Posts Tagged Syria

Russia: Their Many Uses Of ‘Private Military Companies’…

Russian Prime Minister and president-elect Vladimir Putin on Wednesday supported the idea of private defense companies that would provide protection services and military training programs abroad without the participation of the Russian state.
The idea was proposed by A Just Russia deputy Alexei Mitrofanov during Putin’s report to the lower house of parliament, the State Duma.
Putin said that was “an instrument in the pursuit of national interests without the direct participation of the state.” “I believe that it should be considered, thought over,” he said. -11/04/2012 Riavososti

This is another post I wanted to get out there in regards to what has happened in the industry. The events in the Ukraine have put some more light on Russia’s use of PMSC’s, and also puts some light on how PMSC’s could be used as a propaganda tool.

Specifically, ACADEMI was mentioned in multiple propaganda pieces as supporting the Kiev government with training and ‘mercenary’ services. It was even mentioned that there were 400 elite US commandos from this company, fighting Russian separatists. lol

I am laughing because there would have been an avalanche of chatter on all of the forums and Facebook/Linkedin pages if this was true. You don’t just fire up a 400 man army like this and it not get out amongst this community. Especially if it paid well.

Even ACADEMI had to post a press releases to counter this ridiculous claim. The State Dept, who issues the licenses necessary for PMSC’s to go overseas and do training had to beat down this idiotic propaganda as well in statements. Really, I don’t think anyone in the west believed this stupid story.

But unfortunately, their propaganda efforts were able to reach those that are not savvy online or care to believe otherwise. All war is deception as Sun Tzu would say… Russia was absolutely implementing a social media campaign as a part of their battle plan to take Crimea and justify occupying parts of the Ukraine. That effort is still ongoing and we will see what eventually happens with the Ukraine.

Also expect attacks on Gazprom pipelines, and that reality will require protective services by Gazprom’s massive security apparatus.

The point is, that social media and war is standard business now, and you see combatants all over the world using social media and propaganda to prepare their battlefields and psyche out their opponents. It works if done properly, and just ask the cartels in Mexico or ISIS in Iraq how it is working out for them.

The other part of this story that is not being talked about is Russia’s focus on firing up their own private military industry. Something that can rival the west’s PMSC industry. This is very interesting to me, because it is another market to study and watch. It is also a huge money maker–private security in Russia is said to be a 7 billion dollar market.

Although there has always been a PMSC sector in Russia, and especially after the end of the Cold War. What is interesting though is that I keep picking up on hints here and there of PMSC’s getting support at some very high levels in Russia. Probably because it is a force that can be used by men in power to do things that a standing military could not do. (please note the quote by Putin up top)

For example, a company in the country of Transnistria could be contacted and asked to recruit folks to be ‘pro-Russian separatists’ in the Ukraine. To work with Russian special forces that are also posing as Russian separatists, wear ski masks to mask their identity, and fuel the grass roots movement and divisions within the country using violence. Sounds farfetched? Well that is exactly what some are speculating, and it would make sense to me, purely base off of what the leaders of Russia have said in the past.

Below I have posted recent news on efforts to further legitimize PMSC’s in Russia. To give them the legal authority necessary to operate, and to even use in other countries. This is not new and I posted stuff about Russia’s intent back in 2012. David Isenberg wrote a post on it as well. EA games did a pretty good series on PMSC’s in Russia.

Although I should note that Russia has had some recent embarrassing incidents with the use of PMSC’s in other countries. For example, The Slavonic Corps and their actions in Syria come to mind. Perhaps Russia’s recent legislation and licensing will help to control future ‘Slavonic Corps’ from happening?  Who knows, but I do know that Russia is continuing to explore the many uses of private military companies and we will see where that takes them. -Matt

 

Russian Special Forces operating in the Ukraine and assisting separatists. They are referred to as ‘The Little Green Men’. Weapon is a 9K115 Metis ATGM.

 

Russian ‘Blackwater’? MPs call for local security industry loophole
June 27, 2014
By Iliya Pitalev
Nationalist party LDPR deputies have drafted a law on private military companies to the regional legislature of North Russia’s Pskov. If approved, the draft will be forwarded to the federal parliament.
The authors of the document claim it was born out of the necessity for capable and specialized commercial organizations to enforce national interests in cases when international politics or law prevent the government from using regular military forces.
“The crisis in Ukraine in which the provisionary government in Kiev is actively using Western military contractors in its interests, demonstrate the acute necessity for similar institutions in Russia,” reads the explanatory note published by the Pskov regional legislature.
According to the lawmakers, there are over 450 private military contractors in the world, with 70 percent of the services provided by the US and British companies. These firms solve many foreign policy problems for Western governments, and at the same time bring additional taxes to their national economies.
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Industry Talk: The Slavonic Corps–A Russian PMSC In Syria

“A large field between Lattakia and Tartous, surrounded by barbed wire. That is where our battalion and the Syrian reservists were stationed. It used to be a racecourse. We were housed in the former stables. By October there were 267 people from the ‘Slavonic Corps’, split into two companies. One company was made up of Kuban Cossacks, the other had people from all over Russia; there were 10 or 12 men from Petersburg. The bosses said that the numbers of the corps in Syria was expected to reach up to 2,000 men.”
In addition to assault rifles, the battalion received machine guns and grenade launchers. They had anti-aircraft guns, 1939 models. The mortars were from 1943. Crews were formed for the four T-72 tanks and some BMP (infantry fighting vehicles). The question of how appropriate the weapons were, for the task of protecting “facilities,” came up quickly, even from the most gullible, and was addressed. “Did you come to fight or to guard? Whoever guards is on eternal kitchen patrol.” Those were the words of the commander’s reply. The manager of the project was Vadim Gusev, known to many as the deputy director of Moran Security Group.

This is a unique story that I wanted to get out there for folks to check out. My post about Assad approving the use of PMSC’s was a record post on FJ, and stories like this are very interesting to the community. I also wanted to put this out so that those who were involved with this contract in Syria can respond. The last couple of weeks I have been asking around on FB and nothing has come up. I suspect that it is mostly a language deal and that Russians have not been hanging on English based FB groups. So hopefully this post will get their attention via Google Search.

Basically, this company was contracted to guard ‘and’ do other things in Syria, for the Assad side. Apparently the contractors recruited by this company were victim to the whole bait and switch game, and as soon as they got on the ground, the company changed the contract to a more kinetic operation . So the company I believe is at fault for not being honest in their recruitment from the get go, and not preparing their people for this kind of contract. As  a result, the Slavonic Corps had a poor showing in Syria, it was poorly led and managed, and the contract signed with the client was poorly written. The result was a company running out of Syria with it’s tale between it’s legs, and creating a bunch of unpaid and pissed off contractors. Here is a quote about recruitment:

This was never understood. “When they spoke to us in Russia, they explained that we were going on a contract with the Syrian government, they convinced us that everything was legal and in order. Like, our government and the FSB were on board and involved in the project. When we arrived there, it turned out that we were sent as gladiators, under a contract with some Syrian or other, who may or may not have a relationship with the government… That meant that we were the private army of a local kingpin. But there was no turning back. As they said, a return ticket costs money, and we’ll work it off, whether we like it or not.” As they told the Slavonic Corps troops, the job came down to maintaining control over the centre of the oil industry, in the town of Deir ez-Zor. In order to be in control of it, we had to reach it. More than 500 kilometres across territory occupied by government troops, by the opposition or by completely unknown forces.

Crazy, but this sounds way too familiar from my experience in contracting. But I am not going to let the contractors that signed up for this off that easy. These guys did not do their due diligence before accepting the contract. It sounded like the recruiters attracted a lot of desperate and naive folks who really wanted to believe this was a good deal. I wonder if the Russians have a forum or Facebook group to go to, so they can ask questions to their community about companies like the Slavonic Corps or the Moran Security Group? Because if they would have had a SOCNET or a Feral Jundi or an Eeben Barlow, they could have gotten some second opinions that would have squared them away.  Here is a great quote from another Russian PMSC called the RSB Group, about the idiocy of this contract:

In the words of the professional: This is a crazy scheme
After asking Vyacheslav Kalashnikov several times to speak on the subject of Syria, and having received no answer, Fontanka turned to the head of Russia’s largest private military company, the “RSB Group,” for comment. Oleg Krinitsyn is certain: the Syrian story of the Slavonic Corps was a crazy scheme from the start.
“The widely advertised campaign to recruit mercenaries for Syria initially sounded like a stunt, a kind of PR campaign. Later on, people believed it and were drawn to their dream – to make money. But not all of them understood that this money was dirty, and possibly bloody. Before sending people to a country where there is active fighting, where there is a virtual ‘layer cake’ of the Syrian Army, the opposition fighters, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra etc, it’s essential to prepare them, as well as to understand how to get them out of there. Among those guys, photographed against a backdrop of Syrian equipment, festooned with weapons, I noticed a few of our former employees, who had been dismissed because of their poor moral character. I saw guys with criminal records amongst them. This once again confirms that the aim of the recruiters was not to attract high quality professionals, but just to plug a ‘hole’ with cannon fodder, and fast. And the boys were sent on contracts that resembled contracts for suicide missions. Right away, people signed a contract that included a will to bury their remains in their homeland, or if that proved impossible, in the nation where they died, and then be reburied in Russia. Dreadful.

Luckily for these guys, they were saved by a sand storm. Having experienced these types of storms in the middle east, I can say these things can get pretty dense. Quote:

It could be regarded as a great success that, out of the whole corps, a total of six people were wounded, two of them seriously. It should be pointed out that all of the wounded were removed from the battlefield and returned home with all the others. “We were saved by a sandstorm, we were enveloped by it on our retreat, but it hid us from the local mujahedeen. There was so much sand that you couldn’t see anything. But thanks to that, we are alive.”

These guys also paid the price when after fighting their way out of Syria, they had to deal with authorities when they came back home. The FSB was heavily involved from the sounds of it and this is also an interesting angle to this story. One of the articles I posted below talked about the FSB connection to this company and contract:

For instance, the head of the Slavonic Crops was a commander in the FSB reserve. New York University professor Mark Galeotti has studied the way the Russian security apparatus operates. In an interview for The Interpreter on the topic, he told me that private military contractors would need to clear all such operations with the FSB, which would mean that the FSB has placed Syria on the list of nations where foreign operations were approved. Galeotti went even further. When asked whether he thought there were more Russian mercenaries fighting for the Assad government inside Syria, he said that this was “likely,” and it’s not just mercenaries who are helping Assad:
“I anticipate that ‘mercenary’ is merely a cover story for Russian soldier or spook, just as the “Russian engineers” working on Syrian air defense systems are going to be military.”
There is significant reason to believe that the FSB knew about the mission. But as Thursday’s story in Foreign Policy explains, the Russian government had good reason to clip the mercenaries’ wings:
It’s not hard to surmise why the FSB would have turned on a company it may have given tacit support to send men into Syria. The mercenaries performed poorly in the field, and proof of their illicit activity had been plastered all over the Internet, so not tossing Gusev and Sidorov in the clink might have caused the kind of scandal that even an unembarrassable Kremlin would want to avoid. Moscow has been outspoken in its criticism of U.S. and Arab arms transfers to Syria’s rebels, even as its own state arms export company dispatches more and more sophisticated hardware to Assad, according to the State Department’s Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria. The Kremlin is also trying to ensure that the imperiled Geneva II peace conference takes place in December, just in time for the regime to be in a much-strengthened negotiating position after a series of tactical gains on the battlefield.

So with that said, I think the Russians were anticipating that the West was going to make this into an ‘embarrassing deal’ by plastering it all over the news. So for them, as soon as the whole thing went bad, they took the side of shock and disgust. Check out how they tried to whitewash this incident when these guys came back.

Despite the fact that, according to the contract, the assignment was supposed to last five months, in the last days of October the personnel were loaded onto two chartered planes and sent to Moscow. They were not expecting such a reception to be awaiting their arrival at Vnuknovo. As they disembarked the aircraft one by one, each fell into the hands of FSB officers. There was a quick inspection, the removal of SIM cards and any other media, and a brief questioning as witnesses. Then followed the removal of their passports, non-disclosure forms, and tickets home. Vadim Gusev, who had flown in business class and left the plane first, remained in the hands of the investigators. As they explained at the Moran Security Group, he and another employee of the company, Evgeny Sidorov, who was responsible for human resources, were arrested in a criminal case brought by the FSB’s metropolitan command under the never-before applied Article 359 of the Criminal Code – mercenary activities.

Did I mention that the contractors involved will not be getting paid the 4,000 dollars they were promised!…. Yikes, what a soup sandwich.

Well, that is about all I have on this one. Just some commentary on what has already been reported. If anyone has any interesting side notes on this story, I would be curious to hear about it. I also posted some links to the companies involved in this story and some good posts about the Slavonic Corps below. -Matt

Foreign Policy story on the Slavonic Corps.

Moran Security Group is a member of the ICoC (number 385) and is a member of SAMI

The Slavonic Corps website here.

War is Boring post about it here.

Pieter Van Ostaeyan’s blog about it here. (he was able to dig up some interesting stuff)

Youtube video of one of the contractors thought to be dead, that survived and posted this.

 

 

The Last Battle of the “Slavonic Corps”
The story of the Russian mercenaries who went to war against Syrian rebels.
By Denis Korotkov
Originally published by Fontanka on November 14, 2013
Translated by Pierre Vaux November 16, 2013
A Syrian rebel group claims that it has ambushed and killed a group of Russian mercenaries who may have been working for a Chinese security contractor. The jihadist fighters from an Al Qaeda affiliate “Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS)” claim to have killed the mercenaries in a battle near Homs. At least one of the mercenaries, however, has been videotaped alive and well, and living back in Russia.
The large and well-respected St. Petersburg newspaper, Fontanka, has published an article, translation by The Interpreter, entitled “St. Petersburg Sends Contractors to Syria.” It details the investigation that uncovered the existence of Russian mercenaries defending sensitive installations important to the Assad government in Syria. The contractors appear to have been recruited in St. Petersburg by a company based in Hong Kong.
We also know that the mercenaries appear to have been operating in As-Sukhnah, east of Palmyra, on the road between Deir Ez Zor and Homs. Jihadists have long wanted to capture the town, and nearby Palmyra, because securing this road would link their forces from the east to the west. The Assad regime, on the other hand, has had difficulty sparing the resources to defend the position, as it is far away from the major cities which are heavily embattled. According to the initial investigation by Fontanka, the mission of the mercenaries was to secure key regime assets, away from the front lines, in order for Assad forces to concentrate on removing “bandits” in other areas. However, it appears that the oil fields that the Russians were supposed to be guarding were in rebel control, and the team was really tasked with getting them back.
The following translation is an update from Fontanka. It says that one of the key players in the military contracting company is a reservist officer in the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), lieutenant colonel Vyacheslav Kalashnikov. The FSB, therefore, were aware on some level that the Moran Security Group was sending Russian mercenaries to Syria to fight for Assad. However, the mercenary group was shut down and several mercenaries were arrested upon their return to Russia. A major Russian contractor says that this was not an FSB mission, but a mission designed to look like an FSB mission. The insinuation is that a pro-rebel group hired the Russians in order to lead them into a trap, kill them, and show their bodies on television.
All of the pictures on the original Fontanka article were also posted in the one we already translated. Instead, these pictures of the Russian mercenaries were posted on a Russian social network (except the one that states it was from Fontanka). – Ed.

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Weapons: Can Your Defensive Plan Counter An Armored VBIED?

This is a pretty disturbing trend when it comes to patterns of attacks by jihadists in Syria. The reason why I pay attention to this stuff is that what is learned on that battlefield, could easily be applied by the jihadists elsewhere. A big hat tip to Matt over at Screaming At Strangers for all the help in this one.

So with that said, let me introduce to you the armored vehicle born improvised explosive device or Armored VBIED. It is simple in design and concept, but extremely effective against defenses that are not prepared for such a weapon. Does your entry control point or defense plan have a counter for this? How about obstacles or munitions that can stop a BMP packed with explosives?

Check it out below, and in both videos, you can see exactly the stunning effects of this weapon. They can literally drive under a hail of bullets and place the vehicle exactly where they want it for detonation. If guys have other videos, please feel free to post those links in the comments section.

Will companies be outfitting contractors or military folks at entry control points around the world, with M-3 Carl Gustavs or similar anti-tank munitions, just to counter such a threat? Yikes…. -Matt

Edit: 12/30/13 I wanted to add this first video to this compilation. It is not an armored VBIED, but a ‘remote controlled’ VBIED.

Edit: 01/16/14 Another siting of a BMP VBIED in Syria. This time in Daara. Video here. h/t Matt from Facebook.

 

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Lebanon: Turmoil No Clear-cut Gain For Security Firms…Yet

A loser is someone is someone — individual or group — who cannot build snowmobiles when facing uncertainty and unpredictable change;
Whereas,
A winner is someone — individual or group — who can build snowmobiles, and employ them in an appropriate fashion, when facing uncertainty and unpredictable change.-Col. John Boyd

There are a couple of factors going on in Lebanon that are driving the security market there. One is the situation in Syria and the other is a massive gas field off of the coast.

With Syria, you see a lot of spill over across the borders that include refugees or combatants. As Syria continues to fall and morph into a massive jihadist playground, it’s neighbors will suffer. This surge of militant fighters streaming into Syria all have agendas and all are looking to cause chaos amongst their various enemies in the region. Sunni versus Shia, devout islamists versus infidels, etc..  Lebanon, will be impacted, and security in all of it’s forms is what the people will demand and seek if the state cannot provide it. Here is a quote about this reality.

The A to Z Group, a security company offering guard services and cash transfer protection to corporate clients and Lebanese public institutions, hired an additional 100 people about six months ago to meet demand, bringing its total staff to 250 people, General Manager George Ghorayeb told The Daily Star.
“We cover all of Lebanon and I’ve noticed that clients everywhere are afraid of the situation. The biggest demand is for residential and corporate guards,” he said. “There has been a big increase in buildings requesting services because they are scared.”
Elie Georgiou, the executive manager of PRO.SEC, a Lebanese firm that employs 800 people and offers physical security and close protection services, said business remained stable between 2012 and 2013, but there had been an increase in job seekers.

As for energy, the Levant Basin gas fields and rush of Cyprus and Israel to get in there and tap into it, is causing Lebanon to rethink it’s views on those fields. It wants in on that gold rush. (article posted below)

Competing claims by Israel and Lebanon to about 215,000 acres of potentially mineral-rich maritime territory and increasing instability caused by the Syrian civil war could also complicate the effort.
Lebanon began to tap its onshore oil resources in the 1960s, but the long civil war stopped all development. While the government has known about the resources lying off the Mediterranean coast for decades, the focus did not shift there until 2000. Political infighting, a major war with Israel and long stretches without a government have hampered decision-making since then.
Officials swung into action only recently, after Israel and Cyprus began developing their natural gas reserves in earnest. The Petroleum Administration, responsible for negotiating oil and gas contracts, was supposed to be appointed early last year, but squabbling over representation for the country’s different religious sects delayed the process by months. Ultimately, the six seats were given to men from each of Lebanon’s six largest religious groups.

So with that said, if Lebanon wants to do business with those companies that can extract this resource, it will have to get it’s house in order politically, and provide for the security needs of these companies. Enter the PMSC’s.

The first article I posted below delves into the potential for private security and gives a glimpse into the market of force in Lebanon and here is a quote that grabbed my interest.

This might be poised to change since many of the international firms that thrived off Western military contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan are diversifying operations and looking to new markets, Olver of Kroll said.
“The security industry in general is in crisis, so a lot of international companies are looking for the next big thing or to diversify into the next little five or six things,” Olver said. “A lot of the international oil and gas companies have set up one-man offices in Lebanon since the oil and gas tender round is about to start and a lot of security guys are looking to that sector. They see that the oil companies they already service in Libya are looking at Lebanon, so a lot of them have positioned themselves to be able to provide services in Lebanon.”

Interesting stuff and we will see how it goes?  Although the question remains, is turmoil good or bad for the security industry there?

I would say that security contracts pre-Arab Spring were of one type and quantity, but now that the market has changed, that security companies are probably having to adapt to the ‘new’ security requirements that have materialized as an outcome of the Arab Spring. Those companies that can evolve and innovate to meet those new security requirements will stand to survive the changing market.  Adapt/evolve/innovate–or die. Or how Boyd would put it, winners are those that can ‘build snowmobiles’. -Matt

 

 

Turmoil no clear-cut gain for security firms
August 19, 2013
By Lysandra Ohrstrom
As outbreaks of violence across the country become increasingly routine, one would expect Lebanon’s private security companies to thrive. But the global trends that have reshaped the international private security industry over the past few years and heightened risk aversion on the part of governments and corporations have complicated what would otherwise be a straightforward economic success story. Michael Olver, the director of Kroll’s Middle East business intelligence unit, said Lebanese firms were likely to see sustained or increasing demand for services from their existing stalwart clients like embassies, which typically boost their spending on security when the situation deteriorates in order to maintain operations.
At the same time, they will probably see a reduction in the number of multinational corporate clients, he said.
“Large international private sector firms are already evaluating the risk-return balance for having large offices in Lebanon and are going to be re-evaluating the need for a continued large-scale presence,” he told the Daily Star.
Kroll, which provides personal protection to high-level executive clients visiting Lebanon in addition to its business advisory and fraud investigation services, has already seen GCC nationals scale back travel to the country due the bans many Gulf countries have imposed.

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Syria: Assad Passes Decree Legalizing Private Security Firms

This is an interesting move. Of course during an armed revolt, Syria no longer has the luxury of using the police and military for all security functions. If anything, the police are being taken away to do more war-like functions and have less manpower to deal with petty crime and the day to day functions of a domestic police force.

Enter private security. Now at first, this seems to be a pretty basic move. But there might be more to this, or it might evolve into a different animal. Specifically, will the private security market morph into more of a mercenary market of force to support the Assad regime? Russian or Iranian private military groups (or government proxies) moving in to provide manpower to the cause? As the war in Syria drags on, all and any means of force will be considered by both sides of the conflict.

A great example of what I am talking about are the rebels, and how their ranks are filled with foreign opposition fighters. Palestinians account for the largest amount of foreign fighter deaths at a staggering 471 killed in action. The total amount of foreign opposition fighter deaths is 2,759!  -Matt

 

RSB guard protecting Russian Embassy in Iraq.

 

Syria’s Assad ‘legalises’ private security firms
August 6, 2013
Syria’s president has passed a decree legalising private security firms, faced with a 29-month armed revolt against his rule that has pinned down the police, state news agency SANA reported Tuesday.
President Bashar al-Assad’s decree regulates “licencing for private companies that provide protection and guard duties … to ensure the safety of individuals, establishments, property and the transport of cash, jewels and precious metals,” said SANA.
One-year renewable licences are to be issued by the interior ministry, it said, but only to Syrian nationals with capital of more than $250,000.
“The interior minister will define the categories of arms to be used by each company, ranging from revolvers to rifles and others,” said the agency.

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Publications: Contractor Support Of USCENTCOM AOR, 3rd Quarter FY 2013

This is the latest DASD program support report. Here are the highlights from the report.

Afghanistan
In 3rd quarter FY13 there were approximately 101.8K DoD contractors in Afghanistan. The overall contractor footprint in Afghanistan decreased by 5.5% from 2nd quarter FY13.
The contractor to military ratio in Afghanistan is 1.43 to 1 (based on 71.5K military as of June 7, 2013).
There will be substantial contractor reductions over this fiscal year, as a result of base closures, the return to expeditionary standards, and transition of security to the APPF.
Local Nationals (LN) currently make up 36.7% of the DoD contracted workforce in Afghanistan. The use of LNs remains important to COIN strategy.

The big one in Afghanistan is that there are more contractors than military folks there. It’s a contractor’s war now and local nationals make up a huge portion of that work force.

Iraq
In 3rd quarter FY13, the total number of contractors supporting the U.S. Government in Iraq (DoD + DOS) was approximately 10.3K. There will be substantial contractor reductions in 2013 reflecting consolidation of sites, completion of ongoing activity, and increased utilization of host country service and labor.
The DoS and DoD continue to refine the requirements for contract support. Some contractor personnel employed under DoD contracts are supporting State Department and other civilian activities under the Chief of Mission, Iraq. These DoD contractors are provided on a reimbursable basis.

In Iraq, the name of the game is DoD and DoS working with one another and using each other’s resources in order to accomplish the mission. Which makes sense because the former military resource everyone depended upon is gone, so now it’s all about supporting one another with the limited resources that are there.

The other thing to factor into the contractor equation is all the turmoil going on throughout these regions. For Iraq, Syria is being closely watched and monitored. The current presence in Iraq is vital for that mission and contractors will be very much in need to secure that effort and supply the beans/bullets/bandages.

Not to mention that as Al Qaeda gets stronger in Syria, they will be taking that capability back into Iraq to clean house. The raids they are doing in Syria and becoming more complex and bold and they are using that knowledge and applying it in Iraq. As a result, Iraq is definitely seeing a pick up in violence and complex attacks. A great example is the recent prison assault at Abu Ghraib in which 500 Al Qaeda prisoners escaped as a result. But check out how they did it.

Monday’s attacks came exactly a year after the leader of al Qaeda’s Iraqi branch, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, launched a “Breaking the Walls” campaign that made freeing its imprisoned members a top priority, the group said in a statement.Sunni Islamist militants have in recent months been regaining momentum in their insurgency against Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government, which came to power after the U.S. invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.The group said it had deployed suicide attackers, rockets, and 12 car bombs, killing 120 Iraqi guards and SWAT forces in the attacks in Taji, north of Baghdad, and Abu Ghraib, the prison made notorious a decade ago by photographs showing abuse of prisoners by U.S. soldiers.Interior ministry and medical sources said 29 police and soldiers were killed, and 36 wounded.

 12 car bombs? That is quite the assault! (the Taliban were able to release 400 prisoners in the Sarposa prison escape.)DoS is concerned about the surge in violence as well. Here is a quote.

The attacks on the prisons at Abu Ghraib and Taji were carefully synchronized operations in which members of the Qaeda affiliate used mortars to pin down Iraqi forces, employed suicide bombers to punch holes in their defenses and then sent an assault force to free the inmates, Western experts said.

We are concerned about the increased tempo and sophistication of Al Qaeda operations in Iraq,” said a senior State Department official, who requested anonymity because he did not want to be seen as commenting on Iraq’s internal affairs.

The use of mortars is interesting and we saw this weapon used in the Benghazi attack. An effective mortar team can do a lot of damage very quickly if they are able to get in close and have the targeting data.

I wanted to bring these examples up in this post because it is relevant to contractor usage. With increased danger comes more dependence on solid security and defenses. If we want a presence in Iraq to monitor Syria or Iran or the internal developments in Iraq, then security contractors and support will be needed to continue that mission. Or we could pull out altogether….or send troops back in, and I don’t think neither of these options are of national interest.

For Afghanistan, the Taliban will continue to apply the pressure as more troops pull out. They will also do all they can to test the government and show how ineffective they are by making things more chaotic and dangerous. Much like what is going on in Iraq now. Contractors will be there to fill the vacuum left by these departing troops and they will have to deal with this increased danger. (contractor deaths are up to 3357 as of June)

Contractors will continue to train, continue to finish building projects, and continue as normal. We are essential to the massive logistics game of leaving Afghanistan as well. From breaking down camps or equipment deemed too costly to ship, or supporting those who are left, contractors will keep the machine running. -Matt

 

Contractor Support Of USCENTCOM AOR, 3rd Quarter FY 2013

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