Posts Tagged contractors

Industry Talk: The Historic Implications Of Erik Prince’s Plan For Afghanistan

So folks, I have been waiting a bit to post on this because so much has been written about it and I wanted to see where it goes. Basically Erik Prince came up with a plan for Afghanistan that would have historic implications for this industry and country if implemented. Already, contractors are a part of the history of this war, with great sacrifice and from many partner nations over the last 16 years. But this….this is an entirely different level.

At this point in time, we have a standing US President that is actually considering a plan conceived by a contractor. Actually two, because Stephen A. Feinberg of Cerberus Group and owner of Dyncorp came up with a plan as well. But I will focus on the Prince plan because of how much traction it is getting. I say traction, because the media and the naysayers of this industry have been writing this off as insignificant or risible. But I say not so fast….because from what I have heard on the grapevine, this is getting much more serious consideration than what is reported.

About the plan. It is basically modeled after what the US did in post war Japan, using a viceroy to command over the effort and an army of contractors. US Special Operations would still have a presence in the country to counter the Taliban and the various jihadists. It is a long term, cost saving answer to providing presence in that country. A solution that would dramatically lessen the contractor footprint in Afghanistan according to Prince, and send most of the troops home (minus the special operations folks). Please read the plan below.

I would also suggest listening to Erik Prince talk about the plan in his media blitz, ever since November of last year. This too is historically significant. Since Prince donated to the Trump campaign, as did his sister Betsy DeVos (who is now Secretary of Education), Erik has had the ear of the President of the United States. He also speaks the language of business, which is familiar to Trump. This interaction between an Administration and a private contractor reminds me of Claire Lee Chennault and his dealings with the Roosevelt administration for the formation of the Flying Tigers in China. The Flying Tigers were the only game in town after Pearl Harbor, and they were the rock star private air force that was sticking it to the Japanese in China. Claire made Time magazine’s man of the year back then, and several movies were made about what he did with his motley crew.

Another point as to the historical significance. The war in Afghanistan has become the longest war in US history. The Erik Prince plan would effectively end US troop involvement there, and switch that involvement to a private model focused on supporting and working with Afghan troops and police to wage war and provide security. It is a plan aimed towards providing a long term presence, yet with a much smaller, less expensive and efficient footprint. It would also entail consolidated, longterm leadership in that country. Prince compared the position to more of a bankruptcy trustee. That leader would also work with Afghanistan to get them on a better financial footing. Meaning mining laws and a means to invigorate investment there. If Prince is not able to implement this plan in Afghanistan, he will definitely be able to play around with the pieces of similar process in Somalia for the FZIA contract. That will be very interesting to see how it works. Afghanistan is in a similar boat, and they need to get their finances and industry in order so they can actually pay for their wars and security.

Further more, what is really interesting here is that President Trump is questioning what we are doing in Afghanistan. We have been there for 16 years, our Secretary of Defense clearly stated that we are not winning there, and the Taliban have taken over 40 percent of the territory by force. This war has been expensive, and will continue to be expensive on the current track and also with legacy costs. It will also cost lives, and the President is right to question what are we doing there? Currently the President is seeking plans from both his military, and now significantly, private contractors. The message to his generals is pretty clear to me. Give me a good plan and right the ship, or I will go with the EP plan. To be in this position where a private contractor plan is actually competing with a military based plan, is historically significant in modern times. Even if they go with the military plan, this is quite the moment for this industry.

Having listened to most of Prince’s interviews, the best guess as to what he wants to set up is similar to what Blackwater did with the Afghan Border Patrol contract. Basically train and mentor forces. As to a Close Air Support model, that too has been done. Dyncorp had their version of air support or armed Huey gunships to cover down on the Poppy Eradication Force contract in Afghanistan. Blackwater also did paracargo resupply missions in Afghanistan using CASA 212’s back in the day. Blackwater also used Little Birds as air support for their WPS contract, and their efforts were hugely successful there.

Other models outside of Afghanistan, is what STTEP did in Nigeria. That was a training and mentorship type contract that did very well for the Nigerians against Boko Haram.  I mention all of these examples, because contractors have already performed similar functions as to what Prince is talking about both in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the modern era. A contractor mentor or trainer would not be a shock to the ANA or ANP and would actually be quite familiar to them. Hell, there are thousands of contractors in Afghanistan as I write this and they have been working hand in hand with Afghans for the entirety of the war.

I should also note that Prince’s FSG company just won a contract in Somalia to basically set up a mini-Dubai there! The Free Zone Investment Authority of the South West State of Somalia to be specific. Talk about a busy guy! Between OBOR, Somalia, and meetings with the US administration for an Afghanistan plan, I would say that he is keeping busy.

Finally, I want to recommend some good podcasts and video of the EP plan. He has been busy presenting the plan in the news, at universities, and in social media/podcasts.  We will see how this develops, but no matter how it turns out, this has been historic and fascinating to watch and write about. Here are a couple of good sources below to check out to further get educated on the plan. –Matt

Erik Prince at Oxford University.  (significant, because this kind of kicked off the campaign for the EP plan)

Tucker Carlson interview.  (large conservative audience)

Podcast where Prince debates with Sean McFate. (I liked this, because Prince really dug into the history of contracting and won the debate -in my opinion)

David Isenberg’s take on the concept.

Deborah Avant article.

Sean McFate article.

Tim Lynch’s post at Free Range International here and here. (Tim wrote an excellent deal on this and is a very experienced contractor in Afghanistan)

Fox and Friends interview. (the President is said to be a big fan of this show, and this is the most recent interview Prince did)

* I will add more to this group as more good ones pop up.

The MacArthur Model for Afghanistan

Consolidate authority into one person: an American viceroy who’d lead all coalition efforts.

By Erik D. Prince
May 31, 2017
Afghanistan is an expensive disaster for America. The Pentagon has already consumed $828 billion on the war, and taxpayers will be liable for trillions more in veterans’ health-care costs for decades to come. More than 2,000 American soldiers have died there, with more than 20,000 wounded in action. For all that effort, Afghanistan is failing. The terrorist cohort consistently gains control of more territory, including key economic arteries. It’s time for President Trump to fix our approach to Afghanistan in five ways.

First, he should consolidate authority in Afghanistan with one person: an American viceroy who would lead all U.S. government and coalition efforts—including command, budget, policy, promotion and contracting—and report directly to the president. As it is, there are too many cooks in the kitchen—and the cooks change shift annually. The coalition has had 17 different military commanders in the past 15 years, which means none of them had time to develop or be held responsible for a coherent strategy.

A better approach would resemble Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s leadership of postwar Japan. Given clear multiyear authority, MacArthur made bold moves like repealing restrictive speech laws and granting property rights. Those directives moved Japan ahead by centuries. In Afghanistan, the viceroy approach would reduce rampant fraud by focusing spending on initiatives that further the central strategy, rather than handing cash to every outstretched hand from a U.S. system bereft of institutional memory.

Second, Mr. Trump should authorize his viceroy to set rules of engagement in collaboration with the elected Afghan government to make better decisions, faster. Troops fighting for their lives should not have to ask a lawyer sitting in air conditioning 500 miles away for permission to drop a bomb. Our plodding, hand wringing and overcaution have prolonged the war—and the suffering it bears upon the Afghan population. Give the leadership on the ground the authority and responsibility to finish the job.

Third, we must build the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces the effective and proven way, instead of spending billions more pursuing the “ideal” way. The 330,000-strong Afghan army and police were set up under the guidance of U.S. military “advisers” in the mirror image of the U.S. Army. That was the wrong approach.

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Finance: 2014 Taxes For Contractors, By CPA Luke Fairfield

It is that time again and Luke Fairfield has put out his yearly newsletter for contractors. This stuff is extremely informative and Luke specializes in all the particulars unique to our industry. For your convenience I will also put this in the Taxes For Contractors page if you need to find it quickly. Check it out. –matt

 

Greetings!

For all you ex-pats, foreign contractors and overseas residents out there I hope this letter finds you well. In an attempt to keep you current with your tax filings I am sending out this letter as a year-end reminder that 2014 is almost over. As always feel free to pass this email on to anyone in your situation who could use the help or anyone that I missed on this email. As always, I will do my best to minimize your tax bill and provide relevant advice for your situation.

Important Updates for 2014:
1) Please visit our website at www.fairfieldhughes.com. The website includes a learning center with answers to frequently asked questions. We hope you find it to be an excellent resource.
2) Our in house attorney Zac Silides can assist with the preparation, revision or updating of a trust or will and can also assist with other business related legal needs such as the creation of new business entities. Fees for these services are very reasonable based on a comparison to other options.
3) Information update related to IRS audits of the foreign income exclusion:
a. It is critically important that you retain copies of your Diplomatic passport and regular passport, overseas orders, LOAs, overseas expense receipts, VISAs and anything else that can prove you were overseas in a combat zone. Keep these for at least 5 years. Do not turn in your passports without making a scanned, color copy of them.
b. Should they choose to do so under audit, the IRS now has the ability to obtain an entry report from CBP and Homeland Security to verify your time in the US.
c. If you are claiming the exclusion under the physical presence test (330 day rule), some IRS offices are now requiring that your “abode” be outside the US to qualify. Unfortunately this term is not defined in the tax code and the IRS is using some very old court case ruling to say that it is where you maintain your social and economic ties. For those of you with family in the US, this can raise an issue.
d. In short, the foreign income exclusion has become a riskier claim as the IRS does not issue specific enough guidelines on many foreign income exclusion issues. We do not know with any degree of certainty how any audit will conclude as results vary widely by auditor.
4) FATCA. The IRS has enacted many regulations regarding foreign bank accounts and foreign financial instruments. If you have a foreign bank account with a value in excess of $10k or foreign financial holdings in excess of $50k, you may have a filing requirement to be compliant and avoid possible penalties.
5) Afghanistan Tax.
a. In 2014 Aegis was withholding a tax on income earned in Afghanistan by foreign personnel. Several other companies withhold Afghanistan tax on the employee’s behalf as well. If you are aware of foreign tax being withheld, please inform us of this fact so we can ensure you get proper credit.
b. Triple Canopy and Global withhold Iraq tax on income earned in Iraq.
c. Tax paid to a foreign country can be claimed as a credit on your US tax return (Form 1116).
d. The credit can be combined with the foreign income exclusion if you qualify but the foreign tax credit is partially reduced when both are used, making this a complex calculation.
6) Indonesian Tax. Triple Canopy employees in Indonesia present for more than 183 days have a whole new set of issues to be aware of.
a. You are currently having something called “Hypo” or hypothetical tax withheld from your paycheck. This amount will cover your US and Indonesian tax obligation in most cases.
b. TC has provided a description of how your tax obligation to each country will be calculated and handled but it is not easy reading and is complex as it varies by situation.
c. The CPA firm KPMG has been retained to prepare both your Indonesian and US returns. If you plan to use this service, I am happy to look over your returns before they are filed to make sure you received all the benefits available to you. KPMG is a huge worldwide firm who may not be overly familiar with the contract security work profession. Secondly, they will not be as responsive to each of you and your individual questions which concerns me as I have always made a point of getting each of you the answers needed immediately.

Based on the most common questions I was asked last year, let me briefly cover the points most relevant to your situation. The following is a rundown of how your tax situation differs from someone working in the states.

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Cool Stuff: Shadow Warriors Project

Now this is some cool stuff. Recently, a book came out that detailed the security contractor role during the Benghazi attack in 2012 . An incident where four Americans were killed–to include the death of a US Ambassador. The book is called 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi. The authors of this book are the actual guys involved in the battle and boy do they have a story to tell. It is a story of security contractors saving lives and dealing with a really bad situation. It is also about what happens after the battle when everyone comes home, which is the part of contracting that does not get much attention. I would not be surprised if a movie came out about this.

But what is really awesome about their story is that one of the authors of this book and participant in the battle named Mark Geist, started an association that all contractors can really get behind and support. Here is a snippet from their web site and organization called Shadow Warriors Project. I also like that his wife is involved, because she represents the sacrifice that families make in this business.

Mark and Krystal Geist, the founders of Shadow Warriors Project have committed their lives to benefitting American people. Mark served our country in the Marine Corp for 12 years and continued on to serve the American people as a Special Operative Contractor where he worked in the most dangerous places on the globe. Mark returned home wounded and broken, leaving the pieces of their lives scattered. After a full recovery, Mark and Krystal are back at what they do best, helping Americans, in their efforts with the Shadow Warriors Project.
Letter from the founders:
Our goal with the Shadow Warriors Project is to create a better everyday life for as many American contractors and their families as possible. We decided to start SWP when Mark returned home from an incredibly dangerous operation. He was hurt both mentally and physically and we wished there was a system that could have helped us repair.
After having almost lost my life and going through almost two years of surgeries and rehabilitation my family and I have found that there is limited short term and virtually no long term support system in place for the contractor.
We can do better, we must do better for those that choose to continue serving our beloved country and in doing so become injured or killed in that service. We want the contractor and his family to not have to worry, should the unthinkable occur.
We thank you for your interest and hope that you will join forces with us to give American contractors a more fruitful life.
Sincerely,
Mark & Krystal Geist

Outstanding, and I really hope this takes off, hence why I am promoting it here on the blog. This is a group started by a wounded security contractor, and focused on taking care of wounded contractors and their families. Or helping the families of those contractors killed in the war.

The other thing to mention here is that there are very few groups dedicated to helping the contractor and his family when injuries or deaths happen. TAPS is another group that will help contractors. Other groups like Wounded Warriors Project will not help contractors and their families, which is disappointing to say the least, but that is their thing. Something to think about if you are looking for a group to donate time or money too, that helps contractors and their families specifically. –Matt

Website for Shadow Warriors Project here.

Facebook Page for Shadow Warriors Project here.

Mark Geist bio here.

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 1.51.16 PM

 

Highly recommend watching this documentary on what these men had to say. Mark Geist discusses his injuries and the impact on his family was mentioned as well.

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Industry Talk: FBO–Security Assistance Mentors And Advisors Services In Iraq

This just popped up on my radar screen about Iraq. Of course things have really gotten bad in Iraq with the advance of IS/ISIL/ISIS/Daash and Iraq is having a heck of a time stopping them. Of course this is of grave concern to those that have an interest in a stable Iraq or want the ISIS threat to be stopped.

What is significant here is that contractors are a way to get more ‘boots on the ground’, when politically it is very difficult to do so. Especially when President Obama made promises to the world that we will ‘not’ have soldiers fighting in Iraq, nor will we have ‘boots on the ground’. He also made campaign promises that the US will have nothing to do with Iraq and really trumped up his achievement of pulling all the troops out back in 2011…Well, I guess plans change? lol

At this time, there are several hundred military advisors on the ground, and that number just keeps going up as the situation gets more dire in Iraq. But this also counters the politics of this administration’s views on Iraq involvement. So how do you stop the bleeding in Iraq, but still hold to your promise of not getting involved in Iraq? Enter contractors, the ultimate American Express of contingency operations.

I should also note that contractors are a huge component of security at the Embassy in Baghdad. I have heard estimates thrown around, and given the situation, I would say these are pretty close. Triple Canopy, according to some of my sources, has anywhere from 300 to 350 guys, and SOC has about 200-250 ERT guys. (I am open to any corrections there) That is a pretty substantial force and goes in line with what has been reported over the years in reports. It is also a massive facility, and if ISIS presses the fight closer into the city, those defenses will be tested. That is on top of the current military staffing at the Embassy which was reported to be about 100. As for DoD or OGA contractors, who knows?…

Now back to this FBO. The submission deadline is August 25th, so I imagine all the companies interested will be jumping all over this one and scrambling to put something together. How much this is worth, who knows? This part was interesting thought.

‘The proposed contract is for a single Firm Fixed Price (FFP) DoD contract with a period of performance of twelve (12) months and two (2) twelve month option periods. Security Assistance Mentors and Advisors (SAMA) services in Iraq’.

We will see how this goes and if any other contracts spin up or requests, I will be on the look out. H/T the Washington Post for picking up on this one. –Matt 

 

A police liaison officer, hired by DynCorp to help build the Iraqi police force, walks among the rubble of a police station in 2005 in Fallujah. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

 

Security Assistance Mentors and Advisors (SAMA) services in Iraq
Solicitation Number: W560MY-14-R-0004
Agency: Department of the Army
Office: Army Contracting Command
Location: ACC – Rock Island (ACC-RI)
Aug 11, 2014
Solicitation Number: W560MY-14-R-0004
Notice Type: Sources Sought
Synopsis:
Added: Aug 11, 2014 10:54 am
SOURCES SOUGHT to locate interested vendors with the capability of performing Security Assistance Mentors and Advisors (SAMA) services in Iraq. The contractor shall provide advice and assistance to the Office of Security Assistance – Iraq (OSC-I) senior personnel in their mission to support the Government of Iraq (GoI), cognizant of the goals of goals of reducing tensions between Arabs and Kurds, and Sunni and Shias, with key focus on core process and systems which involve, but are not limited to administration, force development, procurement and acquisition, contracting, training management, public affairs, logistics, personnel management, professional development, communications, planning and operations, infrastructure management, intelligence and executive development.
Contract personnel shall assist the military and government personnel assigned to OSC-I in the assessment of MoD, CTS, or MoP processes, policies, and systems and then advising, coaching, mentoring, training, and liaising with MoD, CTS, or MoP officials to improve and refine these processes, policies, and systems. The contractor shall also ensure that training facilitation and the degree of interaction between contractor personnel and Iraqis being trained will conform to evolving local Iraqi requirements as may be agreed upon between the contractor and the Contracting Officer.
MISSION STATEMENT: The Office of Security Assistance – Iraq (OSC-I) has a requirement to provide Security Assistance Mentors and Advisors (SAMA) services to mentor and assist the Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) to build processes and institutional capacity within the ministry or bureau in order to place them on the critical path towards Iraqi security self-reliance.
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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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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

 

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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