Archive for category Publications

Publications: Nigeria’s Private Army–A Perception Study of PMSC’s in the War Against Boko Haram

As soon as I found this, I had to share. I have never seen anyone do an analysis like this about our industry and it needs to be put out there for consumption. These folks attempted to get actual public perception about PMSC’s fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria. And even thought they do not mention STTEP specifically, this is the company they are absolutely talking about.

It should be noted though that the study had none of the pertinent links to the reportage done on STTEP in Nigeria. Specifically the excellent articles by SOFREP and their interview with Eeben Barlow, the chairman of STTEP. After all, they are the only site that Eeben gave an interview too in regards to this contract. Eeben also gave plenty of information about what STTEP did on his blog, so it was odd to not see any links to those sources in the footnotes.

For whatever reason, they decided to keep the report free from those sources, and focus solely on doing their survey of Nigerians and their perceptions of PMSC’s in Nigeria. Specifically, PMSC’s and their role in countering Boko Haram.

Below I have posted their findings, and I was kind of shocked. Overall, there was very high support for using private military contractors against Boko Haram. 75 percent of respondents in telephone surveys supported groups like STTEP fighting Boko Haram. On social media it was 62 percent! That is incredible.

The reasons for supporting companies like STTEP are pretty simple. They could care less who they used to defeat Boko Haram, just as long as they were defeated. As for those that opposed using PMSC’s, they expressed that Nigeria should do this themselves.

Very cool and this will go into the archive here for anyone needing to come back to it. You can find a copy of this report at Remote Control’s website, and this is the pdf for it. I posted the findings below, but please check out the rest of the report to dig into how they conducted the survey or check out their website to learn more about the group. –Matt

 

 

Commissioned by the Remote Control project, the Nigeria Security Network carried out a perception study into the use of private military contractors. The study suggests that the majority of Nigerians support using private military contractors to fight Boko Haram. However, within the minority that oppose their use, some expressed opinions that could be vulnerable to manipulation by Boko Haram, due to their similar emphasis on western meddling in Nigerian affairs. The research suggests that opposition to PMSCs is strongest when they are engaged in combat roles, and that their potential for carrying out human rights abuses with impunity was of particular concern. The report concludes with a series of recommendations.

Level of support

Our study found that the majority of Nigerians are in favour of using private military contractors against Boko Haram. 75 percent of respondents to our telephone survey said they support using foreign mercenaries. 23 percent, meanwhile, said they oppose with only 3 per cent not having a view.
There was a significant difference in responses between men and women, with 80 percent of women saying they support using mercenaries compared to 69 percent of men. Conversely, 17 percent of women opposed using mercenaries while 23 percent of men opposed them. The reasons for this fall outside the re mit of this study, but may be an indication of heightened fear among female segments of the population following large numbers of abductions of women and girls by Boko Haram.
There was a little regional variation beyond the margin of error, with opposition significantly stronger than average in the South East and weaker in North Central. This is notable since the North Central region, including the city of Kano, is an area that has been significantly affected by Boko Haram’s violence. The higher than average support for mercenaries may be due to the region’s heightened experiences of violence. Conversely, the South East is one of the least affected regions. However, respondents in the most affected region – Nigeria’s North East – answered much closer to the average, making it difficult to draw conclusions about these regional variations.
On social media, of our sample 62 percent supported the use of private military contractors, with 36 percent opposing and 2 percent expressing a mixed opinion.
Reasons for supporting
Reasons for supporting private military contractors varied. The most popular reason was that people did not care what method was used to defeat Boko Haram, as long as they are defeated. 42 percent of support- ers argued this. Meanwhile, 27 percent suggested the contractors could offer better capabilities, while 20 percent said the Nigerian army is not effective enough to stop Boko Haram by itself. 6 percent said Nigeria can benefit from using foreign fighters since Boko Haram does the same.
These reasons were also reflected in our social media analysis. The most common reason was again that the method of defeating Boko Haram shouldn’t matter, with 47 per cent of those in favour arguing this.
Other common reasons included a feeling that Nigeria was being singled out for using private contractors when it is normal for other countries to do so, and a belief that contractors would be more effective.
Reasons for opposing
Of those telephone survey respondents opposed to using foreign mercenaries to fight Boko Haram, most (51 percent) expressed opposition to private military contractors on the grounds that Nigeria should have the capabilities to defeat Boko Haram without outside help. A further 27 percent of respondents cited reasons that could be interpreted as aligning with the insurgency’s messages or that could be manipulated by the insurgency to gain support. Within this group, 12 percent said foreign mercenaries are more likely than Nigerian troops to hurt civilians or commit human rights violations, 9 per cent said foreign mercenaries are trying to control or colonise Nigeria, and 6 per cent said they are trying to impose Western ideas on Nigeria.
16 percent gave “other” reasons for opposing contractors that were not anticipated, for example that the Nigerian army knows the terrain better.
Like with the telephone survey results, our social media analysis revealed that the largest number (46 percent) of tweeters who opposed private military contractors did so on the grounds that the Nigerian army should be able to defeat Boko Haram itself. Other, less common reasons included the perception that mercenaries were trying to advance a colonial agenda, that using them may back re, and that the Nigerian state should not re- cruit soldiers associated with the Apartheid era in South Africa.
Switchers
To determine whether perceptions of private military contractors changed according to their role, we asked respondents their views of contractors if they were restricted to a training role versus a combat role.
This variable made a small but perceptible difference. If used only in a training role, 78 percent of respondents supported using the private contractors, whereas if used in a combat role 71 percent supported their use. Similarly, if used in a training role, 21 percent opposed their use, while 27 percent opposed their use if used in a combat role.
7 and 6 percent respectively may seem like a small amount. However, when considering the population of Borno state alone, which is likely to be around 4.5 million, 6 percent represents 270,000 people. Even if a tiny fraction of these were so angered by the use of private military contractors that they were tempted to support Boko Haram, this could result in thousands of new supporters.
This switcher group is especially important because those who switched were mostly the same people who were concerned about private military contractors imposing Western values or colonialism on Nigeria,
or abusing human rights, rather than simply opposing them because they think the Nigerian Army should not need such assistance. In total, there were 18 respondents in the former category. Of these 18, 16 switched their opinion if private contractors take only a training role. This suggests a restricted role for private military contractors could mitigate the perceptual backlash and reduce the risk of Boko Haram gaining support as a result. However, it must be noted that because the group expressing negative opinions for these reasons was so small, further research would be needed to ensure these ndings are not a statistical anomaly.

Read the rest of the report here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the report here.

 

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

This is a digital publication, and I was not able to get an embed code for it so you can read it here. If you want to read it, just click on the links below and then expand the magazine so you can read it online.

What is cool about this mag is that it is going over some old school stories that happened back in the early days of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, I totally forgot the story about Wolf Weiss. Anyway,  check it out and I have no idea if they will continue to publish this digital magazine or if they are planning to make hard copies and sell on the news stands. –Matt

Edit: Also, it looks like PMCI is looking for writers. h/t Soldier Systems.

 

Private Military Contractor International-April 2014
Published on 9 March 2014
Issue description:
Private Military Contractor International is a digital magazine specifically for PMC Operatives and companies involved in the Private Military and Security sectors. Written by individuals with many years of experience in their particular field, each issue will contain a mix of product reviews, news and general interest features, as well as social and lifestyle articles. The Pre-Launch sample is a small representative example which provides a small snapshot of what future editions will contain.
Magazine description:
Private Military Contractor International is a digital magazine specifically for PMC Operatives and companies involved in the Private Military and Security sectors. Written by individuals with many years of experience in their particular field, each issue will contain a mix of product reviews, news and general interest features, as well as social and lifestyle articles.

Find publication on Joomag here.

Find on itunes here.

PDF of publication here.

Facebook for PMCI here.

 

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Publications: Freedonia Report On Global Demand For Security Services

This publication is very expensive, but you can buy bits and pieces of it at your own choosing. I am not getting any kickbacks or anything from this group, and I am only putting this out there as information for the readership to check out.

To go along with my post on crowdfunding, the global demand for security is increasing, and the factors driving the demand are evident in this report.

Factors such as rapid gains in economic activity, rising personal incomes, foreign investment activity, and concern that public safety forces are overburdened, corrupt, or unable to provide sufficient protection will boost gains. Furthermore, increasing regulation and a trend toward greater professionalism in many of these local security service markets will improve public trust in security service businesses, thereby driving gains.

I have seen these trends and talked about them here on the blog. China is blowing up when it comes to security services. Africa will definitely need services, and thanks to the cartels in Mexico, security will continue to be in high demand.  The US continues to be the largest consumer of security services in the world, which is interesting. Also, the progression towards ISO certification for maritime PMSC’s–which will probably carry over to land based PMSC’s in the future, is a sign of this ‘professionalizing’ of the industry. Check it out. –Matt

 

Global demand for security services is driven by rising urbanization, the real and perceived risks of crime and terrorism, and a belief that public safety measures are insufficient.
World demand to 7.4% annually through 2016
Global demand for private contract security services will increase 7.4 percent annually to $244 billion in 2016. In general, demand for security services is driven by rising urbanization, the real and perceived risks of crime and terrorism, belief that public safety measures are insufficient, and growth of a middle class with assets to protect and the means to pay for supplementary security measures. The security service market will also be supported by an improved economic environment and building construction activity.
Developing areas to see strongest gains in demand

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Publications: RAND–Out Of The Shadows, A Survey On Contractor Health

Awhile back I was contacted by RAND to help promote this survey. I agreed because there was not enough information out there on the subject of contractor physical and mental health in these wars. So it is cool to see a final product and available for folks to check out.

The information provided is pretty revealing and I highly suggest reviewing the document if you are interested in either getting into this industry, or just learning about the actual health of this industry.

Now for some of the interesting tidbits that I found in the survey.

Only 16 percent of contractors sampled had ever made a DBA claim. Among those whose most recent contract had been funded by the U.S. government, 22 percent reported that they had made a DBA claim. The DBA mandates that all civilian employees working outside the United States on U.S. military bases or under a contract with the U.S. government for public works or national defense have access to workers’ compensation for injuries or deaths sustained as a result of such employment. We found that, among respondents who applied for benefits, 57 percent of claims were approved and 37 percent were either denied or still being processed at the time of the survey. (Six percent of respondents reported that they did not know the outcome of their DBA claim.) Contractors from the United States were more likely to file DBA claims than those from other countries. -page 20

Only 57 percent approved?  This is a horrible statistic, but not new. The survey mentioned the findings of T. Christian Miller’s report as well, which I posted several years back.

In a series of articles for ProPublica, T. Christian Miller reported on the types of physical and mental health problems affecting contractors, including loss of limbs,burns, loss of hearing or eyesight, various wounds (such as from shrapnel, gunshots, mortar attacks, or IEDs), PTSD, TBI, depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide. Despite the reported frequency and severity of these problems, Miller (2009a) found that between 2002 and 2007, “insurers had denied 44 percent of all serious injury claims” under the DBA and that they “also turned down 60 percent of contractors who claimed to suffer psychological damage, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.” He highlights systemic flaws in the DBA—along with a lack of regulation and enforcement by the U.S. Department of Labor and the monopoly of insurance company AIG—as contributors to the high rate of DBA claim denial.

 It just blows me away that ’60 percent of contractors’ with PTSD or some mental health issue, were turned down! And according to this recent survey, only 57 of these folks surveyed had that had DBA claims, had them approved. That has to change and contractors have sacrificed in this war. They deserve better than that, and it is shameful contractors are treated like this.

They also mentioned a company that specializes in providing mental health services. Back in 2008, I wrote a brief deal about Mission Critical Psychological Services and it is good to see they are still doing their thing.

Individual private companies have also developed programs to address the psychological challenges facing contractors, though there is limited publicly available information on how these programs are structured or the types of support they offer. For example, Mission Critical Psychological Services is a U.S.-based firm that provides psychological support services to firms in the contracting industry. Asked to estimate the number of contractors suffering from mental health issues, its CEO stated, “I think the numbers are in the thousands, maybe tens of thousands. Many are going undiagnosed. These guys are fighting demons, and they don’t know how to cope” (Risen, 2007). -page 45

I hope to see more companies pop up to meet the demand of contractor mental health, and especially after reports like this bringing attention to the matter. Or maybe, PMSC’s will be more focused on paying attention to this. Especially when they get their various certifications that show how compliant they are or when they are signatories to things like the ICoC. Check this quote out.

The extent to which the diverse array of contracting companies rely on private providers of psychological services tailored to the industry is unclear. However, recent U.S. and international codes and standards aimed at regulating the private security industry, in particular, clearly mandate that these firms establish policies that promote a safe and healthy working environment, including policies that address the psychological health of employees. One such requirement is embedded in the American National Standards Institute/ASIS International document Management System for Quality of Private Security Company Operations (known as the PSC.1 standard), which states, “The organization shall establish, implement, and maintain procedures to promote a safe and healthy working environment including reasonable precautions to protect people working on its behalf in high-risk or life threatening operations consistent with legal, regulatory, and contractual obligations.” One of the procedures specified is “medical and psychological health awareness training, care, and support” (American National Standards Institute and ASIS International, 2012,p. 24). The inclusion of such a requirement in the PSC.1 standard is significant, because compliance with the standard is now mandated in all DoD- and UK government-funded contracts. Moreover, the International Code of Conduct, a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at industry self-regulation to which more than 600 private security companies are now signatories, includes a similar provision requiring that signatory companies adopt policies that support a safe and healthy working environment. This requirement specifically mentions a requirement for policies that address psychological health (“International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers,” 2010,section 64d, p. 14). -page 45

Why is this important? Well for one, if you look at past incidents of contractors ‘snapping’ like with the Fitzsimmons case in Iraq, you can see why it is so important for companies to care about this stuff. Unfortunately, they do not care.

It is my experience as a contractor that none of the companies I have worked for, presented any kind of program that focused on the mental health of it’s contractors. I was never informed of any services and was just expected to deal with issues on my own.

Nor have I have ever worked with anyone in the past that has filed a DBA as a contractor for mental health issues–even though I know there are guys who should. Hell, this year alone, I am aware of two contractors that I worked with in the past that committed suicide recently–one of which was a friend. So I know there are mental issues out there, and yet the companies are not really getting involved with this stuff.

The report also mentioned the fact that many contractors are prior veterans and may have gotten their PTSD from service in the military, which I concur. So with that said, the VA should be highly responsive to the needs of these veterans. Should, is the key word, because you get an earful from guys on contract on how crappy the VA is when dealing with this stuff.  Several issues I have seen with contractors whom are veterans, are sleeping issues and TBI or traumatic brain injury. Or the use of pain killers to deal with past injuries. As for mental stuff, it is there, but guys usually don’t like going there.

On the positive side, contracts are a great way for veterans to come together again and share experiences. This is called armed group therapy. lol. Many contractors are attracted to this type of work, because it gets them back in the game of war, and gets them amongst a group that understands war. It is hard for guys to relate to others whom have not experienced that stuff, so that is what makes contracting a plus for veterans.

It is also interesting to note that if you watch AFN (Armed Forces Network) commercials overseas on TV, you are constantly bombarded by deals about suicide in the military or PTSD in the military. The services are constantly trying to reach out to Joes, and work the problem of suicide and PTSD. There are no commercials reaching out to contractors with similar health issues–even though there are more contractors in the war zones than there are military folks. There are no commercials at all geared towards contractors, which is interesting. With such health issues identified by RAND and others, some kind of effort to reach out to contractors could save lives.

Some other factoids that were of interest to me were the combat experiences and living conditions of contractors overseas. The one group of contractors that saw the most combat in this survey were the transportation security contractors or PSD/Convoy guys. The folks that go outside the wire and are exposed to the same dangers as the military, who all have to travel the same roads.

Training and advising contractors were the second most dangerous, which makes sense with all of the green on blue incidents involving contractors happening in places like Afghanistan. Also, by nationality in this survey, the US contractors saw more combat than any other nationality surveyed. Although I doubt this would be the case if Afghan or Iraqi contractors were more involved in this survey. lol

The living conditions of contractors were interesting as well. The worst living conditions experienced were the transportation guys. Living in transient tents all the time or sleeping in your truck can get old. You also work really long hours and the whole 12 hour shift concept seems to be used more and more by companies. Which really sucks, because this hinders sleep, thus making it difficult to keep sharp on the job. More companies neglect giving time off out in the field as well, and there is not enough emphasis on giving folks a break out there so they can recharge. Getting good sleep and not being overworked is crucial to security operations, and this is neglected all the time by the companies.

The best living conditions were experienced by the maritime security folks and logistics/maintenance folks.

Interesting report and check it out for yourself. Companies should take the time to read this and get a better feel for what is going on out there with their people, or try to work harder to meet the needs of their people. Thanks to RAND and authors, and to all of the contractors that participated in this survey. Hopefully this will get the conversation going on the true health of this industry, and how to meet the needs of contractors. –Matt

 

 

Read the report here.

Read the summary here.

This is a quick report done on AIG and the way they have treated DBA claims of contractors. Horrible treatment is all I have to say, and the statistics support that.

 

Contractors Who Worked in Conflict Zones Suffer High Rates of PTSD, Depression and Get Little Help
December 10, 2013
Private contractors who worked in Iraq, Afghanistan or other conflict environments over the past two years report suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression more often than military personnel who served in recent conflicts, according to a new RAND Corporation study.
Researchers found that among the contractors studied, 25 percent met criteria for PTSD, 18 percent screened positive for depression and half reported alcohol misuse. Despite their troubles, relatively few get help either before or after deployment.
“Given the extensive use of contractors in conflict areas in recent years, these findings highlight a significant but often overlooked group of people struggling with the after-effects of working in a war zone,” said Molly Dunigan, co-author of the study and a political scientist with RAND, a nonprofit research organization.
The results are from an anonymous online survey of 660 people who had deployed on contract to a theater of conflict at least once between early 2011 and early 2013. The study attracted participants through several methods, including contacting individual companies and trade associations and posting links to the survey on websites and blogs. It is the first survey to examine a broad range of deployed contractors, not just those who provide security services.

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Publications: SIGAR Report–Concerns Remain About APPF’s Capabilities And Costs

Thus, the APPF acts as a monopoly service provider. Although contracted security costs for the majority of projects decreased, the average rate for armed local guard services increased as much as 47 percent for projects under the APPF. These costs could increase even more over time and implementing partners—left with no other options for local armed guard services—would have no choice but to pay the higher prices.

Pretty damning. Basically clients are using RMC’s as standard security providers, all because the APPF is so ineffective. That, and this ineffective force will have a monopoly soon, and will be able to charge whatever they want.

But here is the really bad part of this story. The loss of life because of this poor security force. Check out this quote:

Traders have informed the Wolesi Jirga about the onslaughts on the Kabul-Kandahar highway that have resulted in the death of 6 drivers and burning of 250 trucks with commercial goods over the past 6 months.
According to the Pajhwok Afghan News PAN), businessman Abdul Wali Wardak said their problems had increased after the responsibility of providing security for logistics vehicles was transferred to the Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF).
Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries Chief Mohammad Qurban Haqjo confirmed the losses and said the APPF has failed to provide the needed security for logistics vehicles and prevent the attacks caused by the insurgents.

Pathetic…. Read the report below if you want to check out SIGAR’s recommendations. –Matt

 

WHAT SIGAR FOUND
The effect of the transition to the Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF) has been minimal on projects in SIGAR’s sample, but only because implementing partners hired risk management companies (RMCs) to fill APPF capacity gaps and perform critical functions. Without RMCs, the APPF would be unable to provide the full range of security services needed by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) implementing partners. Contracts with implementing partners require the APPF to provide an appropriate number of capable and trained guards, as determined by the APPF in conjunction with the implementing partner, and a sufficient number of properly trained officers and non-commissioned officers to oversee the guards. However, for five projects that use APPF services, RMCs perform critical functions and fill gaps in APPF capabilities in recruiting, training, and supervision. Further, implementing partners reported that APPF officers and non-commissioned officers provided little benefit and were unable to perform required duties.

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