Posts Tagged contractors

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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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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Industry Talk: DynCorp International Honors Defense Of Freedom Medal Recipients

Speaking on behalf of the Department of Defense was Lieutenant General William N. Phillips, and from the Department of State were Ambassador Patrick Kennedy and Ambassador William R. Brownfield.
“There about 17,000 DynCorp personnel serving in a combat theater today. They are serving alongside our warfighters and protecting our freedom. Bottom line – contractor personnel and all they do remains vital to our nation. We depend on them, we rely on them, and they are extraordinary for their execution of the mission,” Phillips said.

Good on DynCorp for honoring their fallen and I certainly hope other companies will follow the same path, if they haven’t done so already. I have written in the past about the process companies and families/friends of the fallen can go through in order to get the Defense of Freedom Medal for their fallen and I highly encourage folks to do this. We must honor the sacrifice of the fallen….

I was also intrigued by this bit of news that came out during the ceremony. The State Department will be building a memorial to honor civilians/contractors that were killed, defending the DoS in the war. Very cool.

During his remarks, Ambassador Brownfield announced that, later this year, the Department of State will unveil a new memorial at the U.S. Department of State to honor civilian personnel, including contractors who have lost their lives serving on police training missions abroad.
“On the thirteenth of May this year, with the support, assistance and my personal gratitude to Under Secretary Kennedy, I hope we will unveil and dedicate a memorial to all those civilian police personnel who have given their lives up in overseas operations,” said Brownfield.

With that said, I certainly hope the new Secretary of State John Kerry will be in attendance, once this memorial is unveiled and dedicated? Better yet, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and the new Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel should all be in attendance. Because all of them owe their lives to the brave actions of security contractors who rescued them off a mountain in Afghanistan! For that matter, most of congress and our senior leadership should be in attendance–past and present, because most of them have been protected by contractors in some capacity in Iraq or Afghanistan, and at some point in this long war. -Matt

 

 

DynCorp International Honors Defense of Freedom Medal Recipients
February 28, 2013
DynCorp International hosted the families of 17 employees who were killed while serving U.S. government missions abroad as they received the Department of Defense’s Defense of Freedom medal, posthumously recognizing the contributions their loved ones made for their country. The honorees were killed while working on U.S. Department of State police training missions in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2011. The award recipients’ families, representatives from the Department of State and Department of Defense, along with nearly 200 DI personnel were in attendance at the ceremony held February 11, 2013, in the Washington, D.C. area.
Speaking on behalf of the Department of Defense was Lieutenant General William N. Phillips, and from the Department of State were Ambassador Patrick Kennedy and Ambassador William R. Brownfield.
“There about 17,000 DynCorp personnel serving in a combat theater today. They are serving alongside our warfighters and protecting our freedom. Bottom line – contractor personnel and all they do remains vital to our nation. We depend on them, we rely on them, and they are extraordinary for their execution of the mission,” Phillips said.
During his remarks, Ambassador Brownfield announced that, later this year, the Department of State will unveil a new memorial at the U.S. Department of State to honor civilian personnel, including contractors who have lost their lives serving on police training missions abroad.
“On the thirteenth of May this year, with the support, assistance and my personal gratitude to Under Secretary Kennedy, I hope we will unveil and dedicate a memorial to all those civilian police personnel who have given their lives up in overseas operations,” said Brownfield.
Steve Gaffney, chairman and CEO of DynCorp International, placed a special emphasis on the family members who were in attendance, “Each of the 17 individuals who we honor tonight had a profound and lasting impact – not just on our company but on our country – and we often talk about their bravery and strength. But I also want to highlight the bravery and strength of those family members who are here tonight, and who continue to share the stories of their loved ones.”
The Defense of Freedom Medal, the civilian equivalent of the military’s Purple Heart, was presented to the families of the following DI personnel:
Roland Carroll Barvels of Aberdeen, S.D.
Brett Patrick Benton of Dry Ridge, Ky.
Brian Morgan Brian of Camden, Ark.
Michael Wayne Butler of Rembert, S.C.
Mike Dawes of Stilwell, Okla.
Arsenio Ducusin Domingo of Wadmalaw Island, S.C.
Richard Thomas Hickman of Cave Springs, Ga.
Leon Vincent Kimbrell of Boiling Springs, S.C.
Deborah Dawn Klecker of Redman, Ore.
Rudy Guerrero Mesa of Maxwell, Texas
William Lawrence Juneau of Orange County, Calif.
Douglas Stephen Thomas of Lexington, S.C.
Robert McDonald Timmann of Tallahassee, Fla.
Donald Bruce Tow of Lake Havasu, Ariz.
Darrell Leroy Wetherbee of Raymond, Maine
Gary Wayne Willard of Resaca, Ga.
Ronald Austin Zimmerman of Glenwood, Ind.

Link to post here.

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Industry Talk: Roelf Van Heerden And Men Lead PMPF Operation To Free MV Iceberg 1 Hostages

This is all types of cool. Basically the PMPF and their South African mentors/trainers rescued the hostages of the MV Iceberg 1 after a two week siege. This is significant, because this rescue/siege was conducted by a private South African force who commanded an assault force they trained, with the blessing of the Puntland government. And they rescued 22 hostages who had been held for over 1000 days, after a 10 day siege. Ross Perot, eat your heart out.

What is interesting about the account below is the tactics involved and how they adapted to the changing situation. And how Rolf van Heerden’s crew was able to finally resolve the siege using some recoilless weapons, minus the weapon sights. lol

“I asked Mohamed Farole if we could get hold of larger weapons or even mortars. I also talked personally to President Farole about the situation and he raised a concern that we might kill or injure the hostages. We did manage to get hold of a Soviet 82 mm B-10 recoilless rifle and a number of rounds and it wasn’t long before we had deployed it on the beach. With no sights available the crew took aim by aligning the weapon and the ship through the open breach and we fired a number of rounds, striking the vessel around the bridge area.
“The pirates on board obviously took fright and contacted the Puntland ambassador in Dubai to inform him that they wished to surrender but that we should stop shooting at them first. We held our fire on two occasions in an effort to give them the opportunity to surrender but, after a number of breakdowns in communication, I had had enough and we resumed the bombardment of the vessel with all available weapons.
“An old United States 106 mm recoilless rifle, unearthed from the rear of a private home, was the next heavy weapon to arrive, together with six rounds provided by the Puntland government. The aiming process was repeated and after two misses the crew found the correct range and four rounds smashed into the ship with resounding explosions, setting the vessel on fire. This effectively changed the pirates’ minds and they indicated that they really wished to surrender and talk.”

If you want a good primer on Roelf, check out his book called Four Ball One Tracer. He was a commanding officer for Executive Outcomes back in the day, and currently he works under the employ of the PMPF.

Now I am not sure if he is still with Sterling Corporate Services, Bancroft Global Development, or hired directly as a member of the PMPF? There was a lot of back and forth about money and the survival of the PMPF, and it is hard to say what the arrangement is now. All though it is obvious that the men of Sterling Corporate Services are still with the force, and they are still operating.

If you remember, SCS lost one of their men in a PMPF operation last year, and that put them on the map. The UN has been trying to shut them down because they are viewed as the competition that is making the UN look bad. lol Funny how the UN could support and oppose such a force, all at the same time?

With that said, there have been several sources that have identified the effectiveness of the SCS trained and mentored PMPF force, and a reduction in piracy could be attributed to their actions.

Building up indigenous ground forces has also helped. What has really thwarted pirate networks is a ground force known as the Puntland Maritime Police Force, according to an expert who has worked on the ground in Somalia. The PMPF is about 400 men, recruited locally and trained to be a professional anti-piracy police force. And it’s worked, says former Green Beret Roger Carstens, who is working on a project about Somalia and the maritime force and has spent much time on the ground there in recent months. “They basically went in and chased the pirates to keep them out,” Carstens told Situation Report. “That kept the pirates out of the pirate towns, where they staged their attacks, and it screwed [their] investors,” he said. But he warns that if support and resources ebb for the ground force, it could falter. That would be a good thing for the pirates.

“If they fail, you could easily see a resurgence of piracy writ large,” Carstens said, emphasizing that the concentration of pirate activity emanates from Puntland, an area of northeastern Somalia that was declared an autonomous state in 1998.

The other thing that I was curious about is who is paying for the PMPF now? I imagine that the UAE is still funding it. or maybe the owners of the Iceberg paid Puntland to conduct this rescue? Who knows and if anyone is familiar with the funding and survival of the PMPF, I am all ears. Either way, good on Roelf and company and good on the PMPF for rescuing these guys. -Matt

 

PMPF forces conducting operations to free crew of MV Iceberg 1.

 

Exclusive: South African-led operation frees hostages from Somali pirates
Written by Andrew Hudson
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 This is
In December 2012 the Puntland Maritime Police Force rescued 22 sailors who had been held hostage on board the Panama-registered ship Iceberg 1 for nearly three years – the longest period for any hostages held by Somali pirates. Roelf van Heerden, the South African commander of the ground force, gives an exclusive first-hand account of the operation.
The Iceberg 1, a 4 500 tonne roll on/roll off cargo vessel owned by Dubai-based Azal Shipping, was hijacked just ten nautical miles off Aden, Yemen, on March 29, 2010. She was carrying generators, transformers and fuel tanks and had a crew of 24 from Yemen, India, Ghana, Sudan, Pakistan and the Philippines.
The Iceberg 1 eventually ran aground in September 2011 off Garacad, a small coastal village in the Galmudug region on Somalia’s eastern seaboard. With two hostages dead, a continuing standoff between the owners and the pirates, and an exhausted, sickly crew of hostages, the last months of 2012 held little prospect of an end to the ordeal. That was until the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF), under the command of a team of South Africans, took action.
Roelf van Heerden, who commanded the ground forces, is permanently employed by the PMPF and his main role, together with other South Africans, is to train the PMPF and deploy the police force. Van Heerden now takes up the story:
“On 28 October 2012 Mohamed Farole, son of Puntland’s President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, called me at the headquarters of the PMPF in Bossaso and briefed me about the Iceberg. Mohamed, who is the director of the PMPF, also asked me to carefully assess whether the PMPF could undertake an operation aimed at freeing the hostages.
“All previous attempts to resolve the hijacking, including offers of a ransom, had failed due to disagreements between the parties on the ransom amount, the means and the location of the ransom transfer. The ship’s crew were also reportedly in a sorry physical and mental state. The first fatality, a Yemeni, was said to have committed suicide in October 2010 after continuous harassment by the pirates. The other fatality amongst the hostages was the first officer, Dhiraj Kumar Tiwari, who had been severely tortured by the pirates and had not been seen since September 2011.
“The vessel had also run out of fuel and the seasonal high winds had caused both the ship’s anchors to break loose allowing the vessel to drift helplessly onto the rocks. The Iceberg’s hull had ruptured and the lower hold containing eighteen very large generators in 12-metre containers had flooded.

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Industry Talk: Afghanistan Seeks Taxes From Contractors To US

These guys kill me. What part of this bilateral agreement do the Afghans not understand? Here it is again, just to emphasize how stupid this is.

A 2003 bilateral agreement states the U.S. government, “its military and civilian personnel, contractors, and contractor personnel shall not be liable to pay any tax or similar fees assessed within Afghanistan.” A subsequent 2004 Military Technical Agreement also carved out a tax-free status for contractors to the U.S., a view that has been reinforced by U.S. officials in correspondence with Afghan officials.

Not only that, but because of this dumb APPF force, these companies are forced to used government security. I don’t know if the APPF was protecting Contrack International or not during this latest attack, but I do know that according to the business folks in that area, they have been screaming for more security in that area for awhile. It is a logistics hub, and attacks on such sites are part of the Taliban goal of inflicting economic damage.

We will see if the US can press back and protect these companies that are essential to the war effort. I think this quote says it all, if the US cannot square this away.

A person involved in logistics issues said the matter could come to a head if the Afghan government imposes fees or restrictions on cargo that slows the delivery of goods to forward operating bases, or FOBs.
“We’ve been told [by the coalition] to reduce stocks. So they’ll run out of fuel and they’ll go on MREs on some of these FOBs,” the person said, referring to the military’s packaged rations. “And little Johnny’s going to call Mom, and that’s now going to be all over the press.”

We will see how it goes? -Matt

 

 

Afghanistan Seeks Taxes From Contractors to U.S.
By NATHAN HODGE
Afghanistan has launched tax audits of major contractors to the U.S. military, government officials say, in a bid to shore up the country’s finances as the international military presence winds down and reconstruction funds dry up.
In particular, Kabul is focusing on the U.S. military’s main food supplier in Afghanistan, Supreme Foodservice GmbH, alleging that the company and similar logistics firms are abusing their status to illegally bring taxable goods into the country for resale.
Supreme says it isn’t engaging in any commercial activity in Afghanistan that should make it liable for taxes.
Kabul’s move potentially puts the Afghan government at odds with Washington, which has viewed, with limited caveats, materials imported to support the 66,000 U.S. forces here as exempt from taxation and customs fees. Since 2005, the Pentagon spent more than $7.9 billion on its food-supply contract with Supreme alone, awarding the company an additional $1.5 billion extension contract this past summer.

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