Civilian Contractors in Iraq - Hostage Reporting

Between January 2006 and January 2007, a new Hostage Reporting contract clause was added to Joint Contracting Command (JCC) Acquisition Instructions. The JCC is "the procurement arm of Multi-National Forces – Iraq."

While the Defense Base Act, first established in 1941, provides the means for contractors to provide benefits for employees killed, injured or missing working on or near the battlefield, published procedures for actually getting those benefits remain sorely wanting. In some cases, insurance companies behave as HMOs, flatly denying benefits, forcing contractors to sue just to receive appropriate medical care.

Until the creation of the Hostage Working Group (HWG) in the summer of 2004 at the US Embassy, families of missing contractors had quite literally no one to turn to. Comprised of representatives from the FBI, the Defense Department, the State Department and the Iraqi government, the HWG meets weekly. But an unfortunate weakness of the HWG is that personnel routinely rotate in and out, creating gaps in case knowledge.

When civilian contractor Kirk von Ackermann disappeared in October 2003, there was no procedure in place to report his disappearance. In fact, his employer reported the incident to the local Iraqi police commander who sent out patrols, interviewed local tribal chiefs and distributed missing flyers. The US Army, responsible for the safety all their contractors, didn't get involved until a colleague alleged contract fraud -- two months later. Today, von Ackermann remains the longest missing civilian contractor in Iraq.

Joint Contracting Command (JCC)

The JCC was created in November 2004 by a U.S. Central Command Fragmentary Order (FRAGO) covering only the Combined Joint Operations Area (CJOA) and officially launched in January 29, 2005. The command is headquartered in Baghdad, Iraq. The current commander is Rear Admiral Kathleen Dussault, US Navy.

Following is the text of the JCC contract clause - Hostage Reporting.

Acquisition Instruction (AI), 01 May 2007

52.2 Hostage Reporting

The local hostage reporting instruction shall be used for all construction and service contracts.

Contractor Hostage Reporting Procedures

The security and safety of our contractors are paramount to the success of the Joint Contracting Command Iraq. To insure rapid dissemination of critical hostage information the following procedures are implemented immediately.

Procedures for kidnapping or attempted kidnapping reporting are:

1. Notify the administering contracting officer.

2. Report the following information:

Name: ______________________________
Agency: ______________________________
Date: ______________________________
Time: ______________________________
Phone: ______________________________
E-email: ______________________________

Questions for contact. Please provide as much detail as possible:

1. Who was kidnapped?
2. What happened? How was the person kidnapped?
3. When did the incident occur?
4. Where did it happen?
5. Why do you think they might have been kidnapped?
6. Are there any witnesses to the incident? Please provide contact information for them.

Please provide the following details about the hostage(s):

1. Name
2. Age
3. Nationality and country/city of residence
4. Hair color/eye color/height/weight/blood type
5. Distinguishing physical characteristics
6. Clothing
7. Profession
8. Employer
9. Passport or other ID Number
10. Vehicle make, model, and license number
11. Planned activities on day of incident
12. Current residential address and phone number
13. Current business address and phone number
14. Cell phone number
15. Photo of victim

7. Please provide any available details about the hostage takers:

a. Number of kidnappers and their physical description
b. Clothing
c. Weapons
d. Number of vehicles, and vehicle make, model, and license plates

8. Is the hostage’s employer aware of the situation? If so, who was informed?
9. Is the hostage’s government aware of the situation? If so, who was informed?
10. Is the Iraqi government aware of the situation? If so, who was informed?
11. Is the hostage’s family aware of the situation? Please provide contact information for the family?
12. Have the hostage-takers made any public statements in the press?
13. Have the hostages made contact with the hostage’s government/family/any other individual? How have they made contact? What are their phone numbers?
14. What was discussed in the negotiations with the hostage takers? What demands or threats did they make?

3. The Contracting Officer will notify the Joint Contracting Commander-Iraq/Afghanistan (J3) of a contractor kidnapping.

Additional Reading:

Iraq, Contingency Contracting and the Defense Base Act
By Susie Dow, ePluribus Media, March 4, 2007

DCMA Communicator, Summer 2006 (PDF)
Joint Contracting Command – Iraq/Afghanistan: Providing Responsive, Full-Spectrum Contracting Support to U.S. Military Forces
An Interview with Air Force Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Scott, Commander, Joint Contracting Command – Iraq/Afghanistan

PRESS CONFERENCE
Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, Director of Communications, Deputy Spokesman Multi-National Force - Iraq; Rear Admiral Kathleen Dussault, Commander, Joint Contracting Command – Iraq/Afghanistan.
February 24, 2008

Iraq: In support of the Economic Line of Operation of the Multi National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) Campaign Plan, the use of the Department of Defense, Business Transformation Agency, web site www.rebuilding-iraq.net is required for posting solicitations. Chiefs of Contracting Offices may use local web sites, to include www.baghdadbusinesscenter.org.

Afghanistan: The use of www.militarycontracting.com is highly encouraged for posting solicitations and mandatory for an action anticipated to exceed $5M.

If competition is desired or required from sources outside Iraq or Afghanistan, or to solicit from any sources outside Iraq or Afghanistan the requirement must be published on the Government-wide Point of Entry, www.fedbizopps.gov.

The Missing Persons Act: (A) policy, control, and oversight within the Department of Defense of the entire process for investigation and recovery related to missing persons (including matters related to search, rescue, escape, and evasion); and (B) coordination for the Department of Defense with other departments and agencies of the United States on all matters concerning missing persons.

Defense Prisoner Of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) provides policy oversight for the mission to recover captured, missing, or isolated personnel, usually military.

Additional information:

Joint Contracting Command-Iraq/Afghanistan (JCC–I/A)
Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting – Iraq (PARC – I) issued November 1, 2006
Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting - Afghanistan (PARC-A)
Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting - AI (PARC-I AI issued January 23, 2007)

Additional Reading on Missing Civilian Contractors:

The Missing 5 blog by Jackie Stewart, mother of Joshua Munns, kidnapped on November 16, 2006 on a routine mission guarding tractor-trailer units being transported from Kuwait to Tallil Air Base.

The Missing 5, Jackie Stewart's website.

Free Jonathan Cote blog by family and friends of missing contractor, Jonathon Cote kidnapped on November 16, 2006.

Missing in Iraq blog by the wife of Kirk von Ackermann, missing since October 9, 2003.

Hostage Recovery Fund was set up to solicit donations for ransom money to pay for the recovery of kidnapped civilian contractors: Paul Reuben, John Young, Josh Munns, Jonathan Cote, Bert Nussbaumer, Ronald J. Withrow.

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Comments

not of course, the tragedy of the missing, kidnapped or murdered individuals. Just, thanks for the good work digging up the information.

The development of actual procedures for dealing with a hostage situation has gotten very little attention even within contracting circles. I'm kinda surprised. I wrote this up because so little attention has been given to it.

In fact, this post may be the only publicly disseminated news of this clause on the web today.

This topic came up recently so I thought I should add the information here. The US Embassy in Iraq has organized an international Hostage Working Group. It has also been referred to in the press as the Office of Hostage Affairs.

http://iraq.usembassy.gov/

Background information at Wikipedia - Hostage Working Group - I actually wrote the initial entry for Wikipedia.