Posts Tagged Syria

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

Edit: 6/19/2015- I wanted to add a new deal to this post in regards to Assad’s use of private forces. Apparently Iran has been hiring Afghan mercenaries to fight in Syria. Here is the link to this story done by the BBC.

 

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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Weapons Stuff: Syrian Rebels Create And Deploy A Remote Controlled Sniper Rifle

It always amazes me how resourceful and ingenious folks can be during desperate times, and especially in a war. Obviously this kid created a weapon system that fit his mission and worked well with his skill level, which was probably playing video games.

Now the question I have is if this will catch on with other rebel groups? Will this kid start a ‘remotely operated sniper system’ movement in this war, and what direction will it go for advances? How about automatic targeting or tracking? How about the incorporation of a laser rangefinder into this system.  Something like Tracking Point’s weapon system? We will see….

Although at the end of the day, I still believe humans operating the sniper rifle directly will account for more kill shots in Syria. It is the most practical, cheapest and most portable way of deploying that system. –Matt

 

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Syria: Incredible Footage From A Tank In Damascus

This is incredible combat footage from a tank in Syria. The tank being destroyed by a missile (starting at 2:58), right next to the tank with the camera is absolutely brutal. The devastation is beyond belief and it right out of a scene during WW 2. –Matt

 

 photo ScreenShot2013-03-10at20648PM_zps3b530195.png

This is a screen shot of a tank crew filming another tank, just as they were destroyed by an anti-tank missile.

 

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Syria: Defense Contractors Are Training Rebels On How To Secure Chemical Weapons

Now that is a contract! lol I imagine they are paying these guys quite a bit of money to not only train the rebels on how to secure these chemical weapons if captured, but to also have contractors on the ground and monitor these weapons on the battlefield itself. Very dangerous and that has DBA written all over it.

As to whom is providing this training and monitoring is up in the air. I had written a post about Syria’s chemical weapons and MANPADS and the concerns with that, and in it I mentioned Tetra Tech as a possible solution for at least helping to clean up and secure ‘captured’ or ‘destroyed and captured’ chemical munitions. But for this particular story, I have no clue who the contractor is or if they are looking for folks. (if any readers have an idea, let me know and I will make the edit)

The other really ugly thought on this, is the absolute disaster this would create in the cities of Syria. Meaning if entire cities are coated with the oily VX Nerve agent all over everything, then after the war, someone is going to have to go in there and clean it all up. Or how would you like to by Syria’s neighbor? yikes…. Yet again, this would be a task for a competent chemical munitions cleanup company and that kind of contract would be insanely dangerous. The question is, will Assad cross the red line and use chemical weapons in his war?

Finally, the other bitter reality in all of this is the threat of losing control of these weapons. Hence why there are monitors on the ground keeping eyes on these things. But in warfare, it never fails to amaze me about the ingenuity of each side of a conflict and how they are able to use deception to continue the fight and gain advantage. Do we have eyes on all of these weapons, and can we control all the events in regards to these weapons? Well, rebels have certainly gotten their hands on captured MANPADS, and that might give us a clue as to the chemical weapons reality. We will see how this plays out…. –Matt

 

Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons
By Elise Labott
December 9, 2012
The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday.
The training, which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials.
The nationality of the trainers was not disclosed, though the officials cautioned against assuming all are American.

One of the aims, the sources said, is to try to get real time surveillance of the sites because the international community would not have time to prevent the use of the weapons otherwise. The program could explain how U.S. intelligence was able to learn what U.S. officials said was evidence the Assad government is mixing precursors for chemical weapons and loading those compounds into bombs. The intelligence, one U.S. official told CNN last week, came not just from satellite surveillance, but also from information provided by people. The official would not say whether the human intelligence came from telephone intercepts, defectors or people inside Syria.

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