Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

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Exhibit IMAS Report November 2003



IMAS Task Order No. 03-140
Iraq Mine and UXO Organization


This report covers 1-30 Novemer 2003.


This Task Order 03-140 requires RONCO to create an indigenous Iraqi mine clearance organization including all training and equipment.  Further to provide technical support to this organization once it becomes operational.


Action        Scheduled Completion    Actual Completion
SLIN C Live Ops Prep.    10 November 2003    13 November 2003
SLIN P  EOD Level II Training    10 November 2003    13 November 2003
SLIN D Clearance and BAC Operations    15 December 2003    TBD
SLIN Q EOD Level III Training    15 December 2003    TBD
SLIN T:  Dog Handler Training Phase 2    10 November 2003    10 November 2003
SLIN U:  Dog Handler Training Phase 3    30 November 2003    30 November 2003


a.  Construction:  We are currently completing the final reconstruction on the camp and security improvements to the team house.  We are also supporting NMAA by assisting them in refurbishing the rear, unused area, of the camp in to living areas for NMAA international Staff.

b.  RONCO Staff Arrivals:  Ray Peeks arrived as a temporary replacement on 18 November 03 and Don Smith on 4 December 03.

c.  Hiring of Local Staff:  We have hired a local Security and Intelligence team to act as our security focal point and to conduct security recces of task sites to be worked before technical recces or clearance begins.

d.  Training:

1) Dog Handlers and Dogs:  New dogs arrived 23 Nov 03.  During this period the main emphasis of the class were on mine field clearance operations using block clearance procedures.  Most of the blocks used where not 10X10 but where smaller due to handlers having control problems with their dogs.  The handlers are conducting their own search patterns by reading the wind and picking starting points.  They are  showing improvement on reading their dogs when working  mine odor.  Handlers, on one day, were required to work their dogs without the use of the leash in their hand.  This was to emphasize to them to use their voice and body movement to make the dog work as opposed to using the leash.  Mr. Conrad is making the handlers watch training of their peers so they can pick up mistakes before making the same ones themselves.  Mr. Conrad is now pushing to start evaluations of road, survey and block searches.  We will begin conducting integration training as scheduled.

2)  EOD Level II Training:  EOD Level II classroom training is completed, but due to shots fired at the TAs when conducting reconnaissance of the demolition range, certification was held off and will be done during operations.

3)  EOD Level III Training:  Preparations are complete, but training will be delayed pending the outcome of the recent personnel reshuffle.  We anticipate being able to conduct this training in mid to late January.

4)  Medical Aerial Evacuation:  The 159th Aviation Company flew to the base camp to conduct training on loading and unloading of the Blackhawk evacuation platform.  This was valuable not only in the sense that everyone knew how to safely approach the helicopter, but as a demonstration to our staff the steps that would be taken to ensure their safety.  Please see photos below:

e.  Deminer Graduation:  On 13 November we conducted the graduation for the basic deminer and leadership courses.  The guest of honor was Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, the Chief of Staff for the CPA.  The event was covered in both the Iraqi television and print media.  Please see photos below:

f.  Start of Operations:  On 15 November 03, IMCO began operations on the first task site.

1)  Task Site 1:  This task site is a mixed use area including agriculture, soccer fields, and residences.  The area was an Iraqi SA 2 and anti-aircraft site and has AAA ammunition, SA-2 boosters, cluster munition (M42) strikes, small arms and other UXOs.  Local people informed us that an M42 killed a young man 2 weeks before we started work.  Some of the site has been claimed for future house construction.  It is heavily trafficked by both adults and children.  We estimate that up to 2500 people will have there lives made less dangerous by the area cleared.  Note that at the current time we are in the “emergency” phase and conducting only surface clearance unless directed or there is obviously a reason to go subsurface.  This site is complete except for final QA, permanent marking and finalizing the completion report.  Please see photos below:

2)  Task Site 2: After the holiday of Eid we started the work on the second task site.  This task site is located just south of  “Camp Slayer” vicinity of Baghdad International Airport (BIAP).  Formerly it was an agricultural area, but due to the large number of M42s (bomblets) the local farmers are leaving much of it fallow.  In one 50 x 50 meter box we found 99 M42 bomblets.  Additionally the area has a large number of children who are constantly approach the CF guard towers to beg for candy and try and sell the GIs things.

3.  Issues:

a.  Security:  Continues to be the largest issue of concern.    During the Eid holidays, the RONCO team intended to conduct additional recces to ensure that we have enough tasks to switch too so that no discernable pattern can be made.  Based on a lack of translators/local area expertise and the size and security of the previously recced task site, the task leader determined that this was an unnecessary risk.  On 30 November 03, we hired two Iraqi security and intelligence officers who is beginning the process of analyzing the various task sites from a security point of view.  They will conduct security recces of all task sites prior to the deployment of a “technical” recce team.  NMAA (Pete Owen) is hiring a international security manager to focus on threat assessments, train armed guards to provide us with armed escorts for movement and so that there is someone on site who is focused strictly on security and not on the clearance.

On 4 December 03, there were shots fired at the international staff working on the second task site (no injuries) see separate correspondence for details.  We assess this as an opportunity shooting as the shooter was using the nearby funeral shootings as cover.  Shots did not come very close to the staff merely passed over their heads.  This again highlights the potential danger inherent in working in Iraq.  Based on this incident and the increasing number of attacks on convoys, Mr. Layton suspended operations on 5 December 03.  This suspension is a temporary measure until we can get the armed escort noted above.

Bottom Line:  Security concerns will continue to be a major and sometimes the driving force in future operations.

b.  Death Threats Against Local Staff:  During the Eid holiday a number of our Iraqi leadership were given death threats if they didn’t stop working with us.  This is clearly the result of the change in tactics by the Former Regime Loyalists (FRLs) and Islamic Extremists (IEs) mentioned recently by the CPA.  See separate correspondence for details.  Our local staff is taking this seriously and using utmost caution in their daily lives.  Net effect to date is that one team leader has left Baghdad and a Section Leader has moved himself and his family in with his father and resigned.

New reports indicate that there is a price on the head of the director, operations officer and EOD supervisor.  They are taking extreme care in their daily lives.  We have offered to provide them with armed guards and are looking into moving them into the “green zone.”

c.  Checkpoints:  Continues to be an issue as to whether are employees can get through or not.  We are working with NMAA to establish a window for our employees at one of the checkpoints.

d.  Shipment of Supplies and Equipment:  We have requested additional items please see separate correspondence from Pete Owen.

e.  Christmas Leave/ Leave Rotation:  Per Schedule based on incoming personnel.

f.  EOD level III:  To be implemented mid to late January 04.

g.  Personnel Rotation:  Understand that Rich Cassel will be in Amman 14 December, and Vipin Patel on 18 December 03.  Ray Peeks departure, depends on the arrival of Rich Cassel and his integration into the team.

h.  Weather:  The rainy season has come early making movement on task sites often difficult (extremely muddy and slippery) and restricting visibility.  We anticipate that there will be days that the weather makes it unsafe to work.  We are therefore going to institute a block leave policy for our Iraqis during the rainy season so that as the weather improves we have everyone on task.

i.  International Staff Manning of 03-140:  During the planning phase it was anticipated that this task would be focused on minefield clearance.  At the current time and for the foreseeable future we will be conducting BAC.  Due to the size, number, complexity, and security of the tasks the normal oversight of the task site is not possible with current authorized manning.  This will be especially true as we move to normal operations, working smaller tasks that do not allow for the entire organization to work the one task site and when we need to have open three or more task sites per section to avoid creating a pattern (making it more difficult for us to be deliberately targeted).  Therefore, request that the international EOD/demining TAs be increased to six full time on the ground and a seventh be assigned to the project to allow for internal leave/R&R rotation.

4.  Lessons Learned:

a.  Task Order Requirement Planning and Adjustment:  Iraq is a unique situation and planning for the Task Order went on prior to the start of the war.  At this time it was anticipated that there would be a significant mine problem in and around Baghdad.  In hind sight this is not the case and the primary task is BAC.  This information should have been feed into the planning process and the task order adjusted prior to implementation.  Recommend that task order planning and requirements be constantly reviewed prior to implementation to ensure that the best possible task order requirements be provided to the host country.

b.  R&R Planning:  The situation in Iraq is unique in that the team is living and working on top of each other.  Further, that there are no place to safely go outside the various green zones.  This can lead to significant morale problems.  Recommend that we institute leave and R&R planning for each new and or existing project.  This could and should include extra techs built into projects to allow for leave rotation.


5.  FINANCIAL SUMMARY    Period Completed:

T.O. XXX    Expended through    % Budget    Budget
Budget        Expended    Available
IV.    TABLE B (Materials/Equip.)

Task Leader

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