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Overseas Contractor Count – 4th Quarter FY 2012

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 27, 2012

Thanks to Danger Zone Jobs for this Post

This update reports DoD contractor personnel numbers in theater and outlines DoD efforts to improve management of contractors accompanying U.S. forces. It covers DoD contractor personnel deployed in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Iraq, and the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR).

In 4th quarter FY 2012, USCENTCOM reported approximately 137,000 contractor personnel working for the DoD in the USCENTCOM AOR. This total reflects no change from the previous quarter. The number of contractors outside of Afghanistan and Iraq make up about 13.7% of the total contractor population in the USCENTCOM AOR. A breakdown of DoD contractor personnel is provided below:

A breakdown of DoD contractor personnel is provided below:

DoD Contractor Personnel in the USCENTCOM AOR

Total Contractors U.S. Citizens Third Country Nationals Local & Host Country Nationals
Afghanistan Only 109, 564 31,814 39,480 38,270
Iraq Only* 9,000 2,314 4,621 2,065
Other USCENTCOM Locations 18,843 8,764 9,297 782
USCENTCOM AOR 137,407 42,892 53,398 41,117

*Includes DoD contractors supporting U.S. Mission Iraq and/or Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq

Afghanistan Summary

The distribution of contractors in Afghanistan by contracting activity are:

Theater Support – Afghanistan: 16,973 (15%)
LOGCAP: 40,551 (37%)
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: 7,647 (7%)
Other:* 44,393 (41%)
Total: 113,736
*Includes Defense Logistics Agency, Army Materiel Command, Air Force External and Systems Support contracts, Special Operations Command and INSCOM.

OEF Contractor Posture Highlights:

There are currently approximately 109.5K DoD contractors in Afghanistan. The overall contractor footprint has decreased 3.7% from the 3rd quarter FY12.

The contractor to military ratio in Afghanistan is 1.13 to 1 (based on 84.2K military).

Local Nationals make up 34.9% of the DoD contracted workforce in Afghanistan.

Iraq Summary

Contractor Posture Highlights:

The total number of contractors supporting the U.S. Government in Iraq (DoD+DoS) is now approximately 13.5K, which meets the USG goal of reducing the contractor population at the end of FY 2012.

The Department of Defense and Department of State 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.

General Data on DoD Private Security Contractor Personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan

USCENTCOM reports, as of 4th quarter FY 2012, the following distribution of private security contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq:

Total* U.S. Citizens Third Country National Local & Host Country National
DoD PSCs in Afghanistan 18,914 2,014 1,437 15,413
DoD PSCs in Iraq 2,116 102 1,873 191

*These numbers include most subcontractors and service contractors hired by prime contractors under DoD contracts. They include both armed and unarmed contractors. They do not include PSCs working under DoS and USAID contracts.

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Iraq | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Iraq convoy was sent out despite threat

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 9, 2012

Unarmored trucks carrying needed supplies were ambushed, leaving six drivers dead. Records illuminate the fateful decision.

“Can anyone explain to me why we put civilians in the middle of known ambush sites?”

“Maybe we should put body bags on the packing list for our drivers.”

T Christian Miller The LA Times  September 3, 2007

Senior managers for defense contractor KBR overruled calls to halt supply operations in Iraq in the spring of 2004, ordering unarmored trucks into an active combat zone where six civilian drivers died in an ambush, according to newly available documents.

Company e-mails and other internal communications reveal that before KBR dispatched the convoy, a chorus of security advisors predicted an increase in roadside bombings and attacks on Iraq’s highways. They recommended suspension of convoys.

“[I] think we will get people injured or killed tomorrow,” warned KBR regional security chief George Seagle, citing “tons of intel.” But in an e-mail sent a day before the convoy was dispatched, he also acknowledged: “Big politics and contract issues involved.”

KBR was under intense pressure from the military to deliver on its multibillion-dollar contract to transport food, fuel and other vital supplies to U.S. soldiers. At Baghdad’s airport, a shortage of jet fuel threatened to ground some units.

After consulting with military commanders, KBR’s top managers decided to keep the convoys rolling. “If the [Army] pushes, then we push, too,” wrote an aide to Craig Peterson, KBR’s top official in Iraq.

The decision prompted a raging internal debate that is detailed in private KBR documents, some under court seal, that were reviewed by The Times.

One KBR management official threatened to resign when superiors ordered truckers to continue driving. “I cannot consciously sit back and allow unarmed civilians to get picked apart,” wrote Keith Richard, chief of the trucking operation.

Six American truck drivers and two U.S. soldiers were killed when the convoy rumbled into a five-mile gauntlet of weapons fire on April 9, 2004, making an emergency delivery of jet fuel to the airport. One soldier and a seventh trucker remain missing.

Recriminations began the same day.

“Can anyone explain to me why we put civilians in the middle of known ambush sites?” demanded one security advisor in an e-mail. “Maybe we should put body bags on the packing list for our drivers.”

Please read the entire story here

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Contractors Kidnapped, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Department of Defense, Exclusive Remedy, Follow the Money, Injured Contractors, Iraq, KBR, Misjudgements, Political Watch, T Christian Miller | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Contractors in War Zones: Not Exactly “Contracting”

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 9, 2012

There are more contractors than troops in Afghanistan

Time’s Battleland  October 9, 2012 by David Isenberg

U.S. military forces may be out of Iraq, but the unsung and unrecognized part of America’s modern military establishment is still serving and sacrificing — the role played by private military and security contractors.

That their work is dangerous can be seen by looking at the headlines. Just last Thursday a car bomb hit a private security convoy in Baghdad, killing four people and wounding at least nine others.

That is hardly an isolated incident. According to the most recent Department of Labor statistics there were at least 121 civilian contractor deaths filed on in the third quarter of 2012. Of course, these included countries besides Iraq.

As the Defense Base Act Compensation blog notes, “these numbers are not an accurate accounting of Contractor Casualties as many injuries and deaths are not reported as Defense Base Act Claims. Also, many of these injuries will become deaths due to the Defense Base Act Insurance Companies denial of medical benefits.” To date, a total of 90,680 claims have been filed since September 1, 2001.

How many contractors are now serving on behalf of the U.S. government?

According to the most recent quarterly contractor census report issued by the U.S. Central Command, which includes both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as 18 other countries stretching from Egypt to Kazakhstan, there were approximately 137,000 contractors working for the Pentagon in its region. There were 113,376 in Afghanistan and 7,336 in Iraq. Of that total, 40,110 were U.S. citizens, 50,560 were local hires, and 46,231 were from neither the U.S. not the country in which they were working.

Put simply, there are more contractors than U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

These numbers, however, do not reflect the totality of contractors. For example, they do not include contractors working for the U.S. State Department. The CENTCOM report says that “of FY 2012, the USG contractor population in Iraq will be approximately 13.5K.  Roughly half of these contractors are employed under Department of State contracts.”

While most of the public now understands that contractors perform a lot of missions once done by troops – peeling potatoes, pulling security — they may not realize just how dependent on them the Pentagon has become.

Please read the entire post here

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, Iraq, KBR, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Joe Biden’s Uncounted Angels

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 11, 2012

“By the way, lest you think I’m a Republican partisan, neither Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney at the Republican national convention so much as mentioned Iraq or Afghanistan, let alone casualties. That might be funny, if it wasn’t so pathetic, given that this is the party that normally falls all over itself, playing up its supposed support for wartime sacrifice.”

by David Isenberg at Huffington Post  September 11, 2012

No disrespect to Beau, Biden’s son, who served honorably in Iraq but perhaps if he was working  for KBR or Academi, instead of the Delaware National Guard, Biden might have been more sensitive to those who are also sacrificing.

If you weren’t listening closely you might have missed it but last week, at the Democratic national convention, Vice President Joe Biden gave a major diss to the private military and security contracting (PMSC) industry.

In the course of his speech he said:

And tonight — (applause) — and tonight — tonight I want to acknowledge — I want to acknowledge, as we should every night, the incredible debt we owe to the families of those 6,473 fallen angels and those 49,746 wounded, thousands critically, thousands who will need our help for the rest of their lives.
Folks, we never — we must never, ever forget their sacrifice and always keep them in our care and in our prayers.

Biden might actually be a bit off; another famed Biden gaffe perhaps. The official Pentagon estimate through Sept. 7 for fatalities, which includes Defense Department civilians is 6,594 but their wounded estimate is exactly the same as Biden’s.

Don’t get me wrong. As an American and military veteran the toll of the military dead and wounded, especially those killed or wounded in Iraq, a war of choice, not necessity, tears at me. All these deaths and casualties should be remembered.

But as long as we are going to do body counts let us not low ball. What about all the PMSC personnel who have also made the ultimate sacrifice?

I’ve written about this before but since this is such an unappreciated subject, let’s review.

The U.S. Department of Labor publishes figures based on data maintained by its Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, saying, “These reports do not constitute the complete or official casualty statistics of civilian contractor injuries and deaths.” These figures are not that useful as they refer to numbers of claims filed and not actual total fatalities. Their wounded totals also include figures for those injuries where there was no lost time or where lost time was just three or four days.

Still, through June 30 this year, the number of claims filed for Iraq and Afghanistan total 47,673 and 17,831, respectively. The number of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are 1,569 and 1,173. So that’s 2,742 dead “fallen angels”, who were working to support U.S. troops, diplomats, and private firms per overall U.S. goals in those countries, that Biden did not include.

By the way, to get an idea of the sheer Joe Heller surrealism of trying to track contractor casualties see this post by Overseas Civilian Contractors.

A better sense of the toll can be seen in this 2010 paper written by Prof. Steve Schooner and Colin Swan of George Washington University Law School. As they noted:

As of June 2010, more than 2,008 contractors have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another 44 contractors killed were in Kuwait, many of whom supported the same missions. On top of that, more than 44,000 contractors have been injured, of which more than 16,000 were seriously wounded (see Figure 3). While these numbers rarely see the light of day, Figure 1 reflects the startling fact that contractor deaths now represent over twenty-five (25) percent of all U.S. fatalities since the beginning of these military actions.

In fact, in recent years contractors have, proportionately speaking, sacrificed even more than regular forces.

What is even more striking is that — in both Iraq and Afghanistan — contractors are bearing an increasing proportion of the annual death toll. In 2003, contractor deaths represented only 4 percent of all fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan. From 2004 to 2007, that number rose to 27 percent. From 2008 to the second quarter of 2010, contractor fatalities accounted for an eye-popping 40 percent of the combined death toll. In the first two quarters of 2010 alone, contractor deaths represented more than half — 53 percent — of all fatalities. This point bears emphasis: since January 2010, more contractors have died in Iraq and Afghanistan than U.S. military soldiers. In other words, contractors supporting the war effort today are losing more lives than the U.S. military waging these wars. Indeed, two recent estimates suggest private security personnel working for DoD in Iraq and Afghanistan — a small percentage of the total contractor workforce in these regions — were 1.8 to 4.5 times more likely to be killed than uniformed personnel.

No disrespect to Beau, Biden’s son, who served honorably in Iraq but perhaps if he was worked for KBR or Academi, instead of the Delaware National Guard, Biden might have been more sensitive to those who are also sacrificing.

By the way, lest you think I’m a Republican partisan, neither Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney at the Republican national convention so much as mentioned Iraq or Afghanistan, let alone casualties. That might be funny, if it wasn’t so pathetic, given that this is the party that normally falls all over itself, playing up its supposed support for wartime sacrifice.

 Follow David Isenberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vanidan

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, Department of Labor, Iraq, KBR, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Tribute to Troops, SEALS, Navy EOD killed in August 6, 2012 Chopper Crash

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 6, 2012

Casualty List

Photos of the Fallen

Posted in Afghanistan, Department of Defense | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Overseas Contractor Count Trends for the last 5 quarters

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 3, 2012

The Overseas Contractor Count published by the Pentagon reports DoD contractor personnel numbers in theater and covers DoD contractor personnel deployed in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Iraq, and the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR).

Total Contractors

U.S. Citizen Contractors

Third Country National Contractors

 

Host Country / Local Contractors

 

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Department of Defense, Department of Labor | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

SIGIR: Iraq Reconstruction Casualties

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 27, 2012

Nothing was safe or “soft” about reconstruction missions, according to the report. “The human losses suffered in Iraq and outlined in this report underscore the point that when such operations are conducted in combat zones, they are dangerous for everyone involved,” the report said.

OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION
We have posted selections from this report which pertain to Civilian Contractor Casualties

SIGIR SPECIAL REPORT NUMBER 2   Special Report, July 27, 2012

 THE HUMAN TOLL OF RECONSTRUCTION OR STABILIZATION OPERATIONS DURING OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM

 Reconstruction or Stabilization Casualties

Deaths

SIGIR identified a total of 719 people killed while engaged in reconstruction or stabilization activities in Iraq between May 1, 2003, and August 31, 2010.      This number includes 318 Americans (U.S. military, federal civilian employees, and U.S. civilian contractors), 111 third- country nationals, 271 Iraqis and 19 of unknown nationality who were working in support of the U.S. reconstruction or stabilization mission during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Wounded

Combing through various sources, we identified at least 786 people reportedly wounded while performing reconstruction or stabilization-related missions in Iraq.  This included 289 U.S. service members, 17 U.S. civilians, 109 third-country nationals, 334 Iraqis and 37 others (nationality undetermined).

 Kidnappings

We accounted for at least 198 people kidnapped while working on U.S.-supervised
reconstruction or stabilization projects.

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Contractors Kidnapped, Department of Defense, Department of Labor, Injured Contractors, Iraq, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Three Civilian Contractors, Police Trainers, killed, unknown number wounded, in Green on Blue Shooting Herat Afghanistan

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 22, 2012

US identifies contractors killed in Afghanistan

The victims were Benjamin Monsivais, a former US Border Patrol and retired Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent; Joseph Perez, a retired US Customs and Border Protection port director; and retired British customs officer David Chamberlain, DHS said in a statement.

Dave Chamberlain was killed in western Afghanistan alongside two American colleagues by a gunman who turned his weapon against the US military coalition, sources have said.

Mr Chamberlain, who was in his 40s and from Westgate-on-Sea, was working for the Border Management Task Force, which trains and mentors former Afghan customs officers and border policemen, when he and his colleagues were killed on Sunday, a source said.

He said another American national had been taken to hospital with severe injuries and that an Afghan interpreter had also been injured during the shooting

A British civilian contractor was one of three people shot dead on Sunday by a person wearing an Afghan national security force uniform.
An Afghan police officer shot and killed three American civilians on Sunday at the West Zone Police Training Center in Herat province, CNN reports.  Huff Post
Afghan in uniform kills three NATO contractors

(AFP)–1 hour ago

KABUL — Three foreign civilian contractors working for NATO as trainers were killed Sunday when a man in an Afghan security force uniform turned his weapon against them, NATO and Afghan officials said.

The shooter was killed in the incident in the west of the country, the International Security Assistance Force said in a statement, without giving further details or naming the nationalities of the victims.

An Afghan official who requested anonymity said he knew two Americans had been killed in the attack and they had been shot by an Afghan man in a police uniform in a military training centre near the Herat airport.

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Department of Defense | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Defense of Freedom Medal Held Hostage by The Defense Base Act

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 31, 2012

WHY HAVE I NOT RECEIVED THE DEFENSE OF FREEDOM MEDAL?

The Defense of Freedom Medal is an award held to be the equivalent of the Purple Heart and is awarded to Civilian Contractors injured in the war zones. 

One question we get here repeatedly is why have I not received the Defense of Freedom Medal?   The question comes from severely disabled Civilian Contractors wounded in horrific explosions and insurgent attacks.

WHO IS HOLDING YOUR MEDAL HOSTAGE?

The company you work for is responsible for requesting  that you receive the medal and providing the documentation that you have indeed suffered a qualifying injury.

As all Injured War Zone Contractors know the minute you must file a Defense Base Act Claim you are automatically placed in an adversarial relationship with your employer.   Your Employer and the Defense Base Act Insurance Company are considered equal entities in the battle you have entered for your medical care and indemnity.

Your Employer is required to assist the insurance company in denying your claim.  Under the War Hazards Act the Employer/Carrier must prove to the WHA Tribunal that they have diligently tried to deny your claim.

It appears that your Defense of Freedom Medals could be held hostage by your Employers due to the adversarial relationship the Defense Base Act has created.

When KBR, DynCorp, Blackwater, Xe, et al, provide documentation of your injuries to the DoD they have just admitted that you are indeed injured and to what extent.

Specific information regarding injury/death: Description of the situation causing the injury/death in detail to include the date, time, place, and scene of the incident, and official medical documentation of the employee’s injuries and treatment. The description must be well documented, including the names of witnesses and point of contact (POC) for additional medical information, if needed.

These admissions sure would make it hard for Administrative Law Judges like Paul C Johnson to name them as alleged.   ALJ Paul C Johnson has yet to award benefits to a DBA Claimant in a decision based on a hearing.

KBR who can never seem to find their injured employees medical records holds the key to the Defense of Freedom Medal.

Certainly there are other lawsuits outside of the DBA that the withholding of this information is vital too.

For those of you who still give a damn after being abused by so badly simply because you were injured-

The Defense of Freedom Medal may find you many years down the road once an Administrative Law Judge says you were injured.

We recommend that you contact your Congressional Representative or Senator and have them request this Medal if you qualify for it and would like to have it.

If you are still litigating your claim it SHOULD serve to legitimize your alleged injuries.

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, AWOL Medical Records, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense of Freedom Medal, Department of Defense, Department of Labor, Injured Contractors, KBR, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Political Watch, Racketeering, War Hazards Act, Zurich | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Al Qaeda attack on US convoy in Yemen hit civilian contractors

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 21, 2012

AFP at New York Post  May 21, 2012

HUDAIDA, Yemen — Al Qaeda militants claimed Monday that they attacked a convoy carrying four US military advisers in Yemen, but American officials said the targets were civilian contractors.

The terror group said in a statement that jihadists opened fire Sunday on two cars carrying four American military advisers who were in Hudaida on a training mission with the Yemeni Coast Guard.

The militants “opened fire on them as they left their hotel on their way to work,” the group said, adding that the attackers were able to flee despite efforts by Yemeni security forces to cordon off the city

But US officials said the four were not Department of Defense personnel and were civilian contractors training Yemen’s coast guard.

A local security official confirmed the attack took place. One of the contractors was slightly injured.

An email from the US embassy in Sanaa said,”Reports of US military trainers in Hudaida are false.”

Please see the original and read more here

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Department of Defense | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Overseas Civilian Contractor Count 2nd Quarter FY 2012

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 13, 2012

Thanks to Danger Zone Jobs for posting this, please visit their site

This update reports DoD contractor personnel numbers in theater and outlines DoD efforts to improve management of contractors accompanying U.S. forces. It covers DoD contractor personnel deployed in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Iraq, and the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR).

In 2nd quarter FY 2012, USCENTCOM reported approximately 153,000 contractor personnel working for the DoD in the USCENTCOM AOR. This was approximately a .6% increase from the previous quarter. The number of contractors outside of Afghanistan and Iraq make up about 16% of the total contractor population in the USCENTCOM AOR.

A breakdown of DoD contractor personnel is provided below:

DoD Contractor Personnel in the USCENTCOM AOR

Total Contractors U.S. Citizens Third Country Nationals Local & Host Country Nationals
Afghanistan Only 117,227 34,765 37,898 44,564
Iraq Only* 10,967 3,260 5,539 2,168
Other USCENTCOM Locations 24,765 11,126 12,796 843
USCENTCOM AOR 152,959 49,151 56,233 47,575

*Includes DoD contractors supporting U.S. Mission Iraq and/or Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq

Afghanistan Summary

The distribution of contractors in Afghanistan by contracting activity are:

Theater Support – Afghanistan: 20,226 (17%)
LOGCAP: 32,653 (28%)
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: 15,222 (13%)
Other:* 49,126 (42%)
Total: 117,227
*Includes Defense Logistics Agency, Army Materiel Command, Air Force External and Systems Support contracts, Special Operations Command and INSCOM.

OEF Contractor Posture Highlights:

There are currently approximately 117.2K DoD contractors in Afghanistan. The overall contractor footprint has increased 3.2% from the 1st quarter FY12.

The contractor to military ratio in Afghanistan is 1.18 to 1 (based on 99.2K military).

Local Nationals make up 38% of the DoD contracted workforce in Afghanistan.

Iraq Summary

Contractor Posture Highlights:

There was a 54% decrease in the number of DoD contractors as compared to the 1st quarter 2012 due to the end of Operation New Dawn and the transition of authority to the Chief of Mission.

The Department of Defense and Department of State continue to refine the requirements for contract support. We project that by the end of FY 2012, the USG contractor population in Iraq will be approximately 14K. Roughly half of these contractors are employed under Department of State contracts. Although the remainder are employed under DoD contracts, only approximately 4,000 will be directly supporting DOD mission areas. The remaining 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.

General Data on DoD Private Security Contractor Personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan

Total* U.S. Citizens Third Country National Local & Host Country National
DoD PSCs in Afghanistan 26,612 519 782 25,311
DoD PSCs in Iraq 3,577 288 2,991 298

*These numbers include most subcontractors and service contractors hired by prime contractors under DoD contracts. They include both armed and unarmed contractors. They do not include PSCs working under DoS and USAID contracts.

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

John J Keys and Jacob A West receive Defense of Freedom Medal

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 6, 2012

Fairbanks civilian contractor who survived blast in Afghanistan honored

FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks engineer saw first hand last fall how Afghanistan is a dangerous assignment whether for a soldier or a civilian. While working on a new road in an Afghan village John J. Keys was hit by an 80-pound roadside bomb. Keys, another Army civilian and a translator survived, but two military men they had been working with for months were killed instantly.

Perhaps thankless is the best word for the engineering assignment. Keys found out later that the villagers for whom they were building the road likely saw the bomb-layers digging for several days to install the bomb.

Yet no one bothered to warn them.

Keys, 52, is no stranger to war zones. In his recent career he was been a a civil engineer at Fort Wainwright, where he helped design some the post’s barracks. But before coming to Fairbanks in 1994 he served in the Air National Guard during Operation Desert Storm and later on drug interdiction assignments in Central and South America.

As a civilian engineer, Keys said he has good protection from the military with a close aerial presence and an escort of soldiers. But he never forgot he was in a war. “You’re always careful,” he said. “You’re looking for signs of (improved explosive devices), hand trails where they bury the wires … You’re always aware that anything could happen at any time.”

On Oct. 19, Keys was inspecting a two-lane gravel road through the village of Yahya Khel in Eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. He was on (and now directs) a provisional reconstruction team, a combined military and civilian crew that was going to convert a gravel road to cobblestones at the request of the village. As a member of the team, Keys wore full combat gear minus the weapons and was traveling with a convoy of heavy mine-resistant vehicles. Instead of an assault rifle he carried a camera to document the road conditions.

A photograph he took a few minutes before the blast shows a relatively innocuous scene: a dusty road flanked by earthen walls. A group of men in white robes sit and stand in a doorway talking to soldiers.

The blast went off about 100 meters from where the photograph was taken. The explosion killed Navy Chief Petty Officer Raymond J. Border, 31, of West Lafayette, Ohio, and Army Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveira, 33, of Newark, N.J. Keys was blown of his feet and knocked 20 feet into a gully, according to an account of the explosion recorded in a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers news release.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” Keys said. “I was in full-body pain and I wasn’t where I started.”

The other Army civilian, Jacob A. West, 30, of Fayetteville, N.C., remembered only a smell of burning dirt, chemical and plastic from the moments after the blast, according to the Army news release. His first clear memory was sitting in the armored vehicle where he saw Keys return to the site of the blast to look for the two military men.

“He (Keys) did all that without being asked,” West said according to the release. “He did all that on his own without any regard for his personal safety. He was part of that team. I think that was significant. People should know that.”

This week, Keys and West were both presented the Defense of Freedom Metal, the equivalent of the military Purple Heart for Department of Defense civilians

Please see the original and read more here

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Defense of Freedom Medal, Department of Defense, Injured Contractors | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

War is Brain-Damaging

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 18, 2012

The Defense Base Act Insurance Companies and the Department of Labor are as negligent as the Department of Defense when it comes denying the dangers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, and most negligently when a contractor suffers from both.

“a potentially lethal combination of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. When the frontal lobe — which controls emotions — is damaged, it simply can’t put on the brakes if a PTSD flashback unleashes powerful feelings. Seeing his buddy’s leg blown off may have unleashed a PTSD episode his damaged brain couldn’t stop”

The New York Times Sunday Review

These vets suffer from a particular kind of brain damage that results from repeated exposure to the concussive force of improvised explosive devices — I.E.D.’s — a regular event for troops traveling the roads in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It’s Russian roulette,” one vet told me, “We had one guy in our company who got hit nine times before the 10th one waxed him.” An I.E.D. explosion can mean death or at least a lost arm or leg, but you don’t have to take a direct hit to feel its effects. A veteran who’d been in 26 blasts explained, “It feels like you’re whacked in the head with a shovel. When you come to, you don’t know whether you’re dead or alive.”

The news that Robert Bales, an Army staff sergeant accused of having killed 16 Afghan civilians last week, had suffered a traumatic brain injury unleashed a flurry of e-mails among those of us who have been trying to beat the drums about this widespread — and often undiagnosed — war injury. New facts about Staff Sgt. Bales are coming out daily. After we heard about the brain injury that resulted when his vehicle rolled over in an I.E.D. blast, we were told that he had lost part of his foot in a separate incident. Then we learned that the day before his rampage, he’d been standing by a buddy when that man’s leg was blown off. There are also reports of alcohol use.

People with more appropriate professional skills than mine will have to parse these facts, but from what I have learned in my work as a storyteller, this tragedy may be related to something I heard about in my interviews: a potentially lethal combination of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. When the frontal lobe — which controls emotions — is damaged, it simply can’t put on the brakes if a PTSD flashback unleashes powerful feelings. Seeing his buddy’s leg blown off may have unleashed a PTSD episode his damaged brain couldn’t stop. If alcohol was indeed part of the picture, it could have further undermined his compromised frontal lobe function

Please see the original and read more here

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Chartis, Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Injured Contractors, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Melt Down, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Combat troop ailments drive medical backlog

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on February 2, 2012

Tens of thousands of combat troops who undergo routine health checks before returning home need treatment for ailments ranging from bad backs to mental illness, helping to drive a backlog of troops waiting for medical retirements, new Pentagon data show

“When you look at the numbers, about a third — one in three soldiers — are being told, ‘I think you need some medical attention.’

By Gregg Zoroya and Paul Overberg, USA TODAY

Last year, doctors referred 74,813 returning soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen for treatment of issues such as strained muscles, mental health and mild concussions following health screenings done as they left war zones, data show.

Of those, 14,226 troops had conditions that required treatment within 24 hours, the Pentagon says. The rate of such emergency issues was highest in the Army, going from 6% of returning GIs in 2009 to 8% in 2011.

“These are people coming back from theater not on a Medevac, not because they’ve been wounded, (but) just coming back with their units,” said physician Michael Kilpatrick, a Pentagon health official. “When you look at the numbers, about a third — one in three soldiers — are being told, ‘I think you need some medical attention.’ “

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Posted in Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Department of Defense | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Michael Clawson, Pilot, Contractor, killed in Afghan Helicopter Crash

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 18, 2012

Helicopter crash in Afghanistan claims life of area man

January 18, 2012

A Clay County helicopter pilot was killed this week in a crash in Afghanistan.

Michael Clawson, who worked for AAR Airlift of Chicago, was in Afghanistan doing work for the U.S. Defense Department.

Clawson leaves a wife and five children, said Father John Bamman, OFM Conv., of St. Joseph’s University Parish, where Clawson and his family attended worship services in Terre Haute.

The crash happened in southern Afghanistan on Monday morning. Two other people were killed, all employees of AAR Airlift, which is a unit of Wood Dale, Ill.-based AAR Corp.

NATO forces reportedly have secured the area of the crash and were attempting to determine what happened, according to news reports.

Funeral arrangements are pending this morning

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Department of Defense | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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