Archive for category Iraq

Legal News: Free Raven 23

Well it is good to be back home and I have been playing catch up on the latest news coming from the PMSC world.  On Facebook and Linkedin I have been able to connect with lots of great people and friends, and I have been getting some outstanding information from the community.

For my first post on the blog I found this outstanding organization being run by the friends and family of Raven 23 and I wanted to get their message out there. For those that do not know who Raven 23 are, here is a quick run down of what happened to them from their support website.

Paul Slough, Dustin Heard, Nick Slatten and Evan Liberty set out with 15 of their Blackwater teammates as part of Tactical Support Team Raven 23, to secure a busy square in Baghdad’s Red Zone. Blackwater, under contract with the U.S. Department of State, was responsible (among other things) for diplomatic security in the country of Iraq.

Raven 23 was responding to a distress call from another team which had been attacked on venue. In the distance, they could see the large plume of black smoke where a VBIED (vehicle-born improvised explosive device) had been detonated. They were to secure a route of egress through Nisour Square, which was a task they had completed numerous times previously; a seemingly straightforward task. Unfortunately, things haven’t been straightforward since.

After all four vehicles in the convoy had taken up their positions in the square, a white Kia lurched out of stopped traffic towards the convoy, and the security team used escalating force to stop the vehicle. They had to consider the risk of this vehicle also being a VBIED very seriously, as coordinated attacks were on the rise. There was a pattern developing where enemy forces would make an attack for the sole purpose of perpetrating a second, larger attack on responding forces. Eight team members, not including the four defendants, testified that they either perceived the white Kia to be a threat, or that they agreed that from other points of view in the convoy that it could be perceived a threat. No one should have been convicted of anything related to the white Kia based on this testimony alone, but that is only a fraction of the story.

The four vehicles were set up in a moon shape stretching along the southern side of the traffic circle. The third vehicle (the Command Vehicle), which contained three of the defendants (Liberty, Slatten & Slough) was facing directly into the south of the square, broadside to all oncoming traffic in that direction.

Almost simultaneously to the white Kia threat, the convoy began receiving incoming small arms fire (AK-47), disabling the Command Vehicle which subsequently had to be towed. The side of the vehicle was pock marked by the incoming fire, and a teammate in the vehicle behind began yelling that they were taking contact (fire) from people dressed as Iraqi Police. Whether or not they were actually employed as Iraqi Police we will never know, as IP uniforms are as readily available in the street markets of Iraq as fake designer bags are on the side streets of Washington, D.C.

All of the incoming fire, and the fact that it was coming from people dressed as Iraqi Police, was documented on the team’s contact logs. To believe that the team was not under attack would be to believe that multiple individuals either scripted the entire thing in advance or that they ad-libbed an entire attack while simultaneously participating in a one-sided gunfight, both of which are entirely ludicrous, and contrary to eyewitness testimony and physical evidence.

A complicated firefight ensued as the team hooked up a tow rope from one vehicle to the other, and tried to exit the circle to the north. The exit was made even more complicated by the fact that part of the circle was closed to traffic due to repairs being made from a VBIED just a few months prior. Eventually, almost ten minutes later, the team was able to exit the circle and return to the Green Zone.

What I wanted to share was the touching and impactful video that the friends and family put together, to present their side of the case.  To highlight the politics, and the inconsistencies presented by the prosecution. The full weight and force of the US government legal system was brought to bear on these men, and I feel it is only right to present their side of the whole deal.

If you feel like supporting Free Raven 23, I have provided some links to their website and FB page. From there you can sign petitions and donate money to help out the families.  –Matt



Website for Free Raven 23 here.

Facebook page for Free Raven 23 here.

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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
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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