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Spencer Ackerman – (Danger Room) – November 2, 2012 - Just days after an inspector general report revealed that a giant Pentagon contractor performed “unsatisfactory” work in Afghanistan, the U.S. Air Force awarded the firm another multimillion-dollar pot of cash.
Virginia’s DynCorp, which performs everything from private security to construction for the U.S. military, has re-upped with Air Force to help pilots learn basic flying skills on the T-6A/B Texan II aircraft, a training plane. The deal is only the latest between DynCorp and the Air Force on the Texan II: In June, the Air Force Materiel Command gave the company a deal worth nearly $55 million for training services. The latest one, announced late Thursday, is worth another $72.8 million, and lasts through October 2013.
But the Air Force’s lucrative vote of confidence in DynCorp comes not even a week after the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction blasted the company for performing “unsatisfactory” construction work at an Afghan Army base in Kunduz. The base was “at risk of structural failure” when the watchdogs initially inspected, but the Army Corps of Engineers chose to settle DynCorp’s contract, a move that awarded the company “$70.8 million on the construction contracts and releas[ed] it from any further liabilities and warranty obligation.” (.pdf)
A DynCorp spokeswoman, Ashley Burke, told Bloomberg News that the company disputed the special inspector general’s findings. For its part, the special inspector general took to tweeting photographs of what it called “DynCorp’s failed work at #Afghan #Army Base in #Kunduz.”
John Hudson – (The Atlantic Wire) – August 8, 2012 – America’s least favorite mercenary firm got another black eye on Tuesday when it admitted to key facts behind 17 federal criminal charges. The security contractor Academi LLC, previously known as Xe and even more previously known as Blackwater Worldwide, agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine to settle charges related to arms smuggling and unauthorized possession of automatic weapons. That’s of course on top of a$42 million settlement it reached with the State Department in 2010 for violating the Arms Export Control Act and the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations. So what did these guys allegedly do this time? The Associated Press has the details:
The list of violations includes possessing automatic weapons in the United States without registration, lying to federal firearms regulators about weapons provided to the king of Jordan, passing secret plans for armored personnel carriers to Sweden and Denmark without U.S. government approval and illegally shipping body armor overseas.
In an act of neighborly hospitality, the company also allegedly provided training to the Canadian military without the needed U.S. licenses. Using a catchall term for the company, which keeps changing its name after successive scandals, the FBI’s Chris Briese didn’t mince worlds in court. “For an extended period of time, Academi/Blackwater operated in a manner which demonstrated systemic disregard for U.S. Government laws and regulations,” he said. “Today’s announcement should serve as a warning to others that allegations of wrongdoing will be aggressively investigated.”
U.S. firm linked to civilian deaths hired to train Canadian soldiers
Lee Berthiaume – (Postmedia News) – OTTAWA – March 7, 2012 – An American private security firm whose employees have been implicated in the killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan was paid nearly $2.4 million to train Canadian soldiers last year.
Documents tabled in the House of Commons show Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater, was providing select troops specialized training in precision shooting and defensive driving at the company’s North Carolina facilities.
Other soldiers were trained in bodyguard and close-quarter combat skills.
Not all of the training was done by the company’s staff, the documents say. In many instances, the Canadian Forces supplied its own instructors or simply used the company’s extensive training complex.
The military has had a relationship with the security firm for years; the documents say 605 Canadian soldiers have received training at the company’s North Carolina complex since 2006, as well as an unspecified number of special forces commandos.
This mistrust stems from perceived arrogant behaviour by employees of these firms in the past and various incidents of violence involving them.
The most infamous incident was the 2007 killing of at least 14 civilians in Baghdad’s Nisur Square by gunmen from the Blackwater firm guarding a US embassy convoy.
While Blackwater, now called ACADEMI, was later banned from the country, security contractors still guard US diplomats in Iraq and provide security for various foreign companies.
“Iraq is not looking to expand the security companies’ work here,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in an interview with AFP.
“We feel that Iraq should move to the normal life — we don’t want to see the tens of the security companies taking the job of the ministry of interior.
“Iraq has got a not friendly history with the security companies, especially … Blackwater, and we don’t want to repeat that crisis again. So, we would like to limit their work here in Iraq, but we don’t want to stop them,” Dabbagh said.
The firms “have to understand that … they don’t have free (movement) in the country. They have to follow the instruction, they have to hold the permit, a valid permit, and they are not allowed to violate the Iraqi laws.”
“They are not exempted as before, and they are not getting any sort of immunity,” he said. Read the remainder of this entry »
Problems mount after U.S. troops withdraw from country
Fred Pleitgen – (NECN/CNN) – January 24, 2012 – It’s getting harder for private security contractors to do business in Iraq.
Government officials say the contractors simply have to follow the requirements for any foreigners.