As I have often noted, I if you want to know what operations are being conducted or where the priorities might be just check the contract announcements. Little is done without contracting support today and nearly all contract work is done unclassified (by necessity) and therefore a lot can be learned through the study of contracting requests for proposals and the like. It is a fact of life and one with which we have to deal (as long we we have to use DoD contracting procedures) but it makes it difficult to maintain operational security.
Contractors’ Next Payday: Commando Logistics for Africa Shadow WarsBY ROBERT BECKHUSEN04.12.136:30 AM
A Casa 212 contracted for Afghanistan drops supplies to paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade on Nov. 9, 2007. It’s now likely headed to Africa. Photo: Army
Here’s how serious the U.S. is about its African war on terror. The Pentagon is preparing to spend millions to create a privatized flying taxi service to fly its commandos everywhere from Libya to Congo.
That’s according to details in a recent solicitation notice for a Defense Department contract worth up to $50 million, expected to be handed over to a private contracting firm in August. Among the two main tasks contractors will be expected to carry out: medical evacuations during “high risk activities” — capable of being launched within a three-hour notice — as well as transporting equipment and commandos from Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara (or JSOTF-TS) within the borders of potentially 20 African nations. When you want to keep a U.S. military footprint small, you have to contract out a lot of logistics services.
Based at a secretive military airfield in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the contractors will be tasked with missions across central and northern Africa, with the most likely destinations being Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania and other countries including Algeria, Cameroon and Nigeria. Less likely, but within the contractor’s “primary operating areas,” are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan and Uganda — all suspected to be likely hiding spots for warlord Joseph Kony.
There’s no shortage of targets. Asisde from Kony to the east, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreboperates just to the north. Drug traffickers are everywhere. In Nigeria, there’s Islamic terror groupBoko Haram. Both have fallen under AFRICOM’s hit list.
“Passengers will possibly travel with personal weapons (small arms) and small amounts of ammunition,” the solicitation notes. Among other requirements: the contractor’s plane must be able to carry a minimum of six passengers or 2,500 pounds of equipment and operate up to 1,000 flight hours per year for up to more than four years. The contractors need to be capable of air-dropping both equipment bundles prepared by the U.S. government and conducting “static-line, personnel air drop operations.” (Although, the solicitation clarifies, these drops are to be “used sparingly.”)
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