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US Contractor Faces Accusations Of Sex Trafficking On Base In Iraq
A major American contractor in Iraq is engaging in rampant fraud, waste, and abuse involving prostitution rings, alcohol smuggling operations, and giving militias virtually free rein of a major base, according to two if its former employees.
A big story in the Associated Press details astounding charges of fraud, waste, and abuse surrounding Sallyport Global, a U.S. company that received nearly $700 million in federal government contracts to secure Balad Air Base, ostensibly providing support in Iraq in the fight against the Islamic State.
Robert Cole and Kristie King were investigators for the contractor, Sallyport Global, until earlier this year when their contracts were terminated. They spoke out about their investigations in a profile in the Associated Press, amid a lawsuit they have fired against their former employer after their March firing with little explanation. Per the report:
Cole and King had spent more than a year together in Iraq investigating all manner of misconduct at Balad and beyond.
They'd uncovered evidence that Sallyport employees were involved in sex trafficking , they said. Staff on base routinely flew in smuggled alcohol in such high volumes that a plane once seesawed on the tarmac under the weight. Rogue militia stole enormous generators off the base using flatbed trucks and a 60-foot crane, driving past Sallyport security guards.
Managers repeatedly shut down Cole and King's investigations and failed to report their findings to the U.S. government that was footing the bill, the investigators said.
Right before they were fired, Cole and King had opened an investigation into allegations of timesheet fraud among Sallyport employees. In a call with Sallyport lawyers, they said, they were advised to keep two sets of books about potential crimes and contract violations.
The whole piece is well worth a read, but here are some of the most salacious details:
- Balad was supposed to be an alcohol-free base, but staff regularly smuggled in alcohol, “in such high volumes that a plane once seesawed on the tarmac under the weight” of the contraband alcohol.
- A truck blew through a rope barrier into an area where deadly force is authorized to protect a sensitive fleet of F-16s. “For more than 10 minutes,” the Associated Press story states, “no one even responded as the vehicle drove away, according to reports citing surveillance video.”
- A Sallyport SUV assigned to bodyguards was stolen as part of an Iraqi militia plot. The prime suspect was an Iraqi Sallyport bodyguard who threatened to join the militia when he was confronted.
- A hotel in Baghdad running a prostitution ring counted Sallyport employees among the customers. “Four Ethiopian women who had worked as prostitutes at the hotel were later hired in housekeeping by Sallyport,” the report states.
- Perhaps the piece de resistance came in November 2015, when the militia drove two flatbed trucks and a 60-foot crane, loaded up three generators over three hours, and drove off base totally unchallenged by any security.
- Last but not least, King and Cole’s paperwork for their termination was signed off on by a human resources manager who they were investigating for timesheet fraud.
For its part, Sallyport issued a statement addressing the allegations to the Associated Press.
“Sallyport has a strong record of providing security and life support services in war zones like Iraq and plays a major but unheralded role in the war against ISIS,” the company’s chief operating officer said. “The company takes any suggestion of wrongdoing at Balad very seriously.”
There still has not been any explanation of why King and Cole were terminated, however.
"We knew too much," King told the Associated Press. "They want to cover it up and move on because it's a huge amount of money."
An Austrian soldier was apparently killed by two military working dogs that he was charged with feeding, the Austrian Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday.
She's photographed every major war of the last 20 years. Marine Corps boot camp was something else entirely
Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario has seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya, and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.
Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.
The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.
Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead
"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.
They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.
As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.
But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.
Federal court judge Reggie Walton in Washington D.C. has ruled Hoda Muthana, a young woman who left her family in Hoover, Alabama, to join ISIS, is not a U.S. citizen, her attorneys told AL.com Thursday.
The ruling means the government does not recognize her a citizen of the United States, even though she was born in the U.S.
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The Marine Corps could train as many as eight co-ed companies at boot camp each year, and the general overseeing the effort is hitting back against those complaining that the move is lowering training standards.
"Get over it," Maj. Gen. William Mullen, the head of Training and Education Command told Military.com on Thursday. "We're still making Marines like we used to. That has not changed."
Mullen, a career infantry officer who has led troops in combat — including in Fallujah, Iraq — said Marines have likely been complaining about falling standards since 1775.
"I'm assuming that the second Marine walking into Tun Tavern was like 'You know ... our standards have gone down. They're just not the same as it they used to be,'" Mullen said, referring to the service's famous birthplace. "That has always been going on in the history of the Marine Corps."