Archive for category Iraq

Industry Talk: Janus Global Operations Tasked To Clear Parts Of Mosul

Man, this is a story that is not getting the attention it needs, but is very much significant to the war effort. Janus Global is being tasked with clearing the thousands of IEDs and explosive remnants of the battle in Mosul. In the words of a US government official in reference to Mosul, it is ‘like nothing we’ve encountered’. Clearing Mosul will take in some estimates, up to ten years! Not only that, but think about the other areas that ISIS had control over in Iraq or even Syria. Weapons removal and abatement will keep this company and others like it, busy for a long time….

As to the particulars of these contracts, I have no idea if the contractors doing the clearing are using an organic security force or partnering with the host nation forces or subcontracting security. For the CMC projects during the Iraq war, security was a huge deal and it was done internally and contracted out, along with partnering with local security companies. Quite a few security contractors cycled through those projects back then and it was extremely successful in cleaning up old Ammunition Supply Points that were destroyed in the war.

I should note that this has been an incredibly dangerous assignment for this company.  Last year, a Janus Global contractor was killed clearing munitions in Ramadi and I don’t think this will be the last. Good job to the company and I wish everyone good luck as they clear these battlefields. –Matt

 

 

Janus Global Operations assists clearance of ISIS-placed booby traps and other explosive devices from Mosul, Iraq, the country’s second-largest city
By Kara Kagarise
Aug 2, 2017
Janus Global Operations (JGO) has been tasked to clear areas of Mosul, Iraq of ISIS- placed booby traps, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and explosive remnants of war in a situation a U.S. government official says is “like nothing we’ve encountered.”
JGO has been working in Iraq since April 2016 on behalf of the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.  Initially, JGO helped clear Ramadi, Iraq of tens of thousands of explosive remnants of war left by ISIS as it was expelled by U.S.-supported Iraqi forces.  Earlier in 2017, having worked in Ramadi and other areas of Anbar province, JGO expanded its work for the State Department by establishing a training facility outside Erbil, in Iraq’s Kurdish region, to support operations in other areas liberated from ISIS.
The coalition against ISIS announced on July 10 that Iraqi forces regained control of Mosul, concluding a months-long effort that was supported by U.S. training and air support. The violent extremist group left behind innumerable explosive devices, as reported by the Washington Post on July 13 in an article headlined: “It could take more than a decade to clear Mosul of explosives, U.S. officials say.”
JGO’s chief executive officer said ISIS’ use of IEDs as a ‘weapons system’ broke new ground, making it much more challenging for Iraq’s displaced citizens to return home and resume their lives.  The State Department-sponsored efforts of JGO therefore utilized systematic ‘strategic clearance’ that focused on clearing critical infrastructure to rapidly enable the resumption of Mosul’s economic and civic life.
“Age, gender, religion – it makes no difference to ISIS.  Its goal is to destroy and kill. Ours is to help make the city safe for people, business, and government services to return to normal. The State Department’s office of Weapons Removal and Abatement is saving lives and restoring hope through its work, and we’re proud to be part of this effort,” said Matt Kaye, JGO’s chief executive officer.
JGO saw in Ramadi how ISIS leaves lethal devices in disguised places and in innocent-looking everyday items, and Kaye said JGO was seeing a similar tactic in Mosul, where such devices numbered into the tens of thousands. Mosul is larger than Ramadi, and ISIS had over two years to construct and hide its explosive devices.
Adding ISIS’ death traps to otherwise expected unexploded ordnance shows the scale of the task ahead.
As Stanley Brown, director of the State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, told the Washington Post: “When I look around the world, in some ways there’s nothing like Mosul that we’ve encountered. The level of contamination is not one where we’re talking weeks and months, we’re talking years and maybe decades.”
Janus Global Operations is an integrated stability operations company that focuses on ‘day after’ support for its clients, allowing them to take strategic steps almost as soon as hostilities cease, allowing citizens more rapidly to resume their lives and broader reconstruction to get underway.  Janus has thousands of employees serving clients in North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.  Its services include munitions response; demining; intelligence support; logistics; life support; risk management; communications; and other services in some of the world’s most challenging and hostile environments.
Story here.

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Legal News: Erik Prince Statement On Raven23 Court Of Appeals Ruling

     I am heartened by the Court of Appeals ruling today and am grateful the Court finally recognized the unique nature of a Blackwater Contractor’s relationship with the federal government. These men volunteered to serve their country in deadly environments not once, but twice. Each of them served in the Armed Forces, then volunteered to serve again as contracted security professionals. They served our nation with distinction and have always deserved better treatment. At trial, the US Attorney steadfastly maintained that our men initiated the firefight in Nisour Square without provocation. I was shocked when the US Attorney finally admitted, on the record, that was not the case. I hope the attorneys who appear to have deliberately misrepresented the evidence before the trial court face investigation and appropriate disciplinary action. -Erik Prince

Folks, this is hopeful news and that statement up top is an exclusive statement from Erik Prince for the Feral Jundi readership. I also posted a statement below from the Free Raven23 Facebook Page below. That page is managed by the friends and family of these men. Below that, I was also able to get a statement from Christin Caveness Slough.

My own commentary on this is that this whole deal has been incredibly political and these men have suffered because of that. This is also significant to the discourse out there, because every article or book or commentary that references the Nisour Square incident, will now have to include this history. That is if they care about the truth, or telling the whole story. –Matt

PLEASE READ ALL AND SHARE!

We received a decision today. It is not true justice, but it is a SMALL step closer to reuniting our families. But we have a LONG road to go and humbly ask for your prayers.
Nick’s conviction was overturned (because his jury did not hear evidence of his innocence), but the government has the ability to retry him. We don’t yet know if that will happen, how long it will take to decide, or what will happen to Nick during the interim (kept in custody or released).
One of Evan’s convictions was overturned.
He, Paul, and Dustin will be re-sentenced due to the misapplication of the federal weapons law to secure their 30-year mandatory minimum sentences. We don’t yet know when their resentencing will be held.
We need prayer warriors more than ever:
(1) release and no retrial for Nick; and (2) time served at re-sentencing for Dustin, Evan, and Paul SOON. 

Free Raven 23 website here.
Free Raven 23 Facebook Page here.

Christin Cavness Slough statement.

While I am thrilled that Nick Slatten’s completely erroneous conviction has been vacated, the remaining convictions being upheld is why I no longer trust, or respect, our federal judicial system. There was an opportunity here for the court to finally show that it could deliver justice within the clearly framed boundaries of the law and failed to even issue a coherent or unified opinion. It is an additional small victory that the court finally recognizes that the federal weapons law, used to force 30 year mandatory minimum sentences, was woefully misapplied however calling it a tragedy that it was applied in the first place would be a gross understatement. We remain hopeful that all four of these men will be home where they belong sooner rather than later, but this was not the firm step in that direction that we had hoped or that the law required.

Ex-Blackwater contractor gets murder conviction tossed by federal appeals court
August 04, 2017

A federal appeals court Friday overturned a former Blackwater security contractor’s first-degree murder conviction in connection with a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that killed 14 Iraqi civilians and injured 17 others.
In a split decision, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit ruled a lower court erred by not allowing Nicholas Slatten to be tried separately from his three co-defendants in 2014.
Slatten, 33, had been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the shooting, in which prosecutors claimed he had fired the first shots.
The court also ordered new sentences for the three other contractors — Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Herd — who were each found guilty of manslaughter and firearms charges carrying mandatory 30-year terms.
The judges determined those sentences were “grossly disproportionate to their culpability for using government-issued weapons in a war-zone.” Prosecutors had charged the men with using military firearms while committing another felony. That statute, typically employed against gang members or bank robbers, had never before been used against overseas security contractors working for the U.S. government.
It was not immediately clear whether prosecutors planned to try Slatten again for murder.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is reviewing the opinion and has no further comment at this time,” spokesman William Miller told Fox News
At the weeks long trial three years ago, federal prosecutors and defense lawyers presented very different versions of what triggered the September 2007 massacre in Nisour Square.
The government described the killings as a one-sided ambush of unarmed civilians, while the defense said the guards opened fire only after a white Kia sedan seen as a potential suicide car bomb began moving quickly toward their convoy. After the shooting stopped, no evidence of a bomb was found.
In issuing their ruling benefiting the defendants, the judges said they were in no way excusing the horror of events they said “defies civilized description.”
“In reaching this conclusion, we by no means intend to minimize the carnage attributable to Slough, Heard and Liberty’s actions,” said U.S. Circuit Judge Karen L. Henderson, writing for the court. “Their poor judgments resulted in the deaths of many innocent people.”
Fox News’ Jake Gibson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Story here.

 

 

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Publications: DoD Contractor And Troop Levels In Iraq And Afghanistan 2007-2016

Another fantastic resource for those that are keeping track. Over the years, I have tracked these statistics and it is always interesting to see the trends or actual hard facts about the use of contractors by the US in places like Iraq or Afghanistan. Mind you, this is only for DoD related contractor personnel.

On a side note, I personally think that this reporting activity should be done based on a legal requirement, separate from the budget. That way, we can get a true picture of how many contractors are actually being used out there. It would be nice to see DoS report as well, and do something similar to what DoD is doing with these. –Matt

 

Report PDF here.

 

 

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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
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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