Posts Tagged Afghanistan

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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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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Industry Talk: ACADEMI And Triple Canopy Merge Under Constellis Holdings!

After being away for awhile, and coming back into the blogging and social media scene, I had to choose what story I wanted to talk about that is the most interesting to the community. There is so much going on out there that it is kind of overwhelming to find an entry point back into the mix. With that said, this site is dedicated to PMSC news and I believe this merger story is pretty damn interesting. Enter ‘Triple Academi’… lol

This is big news. A merger between Triple Canopy and ACADEMI, along with other companies that were part of the Constellis Group package, are now all gathered under the Constellis Holdings, Inc. umbrella. The list of companies in the form of a graphic is posted below, complements of Danger Zone Jobs.

So the first thing to go over, seeing how I am coming in late on this story, is to see what has been said. Over at Soldier Systems, they posted the news and the comments are telling. Some fear that pay will drop now that the companies are consolidating. Especially when TC and ACADEMI are running contracts that mirror each other in Afghanistan, like the Leatherneck and Dwyer gigs, and yet both companies have different pay schemes. I suspect that the current contracts signed by independent contractors will remain in place. But for future contracts signed by IC’s, will the pay be the same now that both companies are under the same ownership? Who knows?…

The other fear is that one company’s culture might clash with the other company’s culture and the way they do business. There is always the perception with competing companies, that the other guy doesn’t know what they are doing or are poor service providers or have a terrible culture/system in place. My guess is that the companies will still do their own thing and any changes will be minor. But you never know, and there might be plans to ‘change’ things around.

The changes that were announced were the consolidation of training at ACADEMI’s training facility, which will be a huge savings. Triple Canopy has a portion of the WPS contract as well, and to be able to tap into a world class training facility at Moyoc, will absolutely lead to savings. Hopefully those savings will help all companies involved realize that salaries should not be messed with, especially since IC’s and employees will know of these savings.

To get a feel for what the WPS guys and other contractors are saying about this merger’s impact on the WPS program, go over to SOCNET and follow their thread. The pay is the big issue.

Another change that was announced in the press release was to have all companies answer to one CEO, and that would be Craig Nixon of ACADEMI. The quote below says it all.

The combined ownership group will employ more than 6,000 of the industry’s most experienced and best-trained employees and will be led by CEO Craig Nixon.

That is like being in command of a brigade, and seeing how Mr. Nixon was actually a Brigadier General in the US Army, he should be somewhat familiar with the size and scope of leading such a large group. Although running a private company versus a military unit has it’s own set of unique challenges and he also has a board of directors to answer too. He can also tap into an excellent sounding board for ideas over at the McChrystal Group. Perhaps even fire up a management school at ACADEMI and implement some CrossLead or something like that for it’s leaders? Or better yet, contract the services of Adaptive Leader LLC… Just saying.
The other big news with this is that by proxy, Blackwater or ACADEMI, is now back in Iraq! lol With the merger of TC, which has WPS contracts in Iraq, by proxy, ACADEMI now has some ‘family’ in Iraq. It is ironic as well, that TC was the company that took over the WPS contracts from BW back in the day after the whole Nisour Square fallout.
Triple Canopy is also holding the line at the US Embassy in Baghdad, along with the Marines and Army that have been sent to protect. TC also has WPS contracts in the south of Iraq. To get a feel for what they are doing there, here is an OIG report from March of 2013 that details that stuff. (the numbers of security contractors have probably changed since the report, but they referenced the company’s muster list as 1200 contractors dedicated to the Embassy and the INL-Iraq program)

As to how this merger impacts TC’s ESOP program, I have no clue. Will this mega merger form an ESOP that everyone can participate in, who knows?

One suggestion to the companies is to communicate clearly with everyone in your chain, exactly what changes will happen. I imagine they are already doing this, but I can’t stress enough how important this is for the sake of those guys working out in the field and making things happen for these companies. Keep your people informed and a part of the process!
My final point, is for contract bids in the future. The companies within this merger have strength in numbers. They can bid lower, now that they have resources within the group of companies. Especially with training or personnel management. So Constellis Holdings will be a big player when it comes to bidding on contracts and they will leverage their advantage big time.
Well, this is all the commentary I have on the subject right now. I will make edits as information comes in and I invite the companies to make any announcements through this site if they wish. Mergers and Acquisitions in this industry are not new and I have written about it in the past and how this was predicted as the wars wind down. So the question is, who will merge next? -Matt

 

The current list of companies within the Constellis Holdings Inc merger. Photo by Danger Zones Jobs.

Constellis Holdings, Inc. Acquires Constellis Group, Inc.
June 06, 2014
Constellis Holdings, Inc. has agreed to acquire Constellis Group, Inc., a leading provider of security, support and advisory services to government, multinational corporations and international organizations operating in challenging environments around the world. Constellis Holdings was formed by the founders of Triple Canopy and the private equity investors who formed ACADEMI.
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Industry Talk: Afghanistan To Disband The APPF!

U.S. Army Col. Jane Crichton, a spokeswoman for the U.S.-led coalition, said there had been no immediate impact on security.
“We are not aware of any decisions or significant changes to support that affect the coalition in the near-term,” she said. “We are evaluating possible courses of action, including providing our own security or using contract security, among others. At present, the APPF is still providing convoy security escorts with no plan to cease.”

This is big, and good riddance. The APPF was a joke from the get go, and more than likely the money earned by this venture was squandered away by a corrupt government–hence why they are disbanding it. Also, I had been getting reports over the last couple weeks from contractors saying that APPF guards were not getting paid and that there was rumor that this was going to happen.

Now the question is, how will this security vacuum be filled? Well, that quote up top says it all. Either these clients will just pack up and go home, or if they decide to stay, they will be requiring contract security. Which I am sure there will be plenty of companies willing to step in and do this.

Although there is one caveat with that statement. The Afghan government has been seizing weapons and communications gear like crazy for the last several years, and it could be very difficult for companies to get that stuff back to do the job. So going back to the corrupt government theme, I could see lease or rental type agreements for weapons or some kind license scheme that will cost oodles of money for companies to get set up.  Who knows, but at least the APPF is going away.

If anyone has other elements to report about this development, let me know in the comments. Especially if security becomes an issue because of the way this has worked out. There is still a war going on and I imagine if APPF guys are just walking off post because they are not getting paid or are fed up with the whole thing, then that will not be cool. What a mess….

It also reminds me of the mess with the TWISS contracts in Iraq. When the Ugandans would not get paid or whatever forces being used were not getting paid, they often had walks offs and labor strikes.  Meaning guards not showing up to posts. Several times, contingencies in Iraq required military folks to step in to do these jobs as labor issues were being handled out in the field. So as this APPF thing develops, I imagine we will see similar acts if they are not getting paid and there is confusion as to who will pay them or whom they work for.

Another point is perhaps they will not like being rolled into the MOI or being made into a military unit or police unit. Perhaps the ANA or ANP will not like having to dip into their budgets to pay for these APPF salaries. Who knows…. -Matt

 

 

Afghanistan to Disband Crucial Guard Force
March 4, 2014
By Nathan Hodge
The Afghan government is moving to dissolve a crucial guard force that protects military supply convoys, international aid programs and foreign installations, creating new uncertainty over security as the U.S. and its allies withdraw.
The Afghan Ministry of Interior said in a statement Monday that Kabul would disband the Afghan Public Protection Force.
While APPF is a government agency, its services are paid for commercially by the clients, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development. It replaced a host of private security contractors.
Top Afghan officials recently issued a directive that would disband the force and fold it into the Ministry of Interior. But U.S. and coalition officials say it is unclear how, exactly, the Afghan government plans to implement this new order—and who will take over the job of protecting internationally funded reconstruction projects.

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Industry Talk: Two DynCorp Contractors Killed In VBIED Attack In Afghanistan

Rest in peace to the fallen and my heart goes out to the friends and family of both men. Very tragic that these guys were going home when this happened. Michael was on his way to getting married this Valentines day.

A VBIED is what killed the two men, and no word on the condition of everyone else that was wounded. -Matt

 

Michael Hughes.

 

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Paul Goins.

 

Two Killed in Kabul, Afghanistan
February 10, 2014
On February 10, 2014, two DynCorp International personnel working on the Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan (CSTC-A) program were tragically killed in an explosion near Kabul, Afghanistan.
Paul Goins, 62, of Crosby, Texas, joined DI in February 2013. A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Mr. Goins had more than 35 years of experience in the correctional and compliance fields, working with the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and in the private sector. His professional contributions were made at home in the United States, and abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he worked to share his knowledge with developing countries.
Michael Hughes, 38, of Washington, Montana and Nevada, joined the DI team in Afghanistan in November 2010. Having worked for several years with the Department of Corrections in Washington State, Mr. Hughes’ areas of expertise included training, emergency management, incident command, as well as hostage and crisis negotiations.
DynCorp International chairman and chief executive officer Steve Gaffney commented, “The world lost two heroes in this attack. They volunteered to travel to places they had never been, to help people they had never met. I ask that you please keep them, along with their families, loved ones, and colleagues who continue to support the mission, in your thoughts and prayers.”

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Weapons: Oh, The Weapons Contractors Use…

This is a fun one. On Facebook I posted a TOTD or Thought Of The Day on what types of weapons contractors have used in the past on contracts. What I got was an incredible amount of feedback on this and it was really fun to see what popped up. Here is the TOTD I posted:

TOTD: Contractor Weapons. I think this would be a fun one. I would be interested in all the various weapon types that guys have seen issued as contractors, or had to use as part of their contract. Or stuff that you saw or heard other contractors use. Everyone hears about AK’s, M-4/ARs, and Glocks, but what are the other rifles and pistols seen issued. Or even the heavier weapons used for contracts. This should be a fun one and I will probably make a post out of it on the blog.

I have mentioned in the past that Facebook has been incredibly useful for interacting with the contractor community. The amount of feedback and interaction is amazing and very useful. I am also able to share more ideas in a more efficient manner there, which also helps to get more ideas in return.

So back to contractor weapons. Guys posted pictures and everything, and it was cool to see any trends in what we are using out there. Obviously AK -47’s and M-4/AR-15 variants are the top primary weapons. But the various types of other weapons issued and their histories are very interesting. Some are just recaptured weapons that were given to contractors by outgoing military units in the various AO’s, or some are weapons the companies were able to ship into that country. Others were bought in gun markets in the region, and it is fascinating to see what contractors we able to get a hold of.

What I will do below is list every gun mentioned and I recommend going to the post on FB to see the various stories behind these weapons. I did notice that the G-3 was mentioned quite a bit. I got to play around with one in Iraq, but didn’t use it for work. In the photo below, Patrick brought up a heavily modified G 3 that I thought was cool.

The other thing to point out is how many copies of weapons were mentioned. Stuff that was either reproduced by Iraqi factories or stuff that was made in the weapon making villages of Pakistan. Lots of junky weapons that fell apart or barely worked, but were cheap and helped to stand up a contract. It is a huge problem in the industry, and companies continue to outfit contracts with junky weapons and equipment, all because of money or because they do not have the connections to get the good stuff into that war zone. That is the one thing that I continue to see and hear from contractors out there, and I have experienced the same, and that companies are horrible at providing good weapons or equipment. It’s why guys become good at fixing weapons or why folks prefer to bring their own kit–because the companies are horrible at this stuff.

Back to the list. There is also the mention of heavy weapons used, or the use of explosives. Stuff that you would not associate with contracting, but was certainly used at one time or another by contractors in Iraq or Afghanistan. In the early days of Iraq, you saw everything. Now, not so much because regulations and contracts have become very specific as to what can be carried. I saw that change during the 2006 to 2008 time frame, and especially in Iraq. But there are contracts that are out of sight or out of control of the Big Military, and you continue to see the heavy stuff come up on contracts.  So here is the list, and feel free to add in the comments section stuff that you used on contracts. -Matt

 

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This is a PDW Patrick McAleer made in 2007, out of an Iranian G3, in Iraq. Photo Credit Patrick McAleer.

 

Pistols

Glock 19
Glock 17
HS 2000
Caracal F
M 9
SIG P226
Makarov
Turkish Kanuni
Walther P 38
Iraqi Berretta
Browning Hi Power
Walther P 99
CZ 75
.455 Webley
Smith and Wesson Sigma
Norinco NP 22 (Sig 226 copy)
FN P35
CZ 70
Tariq
Zastava EZ9
Ruger P95
.38 Colt Diamondback
Colt 1911
.455 Colt Eley
Tokarov

Rifles
M 16 A2
AK 47
AR 15
M 4
FN FAL
Colt 722
G 3
G 36
Type 56
K 98
Krag
British SMLE
Sturmgewehr 44
SVD
Saiga M 3
Benelli Argo
Remington R 25
Remington 700
Browning BAR
Mosin Nagant
FPK Dragunov
AR 10
Ruger Scout Rifle in .308
AMD 65
HK MR 308
FN FAL para
VZ 58
AR 18
HK 416
East German MPi KM 72
SIG 550

Shotguns

NOR 982
Remington 870
Italian double barrel

Submachine Guns

Swedish K
MP 5
Scorpion
Uzi
Sterling
Krinkov
PPSH 41
Beretta M 12
Beretta PM 12S
Thompson

Machine Guns

MG 42
FN Minimi Para SAW
FN M-249 SAW
M-240/MAG 58
PKM
M 60
RPK
MG 3
RPD
VZ 59

Grenade Launchers

M 79
UBGL 25
HK 69
M 203
M 320/AG 36

Mortars, Grenades and Mines

M 67
RGD 5
M 18 Claymore
Stun
Tear Gas/CS
Improvised Claymores For Defense
Mortars for flares

Rocket Launchers

AT 4
RPG 7

Heavy Machine Guns

M 2
DsHK

Automatic Grenade Launchers

MK 19
AGS 17

Misc.

Crossbows
Regular Archery Bows
Kitchen Knives
ASP baton
Slingshot

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