War Profiteer of the Month: DynCorp International
DynCorp does not like to be compared to controversial contractors such as Blackwater and KBR, but the company does exactly what they do. It performs a wide range of functions for U.S. government agencies, including security and support services in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan. While DynCorp is not quite as well known as those other private military companies, it has had its share of scandals. These include allegations of heavy-handed security procedures in Afghanistan, a questionable shooting of a civilian in Baghdad and aggressive procedures during narcotics-control operations in Colombia. That has not stopped the federal government from giving more and more work to DynCorp, which in April 2010 agreed to be taken over by the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.
For much of its history, DynCorp operated in relative obscurity. One exception was the early 1980s, when the company, then known as Dynalectron, became embroiled in a Justice Department investigation of bid rigging by companies in the electrical contracting industry, including one of its subsidiaries, Dynalectric. The company had to put its chief operating officer, who had previously served as head of Dynalectric and was indicted in the bid-rigging case, on paid leave as a condition of remaining eligible for federal contracts. In April 1987 the company and the executive settled one case, with Dynalectric agreeing to pay a fine of $1.5 million. Later that year, Dynalectric and the executive pleaded guilty shortly before their trial was scheduled to begin in a second case. The company was fined another $1 million, and the executive received a two-year prison term with all but six months suspended.
DynCorp then largely disappeared from the public eye until the early 2000s, when it began to be receive attention for its expanded role in providing security services for the U.S. government in places such as Colombia, Afghanistan and Iraq. That attention was often negative, as in the scandal over allegations that DynCorp workers in Bosnia had purchased young women from brothels and kept them as sex slaves. A DynCorp employee who revealed the practice and was terminated from her job later won a $173,000 judgment from an employment tribunal in Britain.
Despite its controversial role of providing services in war zones, the company tried to avoid scrutiny. An in-depth look at DynCorp by the Dallas Morning News in December 2006 stated that “there’s little public accounting of what DynCorp does or whether tax dollars are being well spent.”
Tod Robberson, author of the Morning News investigation, noted that DynCorp, despite receiving contracts worth billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan, resisted releasing government audit reports about those operations, supposedly to protect proprietary information. Recounting reports of DynCorp’s heavy-handed security measures in Afghanistan—including an incident in which a news photographer’s camera was seized and impaled on a bayonet, Robberson quoted a U.S. Army officer as saying of the company’s personnel: “These were all guys at the lower end of the gene pool.”
Robberson also examined the role of prominent retired military officers on DynCorp’s board of directors. These included Gen. Richard E. Hawley (former head of the U.S. Air Combat Command), Gen. Barry McCaffrey (former head of the U.S. Southern Command), Gen. Anthony Zinni (former head of the U.S. Central Command) and Adm. Joseph W. Prueher (former head of the U.S. Pacific Command).
Also covered by Robberson were criticisms that DynCorp paid little attention to employee safety considerations in its war-zone operations as well as charges by a former company accountant that she was terminated for raising question about what she said were billing practices that cheated the federal government of millions of dollars. A false claims lawsuit initiated by the former employee is pending in federal court.
In October 2007 DynCorp was at the center of controversy when the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., issued a report charging that the State Department was unable to specify what had been accomplished under a $1.2 billion contract awarded to the company for Iraqi police training. The Washington Post subsequently reported that the company had refunded $14 million to the State Department in the course of cleaning up its records.
In November 2007 questions were raised about an incident in Baghdad in which DynCorp security guards shot and skilled an Iraqi who was driving his car near a company convoy.
In the summer of 2006, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) controlled most of Somalia, taking power from the warlords who had controlled Somali's capital for the past 15 years. While International news outlets reported that the ICU's rise to popular power promoted peace within Somalia that could be a turning point for lasting peace in the region, the U.S. was training Ethiopian troops. In late December of the same year, Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia, followed by (ostensibly to fight Al Queda suspects of a 1998 bombing) and put the U.S.-backed interim government back in power.
The following March (2007), Dyncorp was awarded a $10 million contract for logistics support for "peace-keeping", "giving the United States a significant role in the critical mission without assigning combat forces," according to Forbes.
Dyncorp was also contracted by the U.S. State Department to protect Boniface Alexandre, the unelected interim president of Haiti. Alexandre took power after the coup that toppled Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide. Dyncorp's role in Haiti hit the spotlight after their employees beat two journalists covering a ceremony marking the re-opening of the courts after a holiday. Dyncorp now has the contract to train police in Haiti.
On March 27, 2012, DynCorp announced that it has been awarded a contract with the U.S. Air Force to provide support services for Department of Defense and contractor personnel in Egypt. The contract is valued for $95 Million.
"We are proud to support U.S. personnel working in Egypt. Our strength in base operations, experience in Africa, and longstanding relationship with the U.S. Air Force make this an outstanding opportunity for the people of DI, here and abroad, to make a positive difference," said Kenneth Juergens, group vice president, Global Logistics and Development Solutions, DynCorp International.
According to DynCorp website they will "provide personnel support services including housing management; facility and equipment management; vehicle maintenance; transportation management; communications and information technology; custodial and grounds services; recreation services; dining facilities; security; program management and administration; and other services." A wide range of services some not very clear, such a recreation services. With DynCopr track record, this sounds worrying.
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