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Barry Lando

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What You Won't Hear Debated: The Trillion-dollar Misunderstanding

Posted: 10/04/2012 11:12 am

It's estimated that, for defense and national security, the U.S. spends about one trillion dollars a year -- which amounts to more than 80 percent of this year's expected deficit.

Mitt Romney is promising to spend even more -- an additional 2.1 trillion dollars over the next ten years. President Obama has called for some cuts, but is loath to challenge the premises that underlie those enormous expenses.

Why the caution? There are too many powerful interests at play -- what President Dwight Eisenhower long ago portrayed as the Military-Industrial complex -- interests sustained by that massive hemorrhage of American treasure. And those interests -- corporations, labor unions, the pentagon, think tanks, politicians -- use their massive clout to keep the torrent flowing.

To get a sense of that endless outflow, check out a site called Danger Zone Jobs. It's aimed at those -- mainly ex-military -- looking for work in America's sprawling "defense" establishment. To that end, the folks running DZJ regularly troll hundreds of major "defense" corporations to produce a list of potential job opportunities.

Barack Obama may talk about ending the surge in Afghanistan, pulling out of Iraq, and so on. But the list of new military contracts being let tells a very different story. 210 major U.S. companies are currently offering jobs in "Afghanistan, Kuwait, and other high risk areas."
On Tuesday, September 25th, 2012, for instance,

L-3 Services Inc., Alexandria, Va., was awarded an $84,420,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. The award will provide for the modification of an existing contract to supply services in support of the Law Enforcement Professionals Program. Work will be performed in Afghanistan.

Comment: But aren't all U.S. troops supposed to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014? Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the U.S. has also quietly given up on one of its major goals in Afghanistan -- "battering the Taliban into a peace deal."

Instead, after having spent 1.2 trillion dollars over the past 12 years, lost 2,000 troops and 17,000 wounded, surged in and surged out:

The once-ambitious American plans for ending the war are now being replaced by the far more modest goal of setting the stage for the Afghans to work out a deal among themselves in the years after most Western forces depart, and to ensure Pakistan is on board with any eventual settlement.

Despite the bleak views of U.S. military and civilians in Afghanistan, the list of new contracts for that country spews on:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Eiden Systems Corp., Charlottesville, Va., was awarded an $8,494,620 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. The award will provide for the necessary services in support of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command. Work will be performed in Charlottesville and Afghanistan. Thursday, September 27, 2012
ECC International L.L.C., Burlington, Calif., was awarded a $13,734,629 firm-fixed-price contract. The award will provide for the construction of three buildings for the Afghanistan National Army.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Serco Inc., Reston, Va., was awarded an $11,396,739 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. The award will provide for the services in support of the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program. Work will be performed in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq.

Then there's Iraq.

American Science and Engineering Inc., Billerica, Mass., was awarded a $20,799,851 firm-fixed-price contract. The award will provide for the contractor logistic support services to the Government of Iraq.

The U.S. may be winding down in Iraq, but they've sure been winding up in neighboring Kuwait. September 27th, 2012 must have seemed like Christmas for defense contractors involved with that tiny country.

Thursday, September 27.

Exelis Systems Corp., Colorado Springs, Colo., was awarded a $434,442,522 cost-plus-award-fee contract. The award will provide for the operations and security support services in Kuwait.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
ManTech Telecommunications and Information Systems Corp. was awarded a $61,077,332 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to procure contractor logistics sustainment support services for Route Clearance Vehicles, Special Operations Command and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Family of Vehicles.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Science Applications International Corp., McLean, Va., was awarded an $82,142,479 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the necessary logistics support across all configurations of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Family of Vehicles.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

VSE Corp Awarded $13.2m for Kuwait MRAP Maintenance and Repair Services VSE Corp., Alexandria, Va., was awarded a $13,210,858 firm-fixed-price and level-of-effort contract. The award will provide for the maintenance and repair services in support of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Family of Vehicles in Kuwait.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Honeywell Technology Solutions Inc is being awarded a not-to-exceed $6,900,718 cost-plus-fixed-fee task order to provide contingency equipment support on various military vehicles. Work will be performed within Kuwait.

But, with more than 1,000 (that's right) American bases spanning the globe outside the U.S. , opportunities are by no means limited to old standbys like Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. Check out the action in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

KBR's wholly-owned subsidiary KBR Federal Services was awarded the U.S. Naval Facilities (NAVFAC) Engineering Command construction contract for the aircraft logistics apron, taxiway enhancement and parking pads upgrade at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

Question: How many millions? Doesn't say.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tetra Tech EC Inc., Lakewood, Colo., is being awarded a $59,030,099 firm-fixed-price construction contract for the design and construction of Bachelor Enlisted Quarters and containerized living units for expeditionary lodging at Camp Lemoniier, Djibouti, Africa.

Hold it! Airfields and bachelor-enlisted quarters. Sounds like they're settling in for a long stay. But you're not really sure where Djibouti is? And you've never heard of Camp Lemoniier? You don't know what CJTF-HOA stands for? (Would Romney or Obama?)

It's the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (HOA). It was set up in 2002 to help rout out possible terrorists in the area -- think Somalia, Yemen, the Sudan -- and, obviously, it's flourishing.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rome Research has been awarded $14.2m for IT Telecommunication Services in support of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and other tenants at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

Question: Other tenants??

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Washington Consulting Group was awarded $7m to augment the staff at Ambouli International Airport in Djibouti, Africa and train personnel in order for them to become certified in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS).

For those of you who thought the U.S. had plunged into a massive undertaking when it invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, just listen to the audacious goals of CJTF_HOA as proclaimed on their website.

CJTF-HOA builds and strengthens partnerships to contribute to security and stability in East Africa. The task force's efforts, as part of a comprehensive whole-of-government approach, are aimed at increasing our African partner nations' capacity to maintain a stable environment, with an effective government that provides a degree of economic and social advancement to its citizens. An Africa that is stable, participates in free and fair markets, and contributes to global economic development is good for the United States as well as the rest of the world. Long Term stability is a vital interest of all nations.

When you start reading their press releases, it's clear that CJTF-HOA is spending America's money on all kinds of diverse activities. Ever heard of VETCAP?

Sep 22, 2012, Fifteen Tanzanian animal healthcare professionals, soldiers from the U.S. Army 448 th Civil Affairs Battalion, and the Joint Civil Affairs Team in Tanzania assigned to Combined Joint Task Force- Horn of Africa came together to participate in a two week Veterinary Civic Action Program, or VETCAP, training session in Mkinga District, Tanzania Sept. 3-14.

Question: Whatever ever happened to the U.S. Agency for International Development? And then there's AFRICOM:

From September 19th to 21st, the folks from CJTF-HOA also took part in a conference attended by 20 military chaplains from the US Africa Comnand (AFRICOM) and nine East African countries, for the third annual AFRICOM-sponsored African Military Chaplain Conference in Djibouti City.

Question? Did everyone get a souvenir coffee mug and T shirt?

Meanwhile in the Central African Republic...also on September 27, 2012:

Evergreen Helicopter Inc was awarded a $10,122,153 firm-fixed-price contract. The award will provide for the transportation services for personnel and equipment. Work will be performed in Central African Republic.

Checking out what the U.S. might be up to in the Central Africa Republic, I found a riveting New York Times article written last April that could have been penned by Kurt Vonnegut:

One hundred of America's elite Special Operations troops, aided by night vision scopes and satellite imagery, are helping African forces find a wig-wearing, gibberish-speaking fugitive rebel commander named Joseph Konywho has been hiding out in the jungle for years with a band of child soldiers and a harem of dozens of child brides.

No one knows exactly where Mr. Kony is, but here in Obo, at a remote forward operating post in the Central African Republic, Green Berets pore over maps and interview villagers, hopeful for a clue... Picture towering trees that blot out the sun, endless miles of elephant grass, and swirling brown rivers that coil like intestines and are infested with crocodiles; one of them recently ate a Ugandan member of the force.

"This is not going to be an easy slog," said Ken Wright, a Navy SEAL captain and the commander of the joint American detachment assisting in the Kony hunt."

Indeed, American forces and their African allies are apparently still trying to run Kony down.

According to Nick Turse, who tracks the phenomena, those troops are among some 5,000 American troops and DOD personnel (remember those job offers) currently defending U.S. interests across the African continent.

Question: Under Barack Obama?!

(For more on the U.S. in Afghanistan, please check out my latest blogs.)

 

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