Posts Tagged chemical weapons

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.
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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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Syria: Defense Contractors Are Training Rebels On How To Secure Chemical Weapons

Now that is a contract! lol I imagine they are paying these guys quite a bit of money to not only train the rebels on how to secure these chemical weapons if captured, but to also have contractors on the ground and monitor these weapons on the battlefield itself. Very dangerous and that has DBA written all over it.

As to whom is providing this training and monitoring is up in the air. I had written a post about Syria’s chemical weapons and MANPADS and the concerns with that, and in it I mentioned Tetra Tech as a possible solution for at least helping to clean up and secure ‘captured’ or ‘destroyed and captured’ chemical munitions. But for this particular story, I have no clue who the contractor is or if they are looking for folks. (if any readers have an idea, let me know and I will make the edit)

The other really ugly thought on this, is the absolute disaster this would create in the cities of Syria. Meaning if entire cities are coated with the oily VX Nerve agent all over everything, then after the war, someone is going to have to go in there and clean it all up. Or how would you like to by Syria’s neighbor? yikes…. Yet again, this would be a task for a competent chemical munitions cleanup company and that kind of contract would be insanely dangerous. The question is, will Assad cross the red line and use chemical weapons in his war?

Finally, the other bitter reality in all of this is the threat of losing control of these weapons. Hence why there are monitors on the ground keeping eyes on these things. But in warfare, it never fails to amaze me about the ingenuity of each side of a conflict and how they are able to use deception to continue the fight and gain advantage. Do we have eyes on all of these weapons, and can we control all the events in regards to these weapons? Well, rebels have certainly gotten their hands on captured MANPADS, and that might give us a clue as to the chemical weapons reality. We will see how this plays out…. -Matt

 

Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons
By Elise Labott
December 9, 2012
The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday.
The training, which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials.
The nationality of the trainers was not disclosed, though the officials cautioned against assuming all are American.

One of the aims, the sources said, is to try to get real time surveillance of the sites because the international community would not have time to prevent the use of the weapons otherwise. The program could explain how U.S. intelligence was able to learn what U.S. officials said was evidence the Assad government is mixing precursors for chemical weapons and loading those compounds into bombs. The intelligence, one U.S. official told CNN last week, came not just from satellite surveillance, but also from information provided by people. The official would not say whether the human intelligence came from telephone intercepts, defectors or people inside Syria.

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Syria: What About Those Chemical Weapons And MANPADS?

QUESTION: We’re seeing more and more reports about opposition fighters getting their hands on anti-aircraft weapons, mostly being seized from the Syrian army. I know this was a big concern of the U.S. in Libya, and that a lot of effort and a lot of money went into finding out where these weapons were going. Is that possible even in Syria, and how concerned is this Administration about the possibility of those weapons getting out there?
MS. NULAND: Well, if what you’re talking about it MANPADS, Cami, you know that around the world we have been very concerned about the proliferation of MANPADS and about their use in – on conflict and combat.
That said, we have a Syrian opposition that is facing some of the most egregious and horrific violence we’ve seen exacted on a civilian population anywhere. We have reports, as you know, over the weekend of summary executions by the Syrian regime. We have reports of aerial strafing of people lined up waiting for bread outside of Aleppo.
So, while it is difficult, it’s not surprising that unfortunately the opposition is fighting back in whatever way it can to try to protect civilians. And this is a direct result of the fact that the Assad regime is not stopping its assault and, in fact, is continuing its assault and using increasingly horrible and brutal methods.
QUESTION: But this will be a big problem if, as you say, the Assad regime is going eventually, and then you have all of these weapons out there, and not knowing who all the various opposition people are, you’ve got all these weapons again.
MS. NULAND: Right. Well, as we’ve said a number of times here, and as the Secretary said in Istanbul, as we look at what we’re calling day-after planning – planning on the U.S. side but also internationally for how we can support the Syrian people after Assad goes and when they’re in that transition phase – one of the key issues we’re looking at is how we might be able to offer support in securing, safeguarding some of the most dangerous weapons from the Assad era. So it would not only be some of these kinds of things, but also chemical weapons, et cetera. That’ll certainly be a very, very big job for them, and we are looking at how we can be ready to help if we’re asked. -State Department Briefing by Victoria Nuland, August 27, 2012

Syria is definitely a troubling problem when it comes to weapons, and losing control of them. This country actually has large stores of chemical weapons, along with a scattering of MANPADS like SA-7’s throughout the country at various bases. As more terrain is gained by the rebels, the chances of these weapon sites being exploited by the rebels and anyone else in the area is high. Losing control of those weapons is not good, and the fear is that they will find their way into other parts of the world and be used in terrorist attacks. Or even used in all out assaults against countries like Israel.

The question is, what will be done about it?  That is the million dollar question.

For one, I believe we will just have to assume that some of this stuff will be taken and smuggled away to wherever. I don’t think we can prevent that unless we have troops and folks on the ground, physically going in there and securing or taking these weapons.  As it stands now, it seems like we are dependent upon the honesty of those rebels in Syria that are involved in the fighting. But any jihadists with them could care less about what the west thinks, and yet the jihadists are there on the ground and actively fighting along side these guys.

If we were to put folks on the ground, what would be more politically feasible–military or contractors? That is a question I have thrown around on Facebook and have received lots of interesting feedback. Some say the military is better equipped and other say that contractors are equally capable and politically more feasible than the military. Who knows, and both resources could do the job. Hell, a combination of both would be even better. Someone to take the sites in the initial phases (military) and someone to hold the site after things have cooled down (contractors).

With any intervention we do, it will certainly require a partnership with the locals. I suggest using the CMC projects in Iraq as a possible model of operation for any contractor based solution. In Iraq, the Coalitions Munition Clearance program was a contract completely run by civilians and Army Corps of Engineers to secure old Iraqi Ammo Supply Points that were damaged in the war, and ‘clear’ or destroy those weapons on site. The program was highly successful and helped to remove tons of weapons from the battlefield that could have otherwise been used by the insurgents.

But a program like this is highly dependent on areas that are not contested in war zones. In other words, a project needs to be set up in territory that has been taken from the Syrian government. If not, that contracted security force could end up doing some heavy duty fighting or defending and be outgunned. But in zones being loosely held by local forces, negotiations can be made and the security of that site can become a priority and even a cash cow for the locals. I think the locals would also appreciate someone willing to go in there and destroy that nasty stuff.

What can be done is to ready private forces to move in as soon as territory has been gained, or to move in as soon as there has been a complete collapse of the government. Because then at that point, arrangements can be done with local leaders, tribes, etc.–much like how the CMC projects worked. The project can also employ local Syrians in doing some of the non-technical work. The guard force can be a combination of Syrians and expats. Like I said before, the CMC projects are a great model of operation for something like this.

Besides, companies are already being tasked with chemical munitions management and destruction. In the US, Tetra Tech just won a 489 million dollar CMA contract to do just that. Hell, they are even going to Vietnam to clean up agent orange sites. Here is a  quote:

Tetra Tech, Inc. recently announced that it has secured an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract worth $489 million from the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) and is a part of Integration Support V (PAIS V) contract.

As per the contract, the company will be providing program management and technical support to the CMA and the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program at facilities across the U.S for the next five years.

Tetra Tech will also support a variety of program management, integration and technical services support for aiding efficient destruction of chemical warfare and related material. This support comprises environmental studies, design, monitoring, operations and maintenance, quality assurance, safety and logistics support services.

Simultaneously, the PAIS V contract activities enable the U.S. Army to fulfill the international chemical weapons conventions and move toward disintegration of chemical agent disposal facilities and stockpile storage areas.

Apart from this, Tech will also be helping CMA in managing its non-stockpile chemical material program and chemical stockpile emergency preparedness program.

In addition, Tetra Tech recently received a contract for the excavation and construction activities related to the environmental decontamination of Vietnam’s Da Nang Airport, affected by dioxin pollution. This contamination was the result of the use of chemical herbicides and defoliant during the Vietnam War.

Tetra Tech was also one of the companies used in Iraq for the CMC projects. So the private side of this solution is there and it is capable.

One final note is about these MANPADS in Syria. It is very difficult to get a fix on who has them or where they are at. There are a few folks out there that are putting together a picture for public consumption. Especially with all of these videos and social media related bits of news. CJ Chivers is one of those guys doing an awesome job, and he goes into how to properly view and pick apart these videos. Here is another blogger that is tracking the locations of Syrian MANPADS that have been identified in news stories.

As this develops, we will see the direction it takes. The west is definitely interested in securing this stuff, and the real question will be ‘how’. Perhaps we will see a repeat of how we did things in Libya, or this might require a different direction…Who knows? I do know that the clock is ticking and the rebellion is not waiting for anyone. -Matt

 

Destroying munitions in Iraq.

 

Worries intensify over Syrian chemical weapons
By Joby Warrick
September 6, 2012
Western spy agencies suspect Syria’s government has several hundred tons of chemical weapons and precursor components scattered among as many as 20 sites throughout the country, heightening anxieties about the ability to secure the arsenals in the event of a complete breakdown of authority in the war-torn nation, U.S. and Middle Eastern officials say.
Officials are monitoring the storage sites, but they expressed growing fear that they have not identified every location and that some of the deadly weapons could be stolen or used by Syrian troops against civilians.
“We think we know everything, but we felt the same way about Libya,” said a former American intelligence official who was briefed on U.S. preparations for both conflicts. “We had been on the ground in Libya, yet there were big surprises, both in terms of quantities and locations.” The former official was one of several people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified information.

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Libya: US, NATO Concerned About Libya’s Stockpile Of Weapons

You know, I congratulate the Libyan rebels for taking Tripoli and that victory is significant. But as the rebels continue to take more territory, and they come upon the weapons caches of the old regime, there is a big concern here that those weapons will make their way into the black market. Stuff like chemical weapons or MANPADS in the hands of islamic militants comes to mind. (estimates are at around 20,000 of these shoulder fired missiles in Libya’s stockpiles)

In Iraq, securing the ammunition storage facilities after the initial invasion was non-existent. There was just too much going on and not enough resources. Eventually units were able to secure these depots, but not after they were ransacked. And then as everyone remembers, much of those ransacked munitions were used by the insurgency to attack the coalition.

The other thing to remember is that it was contractors that came in and cleared those depots of munitions. The CMC program that the Army Corps of Engineers ran in Iraq is what I am talking about. So the question I have is who in the rebel command is in charge of securing the ammunition depots in Libya as terrain is taken, and is this effort even coordinated?

My other question is do we know who these rebels are and who they do business with?  I posted about this when the war first kicked off, and also made the point that a huge number of suicide bombers from Libya made their way to the Iraq battlefield back in the day.  Jihadists are in Libya and who knows what they have been able to grab during the chaos of this war.

Going back to the idea of who will help secure or remove munitions in Libya, it will more than likely be a contractor.  I don’t know if it would be a US contractor, but someone close to France or Italy might have a shot. Or those countries might reach out to specific contractors of other countries to help get this done. But to me, this is just one of many dilemmas to focus on as Libya transitions. Hat tip to Jack Murphy over at Kit Up for putting together that photo below. -Matt

Edit: 08/23/2011- I wanted to post this story in regards to contractors cleaning up these munitions. We are already contracting with MAG and the Swiss Foundation for Mine Clearance to find and clean up munitions.

 

This photo came from Kit Up's Jack Murphy. Notice the SA -7's?

 

U.S., NATO concerned about Libya’s stockpile of weapons
08/22/2011
Washington (CNN) — The U.S. and NATO have been quietly talking to National Transitional Council officials for the last several weeks about securing Libya’s remaining stockpiles of mustard gas and other weapons material in the event the Gadhafi regime fell, U.S. officials confirm. Topping the list of worries is Libya’s stockpile of mustard gas.
“The opposition forces are being asked to keep track of what’s going on” with both weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and the regime’s inventory of surface-to-air missiles, a NATO official said.
“We have had direct eyes on the storage facilities” of the WMD for some time, the official said, including the use of satellites, drones and other surveillance aircraft.
The official also confirmed that intelligence personnel from the U.S. and other countries have been in Libya in recent weeks to help maintain security at various sites, although he could not confirm Western personnel are currently at those locations. “Individual nations have folks on the ground,” he said.

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