Posts Tagged Aegis

Industry Talk: Basra Contracts With Aegis To Help Stop Wave Of Terrorism

Anxious to rid itself of the lawlessness that still plagues Iraq’s southern capital, Basra’s governor has hired a private military company run by a British general who helped capture the city from Saddam Hussein.
Maj Gen Graham Binns, who is the chief executive of Aegis Defence Services, commanded the 7th Armoured Brigade when it led the siege of Basra in 2003.
Four years later he supervised the handover of the city to Iraqi security forces. Now, amid growing concern about a fresh wave of terrorist violence across the country, Basra’s governor has invited Maj Gen Binns’s company back to assist at a “strategic level”.
Aegis will be asked to provide help with setting up specialised CCTV detection and checkpoint systems across the city, establishing a “ring of steel” security system to thwart suicide bombers.
It will also set up an academy to help security forces improve coordination and intelligence-gathering techniques.
As Basra’s economy promises to boom, Britain’s consulate prepares to pull out.

A hat tip to Mark over at facebook for finding and sharing this news. This is a big story because Iraq is turning to private industry to help solve this immense threat that has been growing in their country. Iraq is awash with terror attacks this last year, thanks to the mess that is going on in Syria.

Basically, Syria has turned into a jihadist factory, where Al Qaeda has definitely taken advantage. This violence is also spilling over the borders into places like Lebanon and Iraq. ISIS or Al Qaeda of Iraq and Syria is gaining territory, manpower, and weapons, and they are on the war path. There have also been some significant prison breaks that have certainly helped add to the ranks.

A prime example of what I am talking about is that ISIS has just captured Fallajuh and is working on Ramadi–two places that coalition forces fought really tough fights during the war. Iraq’s military and police are having a hard time competing with this, and they are losing ground. There is also a sectarian element to this. These areas are primarily sunni, the government of Iraq is led by shia, and because of the actions of the jihadists to fuel this animosity between the two, that it is very easy for ISIS to get refuge in sunni areas.

Another point to bring up is that the governor of Basra is contracting Aegis’ services because of Maj Gen Graham Binns background and experience in Iraq. He was the commander of all British forces in Iraq, at the time the British signed over Basra’s security back over to Iraq, December of 2007. This is quite the thing to bring back this General, but as a contractor. Which brings up an interesting thought.

Will General Binns be able to do what he wanted to do in this contract, that he couldn’t do in the military doing the same mission? Will he have more flexibility and be more innovative in the way he accomplishes the mission, or is he a one trick pony as they say? We will see, and if Aegis or General Binns would like to comment on this contract, we look forward to hearing from you. Congrats to the company and good luck to General Binns. Be sure to check out all three articles below, to include one written by General Binns himself. -Matt

Edit: 01/07/14 -Here is an interview that the governor of Basra gave about the the status of his city and why he is contracting services, versus using local. He just took office and it seems corruption is very bad, and security is not dependable.

Al-Monitor: How do you see the security situation in the province?
Nasrawi: The security problem is no different from the contract problems we talked about, for there is a lack of planning in both cases. The mechanisms in place for fighting terrorism are basic, limited and non-innovative. Thus, we decided as an initial step to contract a British security consulting company. I believe that the problem of terrorism cannot be solved via a military leader, but rather through security experts, surveillance technology, and training and developing the capabilities of the intelligence [agencies]. For example, we have a plan to buy sophisticated explosives-detection devices, but who determines the specifications and standards for these devices? Will we make the same mistake as Baghdad, which imported [explosives-detection] devices that didn’t work? Who will choose the weapons and sniffer dogs? To answer these questions, we turned to a global consulting firm that works in the security field.
Al-Monitor: Have you encountered any objections to this contract from the ministries concerned with security or the office of the commander in chief of the armed forces?
Nasrawi: The law allows the province to do this, and the contracts are paid using Basra’s money, not funds from Baghdad.
Al-Monitor: You talk about security as though it’s a purely technical issue, but what about the social problems feeding disorder?
Nasrawi: This is correct. Security cannot be achieved though arrests alone. First, it costs a lot of money to put large numbers of people in prison. Most importantly, however, we must address the motives for crimes and the cultural and social reasons standing behind these crimes — and we must work to address them. A culture of security must spread in society, so that each citizen becomes a part of the ingredients for security in the country and is not afraid or reluctant to report any security breach.
Al-Monitor: What about the malfunction within the security establishment?
Nasrawi: The causes [of this malfunction] are known. There is corruption as well as political and partisan intervention in the work of the security services. Recently, Basra was able to rein in a large gang involved in theft, blackmail and kidnapping, which was led by a senior police officer. We were under pressure not to arrest [members of the gang], but we were determined to bring them to justice. We will not allow for a shuffling of cards in Basra. We will not stray from our path to purify the security services of any breaches.

 

Maj Gen Graham Binns when he was in the military.

 

Basra invites British back for security role
Six years after the last British troops left amid a barrage of bombs and mortars, the Iraqi city of Basra is to re-enlist UK military expertise to oversee its security again
By Colin Freeman
03 Jan 2014
Anxious to rid itself of the lawlessness that still plagues Iraq’s southern capital, Basra’s governor has hired a private military company run by a British general who helped capture the city from Saddam Hussein.
Maj Gen Graham Binns, who is the chief executive of Aegis Defence Services, commanded the 7th Armoured Brigade when it led the siege of Basra in 2003.
Four years later he supervised the handover of the city to Iraqi security forces. Now, amid growing concern about a fresh wave of terrorist violence across the country, Basra’s governor has invited Maj Gen Binns’s company back to assist at a “strategic level”.

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Finance: If You Worked In Afghanistan Last Year For Aegis, Foreign Taxes Paid Not Shown On W2′s

This is an important tax deal specifically for Aegis contractors/employees who worked in Afghanistan this last tax year. A big thanks to Luke Fairfield for putting the word out about this, and I will put this note up in the Taxes For Contractors section. Spread this around to any Aegis folks if you read this. Also, if you are an employee with another company and you worked in Afghanistan last year, be sure to check your W-2′s to see if foreign taxes paid are present. If not, definitely call your HR department about the matter. -Matt

 

TO ALL AEGIS EMPLOYEES WHO WORKED IN AFGHANISTAN IN 2012:
FOREIGN TAXES PAID NOT SHOWN ON W2’S

Fairfield Hughes, CPA’s, prepares and files the taxes for a large number of security contractors working in various combat zones.  We understand that Aegis has issued W2’s without including the amount of foreign taxes paid to Afghanistan on behalf of their employees working in the country on the W2 Form.  These foreign taxes paid represent a very large tax benefit called the “Foreign Tax Credit”.  If an individual sends their W2 to their CPA or tax preparer and that person is not aware of the foreign taxes paid, the employee could potentially miss out on the benefit.  We are asking our clients to send their final pay stub from Aegis (which reports the Afghanistan tax paid) along with their Aegis W2 to make sure they receive the tax savings.

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Industry Talk: Aegis Guards Speak In Kabul… And Their Leaders Should Have Listened

First off, bravo to these guards for voicing their concerns and holding their company and leaders accountable. I also want to say thanks to POGO for putting this out there, both on their blog and over at Foreign Policy magazine.

As I read through this post, it looks to me like the company’s leaders have done a terrible job of listening to their guard force’s concerns about security or even about the day to day operations of the company. And if the actions of the company and these leaders are causing folks to leave, then that only creates more problems for the guys on the ground because they work more hours and get burned out.

Another point I want to bring up is that today’s security contracting industry is filled with combat seasoned contractors who know exactly what is needed to actually provide security in a war zone. If these guys are recognizing deficiencies in the security apparatus of the embassy, then it would behoove the leadership to listen to these concerns and make adjustments. Especially after such incidents like what happened in Benghazi.

They should be thanking these men for actually caring about the mission and the defense of the facility, and bringing these concerns forward. Instead, it looks like the ego of these leaders is more important and they have chosen to fire or reprimand those who actually spoke up. Shameful….

On that note, it makes no sense at all for a leader or leaders of a security force to not listen to this pool of combat veterans, security contractor veterans or police veterans, that when combined, would have years of experience and knowledge. It should be the goal of that leadership to tap into that pool of ‘human resource’, and take full advantage of that. To use that resource to build a better security apparatus or use it as part of their Kaizen or continuous improvement plan, and then reward that resource by giving them the credit and encouraging them to do it again and again. Call it collaboration or team work, and it works if you actually allow it to happen and know how to use it.

People will also support what they help to create, which is a Jundism. It is also a great way of showing that you are not a toxic leader.

Either way, we will see how this turns out? Obviously this is a black eye on the management of Aegis because it got to this level, and some changes are in order if they intend to hang onto this contract. -Matt

Edit: 01/24/2013- It sounds like four of the guards have filed a $5 million lawsuit against Aegis for being told to lie on their time sheets. The law firms they are using are The Employment Law Group and Lichten & Liss-Riordan. Here is a link to the court filing.

 

A “Mutiny” in Kabul: Guards Allege Security Problems Have Put Embassy at Risk
January 17, 2013
By Adam Zagorin
Private guards responsible for protecting what may be the most at-risk U.S. diplomatic mission in the world — the embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan — say security weaknesses have left it dangerously vulnerable to attack.
In interviews and written communications with the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), current and former guards said a variety of shortcomings, from inadequate weapons training to an overextended guard force, have compromised security there — security provided under a half-a-billion-dollar contract with Aegis Defense Services, the U.S. subsidiary of a British firm. “[I]f we ever got seriously hit [by terrorists], there is no doubt in my mind the guard force here would not be able to handle it, and mass casualties and mayhem would ensue,” a guard serving at the embassy wrote in a late November message to POGO.
“[I]f we ever got seriously hit [by terrorists], there is no doubt in my mind the guard force here would not be able to handle it, and mass casualties and mayhem would ensue.”
In July, dissatisfaction boiled over when more than 40 members of the embassy’s Emergency Response Team signed a petition sounding an alarm about embassy security, people familiar with the document said. The petition, submitted to the State Department and Aegis, expressed a “vote of no confidence” in three of the guard force leaders, accusing them of “tactical incompetence” and “a dangerous lack of understanding of the operational environment.” Two guards say they were quickly fired after organizing the petition, in what they called “retaliation.”
A State Department document obtained by POGO describes a “mutiny” among guards who defend the Kabul embassy — an apparent reference to the petition, though the document does not explicitly mention it. Dated July 18, 2012, and labeled “SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED,” the document says that the mutiny was “baseless” but that it “undermined the chain of command” and “put the security of the Embassy at risk.”

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Cool Stuff: Security Contractor David De Souza Tackled Suicide Bombers In Iraq– And Now The Tough Mudder!

This is a great story and David De Souza is part of the estimated 83,000 plus contractors wounded in this war, that have gone on to live their lives back home. They are contractor veterans and they have done heroic things in the war, and certainly have sacrificed with their lives and bodies.

David was also working for the British security company Aegis during the war in Iraq, and it is a reminder that the security contracting forces being used in this war come from all over the world. Some companies would be all British or American, or other companies would be a mix of all nationalities. Going through the DoL’s list of countries will give you an idea of how many folks have been involved over the years. And that is just the companies and contractors that filed DBA for injuries or deaths. The true cost in lives and injuries will never really be known…

Either way, bravo to David and to all contractor veterans who are doing what they can to work through their injuries and tackling obstacles back home. -Matt

 

Man injured driving Iraqi bomber off road tackles obstacle course
30th October 2012
A BODYGUARD who survived an attempted suicide bomb attack in Iraq is facing his toughest challenge since suffering devastating injuries in the high-speed crash.
David De Souza was working for private security company Aegis in Tikrit when he bravely intercepted a suicide bomber’s vehicle as it sped towards his convoy.
Mr De Souza drove out of the convoy in his 4×4 to block the suicide bomber and to protect a company boss who was travelling in a vehicle in front of him.
He rammed into the suicide bomber’s vehicle at high speed, smashing into it before coming off the road and rolling over six times.
The incident, on December 20, 2007, left Mr De Souza with a brain haemorrhage and a broken back.
He is now unable to work because of memory problems caused by his brain injury and is also suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
A year ago, the 36-year-old, who lives in Ashwood, Kearsley, was unable to run more than mile, but next month he will take part in Tough Mudder, a gruelling 12-mile obstacle course in Malpas, Cheshire, in memory of his niece, Maddie Rose Gooch.
The challenge will be both a physical and mental test, as Mr De Souza suffers from his post traumatic stress disorder and “catastrophic thinking”, which means he often imagines the worst-case scenario, which includes events relating to his 35-year-old wife, Lisa, and their children.

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Libya: The Swiss Contracted Aegis To Protect Their Embassy In Libya

The government had justified its choice to employ a private firm with local knowledge to guard the Tripoli embassy because it needed time to draw up an operational plan and reach a decision on whether to proceed.

This story has it all–from irony to hilarity. Here are the Swiss, whom for hundreds of years were known for having some of the best mercenary armies in the world, and they contract with a foreign firm called Aegis to protect their embassy in Libya? I guess the Swiss Guard is good enough for the Pope, but not good enough for the Swiss Embassy? lol It is also ironic because the Swiss wanted to ban the use of PMSC’s, but here they are contracting the services of one to protect their embassy. hmmm…..

All kidding aside, the way I look at this story is that it was an honor that Aegis was chosen and given such a contract. And the Swiss government has within it’s right to contract the services of such a company, if it makes sense for that particular situation. I would also be curious about this quote, because the article does not give enough information as to the real numbers here. Like what was the length of time for the Aegis contract? Was this just a three month contract, or what? Because if they are going to throw around a cost effectiveness statement like this, then we need to see the numbers.

The foreign ministry said on Thursday that the Aegis contract will have cost SFr960,000 altogether. The cost to deploy members of the Army Reconnaissance Detachment 10 should be around SFr600,000 for six months.

If anyone from the company has anything to say about the contract itself, please feel free to do so in the comments section. Because this particular article makes it sound like Swiss Commandos are having to storm in and save the day.

I suspect otherwise, and if anything, Aegis did exactly what they were asked to do. Provide security on the ground for the start up of this thing, and meanwhile the Swiss can figure out a plan for what they want to do. -Matt

 

Commandos ready to secure Tripoli embassy
Jan 26, 2012
Swiss special forces will officially take over security tasks at Switzerland’s embassy in Libya on Monday, replacing private firm Aegis.
The government’s decision to hire Aegis for over three months was widely criticised in Swiss political circles. Although the company is headquartered in Basel since 2010, it also employs 20,000 mercenaries who are deployed mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan, making it one of the world’s biggest private armies.
The government had justified its choice to employ a private firm with local knowledge to guard the Tripoli embassy because it needed time to draw up an operational plan and reach a decision on whether to proceed.
The cabinet has since drawn up legislation banning private security firms operating in conflict zones or holding companies in this sector from being based in Switzerland.
The foreign ministry said on Thursday that the Aegis contract will have cost SFr960,000 altogether. The cost to deploy members of the Army Reconnaissance Detachment 10 should be around SFr600,000 for six months.
The embassy in Tripoli is the only Swiss representation abroad where Swiss soldiers will be responsible for security.
Story here.

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Industry Talk: So What Is Going On With The ICoC?

Ever since the news of all of these companies signing on to this International Code of Conduct, there hasn’t been much else reported. So I figured I would do a little research and see where they are at.

Low and behold, there is actually some interesting movement going on with the group. First, they have a website.  Excellent move and it sounds like they are getting organized. Below, I listed all of the members of the steering committee, and these are the folks that will decide how this thing is to work.

I thought it was interesting that they found representatives from all over. Here is a quote:

Michael Clarke, G4S
Mark DeWitt, Triple Canopy
Estelle Meyer, Saracen International
Sylvia White, Aegis

Yep, that list says it all. G4S is the largest security company in the world. Triple Canopy is a large US based company. Aegis is another huge company with offices all over. But Saracen International….Now that is interesting. I guess they are the largest company representing Africa?

The other news with the ICoC is that there are now 211 members!  Up top, I even started a page dedicated to ICoC members, and as more folks sign on, I will update. The list is in a Scribd format, and I think that makes very easy to scroll through and use.

But the real story here that I wanted to talk about, was the discussion in their latest minutes about the grievance process. My number one concern with groups like SAMI, ISOA, and now this ICoC group….as always….is what will they do about members who violate the standards? What is the crime, and what is the punishment?

It is one thing to get everyone to sign on to these codes of conduct, but if you have no disciplinary policy with teeth to back them up, then what’s the point? lol Seriously. Why make laws, if you plan not to enforcement or punish folks for doing bad things?

Now I am not saying that the ICoC is not going to punish members that screw up, but according to these minutes, it sounds like they are going to put the onus of punishment on the companies themselves first. Which is fine, but what if the company does not want to clean house, or maybe they just want to drag it out until everyone forgets about the grievance.

Of course companies should all strive to take care of business so that they are in accordance to the ICoC, as well as doing all they can to take care of their people and clients.  But if they have no fear of punishment, because the ICoC is not aggressive or is unwilling to get tough with members that pay dues, then you can kind of see the potential problems here. Which really boils down the question to this. Is the ICoC just words, or do those words actually mean something?

As you read through the minutes, the ICoC committee also mentioned the good offices concept and creating an incentive of some type for companies to actually do something about this stuff.  I had to look up good offices in the dictionary, and here is a quote:

Third-party influence that facilitates one party’s dealings with another.

So basically they will act as a mediator between the aggrieved and that company?  Interesting, and yet again, what interest would this office have to fight for the aggrieved?  Isn’t it a conflict of interest if a mediator is getting payment by one group in the form of dues/membership fees, and then claiming to help out the other side (the aggrieved) who does not pay dues?

Finally, I would really like to see the incentive(s) that the committee comes up with in future discussions, that will actually get companies to abide by the standards. Are we talking fines, or membership loss or suspension. How about a black list of bad companies?  What are we talking about here?

The big picture is pretty simple to spell out. Members get value when they sign on to this document, by enjoying the benefits of a gold seal of approval. Clients want to believe in that standard, and trust that they are actually doing business with a good company. Contractors want to believe that they are working for a company that actually cares about treating them properly, and this ICoC is a symbol of a companies desire to do good.

But with weak to non-existent enforcement of those standards, that gold seal of approval will turn into lead and clients, the public, and contractors will have no respect for what it stands for. Those are my thoughts on the matter…. -Matt

Edit: 10/12/2011- Here is a snippet from a recent article on the ICoC:

Motzouris says the ICoC does not dismiss the efforts of the Montreux Document, rather it builds upon the base developed by the Montreux Document in order to develop a more comprehensive regulatory mechanism. While the Montreux Document was primarily aimed at states, the ICoC takes on a multi-stakeholder approach that includes governments, PMSC, industry associations, experts and academics and civil society. The ICoC outlines principles for the conduct of PMSC personnel, including rules on the use of force, detainee treatment, prohibition of sexual misconduct, etcetera.

“The reason the ICoC is different from any other regulatory mechanisms is that it appeals to governments and non-state clients to adhere to the Code whilst drawing up contracts with PMSCs. If a PMSC is a signatory of the Code, and the government or non-state actor whom they are contracting to has also committed to implementing the Code, then it moves from a voluntary regulatory standard, to one that can be upheld in a court of law. The British Government has already expressed its commitment to making adherence to the ICoC a requirement for any of its contracted PMSCs, and the US Government is contemplating a move in the same direction,” Motzouris added.

 

International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers

There was consensus that if a complaint is made it should be dealt with by the company first. In some circumstance that won’t be appropriate (internal grievance mechanism exhaustion requirement, with well defined exceptions). There was consensus that the grievance mechanism should include something like a referral function.
A summary of the grievance mechanism functions would be:
A  complaint triggers two avenues:
1. Compliance review,
2. Notice advisory/referral with options for the claimants. Afterwards facilitation of the IGOM for remedy.

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