SOCNET and follow their thread. The pay is the big issue.

Another change that was announced in the press release was to have all companies answer to one CEO, and that would be Craig Nixon of ACADEMI. The quote below says it all.

The combined ownership group will employ more than 6,000 of the industry’s most experienced and best-trained employees and will be led by CEO Craig Nixon.

That is like being in command of a brigade, and seeing how Mr. Nixon was actually a Brigadier General in the US Army, he should be somewhat familiar with the size and scope of leading such a large group. Although running a private company versus a military unit has it’s own set of unique challenges and he also has a board of directors to answer too. He can also tap into an excellent sounding board for ideas over at the McChrystal Group. Perhaps even fire up a management school at ACADEMI and implement some CrossLead or something like that for it’s leaders? Or better yet, contract the services of Adaptive Leader LLC… Just saying.
The other big news with this is that by proxy, Blackwater or ACADEMI, is now back in Iraq! lol With the merger of TC, which has WPS contracts in Iraq, by proxy, ACADEMI now has some ‘family’ in Iraq. It is ironic as well, that TC was the company that took over the WPS contracts from BW back in the day after the whole Nisour Square fallout.
Triple Canopy is also holding the line at the US Embassy in Baghdad, along with the Marines and Army that have been sent to protect. TC also has WPS contracts in the south of Iraq. To get a feel for what they are doing there, here is an OIG report from March of 2013 that details that stuff. (the numbers of security contractors have probably changed since the report, but they referenced the company’s muster list as 1200 contractors dedicated to the Embassy and the INL-Iraq program)

As to how this merger impacts TC’s ESOP program, I have no clue. Will this mega merger form an ESOP that everyone can participate in, who knows?

One suggestion to the companies is to communicate clearly with everyone in your chain, exactly what changes will happen. I imagine they are already doing this, but I can’t stress enough how important this is for the sake of those guys working out in the field and making things happen for these companies. Keep your people informed and a part of the process!
My final point, is for contract bids in the future. The companies within this merger have strength in numbers. They can bid lower, now that they have resources within the group of companies. Especially with training or personnel management. So Constellis Holdings will be a big player when it comes to bidding on contracts and they will leverage their advantage big time.
Well, this is all the commentary I have on the subject right now. I will make edits as information comes in and I invite the companies to make any announcements through this site if they wish. Mergers and Acquisitions in this industry are not new and I have written about it in the past and how this was predicted as the wars wind down. So the question is, who will merge next? -Matt

 

The current list of companies within the Constellis Holdings Inc merger. Photo by Danger Zones Jobs.

Constellis Holdings, Inc. Acquires Constellis Group, Inc.
June 06, 2014
Constellis Holdings, Inc. has agreed to acquire Constellis Group, Inc., a leading provider of security, support and advisory services to government, multinational corporations and international organizations operating in challenging environments around the world. Constellis Holdings was formed by the founders of Triple Canopy and the private equity investors who formed ACADEMI.
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Bounties: Iraq Offers $17,000 Reward For Killing Jihadists

Now this is something else.  Iraq is trying to fire up an offense industry against Al Qaeda and ISIS, and are actually creating a dead or alive scheme. I believe this is the first dead or alive bounty program, sponsored by Iraq or any state recently, in modern times. I could be wrong, but if true, this is significant.

The other thing to note is the increased bounty for ‘living’ foreign militants. Which is a good move in order to get intelligence from living militants. You want to create the incentive to bring them in alive, and attach a value to that. It is much like how the US created a bounty scheme in order for privateers to capture British prisoners, as opposed to just letting them go, during the War of 1812. The reason why, is the US needed British prisoners to exchange for US prisoners.

So where can this go wrong? Well, for one, human rights violations could happen. Imagine bounty hunters torturing folks, just to find more jihadists for increased profit.  I am sure a bounty program like this also violates some UN law or treaty… Who knows. All I  know is Iraq is pretty desperate and they are doing everything they can to survive.

I should also note that Al Qaeda and others have been using offense industry in their game for a long time now. They have put bounties on Iraqis and the west all over the world, and still have ‘dead or alive’ schemes going to this day.

As to how this might play out, who knows. It might fizzle, but it might really take off. I am reminded of bounty schemes/offense industries during the Rhodesian War or the early bounty schemes in America, where scalps were used as proof of death.

In Mexico, they had bounty programs where they paid money for the scalps of dead Apaches. In the case of Mexico, gangs like the Glanton Gang, would go on scalp hunting expeditions to get the reward money posted by the state of Chihuahua. This is not to say that the Iraqis will use scalps as a proof of death, but in all actuality, proof of death will be necessary in order to collect a reward. Scalping was a mechanism created to prove death because it was easier to transport a scalp, and humans only grow one scalp. In this case, I imagine folks will present the body, or maybe even the head, as proof. Who knows…

I will keep an eye on this and see if this is just a propaganda thing, or if they are actually firing up a dead or alive bounty program. Also, I have no idea if the Iraqis are offering this bounty to anyone other than Iraqi bounty hunters. If anything else pops up on this, I will make an edit. -Matt

 

Buffalo hunter Ralph Morrison, killed and scalped by Cheyennes in December 1868 near Fort Dodge, Kansas; Lieutenant Read in Military Uniform and John O. Austin and Horse Nearby. December 7, 1868.

 

 

Iraq offers $17,200 reward for killing jihadists
20 February 2014
Iraq’s government has offered a reward of $17,200 (£10,300) for each foreign militant killed from al-Qaeda or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), a former affiliate.
A larger reward of $25,800 (£15,500) is being offered for the capture of militants belonging to the two groups.
The announcement was made on the website of the ministry of defence.
Al-Qaeda and ISIS have been blamed by the authorities for the surge in sectarian violence over the past year.
Iraqi government data says more than 1,000 people were killed in January.
At the end of December, ISIS and its allies seized control of parts of Fallujah and Ramadi, two cities in the predominantly Sunni western province of Anbar.
While security forces backed by pro-government tribesmen have made progress in retaking areas of Ramadi, they have not launched an offensive on Fallujah, instead asking locals to get the militants to leave.
Last week, the UN said 300,000 people had been displaced by the fighting in Anbar, the highest number since the peak of the sectarian insurgency from 2006 to 2008.
Story here.

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Weapons: Oh, The Weapons Contractors Use…

This is a fun one. On Facebook I posted a TOTD or Thought Of The Day on what types of weapons contractors have used in the past on contracts. What I got was an incredible amount of feedback on this and it was really fun to see what popped up. Here is the TOTD I posted:

TOTD: Contractor Weapons. I think this would be a fun one. I would be interested in all the various weapon types that guys have seen issued as contractors, or had to use as part of their contract. Or stuff that you saw or heard other contractors use. Everyone hears about AK’s, M-4/ARs, and Glocks, but what are the other rifles and pistols seen issued. Or even the heavier weapons used for contracts. This should be a fun one and I will probably make a post out of it on the blog.

I have mentioned in the past that Facebook has been incredibly useful for interacting with the contractor community. The amount of feedback and interaction is amazing and very useful. I am also able to share more ideas in a more efficient manner there, which also helps to get more ideas in return.

So back to contractor weapons. Guys posted pictures and everything, and it was cool to see any trends in what we are using out there. Obviously AK -47’s and M-4/AR-15 variants are the top primary weapons. But the various types of other weapons issued and their histories are very interesting. Some are just recaptured weapons that were given to contractors by outgoing military units in the various AO’s, or some are weapons the companies were able to ship into that country. Others were bought in gun markets in the region, and it is fascinating to see what contractors we able to get a hold of.

What I will do below is list every gun mentioned and I recommend going to the post on FB to see the various stories behind these weapons. I did notice that the G-3 was mentioned quite a bit. I got to play around with one in Iraq, but didn’t use it for work. In the photo below, Patrick brought up a heavily modified G 3 that I thought was cool.

The other thing to point out is how many copies of weapons were mentioned. Stuff that was either reproduced by Iraqi factories or stuff that was made in the weapon making villages of Pakistan. Lots of junky weapons that fell apart or barely worked, but were cheap and helped to stand up a contract. It is a huge problem in the industry, and companies continue to outfit contracts with junky weapons and equipment, all because of money or because they do not have the connections to get the good stuff into that war zone. That is the one thing that I continue to see and hear from contractors out there, and I have experienced the same, and that companies are horrible at providing good weapons or equipment. It’s why guys become good at fixing weapons or why folks prefer to bring their own kit–because the companies are horrible at this stuff.

Back to the list. There is also the mention of heavy weapons used, or the use of explosives. Stuff that you would not associate with contracting, but was certainly used at one time or another by contractors in Iraq or Afghanistan. In the early days of Iraq, you saw everything. Now, not so much because regulations and contracts have become very specific as to what can be carried. I saw that change during the 2006 to 2008 time frame, and especially in Iraq. But there are contracts that are out of sight or out of control of the Big Military, and you continue to see the heavy stuff come up on contracts.  So here is the list, and feel free to add in the comments section stuff that you used on contracts. -Matt

 

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This is a PDW Patrick McAleer made in 2007, out of an Iranian G3, in Iraq. Photo Credit Patrick McAleer.

 

Pistols

Glock 19
Glock 17
HS 2000
Caracal F
M 9
SIG P226
Makarov
Turkish Kanuni
Walther P 38
Iraqi Berretta
Browning Hi Power
Walther P 99
CZ 75
.455 Webley
Smith and Wesson Sigma
Norinco NP 22 (Sig 226 copy)
FN P35
CZ 70
Tariq
Zastava EZ9
Ruger P95
.38 Colt Diamondback
Colt 1911
.455 Colt Eley
Tokarov

Rifles
M 16 A2
AK 47
AR 15
M 4
FN FAL
Colt 722
G 3
G 36
Type 56
K 98
Krag
British SMLE
Sturmgewehr 44
SVD
Saiga M 3
Benelli Argo
Remington R 25
Remington 700
Browning BAR
Mosin Nagant
FPK Dragunov
AR 10
Ruger Scout Rifle in .308
AMD 65
HK MR 308
FN FAL para
VZ 58
AR 18
HK 416
East German MPi KM 72
SIG 550

Shotguns

NOR 982
Remington 870
Italian double barrel

Submachine Guns

Swedish K
MP 5
Scorpion
Uzi
Sterling
Krinkov
PPSH 41
Beretta M 12
Beretta PM 12S
Thompson

Machine Guns

MG 42
FN Minimi Para SAW
FN M-249 SAW
M-240/MAG 58
PKM
M 60
RPK
MG 3
RPD
VZ 59

Grenade Launchers

M 79
UBGL 25
HK 69
M 203
M 320/AG 36

Mortars, Grenades and Mines

M 67
RGD 5
M 18 Claymore
Stun
Tear Gas/CS
Improvised Claymores For Defense
Mortars for flares

Rocket Launchers

AT 4
RPG 7

Heavy Machine Guns

M 2
DsHK

Automatic Grenade Launchers

MK 19
AGS 17

Misc.

Crossbows
Regular Archery Bows
Kitchen Knives
ASP baton
Slingshot

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