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Posts Tagged ‘State Dept’

Afghanistan becomes more dangerous for contractors

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 22, 2010

By Matt Kelley  USA Today

WASHINGTON — U.S. government contractor deaths in Afghanistan more than doubled last year as violence and American troop levels increased, federal government records show.

The Labor Department received at least 141 insurance claims for contractor deaths in Afghanistan last year, up from 55 in 2008, department records show. U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan doubled to 311 last year.

The department collects the claims figures as part of a workers’ compensation program that provides benefits for injuries or deaths at companies doing U.S. government work overseas. The program paid out about $200 million in 2008, up from $9.4 million in 2001, when the war in Afghanistan began after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The increase in deaths in Afghanistan comes as tens of thousands more contractors are surging into the country while insurgent violence there spikes, said Doug Brookspresident of the International Peace Operations Association, a trade group of companies that provide security and other services in war zones.

The number of contractors for the U.S. military in Afghanistan rose by 50% last year to 107,000, according to the Pentagon’s Central Command.

DATABASE: A look at U.S. lives lost in Iraq, Afghanistan

A State Department report released this month said “all westerners and Afghans associated with westerners are targets” in Afghanistan.

“Things are getting more dangerous in Afghanistan because insurgents are getting more bold,” Brooks said. “For contractors, Afghanistan used to be the place where you went on vacation, because it was safer than Iraq. Now it’s turned around, and Iraq is relatively safe.”

Still, Iraq remains a dangerous place for contractors — almost as risky as it is for U.S. troops.

The number of contractors killed in Iraq declined only slightly. There were at least 146 death claims for contractors in Iraq last year, down from 174 the year before. Meanwhile, U.S. military deaths in Iraq were cut in half from 313 in 2008 to 148 last year.

President Obama last year ordered more U.S. troops to Afghanistan to fight a resurgent Taliban insurgency and provide better security for Afghan civilians. Gen. David Petraeus, the head of Central Command, said last week that nearly half of the 30,000 new troops have arrived.

There are currently about 99,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The Pentagon plans to withdraw all but about 50,000 non-combat troops by the end of August.

There is no way of knowing the exact number of overseas contractors working for the U.S., or precisely how many have been killed or injured.

A 2008 law requires agencies to track information about overseas contractors, including statistics on casualties, but that database is not complete, John Hutton of the Government Accountability Office told Congress in March. Also, the Labor Department figures may underestimate the number of contractors killed because some firms, particularly subcontractors, may not report those casualties.

The contractors provide a wide range of services, including building U.S.-funded reconstruction projects, guarding civilian officials and cooking meals for American troops. Deaths and injuries reported to the Labor Department include both war-related casualties such as from roadside bombs and other work-related incidents such as vehicle crashes.

Contractors’ survivors receive weekly payments equal to as much as two-thirds of the deceased’s pay up to $64,740 per year. Disabled workers can get up to two-thirds of their previous wages, subject to the same cap.

You may comment here regarding ” receiving”  these weekly payments

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

Cerberus Capital Management expected to buy defense contractor DynCorp International of Falls Church

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 12, 2010

Cerberus Capital Management, a New York-based private investment firm, is expected to buy DynCorp International of Falls Church in a deal worth roughly $1.5 billion.

DynCorp, a publicly traded defense contractor, said in a news release Monday that its board of directors will recommend that stockholders approve the transaction. Under the deal, stockholders will receive $17.55 in cash for each share of DynCorp common stock. Cerberus is financing the deal with equity and debt from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup Global Markets, Barclays Bank PLC and Deutsche Bank Securities.

“I believe that under this partnership with Cerberus, DynCorp International will be able to build on our extensive heritage and successful performance to continue to achieve our growth objectives,” said William L. Ballhaus, president and chief executive of DynCorp. “This transaction is a major milestone for DynCorp International’s continued leadership in serving our customers and supporting U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives.”

Timothy F. Price, managing director at Cerberus, said in a statement that the deal “underscores our successful track record in the government services sector and furthers our goal of continuing to grow our portfolio in this area.”

DynCorp specializes in police training, security and logistics work overseas, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has roughly 30,000 employees worldwide

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DynCorp shareholders profit well on proposed sale

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 12, 2010

Cerberus to take defense contractor DynCorp private in $1 billion deal

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) – DynCorp International, which has helped train the national police in Afghanistan, said Monday that it is being bought out by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management for $1 billion.

A recent decision to shift control of the training program from the State Department to the military may end a contract that DynCorp has held since 2003.

The company is challenging the decision.

DynCorp shareholders will receive $17.55 in cash for each share, a premium of 49 percent from Friday’s closing price of $11.75. The deal also includes debt that pushes its total value to $1.5 billion.

Under the terms of the deal announced Monday, DynCorp has 28 days to solicit proposals from other companies.

Shares of DynCorp International Inc. soared $5.72, or 49 percent, to $17.47.

DynCorp provides services such as aviation support in Iraq to helping flood victims in the U.S. It has contracts in Kuwait and Afghanistan.

Two possible drug-related deaths in Afghanistan by two contractors has raised concerns about how well the company selects and manages employees assigned to a police training contract that is considered key as the U.S. looks to hand over more of the security burden to the Afghans.  Story here

Posted in Contractor Casualties and Missing, Dyncorp | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Joshua Munn’s, Jon Cote’s, John Young’s families sue State Dept

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 24, 2010

Anderson man’s family sues over his torture death in Iraq

“Basically, the mentality of the Secretary of State seems to be that if the United States loses a member of the United States military, then the loss becomes a relevant statistic on the ‘War on Terror,’

but when the United States loses a contractor . . . then there is no accounting for the loss of life. . . .

As a result, the true cost in lives and money of the ‘War on Terror’ is understated.”

The father and stepmother of an Anderson private security contractor who was abducted in Iraq, held for ransom and later tortured and beheaded have sued officials at the U.S. State Department alleging that the nation’s policy of not negotiating with terrorists hindered their efforts to save their son.

In a lawsuit filed this week in U.S. Eastern District Court in Sacramento, Mark and Christa Munns allege that State Department officials kept them in the dark about the months-long kidnapping investigation and then blocked the family’s efforts to negotiate with the kidnappers.

Joshua Munns, along with four other private security contractors, was taken hostage on Nov. 16, 2006 after the convoy they were guarding was ambushed by a group of masked and armed men at a fake checkpoint near the southern Iraqi city of Safwan.

Before becoming a contractor, Munns, 23, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2001 to 2005 and served two tours in Iraq as a scout and sniper.

The lawsuit also questions United States government’s definition of the word “terrorist” and the “War on Terror,” and is scathingly critical of the nation’s reliance on private security contractors to fight America’s battles and then refusing to support them when they’re kidnapped, injured or killed.

“Basically, the mentality of the Secretary of State seems to be that if the United States loses a member of the United States military, then the loss becomes a relevant statistic on the ‘War on Terror,’ but when the United States loses a contractor . . . then there is no accounting for the loss of life. . . . As a result, the true cost in lives and money of the ‘War on Terror’ is understated.”

Mark and Christa Munns filed the suit with the family members of two of the other abducted contractors, John Cote and John Young.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Jennifer Foo, the families’ State Department liaison during the kidnapping investigation, were named in the suit as codefendants.

Clinton was appointed to Secretary of State after Barack Obama was elected president. During the Munns hostage situation, Condoleezza Rice was Secretary of State under President Bush.

The suit demands the government pay the families their children’s life insurance benefits, since the contractors were working for the government at the time.

Crescent Security, the firm for which Munns and the other contracters worked, hasn’t paid any death benefits to the families, the suit alleges.

The suit also seeks an injunction stopping the U.S. government from giving private military forces “complete impunity” to operate free from U.S. and Iraqi laws. The suit says that is a violation of the U.S. Constitution and led to “a free fire zone” in which contractors were free to open fire without repercussions.

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State will hire contractor to supervise contractors

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 23, 2010

By Robert Brodsky rbrodsky@govexec.com March 23, 2010

The State Department plans to hire a personal services contractor to help supervise a private security company photographed last year hosting rowdy, alcohol-fueled parties near the American Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

In response to questions from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, Ambassador Eric Boswell said State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security is in the process of selecting and hiring a personal services contractor that will reside at Camp Sullivan, just outside the embassy. A Diplomatic Security special agent currently oversees the camp.

Personal services contractors are hired directly by the government, as opposed to a third-party contractor, under competitive appointments or other procedures required by the civil service laws

Boswell said the new contractor will have a direct role in supervising employees for ArmorGroup North America, which holds the contract to provide security at the embassy, where about 1,000 Afghan nationals, American staffers and diplomats are stationed. The contractor will “further augment the [regional security officer’s] contract oversight responsibilities,” wrote Boswell, who is assistant secretary of State for diplomatic security.

A separate personal services contractor will be hired to oversee contract employees from Triple Canopy, which maintains a contract to guard the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.

“The personnel must have experience in managing overseas protective security programs; experience in high threat locations (preferably); and experience in contractual issues related to security operations and regulations governing the use of private security contractors,” Boswell wrote in his March 1 response to the Contracting Oversight subcommittee.

The chairwoman of the subcommittee was fast to criticize State’s decision.

“I am concerned that the steps taken by the department may not go far enough to ensure that there is sufficient transparency, accountability and oversight of the contract,” wrote Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in a March 19 letter to Patrick Kennedy, undersecretary for management at State. “In particular, I am troubled by the decision to employ a contractor to provide contract oversight for the department.”

McCaskill requested additional information about the plan as well as details of ArmorGroup’s contract deficiencies.

In September 2009, photographs surfaced of ArmorGroup workers at raucous parties at Camp Sullivan. Allegations involved hazing of new employees, sexually harassing Afghan nationals, failing to supply an adequate number of guards, misuse of private property and bringing a prostitute onto the base.

The State Department fired 10 ArmorGroup employees who appeared in the photographs and announced shortly thereafter that it would not exercise the third option year of the firm’s contract, which expires on July 1. State plans to solicit bids on a new contract for the guard services.

But, in his letter to McCaskill, Boswell conceded that “due to the complexity of the requirements” it will be necessary to extend ArmorGroup’s performance for up to six months “to allow for an orderly transition between contractors.” The cost of the extension will be $3.7 million per month, he said.

“The department will continue to maintain a schedule of quarterly program management reviews, meet weekly with AGNA management in Kabul and in Washington, and carefully document and require corrective action for all contract compliance deficiencies,” Boswell wrote.

Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, the watchdog group that released the photos of the ArmorGroup parties, said it appeared State might not have learned from its past mistakes.

“We’re distressed that the lesson that the State Department has learned from their poor management of this contract is that they need to rely on a contractor to improve their oversight of their embassy security contractor,” Brian said.

State plans to employ more than 400 direct-hire government personnel to augment the surge of military and civilian forces in Afghanistan, Boswell said. The department will assign 180 of the new hires to the embassy in Kabul, including 56 new guard positions under the ArmorGroup contract.

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DynCorp Took Uncle Sam for Millions For a Nonexistent Database, Man Says

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 22, 2010

DALLAS (CN) – A DynCorp International executive says he was fired for complaining that the company charged the State Department millions of dollars for a database that did not exist. The 2004 contract awarded DynCorp $1 million to build a database of Americans trained in law enforcement who were willing to go to Afghanistan or Iraq at a moment’s notice, and $1 million a year to maintain it, Michael Riddle claims in Federal Court.      Riddle claims the database was never built. And he says that “During the last few years of plaintiff’s employment, the fact that the database was a nonentity was commonly discussed in plaintiff’s department.”
He adds that “DynCorp took the State Department’s money and never made a glancing blow toward producing or maintaining any type of database that was required by contract.
“Additionally, senior company executives, such as Aiman Zureikat and Richard Cashon, readily acknowledged that they were using funds that were earmarked as CADRE payments for other company expenses, such as recruiting.”
Riddle, who began as a technical adviser, says he was a senior employment manager when he was fired after voicing concerns about possible criminal consequences for using his work to fool the government.
Riddle says he kept his own database to track recruits sent to the Police Assessment, Selection and Training facility in Fredericksburg, Va. He tracked how many people washed out, and why, and who advanced out of the facility, according to his complaint.
In 2007, Riddle says, the State Department demanded use of the database. He adds that in 2008, his bosses at DynCorp approached him about using his personal database, and pawning off his work as work that was supposed to have been done for the government’s database.
“When plaintiff protested, plaintiff was reminded that plaintiff needed to be a team player,” his complaint states.
Riddle says he “has since learned that a responsible party at the State Department allowed DynCorp to avoid its contractual obligation to create the database. On information and belief, the State Department advised DynCorp that any data that it could cobble together would be sufficient to constitute compliance.”
Riddle claims that this “scheme was designed to (1) cover up DynCorp’s fraud in failing to do anything toward creation of the database; (2) as well as calculate to provide ‘cover’ for the State Department employee who had allowed the database project to languish and essentially become either impossible or impracticable to reconstruct.”
Riddle seeks damages for retaliation under the False Claims Act. He is represented by Steve Kardell with Clouse Dunn Khoshbin of Dallas.  Original Story at Courthouse News

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Harold Brown Jr, State Dept Contractor?, killed in CIA Khost bombing

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 1, 2010

Details Emerge on Victims of Afghan Blast

One victim was publicly identified: Harold Brown Jr., a 37-year-old native of Bolton, Mass., whose wife and three children live in the Washington suburb of Fairfax Station, Va. Mr. Brown appears to have been a relatively new CIA recruit, but had worked for several years in military intelligence or for contractors.

Bolton Mother recalls son killed in Afghanistan Suicide Bombing

Harold Brown Jr., 37, was in the US base in Khost, Afghanistan, Wednesday when a terrorist evaded security and detonated a bomb, killing eight Americans. Today, the CIA and President Obama acknowledged that seven of those killed were CIA agents. No one would say who employed the eighth American.

Brown’s mother, Barbara Brown, said in a telephone interview today that her son told her he worked for the State Department. She said he had been deployed to Afghanistan since April, and that he was formerly an Army officer who specialized in military intelligence.

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Eight US Civilians Killed in Afghanistan Blast

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 30, 2009

Eight U.S. Civilians Killed in Afghanistan Blast (Update1)

Update Dec 31 9pm

The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA employees at a remote base in south-eastern Afghanistan was being courted as an informant and had been invited onto the base, according to a report.

Update Dec 31 7pm

Eva Golinger: At least eight US citizens were killed on a CIA operations base in Afghanistan on Wednesday … a suicide bomber infiltrated Forward Operating Base (FOL) Chapman located in the eastern province of Khost, which was a CIA center of operations and surveillance. Official sources in Washington have confirmed that the eight dead were all civilian employees and CIA contractors.

Fifteen days ago, five US citizens working for a US government contractor, Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), were also killed in an explosion at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) office in Gardez. That same day, another bomb exploded outside the DAI offices in Kabul, although no serious injuries resulted.

Update Dec 31  11 am

The bomber struck inside what one U.S. official described as the fitness center of the heavily guarded U.S.-run post, which serves as an operations and surveillance center for the CIA.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack and said the bomber was an Afghan National Army officer who had decided to join insurgents in attacking the United States.

Update 10pm Rueters

U.S. officials said the dead Americans — killed in a suicide bombing on a military base in southeastern Khost province on Wednesday — were CIA agents.

Update 8pm fromUPI

9 die in CIA facility blast in Afghanistan

Eight people were wounded, several seriously, in the explosion, officials said. Several sources confirmed to the Post the deceased and wounded were civilians, adding that most likely were CIA employees or contractors.

Update 5pm from UPI

While all of the dead were reported to be Americans, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan said none were soldiers and the attack was not on a military base, but at a facility tied to the U.S. Embassy.

December 30, 2009, 03:30 PM EST

Original at Bloomberg

By Tony Capaccio

Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) — Eight U.S. civilians were killed today in a blast at an American military base in Afghanistan, a Pentagon spokeswoman said.

Lieutenant Colonel Almarah Belk said the explosion took place at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province. Belk said she didn’t know what installations or agencies are located at the base.

The U.S. has been expanding the ranks of civilian aid experts in Afghanistan in parallel with the surge of military reinforcements aimed at the Taliban insurgency.

NATO forces spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Todd Vician said the nature of the explosion is being investigated. The Associated Press cited a U.S. official in Washington as saying the Americans were killed by an attacker wearing a suicide-bomb vest.

Khost is located in eastern Afghanistan, along the border with Pakistan

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