Firm Run by Ex-Israeli Special Forces Soldier Wants U.S. Security Contracts in Jerusalem, Iraq, Afghanistan
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The Obama administration has continued the Bush-era reliance on private contractors to sustain the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the U.S. operations in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, Obama has surpassed Bush’s reliance on contractors with current contractor levels surpassing 100,000 Defense Department contractors deployed. In Iraq, Obama has maintained the long-standing ratio of one contractor to every US soldier.
General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan/Pakistan, said recently that he believes the U.S. has "created in ourselves a dependency on contractors that is greater than it ought to be." He added: "I think it doesn’t save money. I actually think it would be better to reduce the number of contractors involved, increase the number of military if necessary."
Despite such proclamations, the pattern of dependence on contractors is continuing unabated -- and not just within the Department of Defense.
[Last] week the U.S. State Department posted a solicitation for armed private security contractors to deploy in “critical or higher than critical threat areas” globally under its Worldwide Protective Services program. Among the firms that have held these contracts are Blackwater, DynCorp, Triple Canopy and ArmorGroup. ArmorGroup was exposed last year by whistleblowers for a range of misconduct at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Among the actions revealed by the Project on Government Oversight were hazing rituals involving nudity and heavy drinking that at times included personnel urinating on each other. The whistleblowers alleged that ArmorGroup personnel created a general atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Last December, following POGO’s revelations, the State Department said it was phasing out ArmorGroup.
In its solicitation for contract bids this week, the State Department says it will hire as many as six "qualified U.S. firms" for "anticipated and unanticipated personal protective, static guard, and emergency response" functions. The contracts are slated to last one year with the potential for four, year-long options.
To qualify for the contracts, security companies must have a total annual value of at least $15 million in security contracts and must possess a valid "Final Secret Facility Security Clearance." After the contracts are awarded, the State Department says that it will then sponsor the contractor for "Top Secret Facility Clearance." In addition, bidding companies must have at least two years of experience operating in "austere and hostile environments overseas" such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq and experience in "operating long term personal protective security details for executive level dignitaries." The solicitation indicates that the work will include "a static guard and emergency response team requirement in Baghdad, Iraq, a static guard and emergency response team requirement in Kabul, Afghanistan, and a personal protective security service requirement in Jerusalem."
Among the companies listed as “interested vendors” to bid on the contracts are the predictable list of industry giants: L-3 Services, SAIC, USIS, Northrop Grumman, and DynCorp. Two lesser-known firms in particular that have expressed interest in the contracts jump out: Instinctive Shooting International and Evergreen International Aviation.
Hiring Instinctive Shooting International for any type of armed contract in a Muslim country, particularly to operate in Jerusalem with a stamp of US government legitimacy, should be cause for serious concern and Congressional inquiry. Instinctive Shooting International (ISI) was founded by Hanan Yadin, a former member of the Israel National Counter-Terrorism Agency and a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces. According to his bio [PDF], Hanan "received advanced training at the Israeli Anti-Terror Academy and served as an instructor at the Israeli Military Intelligence Academy. As part of a Special Ops unit he executed high-risk missions against terrorist's cells. Hanan is an expert marksman and has completed advanced training in crisis response, Krav Maga (the Israeli unarmed fighting system), urban warfare and tactical operations."
I encountered ISI operatives, all former Israeli soldiers, manning an armed check-point in New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. At the time, in 2005, its website described ISI's personnel as "veterans of the Israeli special task forces from the following Israeli government bodies: Israel Defense Force (IDF), Israel National Police Counter Terrorism units, Instructors of Israel National Police Counter Terrorism units, General Security Service (GSS or 'Shin Beit'), Other restricted intelligence agencies."