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The Uncounted Contractor Casualties

David IsenbergThe PMSC Observer & Huffington Post

Author, Shadow Force: Private Security Contractors in Iraq (Praeger Security International)

Of all the things said and written about private military and security contractors working for the U.S. government in various war zones one of the least discussed is the sacrifices they make. And like regular military forces they also pay the ultimate sacrifice, as in dying. Unlike regular military personnel their deaths rarely get any notice, aside from a company press release and a few paragraphs in the hometown newspaper. (click HERE for Fallen Contractors Memorial at American Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan)

Their sacrifices are so unrecognized that if Washington, D.C. were to build yet another war memorial on the mall The Tomb of the Unknown Contractor would have to be considered a viable candidate for selection. To paraphrase the old saw about regular military forces, one might say in regard to recognition of contractors wounded and killed, “nothing is too good for our contractors so that’s what we’ll give them. Nothing.”

Admittedly there is slightly better recognition of the wounded and dead contractors than when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and Iraq but that is not saying a whole lot.  There simply has not been much detailed analysis of this subject. That is why a recent paper strongly deserved attention. It is Dead Contractors: The Un-Examined Effect of Surrogates on the Public’s Casualty Sensitivity by Prof. Steven L. Schooner and student Collin D. Swan, both of the George Washington University Law School,  was recently published in the Journal of National Security Law & Policy.

In the paper they examine the “casualty sensitivity” effect. Economists define this as an inverse relationship exists between the number of military deaths and public support. Currently, most studies suggest that “majorities of the public have historically considered the potential and actual casualties in U.S. wars and military operations to be an important factor in their support.” Read the remainder of this entry »

ANOTHER electrocution death in a shower in Iraq

Exactly 20 months ago today SSG Ryan Maseth was electrocuted and died in his shower at Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Baghdad. Ryan’s mother, Cheryl Harris mounted an all out assault on the DoD for their total lack of control and oversight on KBR’s LOGCAP contract therefore allowing KBR to kill her son. My mistake….the CID disagreed with the DoD Inspector General and thinks it was an accident. Cheryl’s primary concern has always been the safety of the troops and civilians. It’s because of Cheryl that there is a Task Force SAFE and safer living conditions for EVERYONE in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But sadly that that was not enough for the 25 year old male who died of electrocution in a shower on September 1, 2009 at Camp Olympia in the International Zone (Green Zone) in Baghdad, Iraq. Currently that is all the information I have.

I need your help to fill in the blanks for my readers. We need to get the word out before whoever is responsible can sweep this under the rug and make it look like ANOTHER ACCIDENT!! (That was for the CID in Ryan’s case) Here are my questions.

  1. What is the persons name? Adam Hermanson
  2. Was the correct date Sept 1, 2009? Yes
  3. Was this person a Soldier-if so which unit? No.
  4. Was this person a US civilian-if so who did they work for? Triple Canopy
  5. Was this person a Third Country National-if so what country and who did they work for? American
  6. Was this shower in an Ablution Unit (AB Unit), an existing hard structure or trailer housing (CHU or Hooch)? So far all reports say hardstand existing building.
  7. What is the building/trailer number? Still need this
  8. Who had the Operations & Maintenance (O&M) contract-KBR, Inglett & Stubbs or someone else? Still need this
  9. Has this facility been inspected by Task Force SAFE? If so when? There was an after accident investigation. Still unclear if this building was was inspected prior to this incident or was on the deferred list.
  10. If it has been inspected by TFS who did the repairs? KBR, Inglett & Stubbs or someone else? Still unkown
  11. Are there any outstanding repairs to be done? Still unkown
  12. Have there been any service orders or complaints about shocks in this facility? Still unkown

I’m sure more questions will come up but I think that’s it for now. If you have information other than what is asked for send it as well. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment to this post click HERE to send me an email. Anonymous is OK. I will make sure all information gets to the appropriate investigators.

I do believe this is the second electrocution in the International Zone (Green Zone).  Andy Barsamian was the first. He was an Armenian TCN/FN electrician who worked for KBR in the Green Zone at Camp Prosperity (D-2). He was electrocuted and died on November 13, 2005. If you have any information about Andy’s death or information about any other electrocution deaths or serious shock injuries please contact me.

Ms Sparky

UPDATE:  Click HERE for the most recent blog post and media coverage on this incident.

DOD IG Report on 17 Electrocution Deaths

Here is the DoD Inspector General Report Entitled “Review of Electrocution Deaths in Iraq:  Part II – Seventeen Incidents Apart from  Staff Sergeant Ryan D. Maseth, U.S. Army” dated July 24, 2009

Report No. IPO2009E001 .pdf 1.7 MB

You can also get it from the DoD IG website.

I have not had time to read this report, but here is a VERY brief summary based on media reports.

Nine of 18 electrocution deaths reported in Iraq were caused by “improper grounding or faulty equipment,” including the January 2008 death of Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, the Defense Department’s inspector-general found.

Investigations remain open in five of those cases, according to a summary of the report obtained by the AP.

As soon as I get more I will let you know.

Ms Sparky