Category Archives: Iraq

ICON Executive Protection Themed Targets

A couple years ago, I commented to the instructors of  ICON Services Corporation how during the live-fire drills of our training courses I would like to use a paper target that spoke more to our industry as Executive Protection Agents.  Prior to this, we had been using some of the fairly common full-color situational targets that law-enforcement and the military shoot for practice (some of which had to have been photographed during the Reagan-Era).  While some were pretty good, none of them seemed to give me exactly what I was looking for — the scenario where I, as an Executive Protection Agent, has to suddenly pull my firearm to defend my client (as opposed to disarming a masked robber or shooting Bin Laden as many of the targets on the market portray).  As mentioned, we tried a few… then tried a few more, but I still didn’t “love ’em”.
Then inspiration struck.  If I couldn’t find what I was looking for, then I might as well create it.  Long story short, ICON was able to partner with North America’s largest distributor of paper targets to create the ICON VIP Protection Target Line.  Shot by the wonderful photographer Kiki Koralesky of Contact Front Photography, our initial series of 6 has been well received and have been met with brisk enough sales for the manufacturer to request additional targets in the future.  As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.
Fast forward to July of 2011 where I got a note from a good friend of mine working in Afghanistan that referenced the “World being a small place“.  Turns out that while setting up some training with some other VERY distinguished Operators in that area of the world, he took a look at the paper targets they are using and guess what? –Yep, ICON.   While I do keep track though the distributor of the volume of sales, and realize that it’s not just the Close Protection community using them as orders have been place with Law Enforcement and Government Institutions, it was still nice to learn that the targets were serving their purpose in such a hostile area of the world.  The intent was to give the shooter a realistic situational target and in a region of the world where the stakes are as high as it gets, taking the time to train with the line speaks volumes.

Click here to learn more about the ICON VIP Protection Target Line.

 

 

Judge Dismisses Shooting Case Against Blackwater

A federal judge dismissed charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in a controversial shooting in a busy Baghdad square two years ago in a ruling that sharply criticized the tactics of Justice Department prosecutors handling the case.

The judge, Ricardo M. Urbina of the District’s federal court, found that prosecutors and agents had improperly used statements that the guards provided to the State Department in the hours and days after the shooting. The statements had been given with the understanding that they would not be used against the guards in court, the judge found, and federal prosecutors should not have used them to help guide their investigation. Urbina said other Justice Department lawyers had warned the prosecutors to tread carefully around the incriminating statements.

The five Blackwater guards — a sixth has pleaded guilty — were indicted in December 2008 on manslaughter and weapons charges accusing them of killing and injuring unarmed civilians.

Federal prosecutors have said the guards killed 14 Iraqis and wounded 20 in an unprovoked blaze of bullets and grenade explosions. The guards’ attorneys have said their clients fired in self-defense after being shot at by insurgents.

The incident, which badly strained U.S.-Iraqi relations, was the most serious one involving private security contractors in recent years, and it raised questions about using such guards in war zones. It so badly stigmatized Blackwater that the company renamed itself Xe Services.

For the full story click HERE.

Private Security Remains in Afghanistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has abandoned plans to scrap private security firms in the country by mid-December, the interior ministry says.

Fifty-four private security firms have been dissolved in recent weeks in a drive to clamp down on the industry.

But interior ministry officials said most of the 52 mainly Afghan firms remaining would retain their licences.

Private security firms provide guards at everything from diplomatic missions, aid agencies and supply convoys.

…In August, President Karzai gave private security companies four months to end operations in Afghanistan following concerns that some contractors empowered warlords and power brokers operating outside government control.

But recently aides to the president have advised him that the move to disband the network completely was ill-advised, as the security forces could not fill the gap.

“Their future operations will continue in accordance with the law and regulations in place,” an interior minister told a news conference in Kabul.

He said some of the 52 firms still operating remained under criminal investigation and could face closure; a list of banned companies would be announced on 17 December.

Mr Farahi said that those which remained would have to follow tighter rules. They would have to wear uniforms and would not be allowed to stop vehicles or block roads for security reasons.

For the full story, click HERE.

See previous:  Ban for Afghan Private Security Contractors

SO first the crackdown, and then the reshuffle.  It will be interesting to see how this continues to play out both through official and back channels.  ~ES

“Caption This” Part VII

The reality is this photo depicts a German Shepard working with a British Soldier doing some very serious work. — Parachuting into Afghanistan on a covert mission to sniff out insurgents.    Seriously, read more about it HERE.

However putting that aside, you have to admit that this photo is begging for the “Caption This” treatment.

woof.

Previously:  Caption This part VI

Iraqi Reality Show Plants Car Bombs on Celebrities

File under “S” for stupid.

Move over Punk’d, a new show on Iraq television makes unwitting contestants think they are going to jail after they are pulled over at a security checkpoint and a explosive device is found in their vehicle.

The show “Put Him in [Camp] Bucca” has received numerous protests but continues to air.

Popular public figures are tricked by being invited to the headquarters of  TV station Al Baghdadia to be interviewed, while en route a fake bomb gets planted in their car while they were being searched by Iraqi soldiers — who amazingly are in on the prank.

The unwitting celebrities are then secretly filmed, Candid-Camera-style, as they reacted with shock, disbelief and anger as fake checkpoint guards shout abuses at them: “Why do you want to blow us up?” “You are a terrorist.” “How much did they pay you to do it? You will be executed.”  Quality television indeed.

Click HERE for more on the story.

And just in case you think “how dumb is it that Iraqi soldiers are doing pranks like this in a war where untold lives are being lost“?  Meet a member of the US Military who while on active duty in Iraq, decided to film his own version of Punk’d by planting a explosive device in a car during a traffic checkpoint and filming the drivers reaction.   Nice.  Click HERE for the video.

Blackwater Receives Afghan Contract

Mr. Prince strikes again.  This guy, plays chess not checkers at the grandmaster level.

CNN Reports:

Blackwater (Xe) security company has been awarded a contract to provide protection to U.S. consulates and diplomats in the Afghan cities of Herat and Mazar-e Sharif, a U.S. State Department official confirmed on Saturday.

The Highlights:

The deal is a one-year contract with an option to extend up to 18 months. If the contract is fulfilled for that entire period, it would be more than $120 million.

The Big Question:

The State Department official, insisting on anonymity, said past history with Blackwater did not prevent U.S. Training Center from bidding on contracts and that in this case the company was the best qualified for the work in Afghanistan.

For the full story, click HERE.

Wait, wasn’t it just reported that the company was up for sale?

See related- Blackwater For Sale?

Security Contractors Become the Source of Warzone News

PSD Team in Iraq

Hans Van Beuge of SAVIOR Services showed me an interesting article about how more and more civilian security contractors (or PSD’s) operating in War-zones are becoming the course of unfiltered news occurring on the front lines.  Unhampered by government or military restrictions, some of these contractors have taken to writing Blogs to document their experiences and share them with the broader world.  To read the full story, click HERE.

Worst Attack of Year in Iraq

At least 100 are dead after:

A gunmen attacked security checkpoints in Bagdad +

 A man armed with expolsives strapped to his body set it off in a crowd of people

+ A  bomber struck in a souther city in Iraq today.   =  The deadliest attack of the year.  Read the full account HERE.

Former Blackwater President Indicted

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — The former president of Blackwater Worldwide was charged Friday with using straw purchases to stockpile automatic weapons at the security firm and filing false documents to cover up gifts given to the King of Jordan.The federal indictment charges Gary Jackson, 52, who left the company last year in a management shakeup, along with four other former workers. The charges against Jackson include a conspiracy to violate firearms laws, false statements and possession of an unregistered firearm.

 Also indicted were former general counsel Andrew Howell, 44; former executive vice president Bill Mathews, 44; former procurement vice president Ana Bundy, 45; and, 65-year-old Ronald Slezak, a former weapons manager.

 The charges open a new front of the government’s oversight of the sullied security company. Several of the company’s contractors have previously been charged with federal crimes for their actions in war zones, but the company’s executives have so far weathered a range of investigations.

~ While there is no doubt these guys have had a successful business for quite a long time.  But if your one that believes in karma, the dark cloud that follows them must be massive.  For the full story click HERE.

Private Security Increases in Iraq, Afghanistan

Defense Department officials now say that more than 18,000 armed security contractors are working in Iraq or Afghanistan under Pentagon auspices, according to a new report by the Congressional Research Service that was obtained by NPR. They have also started hiring security for an event that the contractors will be at. The bulk of the gun-toting contractors — some 13,232 as of June 30 — are in Iraq, where they guard U.S. bases, defend convoys and serve as personal bodyguards for high-level officials. The remaining 5,165 armed civilians perform similar functions in Afghanistan.

Click HERE

Related:  My interview with Portfolio Magazine on the World of Private Security

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjV1tEr0B7Q[/youtube]