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Look who’s whining now, the “chilling effects” of Pentagon budget cuts

USG Contractor

The war in Iraq is over and the war in Afghanistan is winding down. The United States is inching its way out of the worst recession in history. The one industry that has continued to thrive, while everyone else has held on fearing for their future, is the defense industry. During the political divisions, or maybe diversions is a more accurate term, within both the House and Senate, the lobbyists have seen to it their fat cat clients are untouchable.

Now, the gravy train is slowly coming to a stop and a sense panic appears to be descending on the corner offices of DoD contractors everywhere.

The prospect of budget cuts is having a “chilling effect” on the defense industry and companies such as Lockheed may stop hiring and training, Stevens, chairman and chief executive of the world’s largest defense contractor, said today at a conference in Washington. ~ Automatic Pentagon Cuts Must Be Stopped, Lockheed Chief Says

I am certain I’m not the first to say this, “It is about f’ing time these companies got off the taxpayer’s teat.” Read the remainder of this entry »

Grounds for debarment or too big to fail?

Suspend a Big Government Contractor. “Too big to fail” is a term thrown around the financial world quite a bit these days, but apparently it applies to the government contracting industry as well. As it stands right now, there are large contractors that would never make it on the suspended or debarred list, simply because they do so much business with the government. There are a few examples of large contractors being suspended for a short period of time, but never anything that leaves a mark. If this administration really wants to make a stand on contracting ethics, it would give a serious suspension to a large contractor that commits a violation to show that no company is above the law. ~Government Contractors Gaming The System, Ethisphere

POGO has recently posted  two articles with more details on the latest procurement fraud scandal to hit the defense contracting industry, this time it is Booz Allen Hamilton on the hot-seat.  Before you click on those links, let’s take a trip back in time to February 2009.

Almost three years ago to the day of the Booz Allen incident another similar incident came to light which resulted in a mere slap on the wrist for the offending contractor and their program manager, who also happened to be a retired military officer.
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Neil Gordon: Two Former Watchdogs Ring in the New Year on the Other Side of the Revolving Door

NEIL GORDON – (POGO) – January 5, 2011 – Welcome to another episode of “As the Washington Revolving Door Turns.” The two latest ex-government officials to land jobs with private companies formerly served as very high-profile watchdogs of those companies.

The first revolver is Michael Thibault, former co-chairman and commissioner of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan (CWC). The CWC released its final report in August and officially sunset a month later—with all of its internal records sealed from public view until 2031, unfortunately. Last month, Thibault joined DynCorp International as its vice president of government finance and compliance. Thibault worked for many years at the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), serving as Deputy Director from 1994 until 2005. Between his government postings at the DCAA and CWC, Thibault briefly worked for federal contractors Navigant Consulting and Unisys.

DynCorp, one of the three primary LOGCAP IV contractors, is currently the 32nd largest contractor in POGO’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database. It has nine instances of misconduct since the early 2000s and $19.6 million in penalties. Readers of POGO’s blog are probably familiar with some of DynCorp’s checkered history, as are those who saw the 2010 movie “The Whistleblower”, which was based on the harrowing experiences of former DynCorp employee Kathryn Bolkovac.

Triple Canopy employee Mark Fisher recounts 18 day detainment by Iraqi military

Home at last

Felix Chaudhary – (The Fiji Times) – December 31, 2011 – Mark Fisher is never going back to Iraq. Eighteen days of mental torture at the hands of the Iraqi military and the real threat of being executed at any time still replays through his mind.

Mr Fisher, who was freed by the Iraqi military after US intervention and flew home on Thursday, said he thought his life was over when soldiers ordered him and his team to kneel facing a wall and to put their hands behind their heads.

“I thought, ‘this is it’. The only thoughts going through my head were non-stop prayers. No amount of money is worth going through what happened to me and my team and no amount of training can ever prepare a person for what we experienced,” he said in the safety of his Votualevu home in Nadi yesterday.

Read the remainder of this entry »

Iraqi government detaining foreign civilian contractors with greater frequency

Photo credit: Handout | U.S. Army veteran Alex Antiohos was released after being detained in Iraq since Dec. 9, said Rep. Peter King.

Officially, the US war in Iraq is over. On December 18, 2011, the last of our US war fighters crossed the border into Kuwait and all that remains are approximately 150 U.S. troops attached to training and cooperation missions at the U.S. embassy located in what was once known as the International Zone/Green Zone in Baghdad.

Although the vast majority of civilian contractors have left Iraq, most were employed by KBR under the LOGCAP III contract, there are still 1000’s of Americans, and citizens from other countries still employed in Iraq by US government contractors such as Triple Canopy, Dyncorp International and KBR under its LOGCAP IV contract.

Since US troops began exiting Iraq earlier this year, there has been a disturbing trend regarding civilian contractors. It appears the Iraqi government has been arresting and detaining US contractor employees at will.

Recently three security contractors, US Army veteran Alex Antiohos of West Babylon, New York, National Guardsman Jonas March of Savannah, Georgia, and Mark Fisher of Fiji were released by Iraqi army forces Tuesday after being held since December 9.  They were working for a security firm named Triple Canopy, when Iraqi Ministry of Defense officials rejected paperwork prepared on their behalf by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior. Republican Rep. Peter King of New York and the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security has demanded a full report on the episode.

The New York congressman said he was concerned that U.S. military authorities had not been notified by the U.S. Embassy that the men were being held and that embassy representatives had not visited the men when he learned about it from Antiohos’ wife last week.

“We’re going to have thousands of contractors over there, including many Americans. Can the Iraqis just take them off the street and hold them? This is a terrible precedent. We have to get to the bottom of this,” says King. Read the remainder of this entry »