If you have spent any time in a war zone then you have run across them . . . or perhaps . . . you are one of them. We are talking about contractors in a war zone. Sometimes as you walk around the compound or large FOB you see them. The contractor or actually . . . lots of them. And you wonder what do all these contractors do? Do they really make all the outlandish and sinful money that everyone says? Many times - based on their demeanor and dress - you tend to categorize the contractors into tidy little groups. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. Read one humorous article about how to neatly arrange the contractors in a war zone based on dress and demeanor in "The 6 Types of Contractors You Encounter Overseas", Task & Purpose, September 28, 2016.
Sunday, October 2, 2016
Sunday, December 13, 2015
"The Breadwinner". An Afghan film is receiving support from the American actress Angelina Jolie. (Khaama Press, Dec 6, 2015).
Moscow: From Kabul to Damascus. Ryan Evans reviews the history of the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and puts the Russian intervention in Syria today in perspective. He says not to worry but keep a careful eye on the big bad bear. See his (very long) analysis in "Moscow's Clients From Kabul to Damascus: Strength and Strategy in International Politics", War on the Rocks, December 9, 2015.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). The new catch-word for those fighting terrorism is CVE. Some are discrediting it as a flawed concept while others say that it gets to the root causes of terrorism. The term is also a factor in the political arena as well. Shannon N. Green, a senior fellow and director of the Human Rights Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. provides her perspective on CVE in Preventing Violent Extremism: Promise and Pitfalls, CSIS, December 2, 2015.
Divisions Within the Taliban? Recent reports of shooting of Taliban leader reveals serious divisions within the Taliban. See "The Implications of the Taliban Shootout", The Diplomat, December 9, 2015.
Afghan Health Gains? Questionable. Rod Nordland of the NYT writes that the reported gains in health care for women in Afghanistan are under scrutiny. Read "Reported Gains in Afghan Maternal Health Are Found to Be Implausible", The New York Times, December 4, 2015.
PTSD and War Contractors. "Despite increased rates of post-traumatic stress among private contractors, little has been discussed about prevention and treatment. More and more contractors entering into combat environments are experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress when they return home". See "Why We Should Be Talking About Military Contractors With PTSD", Task & Purpose, December 9, 2015.
Time to Leave Afghanistan? Tom Mockaitis, an international security analyst and military historian, thinks the time has arrived to adjust our strategy and objectives. (The Huffington Post, December 26, 2015).
Dismal Mood in Kabul. A writer compares his visit to Kabul in 2008 with a more recent visit. The situation for many of the city residents is not hopeful. Almost everyone knows someone who has fled to Europe. Read more in "Desperation Rules Afghanistan", by Sanjay Kumar, The Diplomat, December 10, 2015.
Looking at Afghanistan Conundrum. Dr. Manoj Kuma Mishra, the program coordinator of the School of International Studies at Ravenshaw University in India provides his thoughts on Afghanistan in "Evolving a Coordinated Response to the Afghan Conundrum", Eurasia Review, December 10, 2015.
SSR, Gender Equality, and Local Ownership. ". . . it is increasingly recognized that mainstreaming gender issues and promoting gender equality in SSR programming is essential to success and is a key factor in developing meaningful local ownership." Read more about gender issues and Security Sector Reform (SSR) in "Security Sector Reform and the Paradoxical Tension between Local Ownership and Gender Equality", Security Sector Reform Resource Centre, December 2015.
Research on Women and Terrorism. Laura Sjoberg has penned an essay entitled The Women of Daesh: Thinking about a Decade of Research on Women, Gender, and Terrorism, E-International Relations, December 6, 2015.
General Order No. 1. Time to Update this asinine regulation. Finally a dose of common sense from an observer! While all our allies in Afghanistan can have a brew or two daily members of the American military can only look on with envy. Read "Reevaluating General Order 1X", Small Wars Journal, December 5, 2015.
Saturday, January 10, 2015
DynCorp International has been contracted by the U.S. Army to provide advisory and other support services to Afghanistan in the training of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. There are two separate contracts - one for the police and one for the army. The contracts are for a nine-month base period of performance with two three-month options. The two contracts have a total value in excess of $100 million. Read more in "DynCorp International selected for training support in Afghanistan", UPI, January 9, 2015.
Thursday, January 8, 2015
A-T Solutions has won the NATO Resolute Support Mission contract to provide advisory and assistance services to support the Resolute Support Combined Joint Staff 7 - Training and Exercises section. This is more informally known as RSM CJ-7 TREX. The company will develop, design and present field training material and course to ISAF/RS advisors on advisory skills, cultural awareness, insider threat, security force assistance (SFA) and other subjects. Read more in a news release at Business Wire, January 7, 2015.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Edinburgh International (EI), a security firm based in the United Kingdom, has posted an extensive security analysis of the Kabul area for those contractors, ex-patriots, and NGO types that are living in guesthouses or on contractor compounds. There has been a recent uptick in Taliban attacks in Kabul in the fall of 2014 and many of these attacks are against the foreigners working in the Kabul area. The analysis provided by EI reviews the guest house attacks that have taken place for the purpose of developing common insurgent tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) and best practice mitigation and control measures. The documents provide key findings, background of insurgent attacks, data on frequency of attacks, locations of attacks, trend analysis, and case studies.
Friday, November 21, 2014
The Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) and the NATO Status of Forces Agreement will cover the military personnel who will work in Afghanistan post-December 2014. Essentially, the military will have immunity from prosecution by the corrupt Afghan judicial system. Not so much for contractors. Contractors will be subject to Afghan criminal and civil jurisdiction while operating in Afghanistan. Contractor employees may only carry weapons in accordance with Afghan laws and regulations. All contractors will be required to have passports and visas to enter and exit Afghanistan The two links below will bring you to more information released by ISAF on November 17, 2014.
A foreign workers compound located in Kabul called "Green Village" was attacked by the Taliban. Four Taliban suicide bombers lost their lives in the attack. It was the second attack on foreign workers within a week time span. The Taliban tried to break into the compound by detonating a car packed with explosives at the entrance of the compound but they were unsuccessful in breaching the housing complex. The compound was targeted in October 2013 and in May 2012. The 2012 attacked killed seven guards and several civilians. Read more in "Afghan attack: Foreign worker's compound targeted in Kabul", BBC, November 19,m 2014.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Linda Robinson reviews a book entitled The Future of Blackwater and Other Guns for Hire by Anne Hagedorn. The book is in two parts. The first provides background information on the rise of the private security firms on the battlefield (spending a little too much time on the few instances of wayward behavior). The second part of the book delves into the operational need and financial benefits of using contractors. Read the book review here.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
It appears that the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) signed by President Ghani will provide protection to U.S. firms and contractors who are providing services to the Department of Defense or other U.S. agencies. Read more in "Bilateral Security Agreement Could Mean Afghan Tax Relief for U.S. Contractors", The National Law Review, October 13, 2014.
Friday, September 26, 2014
A recent paper published in Parameters contemplates the role of contractors in a war zone and the adverse effects the use of contractors has on the military. In what seems to be a paper aimed at discrediting the role of contractors (security and otherwise) the author advances the argument that the military can do the job just as well as contractors and at no greater cost if properly resourced (don't draw down the force too much). In addition he questions the legality of the use of contractors by pointing to isolated events like Nisoor Square (Iraq) - (there is no mention of the massacre in Panjwai district, Afghanistan by a U.S. Soldier). He also states that the professionalism of the military is at stake (at least I think that is what he is getting at) because the contractors are competing with the military. Hmmmm. You can read his paper "Military Professionalism & Private Military Contractors", Parameters, 44 (2) Summer 2014, by Scott L. Efflandt, pages 49-60.
Monday, February 10, 2014
Two civilian contractors (reportedly Americans) were killed in a vehicle borne IED or VBIED in the Kabul area on Monday. The attack took place near the country's largest detention center in eastern Kabul. See the official news release in "ISAF Casualty", ISAF News, February 10, 2014. In a separate report (but possibly describing the same incident) three advisers were reported killed in the center of Kabul. Read more in "Three advisers killed in blast near center in Kabul", Stars and Stripes, February 10, 2014. There is a little confusion on the number of contractors - whether it was two or three. Here is an update from Stars and Stripes.
Friday, January 24, 2014
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Sunday, February 12, 2012
There are more civilian contractors working in Afghanistan than there are American Soldiers serving there. More civilian contractors working for American companies than American Soldiers died in Afghanistan in 2011. These contractor deaths do not get much press for a couple of reasons. Many of the contractors are Third Country Nationals (TCNs). Those firms that do lose contractors with U.S. citizenship do not have the same reporting requirements as when a military member dies. Read more in "Risks of Afghan War Shift From Soldiers to Contractors", The New York Times, February 11, 2012.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
ATCO Structures and Logistics has been awarded a contract to provide support and utility services to NATO at the Kandahar Airfield. They will handle life support systems at the base. Read more in "ATCO Wins NATO Contract for Military Camp Support Services at Kandahar Airport", American Consumer News, December 1, 2010.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
"More private contractors than soldiers were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent months, the first time in history that corporate casualties have outweighed military losses on America’s battlefields. More than 250 civilians working under U.S. contracts died in the war zones between January and June 2010, according to a ProPublica analysis of the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Labor, which tracks contractor deaths. In the same period, 235 soldiers died, according to Pentagon figures."Read more in "This Year, Contractor Deaths Exceed Military Ones in Iraq and Afghanistan", ProPublica, September 23, 2010.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have provided huge profits to those firms willing to operate in a war zone. These firms are needed and provide services, support, and construction to U.S. forces fighting in the two countries. However, it is well-known that the U.S. military has botched the contract awarding process and big and small firms alike have taken advantage of this. Many times the U.S. can't do much about it - as in the case of the construction firm called the Louis Berger Group. Read more in "Though under a cloud, U.S. contractor in Afghanistan reaps billions", The Miami Herald, September 20, 2010.