Archive for category Libya

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 on his family was mentioned as well.

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Libya: Parsons Corporation Destroys All Of Libya’s WMD

Using $45 million from the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which has helped rid the former Soviet Union of thousands of nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War, the Pentagon and its Defense Threat Reduction Agency tapped the Parsons Corporation, a construction firm based in Pasadena, Calif., to work with Libya to oversee the rebuilding and safeguarding of the Libyan disposal site, which had been ransacked during the civil war.
Remarkably, the mustard agents stored in bulk containers at the site were untouched and their inspection seals unbroken, American and international officials said. These have all been destroyed, too.
Canada donated $6 million to help restore water, sewage service and electricity to the site, and to build living quarters for Western and Libyan contractors. Germany agreed to fly international inspectors to the site.

This is quite the story and it got very little attention. Libya apparently had some nasty stuff and thanks to some serious wheeling and dealing here, the west and their Libyan allies were able to collect it all and destroy it at this site. All this in a country that is still unstable with lots of folks that would love to get their hands on those weapons.

No word on who the guard force was and perhaps Parsons Corporation contracted that out to a local militia? Although I have to imagine that there was some adult supervision when it comes to the security for this site.  Having worked on similar sites in Iraq that were tasked with destroying munitions, security is paramount. You always have the outer ring of security, and then you have the trusted security covering down on the client and living areas, and their movements around the site. Who knows how this was set up and if anyone was a part of this contract, I would love to add to the record on this.

Either way, good deal and I wouldn’t be surprised if Parsons Corporation applies this same model to Syria. I could also see the furnace that Dynasafe made will also be used in Syria. -Matt

 

 

Libya’s Cache of Toxic Arms All Destroyed
By ERIC SCHMITTFEB. 2, 2014
Even as the international effort to destroy Syria’s vast chemical weapons stockpile lags behind schedule, a similar American-backed campaign carried out under a cloak of secrecy ended successfully last week in another strife-torn country, Libya.
The United States and Libya in the past three months have discreetly destroyed what both sides say were the last remnants of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi’s lethal arsenal of chemical arms. They used a transportable oven technology to destroy hundreds of bombs and artillery rounds filled with deadly mustard agent, which American officials had feared could fall into the hands of terrorists. The effort also helped inspire the use of the technology in the much bigger disposal plan in Syria.
Related Coverage
Since November, Libyan contractors trained in Germany and Sweden have worked in bulky hazmat suits at a tightly guarded site in a remote corner of the Libyan desert, 400 miles southeast of Tripoli, racing to destroy the weapons in a region where extremists linked to Al Qaeda are gaining greater influence. The last artillery shell was destroyed on Jan. 26, officials said.

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Publications: Contractor Support Of USCENTCOM AOR, 3rd Quarter FY 2013

This is the latest DASD program support report. Here are the highlights from the report.

Afghanistan
In 3rd quarter FY13 there were approximately 101.8K DoD contractors in Afghanistan. The overall contractor footprint in Afghanistan decreased by 5.5% from 2nd quarter FY13.
The contractor to military ratio in Afghanistan is 1.43 to 1 (based on 71.5K military as of June 7, 2013).
There will be substantial contractor reductions over this fiscal year, as a result of base closures, the return to expeditionary standards, and transition of security to the APPF.
Local Nationals (LN) currently make up 36.7% of the DoD contracted workforce in Afghanistan. The use of LNs remains important to COIN strategy.

The big one in Afghanistan is that there are more contractors than military folks there. It’s a contractor’s war now and local nationals make up a huge portion of that work force.

Iraq
In 3rd quarter FY13, the total number of contractors supporting the U.S. Government in Iraq (DoD + DOS) was approximately 10.3K. There will be substantial contractor reductions in 2013 reflecting consolidation of sites, completion of ongoing activity, and increased utilization of host country service and labor.
The DoS and DoD continue to refine the requirements for contract support. Some contractor personnel employed under DoD contracts are supporting State Department and other civilian activities under the Chief of Mission, Iraq. These DoD contractors are provided on a reimbursable basis.

In Iraq, the name of the game is DoD and DoS working with one another and using each other’s resources in order to accomplish the mission. Which makes sense because the former military resource everyone depended upon is gone, so now it’s all about supporting one another with the limited resources that are there.

The other thing to factor into the contractor equation is all the turmoil going on throughout these regions. For Iraq, Syria is being closely watched and monitored. The current presence in Iraq is vital for that mission and contractors will be very much in need to secure that effort and supply the beans/bullets/bandages.

Not to mention that as Al Qaeda gets stronger in Syria, they will be taking that capability back into Iraq to clean house. The raids they are doing in Syria and becoming more complex and bold and they are using that knowledge and applying it in Iraq. As a result, Iraq is definitely seeing a pick up in violence and complex attacks. A great example is the recent prison assault at Abu Ghraib in which 500 Al Qaeda prisoners escaped as a result. But check out how they did it.

Monday’s attacks came exactly a year after the leader of al Qaeda’s Iraqi branch, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, launched a “Breaking the Walls” campaign that made freeing its imprisoned members a top priority, the group said in a statement.Sunni Islamist militants have in recent months been regaining momentum in their insurgency against Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government, which came to power after the U.S. invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.The group said it had deployed suicide attackers, rockets, and 12 car bombs, killing 120 Iraqi guards and SWAT forces in the attacks in Taji, north of Baghdad, and Abu Ghraib, the prison made notorious a decade ago by photographs showing abuse of prisoners by U.S. soldiers.Interior ministry and medical sources said 29 police and soldiers were killed, and 36 wounded.

 12 car bombs? That is quite the assault! (the Taliban were able to release 400 prisoners in the Sarposa prison escape.)DoS is concerned about the surge in violence as well. Here is a quote.

The attacks on the prisons at Abu Ghraib and Taji were carefully synchronized operations in which members of the Qaeda affiliate used mortars to pin down Iraqi forces, employed suicide bombers to punch holes in their defenses and then sent an assault force to free the inmates, Western experts said.

We are concerned about the increased tempo and sophistication of Al Qaeda operations in Iraq,” said a senior State Department official, who requested anonymity because he did not want to be seen as commenting on Iraq’s internal affairs.

The use of mortars is interesting and we saw this weapon used in the Benghazi attack. An effective mortar team can do a lot of damage very quickly if they are able to get in close and have the targeting data.

I wanted to bring these examples up in this post because it is relevant to contractor usage. With increased danger comes more dependence on solid security and defenses. If we want a presence in Iraq to monitor Syria or Iran or the internal developments in Iraq, then security contractors and support will be needed to continue that mission. Or we could pull out altogether….or send troops back in, and I don’t think neither of these options are of national interest.

For Afghanistan, the Taliban will continue to apply the pressure as more troops pull out. They will also do all they can to test the government and show how ineffective they are by making things more chaotic and dangerous. Much like what is going on in Iraq now. Contractors will be there to fill the vacuum left by these departing troops and they will have to deal with this increased danger. (contractor deaths are up to 3357 as of June)

Contractors will continue to train, continue to finish building projects, and continue as normal. We are essential to the massive logistics game of leaving Afghanistan as well. From breaking down camps or equipment deemed too costly to ship, or supporting those who are left, contractors will keep the machine running. -Matt

 

Contractor Support Of USCENTCOM AOR, 3rd Quarter FY 2013

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Publications: IG Review Of Best Value Contracting For DoS Local Guard Programs

After reading the latest report on the Benghazi attack called Flashing Red: A Special Report On The Terrorist Attack At Benghazi, I came across another really cool report they referenced in regards to Best Value contracting. I thought it was pretty interesting and worthy of some attention here.

Here is the quote about it from the Benghazi report.

Though a few members of the February 17 Brigade and the Libya Shield militia assisted the Americans on the night of the attack, the security that these militias and the local police provided to U.S. personnel was woefully inadequate to the dangerous security environment in Benghazi.
The unarmed local contract guards also provided no meaningful resistance to the attackers. The Department of State’s Inspector General had previously found that concerns about local security guards were not limited to Libya. A February 2012 Department of State Inspector General (IG) report found that more than two-thirds of 86 diplomatic posts around the world surveyed reported problems with their local guard contractors. Of those posts that reported problems with their contractors, 37 percent said there was an insufficient number of local guards and 40 percent said there was insufficient training. The IG found that overseas diplomatic posts, particularly those in high-threat situations beyond Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan urgently needed best-value contracting, which takes into account the past performance of contractors.
Recommendation: When it becomes clear that a host nation cannot adequately perform its functions under the Vienna Convention, the Department of State must provide additional security measures of its own, urgently attempt to upgrade the host nation security forces, or decide to close a U.S. Diplomatic facility and remove U.S. personnel until appropriate steps can be taken to provide adequate security. American personnel who serve us abroad must often work in high risk environments, but when they do, we must provide them with adequate security. That clearly was not the case in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.
Recommendation: The Department must conduct a review of its local guard programs and particularly the use of local guard contractors at high-risk posts who do not meet appropriate standards necessary for the protection of our personnel or facilities.

Did you read that highlight? Urgently needed Best Value contracting….. and this is the IG saying this. lol Myself and others have been promoting the concept for awhile now and at least the IG get’s it. It sounds like DoS is starting to see the light as well.

The one interesting point that was discussed is the 10 percent price preference rule and how local guard force companies were just partnering with US companies in order to qualify. Here is a quote:

U.S. companies or qualified joint ventures “shall be evaluated by reducing the bid by 10 percent.” Based on an examination of contract competition documents for 35 local guard contracts, OIG found that the 10 percent price preference given to qualifying U.S. companies had no effect on the outcome of the awards. OIG further determined that it is easy for foreign companies wishing to take advantage of the price preference to become eligible by simply forming a joint venture with a U.S. company, thus largely negating the purpose of the preference.

So private industry found a loophole and exploited it to win contracts. With that said, I agree with the IG’s take on the 10 percent rule, and that it needs to be changed in order for it to be effective. Here is their suggestion.

Review the need for a 10 percent price preference given to U.S. companies bidding on local guard contracts because the preference has not been demonstrated to be a factor in recent local guard competitions.

Check it out below and it will be located in my Scribd or here on the blog for future reference. -Matt

 

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Company Spotlight: Conquiro

Glyn Rosser, Managing Director of Conquiro comments, “The real-time advantage of having an aerial surveillance asset is obvious. Giving forewarning of anything from IED placements to ambushes, UAVs really are life-savers.”

This is cool. A friend of mine works for this company and he wanted to give me a heads up about what they are all about. So below is some information from their press release and from their website. Basically this is a PMSC with a focus on the use of UAV’s, and specifically the Aeryon Scout.

Last year during the Libyan uprising, I wrote about the Aeryon Scout being used by the rebels for ISR. Here is a link to that post and it gives you an idea as to it’s capabilities. I am sure Conquiro will go on to use other UAV’s as the technology improves, but the Aeryon definitely has operational history behind it.

The other thing I like about this company is that it kind of reminds me of a modern day version of John Hawkwood’s White Company, or a private military company that had a huge component of longbowmen. (drone archers) If you are interested in working for the company, go check out their career page or send them an email. -Matt

Twitter for Conquiro here.


About CONQUIRO
Who We Are
Conquiro is a UK registered company that is made up of ex-British Army servicemen. All three Directors have served within Military Intelligence and UAV/ISTAR roles.
Formed in early 2012, Conquiro is the only company of its kind in the UK with operational experience and Subject Matter Expertise (SME) in UAV operations and consultancy.
What We Do
Conquiro provides Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or Systems, often referred to as UAV’s or UAS. Conquiro not only provides the equipment, but also SME operator pilots.
In addition, all of our pilots are trained security operators and have the training to analyze imagery obtained during deployment.
Not only do we provide system specific provision, but a full range of turn-key consultancy solutions for clients requiring UAV capabilities.
Our consultancy ranges from identification of suitable platforms, through to procurement, paperwork and bespoke training for in house UAV capabilities.
Our Equipment
Currently our workhorse UAV is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) platform. However, we work closely with UK based manufacturing representatives in order to provide clients with bespoke solutions, and can procure the best platform in order to match client needs.

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Al Qaeda: Boko Haram, Al Shabaab And AQIM Are Linking Up

“It’s one of the main depots of the Malian army,” a security source told AFP, adding that it had been built in case of “a long and difficult war.”A regional security source confirmed the seizure, saying the vast cache of weapons will “really boost AQIM’s striking power”, and adding: “It is really impressive what AQIM has found in the underground depot.”The source said the group “is today more armed than the combined armies of Mali and Burkina Faso”, Mali’s neighbour to the east.

This to me is fascinating and startling at the same time. Look at how fast these Islamist groups are spreading in Africa? They are taking advantage of the leadership vacuum caused by the Arab Spring, or making their moves in really poor and poorly governed countries. Where there is darkness on the continent, they are moving in to set up shop.

They are also capturing some pretty significant weapons and using this stuff to gain ground throughout the region. From the stuff in Libya that was ‘liberated’ during that fighting, to weapons depots in Mali that were taken by force.

And what gets me here is that I still haven’t heard what exactly Ansar Dine was able to get out of this weapon depot in Gao, Mali. Apparently they are now ‘more armed than the combined armies of Mali and Burkina Faso’, says the quote up top. So these non-state actors are now more armed than several countries combined? Yikes, and that is quite the accomplishment….It also makes you wonder about places like Syria, where that country is imploding and weapons depots–to include chemical and bio, could potentially be compromised.

Not only that, but now that the Muslim Brotherhood is in control of Egypt, whose to say that some of their weapons wouldn’t slip out into the world and find their way into Islamist’ hands? Or directly given to Islamists by a government that openly supports them. pfffftt.

We will see how it goes and somehow I don’t think this fire in the Middle East or Africa is going out any time soon. -Matt

 

Captured armored vehicle in Mali.

 

African extremist groups linking up: U.S. general
June 25, 2012
By Lauren French
Three of Africa’s largest extremist groups are sharing funds and swapping explosives in what could signal a dangerous escalation of security threats on the continent, the commander of the U.S. military’s Africa Command said on Monday.
General Carter Ham said there are indications that Boko Haram, al Shabaab and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb – groups that he labeled as the continent’s most violent – are sharing money and explosive materials while training fighters together.
“Each of those three organizations is by itself a dangerous and worrisome threat,” Ham said at an African Center for Strategic Studies seminar for senior military and civilian officials from Africa, the United States and Europe.
“What really concerns me is the indications that the three organizations are seeking to coordinate and synchronize their efforts,” Ham said. “That is a real problem for us and for African security in general.”
The United States classified three of the alleged leaders of the Islamist sect Boko Haram, based in remote northeast Nigeria, as “foreign terrorist,” on June 20. But it declined to blacklist the entire organization to avoid elevating the group’s profile internationally. Police in Nigeria said members of the group seized a prison there Sunday and freed 40 inmates.

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