Posts Tagged embassy

Industry Talk: US Embassy In Iraq Reducing Staff From 10,500 To 5,500 By End Of Year

Wow, that is a pretty substantial cut in personnel. Although from the sounds of it, there will still be a significant security force to support the fewer than 1,000 diplomats that remain. Which makes sense, because the embassy is still a large area to cover down on, regardless of how many folks are in it.
If anything, the reduction in security folks would be WPS personnel who would normally provide PSD teams to go out into the countryside. But even that might not see too much of a reduction just because the diplomats that are left, still have to go outside the wire. I also wonder how many missions they were really doing ever since the troops pulled out and the threats not going away in Iraq? If anyone with an inside track on this would like to comment, feel free to do so below.
I also think it is telling that we have had this massive presence at the embassy in Iraq, and the return on investment has been so poor. Meaning recently, Secretary of State John Kerry visited Iraq and got into it with Iraq about their policy of supporting the Assad regime with cargo/weapons flights coming out of Iraq into Syria. Obviously this is a source of contention, and Iraq could care less what the west wants them to do. So much for having a thousands of diplomats and a $750 million dollar embassy? lol –Matt


Massive American Embassy in Baghdad cutting staff sharply decade after war in Iraq began
March 20, 2013
A decade after the start of the war in Iraq, the American diplomatic footprint here is shrinking fast.
As recently as a year ago, the immense U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and other sites around the country were staffed by more than 16,000 personnel. Today, that number has fallen to about 10,500, U.S. Ambassador Robert Stephen Beecroft said this week.
By the end of the year, Beecroft said he expects to have just 5,500 employees in Iraq. Most of them will be security personnel and other outside contractors assigned to support the fewer than 1,000 diplomats who remain. More cuts are expected beyond the end of the year.
“That number will continue to go down. . And they’ll go down largely on the contracting side,” Beecroft said in his residence on the heavily guarded compound on the banks of the Tigris River.
The sprawling, fortress-like U.S. Embassy officially opened in early 2009 at a cost of more than $730 million as the largest American mission in the world. But it has been under pressure to cut costs.
The downsizing in many ways reflects how sharply wartime assumptions about the extent of American influence in Iraq have shifted since construction on the Vatican City-sized compound began in 2005. Sweeping reconstruction and nation-building efforts championed early on are much less of a priority today, even as Iraq’s Shiite-led government forges stronger ties with neighboring Shiite powerhouse and U.S. foe Iran.
America still has influence here, with Iraq-based diplomats and officials in Washington in frequent contact with Iraqi political and military leaders. But Washington was unable to win Iraqi guarantees that would have allowed a continued military presence — something that deprived the U.S. of important leverage in Baghdad, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently told a government watchdog.

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Iraq: No Iraq Visas Issued to USG Security Personnel Since December 2011?

I recently came across a blog post by Diplopundit that was very interesting. They are reporting that no Iraqi Visas have been issued to USG security personnel since December of last year. This is not surprising and I posted about guys getting arrested and hassled last year and this year because of visa/paper work issues. Here is the quote and DoS has yet to refute this or comment over at Diplopundit.

“No visas have been issued to security personnel since December and there is no straight answer coming from the Department of State or the Ministry of Interior.”

What is funny is that the DoS stated this in their travel warning for Iraq.

“The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S. government personnel in Iraq to be serious enough to require them to live and work under strict security guidelines. All U.S. government employees under the authority of the U.S. Ambassador must follow strict safety procedures when traveling outside the Embassy. State Department guidance to U.S. businesses in Iraq advises the use of protective security details.

We also know what the Oil Ministry thinks about private security in Iraq. lol

So how is it that anyone can legally provide this security throughout Iraq if they don’t have visas? So I take it that folks are just sitting at the embassy and not traveling throughout Iraq because their security is without a visa? Or I wonder if any other countries have been denied visas and the US is the only one? (There are various oil interests in Iraq, to include China’s, and I wonder how they are being treated?) Let me know what you think or if you have any updates? –Matt

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Industry Talk: Troops Are Replaced By Unity Resources Group At Australia’s Embassy In Iraq

Bravo to URG and I hope the contract goes well. I am not familiar with any past issues with the company or this contract, and if anyone has anything to add, feel free to do so in the comments. –Matt


Australian troops leave embassy in Iraq
August 10, 2011
Thirty-three Australian soldiers who were guarding the embassy in Iraq have been withdrawn, and a Dubai-based private security firm has taken over, an embassy official says.
“We now have moved to a contractor called Unity Resources Group” to provide embassy security, the official said on Wednesday, adding that the last soldiers left on Saturday.
The soldiers guarding the embassy were the last significant Australian troop presence in the country. Australia once had some 2000 soldiers in Iraq, one of the larger non-US deployments.
Two Australian officers remain as advisers to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, the embassy official said.
According to its website, Unity Resources Group is based in Dubai and was founded by Gordon Conroy, “a former Commander in the Australian SAS (Special Forces) Counter Terrorist Squadron,” who is the firm’s director and CEO.
Story here.

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Call To Action: Support The Release Of Security Contractor Nicholas Moody From UAE Detention

     This is another one of those deals where the legal system of another country has completely gone overboard with the application of their laws on foreign citizens. How many thousands of contractors have transited through their airport over the course of this war, all spending money in their shops or even staying at local hotels, and this is how you treat them? Last I checked, the UAE and the US were still friendly towards one another, and this is how they treat a citizen of the US?

     Nicholas Moody served his country in the National Guard during the war, and he was serving his country again as a security contractor, and this is no way to treat a veteran like this. Especially imprisoning the guy over something as stupid as carrying a weapons cleaning kit and a forward grip, or whatever minor parts he needed to do his job. The US Embassy in the UAE should be all over this one.

     Now if he had an RPG or AK 47 in his bag, I might see the logic with the UAE detaining him. But for something as petty and as stupid as this, and for over seven weeks? Shame on the UAE.  Commonsense should dictate here, and I highly recommend everyone to friend request the Facebook Page for freeing Nicholas Moody and write the US Embassy in the UAE, and do what you can to support his release. –Matt

Security contractor from Nevada locked up in UAE for 7 weeks

By Greg Botelho

A security contractor from Nevada has been locked up for seven weeks in the United Arab Emirates, his mother said Thursday, as his family seeks answers about what landed him in prison and how long he’ll remain there.

Having served in Iraq and then Afghanistan as part of the California and then Nevada National Guards, Nicholas Moody, 23, was working for a private security contractor when he stopped over in Abu Dhabi, his mother Lorina Moody told CNN. He was arrested on September 29, during an 18-hour layover while heading back from Iraq, for carrying firearms accessories — parts that could accompany a gun, though no firearm itself — which is illegal in the United Arab Emirates, his mother said.

“Our son is the type of individual who would not have willingly broken the law,” said Moody, of Susanville, California. “Now, we’re caught in a situation where we don’t [know] where to turn to. We don’t really have any way of knowing what’s going to happen to him.”

The U.S. State Department confirmed that Nicholas Moody has been detained, saying that U.S. consular officers visited him on September 30, October 6 and November 10.

“During those visits, he conveyed he was being treated fairly,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the case.”

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Afghanistan: DynCorp Contractors Cleared By Kabul Police In Auto Crash

     The question I have now is who was in the crowd that helped to create this riot?  Because it wouldn’t take much to bring a crowd to that point, and especially if they had experience doing such a thing in past riots. –Matt


U.S. Cleared in Afghan Crash That Led to Rioting

August 1, 2010


KABUL, Afghanistan — The Kabul police have cleared a United States Embassy vehicle of fault for a deadly collision on Friday that set off anti-American rioting near the embassy, a senior police official said Sunday.

After the crash, hundreds of enraged onlookers threw rocks, chanted “Death to America” and set ablaze two American vehicles.

The intensity of the response revealed the deep-seated hostility toward Americans and raised fears of a repeat of the pandemonium that swept the city and left 14 people dead after a fatal crash in May 2006. In that case, a truck in an American convoy plowed into a dozen Afghan cars and killed at least five people.

On Sunday morning, several hundred Afghans marched peacefully through central Kabul to protest both Friday’s collision and the deaths of other civilians caused by American and other Western military forces. Escorted by Afghan police officers, they chanted slogans against the United States, as well as against Iran and Pakistan.

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Afghanistan: DynCorp Contractors Attacked By Crowd After Fatal Auto Accident

   If anyone has any information on this one, I am all ears. It sounds like to me that they were unfortunately in a part of town that is not too friendly towards contractors or foreigners.  Or worse yet, the crowd was fed by some instigators who took it upon themselves to twist the story around and try to create a riot.

   All I know is that some Afghanis are dead from a horrible crash, and some DynCorp contractors are wounded because of a hostile crowd. If they were attacked by the crowd, then they showed some serious discipline to ‘not’ fire their weapons in self defense. I mean this could have ended up like another Blackwater Bridge scenario, the way it sounds. Who knows, and as more information comes out, I will make the edit. –Matt

Edit: July 31, 2010 – A big thanks to Ashley Burke from DynCorp, who sent me this update and statement from the company. The thing I keep looking at here, is how quickly the crowd formed and attacked this crew. There must have been instigators in the crowd.  And it sounds like the Afghans who pulled out in front of the DynCorp convoy are at fault here. But yet the crowd could care less. Here is the statement:

I saw your recent posting and wanted to make sure you had the full DI statement on this incident.

On July 30, 2010, DynCorp International (DI) personnel were involved in a car accident in Kabul when an Afghan vehicle unexpectedly pulled in front of them on a road to the airport. Several Afghan civilians were killed in the tragic accident.

When the DI personnel exited their vehicle to assess the situation and assist, a crowd quickly formed, the DI team was attacked, and their vehicle was set on fire. A second DI team arrived on the scene to assist, that DI team was also attacked by the crowd, and their vehicle was set on fire.  Local police arrived quickly. DI personnel took no action against the crowd and did not fire any shots, deferring to the local police who took action to disperse the crowd and remove the DI team to safety.

Any accident involving a loss of life is tragic. Our condolences go out to the families of those who were killed or injured in the accident. An investigation into the accident is underway and, until that investigation is complete, it would be inappropriate to comment further.

The employees involved in the accident are working under a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

From Ashley Burke


Fatal Crash Stokes Afghan-U.S. Tension in Kabul

July 30, 2010

Auto Accident Involving American Contractors Leaves 4 Locals Dead; Mob Hurls Stones, Sets Fire to Vehicles

A fatal traffic accident involving private U.S. security contractors sparked an angry demonstration in Kabul Friday, with enraged Afghans hurling stones, setting fire to two vehicles and shouting “death to America” before police fired guns into the air to disperse the crowd.

Four Afghans were killed in the accident on the main airport road, according to Kabul’s criminal investigations chief, Abdul Ghaafar Sayedzada.

U.S. embassy spokesperson Caitlin Hayden confirmed to CBS News that the SUV involved was carrying four contractors from DynCorp, a private security firm affiliated with the embassy. Afghan police officials said the Americans were traveling in a two-vehicle convoy.

There were conflicting accounts of the accident and its aftermath. Local witnesses told CBS News that the Americans were driving the wrong way down the road, though DynCorp said that version of events was “not correct.”

Witnesses also said only three locals were killed in the crash, with the fourth dying after the U.S. contractors opened fire into the crowd.

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