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Burn-pit claimants will appeal judge’s dismissal

Patricia Kime – (Air Force Times) – June 4, 2013 – Attorneys representing former troops and family members who say they were sickened by exposure to open-air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan are appealing a judge’s dismissal of their cases.

Alexandria, Va., lawyer Susan Burke and attorneys from the South Carolina firm Motley & Rice filed an appeal Wednesday arguing that Maryland U.S. District Court Judge Roger Titus’s decision in February to toss out 57 consolidated lawsuits filed against KBR, Inc., was “non-justifiable.”

Titus ruled Feb. 28 that as a government contractor working in a war zone, KBR was entitled to the same legal protection and immunity as U.S. armed forces operating in combat. He also argued that the court did not have jurisdiction to rule on decisions made by another branch of government.

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DoJ warns of fallout in Army-KBR contract dispute

Jim McElhatton – (Federal Times) – June 4, 2013 – The outcome of a court battle between the Army and KBR over the final stages of LOGCAP III, the largest government services contract in U.S. history, could affect tens of thousands of federal contracts while creating “enormous uncertainty” for vendors and the government alike, according to the Justice Department.

The warning, delivered in the footnote of a recent U.S. Court of Federal Claims pleading, marks the latest development in a dispute to decide how to close out the 12-year-old, $38 billion military logistics contract supporting military operations in Iraq.

While the Army has pushed to change the LOGCAP III pricing structure to a firm, fixed-price basis, KBR has sued to keep the closeout work under the existing cost-reimbursable arrangement. Read the remainder of this entry »

We Served Too: Remembering Civilian Sacrifices Made on Behalf of Country and Honoring Those Who Serve Alongside the Military in Conflict Zones

Anne Speckhard – (Huffington Post) – May 28, 2013 – This Memorial Day all Americans send a heartfelt salute to all those warriors who fought and died so gallantly in recent and far off wars in behalf of our freedoms and safety.  On behalf of those who died, we can never thank them or their families enough for the ultimate sacrifice they made for our country. Alongside that salute we now also need to begin to honor the oft forgotten civilians who also serve in war and high threat security environments alongside the military, supporting their efforts and working in concert with them — especially all those civilians who served in the two recent U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — as many civilian workers have also lost their lives while serving our country.

While we don’t often remember the sacrifices of civilian workers in conflict zones, or have a holiday to commemorate their service, we do need to honor that they too serve their country.

A little known fact is that in September 2007 there were more contractors in Iraq than combat troops.  According to a 2013 report of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) reports that, “In September 2007, the United States had more than 170,000 combat personnel in Iraq as part of the counterinsurgency operation, with more than 171,000 contractors supporting the mission.”  These contractors are credited in the report for supporting “the counterinsurgency mission in unstable, yet strategically significant, areas such as Baghdad, Anbar, and Babylon provinces.”

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Callous Indifference From Military Contractor in Iraq, Family Says

Cameron Langford - (Courthouse News) – Houston - April 29, 2013 - A military contractor in Iraq shipped a worker’s body home in pieces, without the heart, then after “painful negotiations” but “no apology,” tried to charge his family for shipping home the heart, the family claims in court.

In addition to the insult and agony, the family of the late Chuck L. Doherty claims, the company made it impossible to collect on life insurance because of the mutilation of the body and the missing heart.

Doherty’s family sued his employers, FrontierMEDEX, and Pacific Architects and Engineers dba PAE Group, in Harris County Court.

FrontierMEDEX is a logistics company that provides “proactive medical, safety and security solutions” for clients around the world, according to its website.

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KBR vs. Army: On largest services contract, ‘things have gotten very nasty’

Jim McElhatton – (Federal Times) – May 5, 2013 – Army contracting officer Robert Egan gave contractor KBR Inc. a rare ultimatum: Provide a firm, fixed price on remaining work to close out the largest government services contract in U.S. history. Or else, he added, he was finished talking.

“Until I see that FFP deliverable, I cannot enter further communication exchanges with your contracts team,” Egan told the company in a Feb. 26 email.

At issue is the final stage of the Army’s $38 billion Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) III, the 12-year-old logistics contract that has supported virtually all U.S. military logistics operations in Iraq. The Army seeks to revise the pricing terms on the final work to be done on the contract to be firm, fixed price instead of cost-reimbursable. In response, KBR has filed a lawsuit seeking to keep to the existing cost-reimbursable terms.

At stake in the dispute is far more than varying interpretations of contracting procedures. By its own estimates, KBR says the closeout work on the contract will cost more than $500 Read the remainder of this entry »