Posts Tagged feral jundi

Syria: Nine Russian Contractors From PMC Wagner Killed

Rest in peace to the fallen…

In my last post on Russian contractors, I mentioned briefly about a PMSC called PMC Wagner or OSM. The Wall Street Journal is the first large media group that I know of that has talked about this company in a story, and I thought I would share that here. I want to keep a record of this stuff so that it can be a reference for how the Russian market is developing in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere.

So why do I continue to focus on the Russian market? Primarily because if the Russian PMSC’s start delving more into offensive operations, then that could be a sign of things to come for the rest of the industry. I like to follow the offensive aspects of PMSC use because that will have impact on the future of this industry. Meaning as more and more private companies from other countries get into the game of war fighting, and actually winning wars like what Executive Outcomes was able to do, then that would move the marker of what is acceptable and possible within this industry.

It will give countries an option other than using and paying for a standing military, or for countries who lack those kinds of war fighting and winning capabilities within their own military.

One country might view another country’s PMSC industry as a strategic advantage. Something that they want in their tool kit of force. Especially if PMSC’s start winning wars and battles, and especially if a country is flush with cash but lacks manpower. A country that is in a fight for their survival (like Assad’s Syria) will do everything it can to win, and really could care less where that manpower comes from at the end of the day. Enter the PMSC market.

Back to the article below. The quote that caught my attention was this one:

An official close to the Russian Defense Ministry said that the group had numbered around 1,000. Unlike Western security contractors, who are typically armed with only light weapons, members of the group were operating T-90 tanks and howitzers.

Contractors operating T-90 tanks and howitzers? lol That is some serious weaponry and I would love to hear more about what exactly these guys were doing with this stuff. EO used tanks and APC’s in their wars pretty effectively, and it is interesting to hear about private companies actually operating this type of equipment. Imagine that training course? lol

The other interesting quote below is the leader of PMC Wagner/OSM, came from the Slavonic Corps. The Slavonic Corps was also given tanks to use, but that was a big surprise for the contractors involved apparently.  So will PMC Wagner pick up where the Slavonic Corps left off, and do better?  We will see. –Matt

Edit: 12/19/2015- The guy in the photo below was an entertainer that was working at Latakia Air Base at the time and not some soldier or contractor according to my readership. There is a question on how many contractors were killed as well. One of my readers said that an article from Reuters was written last October in regards to this incident and they only mentioned three Russians that were killed. Also, the 1,000 contractor headcount is not realistic according to the readership. That is a pretty big footprint for a contractor force so I would imagine that number is a lot lower.

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Up to Nine Russian Contractors Die in Syria, Experts Say
Incident shows how the country is using private groups to avoid deploying uniform troops, they say
By THOMAS GROVE
Dec. 18, 2015
As many as nine Russian contractors died in October when a mortar round hit their base in western Syria, according to several people familiar with the matter.
The incident, experts say, shows how Russia has used contractors to perform quasi-military tasks, avoiding the political repercussions of deploying uniformed troops—and steering clear of the domestic concerns that come with the deaths of soldiers.
The Russian government hasn’t acknowledged the deaths, described to The Wall Street Journal by three people.
“It’s one of Russia’s first attempts at trying to create a private military company like what was Blackwater,” said one of them, Ivan Konovalov, director of a Moscow-based security think tank and a consultant to lawmakers who are trying to create the legal basis for such military companies, which now fall in a legal gray zone.
Blackwater, which provided armed security, logistics and other support to U.S. government agencies, became emblematic of Washington’s reliance on private-sector firms to advance foreign-policy aims in conflict zones.
Unlike Blackwater, though, the Russian Defense Ministry hasn’t publicly acknowledged their existence. It isn’t clear whether the men’s role went beyond protecting government installations to direct involvement in fighting.
Founded by former Navy SEAL Erik Prince, Blackwater was involved in a series of controversial incidents, including a deadly 2007 shootout in Iraq that ultimately led to its reorganization and rebranding as Academi and to Mr. Prince’s exit from the business. Blackwater said it was carrying out dangerous work on behalf the U.S. government in a way that was more cost-effective than using uniformed personnel. Four former guards were convicted after the shooting, but said they shot in self defense.
The Russians killed in Syria belonged to a private group called OSM, according to Denis Korotkov, a former security adviser and journalist. The group is known informally as Wagner, after the nom de guerre of its leader, a former military intelligence officer who has served in several conflicts since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Syria wasn’t the group’s first deployment. According to all three people, the group operated in eastern Ukraine, where its members were charged with protecting factories and pro-Russian rebel leaders.
In Ukraine, the Kremlin employed “hybrid warfare”—a term national-security experts use to describe the use of irregular forces, propaganda campaigns, economic coercion and sometimes direct military action.
Groups with connections to Russian military and intelligence, and whose activities can be denied, have operated in the conflict zones that flared up since the fall of the Soviet Union. Wagner’s group however has emerged as one of the most prominent both in terms of the size and missions, according to Mr. Konovalov.
Based in the southern Russian region of Krasnodar, the group deployed to Syria after a contract was drawn up with Syrian authorities, Mr. Konovalov said.

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Call To Action: Support The Glen Anthony Doherty Overseas Security Personnel Fairness Act

Folks, this is a good one to pass around and get the word out. Glen Doherty was one of the four contractors killed at Benghazi back in 2012, and his family was not able to receive death benefits because of how DBA is structured.

Tell congress that you support this bill so that not only will Glen’s family get the benefits they deserve, but also any future families of deceased security contractors will receive the same death benefits.

Below is a summary of the bill with links to where you can read about it’s progress. I have also included a portal to a very easy to use online letter writing tool that can connect you with your representatives. And finally, I have included the latest news on the bill and who supports it. With any luck, we will have a majority, bipartisan support for this thing and it will become law. –Matt 

 

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This undated photo provided by Mark and Kate Quigley shows Glen Doherty, who family members say died in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya. Four Americans were killed at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 along with U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Kate Quigley identifies Doherty as her brother, saying in a media interview he was a former U.S. Navy Seal. (AP Photo/Quigley Family Photo)

 

Write congress here.

 

Introduced in House (01/13/2015)

Glen Anthony Doherty Overseas Security Personnel Fairness Act

Amends the Defense Base Act with respect to payment of death benefits otherwise due a widow, widower, or surviving child of an individual employed at a military, air, or naval base outside of the United States who dies as a result of a war-risk hazard or act of terrorism occurring on or after September 11, 2001, when there is no person eligible for a death benefit under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.

Requires payment in such a case to:

a beneficiary designated by the deceased, or
the next of kin or the estate of the deceased under applicable state law if there is no designated beneficiary.
Requires benefits to be paid from the Employees’ Compensation Fund.

Congress.gov link here.
Govtrack.us link here.

US Sen. Ed Markey pushes bill to support family of Massachusetts man killed in 2012 Benghazi attack
By Shannon Young
December 09, 2015
U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., introduced legislation this week that seeks to ensure the families of federal contractors who died as the result of a war-risk hazard or terrorist act receive full death benefits.
Named after the Winchester, Mass. native and former Navy SEAL killed in the Libyan consulate attack in 2012, the “Glen Anthony Doherty Overseas Security Personnel Fairness Act” would fix an omission in federal law the bars families from receiving full benefits if a contractor was unmarried with no dependents at the time of his or her death, Markey’s office said.
The bill would modify the Defense Base Act of 1941 to allow payment of death benefits otherwise due to a surviving spouse or child to the surviving next of kin. According to the senator’s office it would specifically require payment to a beneficiary designated by the deceased or the next of kin or estate of the deceased under applicable state law. Benefits would be paid from the Employees’ Compensation Fund.

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Books: Composite Warfare, By Eeben Barlow

Right on! This is the highly anticipated book written by Eeben Barlow about his thoughts on how to conduct warfare on the African continent. Be sure to check out his blog post about the book over at his site, because he certainly will be answering some questions about it there.

As for an actual shipping date for the book, that is still to be determined and the publisher will have more on that I am sure. The date below says September 19 for the published date, so perhaps in September some time? But you can pre-order now and definitely get in line. Check it out. –Matt

Website for STTEP is here. (Eeben’s company)

 

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Composite Warfare: The Conduct of Successful Ground Forces Operations in Africa
By Eeben Barlow
Price: $49.95
Product Description
As a continent, Africa presents her armies with a vast, dynamic and multidimensional operating environment. It has numerous complex and diverse ethnic, religious, cultural and tribal interests and loyalties, along with many multifaceted threat-drivers coupled to varied and infrastructure-poor terrain plus vast climatic variations. The continent is, furthermore, characterized by numerous half-won conflicts and wars fought by incorrectly structured, inadequately trained and ill-equipped armies. For many reasons, these forces have difficulty adapting to the complex, demanding and rapidly changing environments they do battle in. Similarly, the armies have difficulty in decisively defeating the various threats they face. Many of these problems stem from the fact that numerous modern-day African armies are merely clones of the armies established by their once-colonial masters, their Cold War allies or their new international allies. Many of the principles and tactics, techniques and procedures they were – and still are – being taught relate to fighting in Europe and not in Africa. Some of these concepts are not even relevant to Africa.

This book is intended as a guide and textbook for African soldiers and scholars who wish to understand the development of hostilities, strategy, operational design, doctrine and tactics. It also illustrates the importance of nonpartisanship and the mission and role of the armed forces. Officers, NCOs and their subordinates need to, furthermore, understand their role in defending and protecting the government and the people they serve. They additionally need to know how to successfully accomplish their numerous missions with aggression, audacity, boldness, speed and surprise. The book provides the reader with valuable information relating to conventional and unconventional maneuver. It also discusses how African armies can, with structured and balanced forces, achieve strategic, operational and tactical success. It covers the role of government along with operations related to war, operations other than war and intelligence operations and how these operations, operating in a coordinated and unified manner, can secure and strengthen a government. ## Composite Warfare draws on the author’s experiences and lessons in Central, Southern, East, West and North Africa where he has served numerous African governments as a politico-military strategist, division commander, division adviser, battalion commander and special operations commander.

Product Details
• Amazon Sales Rank: #437301 in Books
• Published on: 2015-09-19
• Original language: English
• Dimensions: .79″ h x 6.14″ w x 9.21″ l, 2.15 pounds
• Binding: Paperback
• 576 pages
Buy the book here.

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Job Tips: Using RSS Readers For Job Hunting

When it comes to looking for security contracting jobs, you need all the help you can get for staying up to date with what jobs are out there. You also need to be able to react quickly to job announcements. So any tools and procedures that can help you do that, should definitely be used for your job search strategy.

Now of course there are the basic methods that most guys use, like perusing the forums/FB groups, signing up for job list subscriptions, asking around within their networks (personal and online), and checking out the various job boards/career pages and sites. But when it comes to doing a search efficiently and with speed, it can be kind of time consuming.

The other factor is that some job announcements operate on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis. I can recount at least two of my contracts that I got, purely  because I answered the job ad so fast. Recruiters, if presented a large pool of candidates that are generally the same, will often just go down the list as they get those submissions. And if those recruiters are on a tight schedule where they have to deploy guys ‘yesterday’, then they have no time to waste. They just go right down the list and start calling and emailing folks. So it pays to be quick on the draw when it comes finding jobs and responding to them.

So how do I make this process faster and more efficient? Well one tool I use is called an RSS reader.(Specifically one made by Feedly) RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and it is a tool that bloggers/journalists/researchers use to receive and process lots of information with. And the really cool thing about an RSS reader is that you can set them up to give you updates as they are sent out by the various blogs and sites. Meaning as soon as someone posts something, it is sent out immediately to the RSS feed, which if you have that RSS feed link in your RSS reader, then you will get that post.

How does this apply to job searches? Well, next time you are at a jobs website or a career page, look for a little graphic in the corner or somewhere on the page that says RSS. They will look like these icons.(see top graphic)

Put your cursor over it and copy it. Then paste that link into your RSS reader search engine, and when it comes up, put it in a category that is applicable. When I find a cool jobs RSS related feed or interesting website, I will put it into my Feedly RSS reader. I set my reader to update immediately.

What happens next is that every time that site posts a new job, that post is sent out to all of the RSS feeds. Meaning you will get that job posting as soon as it is posted, and you will see it in your RSS reader just waiting to be read. What is even cooler is that you can set up an RSS reader on your smart phone or tablet, and check your reader on the go.

I find myself checking my Feedly online and on my smart phone all the time. But if I do not check it and mark it as ‘read’, then it just stays in the hopper until I do read it. So if I am away for awhile or do not have access to the internet, I will still have a nice collection of materials to read at my leisure. You can keep all those posts in your reader as well and just mark them as read. I don’t delete that stuff because sometimes I will go back and re-read stuff.

You can also share those posts on social media, or do emails, thanks to the tabs included with most readers. I do this every day for blogging and social media sharing, and it is how I keep up to date with the news of the industry. It is also how I keep up to date with jobs.

Once you build an RSS reader, you will find yourself constantly looking for RSS feeds (post feeds, comments feeds, etc.) and URLs to put into the thing. Look everywhere for them, and also know that sometimes you can just put the URL for the site into the reader and it might recognize that site and it’s feeds. Play around with it and you will see what I mean. It is a fantastic tool and it will dramatically expand your ability to efficiently process the information that is out there. Here is a list of all the job boards/sites I have in my reader, complete with links to the feeds/URLs. Definitely put these guys in your reader.

Close Protection PSD Jobs

Conflict Area Management

International Security Jobs

Paladin Jobs

Secure Aspects

Security Officer Jobs-South Africa

USA Security Jobs

I personally use Feedly and it is a great reader. I also used Google’s RSS reader, but that closed down and after some research I ended up at Feedly. There are other RSS readers out there and they all do the same thing with various bells and whistles. Below I will leave a great tutorial on how to set up a Feedly account.

Enjoy and happy hunting! –Matt

 

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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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Year In Review: 2014 Google Analytics Report For Feral Jundi

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My overall stats for the blog is 1,549,518 visits and 2,363,638 page views between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2014. (My first post was on the 22nd of January, 2008)

Now for some demographics for the overall life of the blog. Most of my visitors are younger. The top group is the 25-34 year old range with the second group being 18-24 and third being the 35-44 year old range. So my readership group is mostly Millennials and that would fit in line with today’s veteran age group. It also makes sense that this group would find their way to this blog because for research on job stuff, this site would come up and the younger crew seems to be more apt to check out blogs for information.

Now here is a shocker. The break down in gender is 45.85 % of my readers are women and 54.15% are men. I had no idea that so many women were interested in this niche. Especially since there are so few women in this industry working as armed security contractors overseas. In other fields you see women contractors, but even there it is few and far between. My thoughts on this statistic is that contractors have wives and girlfriends who are hungry for knowledge about what their loved ones do for a living. Or if someone dies and I post it, you will have that interest as well. Then of course there are the female analysts, reporters, academics and gamers that visit the site for research purposes.

The top ten countries that have visited the site, and in order are the US, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, South Africa, India, Italy, and the Netherlands. And really, those nationalities are the ones I have the most interaction with on Facebook. No surprises there.

As for technology, this is interesting as well. Most visitors came to my site via desktop (1,350,816). But the amount of folks coming here via smart phone (148,722) or tablet (46,746) has dramatically increased. It was a good move to focus on making the site mobile and tablet friendly. Although I still need to improve in that area.

The top mobile devices are the Apple iPhone, iPod and iPad. The Samsung Galaxy products get a mention, but don’t even come close to the Apple products. On a side note, most of my work on the blog was done using a Mac. I have been very pleased with their performance.

Now for content. My all time best post for the life of the blog has been the classic ‘how to get into security contracting without a police or military background’. 41,259 people have checked that one out and that says a lot about the focus of my readership. They are young and looking for employment in a unique job field. The second best post of all time is my entry about Ross Perot’s rescue of EDS employees.

The all time best post for the most amount of page views in one day happened in 2014 on February 16 (5,547 page views!). It was my post on Contractor Weapons and it blew up the internet. lol I think what happened there is that Facebook has been a great tool for sharing information and unique things, and when I shared that post, a lot of my readership on FB really liked it and passed it around. Weapons are always popular, and contractor weapons are a unique area that hasn’t been covered much.

The second best post for one day was my General Balck On Eating With Your Troops entry last year in January 2 (4,240 page views). Balck was a favorite of Col. John Boyd and it is fun to dig into the things Balck did that made him successful. The strategists/theorists out there love digging into these types of deals, and especially if it is somewhat related to Boyd.

The post highlights of 2014 are interesting. ISIS made a big splash this year and Ebola was a big scare. We saw more consolidation in the industry with mergers and acquisitions.

The Slavonic Corps was an interesting post about a bungled Russian PMSC contract in Syria. It was a poorly planned and executed contract, and it is surprising to me that more of those guys did not get killed as they tried to escape their battlefield.

The APPF was disbanded last year…..finally. What a joke. On the up side, I posted about guard contracts popping over there. They are low paying, but it is work for those that want it.

I talked about an interesting deal with the Flying Tigers memorial in China. I believe it would be the largest memorial to a PMSC in the history of contracting. I imagine we will see some former members of the company at the ceremony when they open it up.

The biggest company news last year was Academi (formerly Blackwater, Xe) and Triple Canopy merging under Constellis Holdings. There are other companies in this family, and the total size of this group of companies is 6,000 plus folks! This merger is interesting because TC took over Blackwater’s WPS stuff when they left Iraq back in the day. Now Academi has a connection in Iraq again.

Finally, the other news last year that grabbed my attention was the A 10 versus the F 35 debate. That the Air Force wants to get rid of the A 10 and use the F 35 as a replacement. The problem there is that the F 35 doesn’t even compare to the capabilities of the A 10 for Close Air Support. Plus the F 35 is way too expensive.

This last year I was very busy with my personal contracts, and so my post count was pretty low. I am also spending more time on Facebook because it is faster and easier to share stories/ideas and interact with my readership. The blog has become more of a tool of sharing unique items when time permits.

Probably the most important stuff that I have shared on Facebook was EBFAS. Chet Richards is the one that turned me on to this acronym (which stands for Einheit, Behendigkeit, Fingerspitzengefuhl, Auftragstaktik, Schwerpunkt) and these are crucial elements Boyd and company identified for the ultimate company or military culture. My studies on Mission Command have all pointed in the direction of what EBFAS stands for, and on Facebook I created an album that covers it. I highly suggest checking it out and I am constantly hash-tagging it in other posts.

Leadership is still a big focus of the blog and I am constantly looking for what works and doesn’t work for PMSC organization and command. What is required is a hybrid of military and private company lessons, and I am using it all to ‘build a snowmobile’. Undoubtedly though, there are some basic concepts of leadership that are tried and true, and I try to get those up on the Jundism page when I stumble on these truths.

My thoughts on the industry is that we are definitely heading in the right direction. Maritime Security has been hugely successful in combating piracy.  There is some consolidation going on in the industry with the draw down of the wars, but today’s threats are still there and growing. I predict contractors will still be in demand in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with Daesh/ISIS, Boko Haram and Al Qaeda growing and looking more like armies as opposed to terrorists, I believe contractors will continue to be busy.

For training and weapons, I suggest companies focus on leadership for their contracts and add new training based on current threats. Daesh, Boko Haram and Al Qaeda are all gaining combat experience and tactical know-how in places like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Nigeria. As security contractors, it is absolutely vital to the success of the contract and safety of your client that we stay one step ahead of these enemies. We need to be focused on the defense, both for static security and mobile operations. Countering complex assaults and active shooter attacks will be key. Studying TTP’s of the enemy on youtube or through open source stories is key (like armored VBIED’s,  tunnel bombs, or complex assaults). Know your enemy, know yourself as Sun Tzu would say, and be prepared. –Matt

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