Posts Tagged WPS

Legal News: Leahy, Price Reintroduce CEJA Bill

Interesting news on the legal front. The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act has been brought up before in the past to give DoJ the jurisdiction necessary to prosecute non-military related contractors. Which is a significant portion of US government contractors. This group would include DoS or ‘other government agency’ type contractors, and this legislation would close that gap. Currently the MEJA covers military related contractors.

Why this is important, and especially now, is that contractors currently work in countries where they are not covered by a SOFA or have immunity. They are basically at the mercy of the local judicial process.  CEJA, like MEJA, would give the US government jurisdiction over contractors that it hires for work in these countries that have no SOFA in place to cover them. Iraq is an example of such arrangement and WPS guys and embassy protection forces are there, currently working for DoS.  CEJA would give jurisdiction for prosecution to the US government.

In other words, if you ran into trouble, would you rather be tried in a US legal system or some overseas third world court run by corrupt officials?

Another point with the CEJA is that it further legitimizes the PMSC industry. It helps to take away that argument that we are somehow ‘above the law’ or untouchable. Clients of our services will benefit from having a protective force that can be held accountable.

It will also contribute to a speedier trial. Just ask the contractors involved with the Nisour Square incident, that have been in a legal mess for years. The legal jurisdiction has been a factor.

So we will see where this goes. One critique I do have in regards to this press release is the mention of Jamie Leigh Jones and her case. Whereas the jurisdictional questions about her case are valid to bring up, I find it disingenuous to not mention the fact that she lied about the whole thing.

To read up on the past issues with the CEJA, check out David Isenberg’s commentary on it over the years. Here is a copy of the latest bill and the Congressional Research Service wrote a report on the particulars of why a CEJA is the right thing to do. We will see how the committee treats this one. –Matt

 

Senator Patrick Leahy in a committee.

 

Leahy, Price introduce legislation to hold American contractors overseas accountable
News Release — Sen. Patrick Leahy

July 14, 2014
Contact:?Jessica Brady (w/Leahy) – 202-224-7703?Andrew High (w/Price) – 202-225-1784
Also helps lay groundwork for eventual preclearance arrangements in restoring Vermont-to-Montreal passenger rail service??WASHINGTON (MONDAY, July 14, 2014) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Congressman David Price (D-N.C.) renewed their partnership on bicameral legislation to provide accountability for American contractors and government employees working abroad.
The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (CEJA), which the lawmakers introduced Monday, would close a gap in current law and ensure that government employees and contractors working overseas can be prosecuted for criminal acts they commit abroad. The two lawmakers have worked together on the legislation for years.
The legislation allows the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute government contractors and employees for certain crimes committed overseas. Tragedies like the 2007 killing of unarmed civilians in Baghdad by private security contractors with Blackwater underscore the need for clear jurisdiction and trained investigative and prosecutorial task forces able to hold wrongdoers accountable. Four Blackwater guards involved in the Nisour Square shooting are currently on trial.
“The Blackwater trial is only just now under way, seven years after this tragedy, and the defendants continue to argue in court that the U.S. government does not have jurisdiction to prosecute them,” Senator Leahy said. “This bill would also provide greater protection to American victims of crime, as it would lead to more accountability for crimes committed by U.S. government contractors and employees against Americans working abroad.”

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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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Industry Talk: DynCorp International Honors Defense Of Freedom Medal Recipients

Speaking on behalf of the Department of Defense was Lieutenant General William N. Phillips, and from the Department of State were Ambassador Patrick Kennedy and Ambassador William R. Brownfield.
“There about 17,000 DynCorp personnel serving in a combat theater today. They are serving alongside our warfighters and protecting our freedom. Bottom line – contractor personnel and all they do remains vital to our nation. We depend on them, we rely on them, and they are extraordinary for their execution of the mission,” Phillips said.

Good on DynCorp for honoring their fallen and I certainly hope other companies will follow the same path, if they haven’t done so already. I have written in the past about the process companies and families/friends of the fallen can go through in order to get the Defense of Freedom Medal for their fallen and I highly encourage folks to do this. We must honor the sacrifice of the fallen….

I was also intrigued by this bit of news that came out during the ceremony. The State Department will be building a memorial to honor civilians/contractors that were killed, defending the DoS in the war. Very cool.

During his remarks, Ambassador Brownfield announced that, later this year, the Department of State will unveil a new memorial at the U.S. Department of State to honor civilian personnel, including contractors who have lost their lives serving on police training missions abroad.
“On the thirteenth of May this year, with the support, assistance and my personal gratitude to Under Secretary Kennedy, I hope we will unveil and dedicate a memorial to all those civilian police personnel who have given their lives up in overseas operations,” said Brownfield.

With that said, I certainly hope the new Secretary of State John Kerry will be in attendance, once this memorial is unveiled and dedicated? Better yet, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and the new Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel should all be in attendance. Because all of them owe their lives to the brave actions of security contractors who rescued them off a mountain in Afghanistan! For that matter, most of congress and our senior leadership should be in attendance–past and present, because most of them have been protected by contractors in some capacity in Iraq or Afghanistan, and at some point in this long war. –Matt

 

 

DynCorp International Honors Defense of Freedom Medal Recipients
February 28, 2013
DynCorp International hosted the families of 17 employees who were killed while serving U.S. government missions abroad as they received the Department of Defense’s Defense of Freedom medal, posthumously recognizing the contributions their loved ones made for their country. The honorees were killed while working on U.S. Department of State police training missions in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2011. The award recipients’ families, representatives from the Department of State and Department of Defense, along with nearly 200 DI personnel were in attendance at the ceremony held February 11, 2013, in the Washington, D.C. area.
Speaking on behalf of the Department of Defense was Lieutenant General William N. Phillips, and from the Department of State were Ambassador Patrick Kennedy and Ambassador William R. Brownfield.
“There about 17,000 DynCorp personnel serving in a combat theater today. They are serving alongside our warfighters and protecting our freedom. Bottom line – contractor personnel and all they do remains vital to our nation. We depend on them, we rely on them, and they are extraordinary for their execution of the mission,” Phillips said.
During his remarks, Ambassador Brownfield announced that, later this year, the Department of State will unveil a new memorial at the U.S. Department of State to honor civilian personnel, including contractors who have lost their lives serving on police training missions abroad.
“On the thirteenth of May this year, with the support, assistance and my personal gratitude to Under Secretary Kennedy, I hope we will unveil and dedicate a memorial to all those civilian police personnel who have given their lives up in overseas operations,” said Brownfield.
Steve Gaffney, chairman and CEO of DynCorp International, placed a special emphasis on the family members who were in attendance, “Each of the 17 individuals who we honor tonight had a profound and lasting impact – not just on our company but on our country – and we often talk about their bravery and strength. But I also want to highlight the bravery and strength of those family members who are here tonight, and who continue to share the stories of their loved ones.”
The Defense of Freedom Medal, the civilian equivalent of the military’s Purple Heart, was presented to the families of the following DI personnel:
Roland Carroll Barvels of Aberdeen, S.D.
Brett Patrick Benton of Dry Ridge, Ky.
Brian Morgan Brian of Camden, Ark.
Michael Wayne Butler of Rembert, S.C.
Mike Dawes of Stilwell, Okla.
Arsenio Ducusin Domingo of Wadmalaw Island, S.C.
Richard Thomas Hickman of Cave Springs, Ga.
Leon Vincent Kimbrell of Boiling Springs, S.C.
Deborah Dawn Klecker of Redman, Ore.
Rudy Guerrero Mesa of Maxwell, Texas
William Lawrence Juneau of Orange County, Calif.
Douglas Stephen Thomas of Lexington, S.C.
Robert McDonald Timmann of Tallahassee, Fla.
Donald Bruce Tow of Lake Havasu, Ariz.
Darrell Leroy Wetherbee of Raymond, Maine
Gary Wayne Willard of Resaca, Ga.
Ronald Austin Zimmerman of Glenwood, Ind.

Link to post here.

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Iraq: US Embassy Staff Might Be Reduced, And Iraq Continues To Hassle PSC’s

Approved movements have been subject to stops, detentions and confiscation of equipment without justification, impacting delivery of equipment, supplies, and materials to the US embassy, bases and offices throughout the country,” said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.
The Congressional Research Service said last May that the State Department estimated the number of security contractors working for it in Iraq would reach 5,500, “with some 1,500 providing personal security for diplomatic movements and an additional 4,000 providing perimeter security.”
Brooks said “our hope is that the US government will be a bit more proactive,” as the government and embassy, in “our impression, has not been very active in trying to help the Iraqis address this problem.

This first story below is from the New York Times, so take it with a grain of salt. lol And of course as soon as it came out, an edit was made that showed that the NYT jumped the gun a little on this. With that said, it is wise that if you are in WPS (mobile or static security), or one of the numerous contractors assigned to do convoy operations for logistics, then it pays to pay attention to this stuff.

The second story just emphasizes what Iraq is doing to security companies as they try to operate there. If the Embassy can’t get supplies, then point the finger at Iraq for holding up those convoys at the border or for hassling security contractors about paper work/visas/licenses that Iraq has failed provide or update.

In short, things in Iraq are getting a little dicey now that the troops are gone, and the US mission there is having to adjust to this new environment. This was to be expected and there will be many hiccups along the way. The US is also experiencing economic issues and an upcoming election. So cost savings will be a factor, and reducing waste in our overseas operations will be necessary if the current administration wants to show it is serious about saving money (and getting re-elected as a result).

But this administration does not want a failed Iraq mission under it’s belt. They have already cut the troops from Iraq earlier than expected, which is not the smartest thing strategically, but it makes sense politically. But cutting security will only add one more planet into alignment for a really bad situation or situations that could truly stain a political campaign. Security should be the last thing you mess with, and especially in that chaotic and extremely dangerous environment.

There is also politics and corruption in Iraq that is impacting operations. A visa or license or whatever is required for the companies to operate can be a simple and fair process if Iraq wants these companies there. Or it can be a complex and unfair process if these officials have other things in mind. Maybe they are looking for kickbacks, and purposely targeting foreign companies so that Iraq companies are able to secure all of this work. Especially for supplying the embassy, or for oil related security contracts. (Strategy Page is echoing the same thing in their post about PSC’s in Iraq and the Embassy)

Perhaps this was a concession when the Sunni-bloc came back in to join parliament? Perhaps there is a focus on attacking logistics using government and political mechanisms, so that the Embassy is forced to reduce in size so it can be weaker for an attack. Or get more Iraqis involved with working at the Embassy, so as to get more spies or even attackers on the inside?

Who knows? All I know is that there is a reason why Iraq is doing this, and that reason often revolves around money or extortion of some sort. Meaning ‘if you do this, maybe we will do this’. We see the same thing happening in Afghanistan, and maybe Iraq is taking notes from the Afghans on how to play the US. It is ironic to me that we have the largest Embassies in the world in both countries, have expended much American/Coalition blood and treasure in both countries, and yet simple matters like visas, licenses or even a MOU or SOFA cannot be worked out? That corruption in these countries is trumping our so-called ‘diplomatic’ missions there. Certainly we can do better and get better for what has been invested.

The other thing I wanted to mention is that there is a third party that has a say so in this matter. That would be the insurgents and jihadists in Iraq who are in the shadows and doing all they can to attack Iraq and the US mission there. You also have Iran doing what they can to exert influence. You can slash the staff at the Embassy, but the security requirement to protect that Embassy does not change. That’s unless the grounds of the Embassy are slashed as well and given back to the Iraqis.

But as you give up more ground, then that gives more ground to the enemy so they can maneuver closer for attacks. If patrols in the area decrease, then that means the enemy can launch more mortars/rockets, drive more VBIED’s, or use more suicide assaulters. So security is still essential and will be even more important as you give up more territory.

I could see the mobile side of WPS decreasing a little, but not by much. If there is still going to be 1,000 diplomats as opposed to 2,000 diplomats (if they are halved according to the article), then those 1,000 will still have to do their missions in Iraq. Or does state plan on never leaving their Embassy?

We could also have an extremely small footprint in Iraq, and bring it on par with the size of other Embassies in the world. But there are a couple of issues that are front and center for the US, which to me justifies a presence there. Oil, Iran, Jihadists and the continuing collapse of regimes in the Middle East because of the Arab Spring (Syria comes to mind). If we can keep Iraq functioning and focused on their oil goals, and goals for their nation’s well being, then that is a good thing. How many diplomats that takes and how we do that is out of my lane. But these are considerations when we think about why we are there.

Now the one thing that looked like it was getting a look for cuts was the police training contract, and that would also include all the logistics required for that. So that might be a big savings and reduction right there.

One State Department program that is likely to be scrutinized is an ambitious program to train the Iraqi police, which is costing about $500 million this year — far less than the nearly $1 billion that the embassy originally intended to spend. The program has generated considerable skepticism within the State Department — one of the officials interviewed predicted that the program could be scrapped later this year — because of the high cost of the support staff, the inability of police advisers to leave their bases because of the volatile security situation and a lack of support by the Iraqi government.

Interesting stuff and I would like to hear what you guys think? Either way, I will keep my eye on this as it develops. –Matt

Edit: 02/10/2012- It looks like State is trying to clarify a little more as to what they plan on doing. Here is a quote below. Also be sure to follow Diplopundit’s take on the whole thing, because they are also questioning the security cuts (if made), and who would step in as replacements (maybe Iraqi security?). I doubt they would go this path and DoS is not about to put the lives of it’s diplomats at the hands of Iraqi security forces….quite yet.

The State Department has asked each component of the massive U.S. diplomatic mission in Baghdad to analyze how a 25 percent cut would affect operations, part of a rapidly moving attempt to save money and establish what a top official on Wednesday called “a more normalized embassy presence.”
“We’re going to be looking at how we’re going to do that over the next year,” said Deputy Secretary of State Thomas R. Nides. “What we’re not going to do is make knee-jerk decisions” that could jeopardize the security of the thousands of U.S. citizens working in Iraq, he said.

 

US Embassy in Iraq.

 

U.S. Planning to Slash Iraq Embassy Staff by as Much as Half
By TIM ARANGO
February 7, 2012
Less than two months after American troops left, the State Department is preparing to slash by as much as half the enormous diplomatic presence it had planned for Iraq, a sharp sign of declining American influence in the country.
Officials in Baghdad and Washington said that Ambassador James F. Jeffrey and other senior State Department officials were reconsidering the size and scope of the embassy, where the staff has swelled to nearly 16,000 people, mostly contractors.
The expansive diplomatic operation and the $750 million embassy building, the largest of its kind in the world, were billed as necessary to nurture a postwar Iraq on its shaky path to democracy and establish normal relations between two countries linked by blood and mutual suspicion. But the Americans have been frustrated by what they see as Iraqi obstructionism and are now largely confined to the embassy because of security concerns, unable to interact enough with ordinary Iraqis to justify the $6 billion annual price tag.

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Quotes: My Security Colleagues Would Call It ‘Getting Off The X’–Patrick Kennedy

So I wonder if Mr. Kennedy has talked with the enemy in Iraq about this whole ‘getting off the X’ thing? lol Because somehow I don’t think they plan on playing by the rules.-Matt

 

“My security colleagues would call it ‘getting off the X’,” Kennedy said. “We run. We go. We do not stand and fight. We will execute a high-speed J-turn and we will get as far away from the attackers as we possibly can.” –Patrick Kennedy, US State Department’s Under Secretary of State For Management on DoS Iraq security contractors.

 

 

 

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Afghanistan: The US Embassy Is Attacked, And Yet Nothing Said About Security Contractor Performance?

Boy, this latest attack in Kabul was an interesting incident. Purely because I have yet to hear anything at all about the security contractor performance during this whole deal.

Now I will tell you what I have heard that is not making the news, and that is at least one Afghan security guard was wounded on the compound itself. I have also heard that the tower that the Taliban were using in this attack was a major concern of security contractors that have been posted at that site over the years. It is the high ground, and positions like this are always a concern. But what was done about it? Because I am sure the RSO’s over the years had received an earful about it.

I have also heard that there weren’t any M-2’s or MK-19’s used to decimate those enemy positions in the tower. At those distances, something like a M-2 .50 cal. could reach the tower and pour some hate on it.  It might have saved some lives, and yet I am hearing that the military component of the defense did not respond with such tools? I could be wrong here, and I would like to be corrected on this. Because I am sure the contractors didn’t have those tools or authority to use those kinds of weapons. (The video below shows the fight at ISAF, and I don’t see any heavy weapons being used?)

Either way, I would love to hear from any contractors or soldiers that were on scene on any of those compounds that were involved in this fight. Because it is just odd to me that we spend this much money on the WPS guys and the KESF guys, and everyone else in between, and there is nothing at all about their good work and sacrifice? It is actually in poor taste that the DoS, ISAF or NATO refuses to say anything at all about our industry’s contribution in incidents like this.

The other reason why I wanted to post this is to give any of the companies and DoS/ISAF/NATO a chance to communicate about the contractor performance during this deal. Because as we speak, the media and new media folks out there are filling in the vacuum of information with their narrative.

You have folks like POGO that have been excellent at pointing out the deficiencies of companies like AGNA, but currently is spinning this latest deal as if AGNA performed poorly in this incident? And yet POGO has not one shred of information to support anything of the sort. So instead, they go off on the past performance of AGNA to leave the reader with the idea that they ‘must have performed poorly during this incident’. That is what I mean by narrative, and DoS and company silence is doing more harm than good.

Hell, if you want, I could spin this as a deal where the contractors performed well?  I could just assume that because not one diplomat or federal employee was killed or injured, that the defense was excellent. Or I could use quotes from guys like General Carsten Jacobsen:

He said the attack proved the security of the Nato and US embassy compounds, which were not breached, and said the Afghan forces responded “very well” and quickly.

But instead, I would like to draw some conclusions based on facts. So help me out folks, and don’t let others who could care less about the facts control the narrative.

Now of course the DoS/ISAF/NATO is probably instructing AGNA or other companies not to make any press releases, or there is some contract stipulation against such things, but still?  It is just horribly odd to me that there is not a mention about the very people that put their lives on the line to defend the property and people of these compounds during such a publicized attack? –Matt

(definitely ‘like’ the US Embassy in Kabul, ISAF and NATO let them know on their wall what you think)

Edit: 9/15/2011- Supposedly there were two contractor injuries. Thanks to a reader for the information.

Edit: 9/16/2011- Ok, I have had several reports from readers that contractors were engaged in combat during this deal. Meaning, they were using their weapons to defend against attackers. Which I am glad they did, and I certainly hope they killed some of these Taliban attackers? Nothing confirmed as far as how many Taliban were killed by contractors. There were also multiple RPG hits within the compound.

 

 

Statement from Ambassador Crocker on Attacks of September 13, 2011
Yesterday was a long and difficult day for the U.S. Embassy, for ISAF and for the residents of Kabul.  We witnessed both cowardly attacks by an increasingly desperate insurgency, as well as instances of enormous courage and dedication on the part of ISAF troops and especially the Afghan National Security Forces.  It was Afghan police and soldiers who bravely ended the attack on the embassy and stopped further strikes on Kabul Airport, two police stations, and a local high school.  We mourn the Afghan civilians and the brave troops and security forces killed in these actions, and wish a full recovery to the wounded, which include Afghan civilians and American and partner-nation troops.  We offer condolences to the families of these innocent victims.??The attacks serve to highlight the weakness at the core of the insurgency.  Unable to confront ISAF and newly-trained Afghan troops on the conventional battlefield, they have turned to launching attacks on high-profile facilities like the U.S. Embassy in an attempt to garner headlines.  Yet their actions backfired. Afghan security forces showed they were up to the task of thwarting such operations and are willing to sacrifice their lives to reclaim their communities and country.  Unlike the insurgents, the ANSF took great care to avoid civilian casualties. The transition to Afghan-led security is on track, as we turn our focus to long-term efforts for supporting a more secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.??As Secretary of State Clinton said yesterday, “We will be vigilant, but we will be continuing with even greater commitment to doing all we can to give the Afghan people, who have suffered so much, a chance at a better future for themselves and their children.”
Press release here.
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UPDATED: U.S. Embassy Statement
September 13, 2011
The U.S. Embassy confirms an attack occurred today in the area of the U.S. Embassy, including RPG and small arms fire.  Four Afghans were injured in the attack on the embassy compound, none with life threatening injuries.  They included three Afghan visa applicants and one local contract guard.

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