US-based security company Triple Canopy has agreed to pay $2.6 million to settle civil False Claims Act allegations that the company submitted false claims for payment to the Department of Defense for unqualified security guards stationed in Iraq.

Contractors must be held accountable for their actions, especially when the safety of government personnel is at stake” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This settlement should remind contractors of the high value we place on safeguarding our personnel abroad.

The allegations stem from Triple Canopy’s one-year contract with the Joint Contracting Command in Iraq (JCC-I), an entity established to provide contracting support related to the government’s relief and reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Under the 2009 contract, Triple Canopy was required to perform a variety of security services at Al Asad Airbase, the second largest air base in Iraq.   

The government’s complaint in intervention alleges that Triple Canopy knowingly billed the United States for security guards who could not pass contractually required firearms proficiency tests. The tests were designed by the Army to ensure that the guards hired to protect U.S. and allied personnel were capable of firing their assigned weapons safely and accurately.

The government further alleges that Triple Canopy concealed the guards’ inability to satisfy the firearms testing requirements by creating false test scorecards that Triple Canopy was required to maintain for government review, in an effort to induce the government to pay for the unqualified guards.    

By Zep Kalb for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

In the aftermath of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the country’s educational system all but collapsed. Illiteracy rates have exploded. Universities have turned into sectarian battlegrounds.

Systemic violence — including beatings, rape and death threats — has forced students and faculty out of campuses. As state provision of higher education has receded, private donors have set up alternative institutions, often with a sectarian and religious twist. Foreign actors have also stepped in to fill the void.

Before the US-led invasion, education indicators in oil-rich, Baathist-controlled Iraq improved similarly as in other middle-income countries, and in several ways even more so. The country’s first university, Baghdad University, opened its doors in 1957. In 1968, the government made education free and compulsory at all levels.

In 1977, the eradication of illiteracy was made legally binding. The developmental push appeared to be working. By 1980, Iraq had already achieved near universal primary school enrollment.

Saddam Hussein’s devastating eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s and the sanctions imposed by the West over his invasion of Kuwait in the 1990s slowed these gains.

By 2000, the literacy rate of youth aged 15-24 years old stood at 84.8%, slightly higher than that of regional neighbor Egypt. The gender gap was also narrowing: Female literacy rates stood at 80.5% in 2000, a figure Egypt reached only in 2006. At the same time, underinvestment in education by a cash-strapped government led to an aged and creaking infrastructure.

For all its ills, the collapse of the Baathist regime in 2003 and its replacement with a US-installed government wrecked the country’s educational system. Junior, inexperienced American officers who failed to understand the complexities of maintaining peace between the sects were put in charge of higher education.

U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, conducting three strikes consisting of three engagements in recent days, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Officials reported details of the strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Strike in Syria

In Syria, coalition military forces conducted one strike consisting of one engagement Oct. 15 near Dayr Az Zawr, engaging an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed two fighting positions.

Strikes in Iraq

In Iraq yesterday, coalition military forces conducted two strikes consisting of two engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Rahwa, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed an improvised explosive device weapons facility.
  • Near Qaim, a strike destroyed a vehicle-borne-IED factory.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

These strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The destruction of ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria also further limits the group’s ability to project terror and conduct external operations throughout the region and the rest of the world, task force officials said.

The list above contains all strikes conducted by fighter, attack, bomber, rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft; rocket-propelled artillery; and some ground-based tactical artillery when fired on planned targets, officials noted.

Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike, they added. A strike, as defined by the coalition, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single or cumulative effect.

For example, task force officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined, officials said.

The task force does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

Coalition military officials are monitoring military movements near Kirkuk, Iraq, following reports of an incident, Pentagon Director of Press Operations Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters today.

“The coalition is monitoring movements of military vehicles and personnel in the vicinity of Kirkuk, he said. “These movements of military vehicles so far have been coordinated movements, not attacks.”

Coalition forces and advisers are not supporting the activities of Iraqi government or Kurdistan Regional Government forces near Kirkuk, Manning said. “We are aware of reports of a limited exchange of fire during the predawn hours [today], and we believe this to have been an isolated incident,” he said of media reports of fighting between Iraqi and Kurdish fighters.

“We have not seen levels of violence suggested in some media reports,” he said, adding that the coalition strongly urges all sides to avoid additional escalatory actions, opposes violence from any party, and urges against destabilizing actions that distract from the fight against ISIS and undermine Iraq’s stability.

Support for Unified Iraq

The United States continues to support a unified Iraq, Manning said.

“Despite the Kurdistan Regional Government’s unfortunate decision to pursue a unilateral referendum, dialogue remains the best option to diffuse ongoing tensions and long-standing issues,” he noted.

The Defense Department remains focused on the fight against ISIS, a terrorist organization that threatens the states in the region and the international community, Manning said.

“We call on all actions in the region to focus on this common threat, and avoid stoking tensions among the Iraqi people. We remain focused on destroying ISIS,” he said.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria on Sunday, conducting ten strikes consisting of 11 engagements, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported yesterday.

Officials reported details of yesterday’s strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Strikes in Syria

In Syria, coalition military forces conducted two strikes consisting of two engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Ash Shadaddi, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed a fighting position.
  • Near Dayr Az Zawr, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed a tactical vehicle.

Strikes in Iraq

In Iraq, coalition military forces conducted eight strikes consisting of nine engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Qaim, four strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed five supply routes, two vehicle-bomb factories and an ISIS-held building.
  • Near Rutba, two strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units and destroyed three vehicles.
  • Near Rawa, a strike destroyed two command-and-control nodes and an anti-air artillery system.
  • Near Tuz, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed a tunnel.

Additionally, officials announced details today of an Oct. 14 strike near Qaim for which the information was not previously available. The strike destroyed five ISIS supply routes and a tunnel entrance.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

These strikes are conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The destruction of ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria also further limits the group’s ability to project terror and conduct external operations throughout the region and the rest of the world, task force officials said.

The list above contains all strikes conducted by fighter, attack, bomber, rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft; rocket-propelled artillery; and some ground-based tactical artillery when fired on planned targets, officials noted.

Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike, they added. A strike, as defined by the coalition, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single or cumulative effect.

For example, task force officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined, officials said.

The task force does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria on Wednesday, conducting 31 strikes consisting of 39 engagements, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported yesterday.

Officials reported details of yesterday’s strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Strikes in Syria

In Syria, coalition military forces conducted 27 strikes consisting of 33 engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Abu Kamal, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed an ISIS vehicle.
  • Near Raqqa, 24 strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units; damaged nine fighting positions; destroyed 11 fighting positions, 12 vehicles, two communication nodes and one ISIS supply route.
  • Near Shadaddai, two strikes destroyed an ISIS headquarters and one staging area.

Strikes in Iraq

In Iraq, coalition military forces conducted four strikes consisting of six engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Qaim, three strikes destroyed an ISIS training camp and staging area.
  • Near Rawah, a strike destroyed a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device and three ISIS supply routes.

Oct. 10 Strikes

Additionally, two strikes consisting of six engagements were conducted in Syria and Iraq on Oct. 10 for which the information was not previously available:

  • Near Raqqa, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed a fighting position.
  • Near Rawah, a strike destroyed a VBIED, an ISIS fuel tanker and a vehicle.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

These strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The destruction of ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria also further limits the group’s ability to project terror and conduct external operations throughout the region and the rest of the world, task force officials said.

The list above contains all strikes conducted by fighter, attack, bomber, rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft; rocket-propelled artillery; and some ground-based tactical artillery when fired on planned targets, officials noted.

Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike, they added. A strike, as defined by the coalition, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single or cumulative effect.

For example, task force officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined, officials said.

The task force does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria on Tuesday, conducting 16 strikes consisting of 22 engagements, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported yesterday.

Officials reported details of yesterday’s strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Strikes in Syria

In Syria, coalition military forces conducted eight strikes consisting of eight engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Abu Kamal, a strike destroyed two ISIS vehicles and two trailers.
  • Near Ash Shaddadi, two strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units and an armored vehicle.
  • Near Raqqa, five strikes engaged four ISIS tactical units and destroyed a logistical node.

Strikes in Iraq

In Iraq, coalition military forces conducted eight strikes consisting of 14 engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Qaim, three strikes destroyed an ISIS fuel point, a weapons cache, four ISIS-held buildings and 36 vehicles.
  • Near Rawa, five strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units, damaged a supply route; and destroyed seven vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, a VBIED factory, a heavy machine gun, an ISIS-held building and a vehicle.

Oct. 9 Strikes

Additionally, four strikes consisting of 15 engagements were conducted in Syria and Iraq on Oct. 9 for which the information was not previously available:

  • Near Dayr Az Zawr, Syria, three strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units; and destroyed two headquarters structures, a logistics node and a fighting position.
  • Near Qaim, a strike destroyed two ISIS weapons storage facilities, a VBIED factory, six staging areas and a headquarters structure.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

These strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The destruction of ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria also further limits the group’s ability to project terror and conduct external operations throughout the region and the rest of the world, task force officials said.

The list above contains all strikes conducted by fighter, attack, bomber, rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft; rocket-propelled artillery; and some ground-based tactical artillery when fired on planned targets, officials noted.

Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike, they added. A strike, as defined by the coalition, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single or cumulative effect.

For example, task force officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined, officials said.

The task force does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

By Jack Detsch for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Pentagon stops paying peshmerga salaries amid Kurdish independence backlash

The US government has stopped paying Kurdish peshmerga fighters’ salaries after a yearlong agreement expired over the summer, and there are no current plans to renew it.

Under the deal negotiated by the Barack Obama administration in July 2016, the United States agreed to pay stipends to some 36,000 Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq. The agreement was expected to be renewed over the summer for another year, but US and Kurdish officials tell Al-Monitor that talks stalled as the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) pursued a divisive referendum on independence and the IS presence in the region began to collapse.

“The department does not currently fund stipend payments for the peshmerga,” Defense Department spokesman Eric Pahon told Al-Monitor. “The memorandum of understanding between the Department of Defense and the KRG facilitating stipend support during the Mosul operation expired in July 2017, and the final stipend payment was transferred in early September.”

Peshmerga sources flatly accuse the Donald Trump administration of withholding support because of opposition to last month’s nonbinding referendum. The United States has taken Baghdad’s side in the dispute and refused to recognize the results, which indicate overwhelming support for Kurdish independence.

There was a plan to renew and sign a new similar memorandum of understanding, but the United States discontinued it because of the referendum, Brig. Gen. Hajar Omer Ismail, director of coordination and relations for the Ministry of Peshmerga, told Al-Monitor. He said no weapons had been received for a while even before the memorandum of understanding expired.

Pahon declined to comment on what he called “internal business matters.” He said the United States and the KRG did not have “any talks on the table” about renewing the memorandum of understanding for months prior to the Sept. 25 vote, “so the referendum has no effect at this point.”

U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria on Monday, conducting 11 strikes consisting of 15 engagements, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported yesterday.

Officials reported details of yesterday’s strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Strikes in Syria

In Syria, coalition military forces conducted four strikes consisting of five engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Abu Kamal, three strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit, destroyed a vehicle and a weapons storage facility.
  • Near Shaddai, a strike destroyed an ISIS vehicle-borne bomb and a fighting position.

Strikes in Iraq

In Iraq, coalition military forces conducted seven strikes against ISIS targets consisting of 10 engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Qaim, two strikes destroyed an ISIS improvised explosive device and an ISIS-held building.
  • Near Haditha, three strikes destroyed an ISIS IED and a supply road.
  • Near Rawah, a strike destroyed an ISIS headquarters.
  • Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike destroyed an ISIS supply road.

Oct 8 Strikes

Additionally, three strikes consisting of four engagements were conducted in Syria on Oct. 8 for which the information was not previously available:

  • Near Raqqa, 2 strikes damaged an ISIS fighting position; and disrupted a line of communication.
  • Near Shadaddi, a strike damaged an ISIS vehicle-borne bomb.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

These strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The destruction of ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria also further limits the group’s ability to project terror and conduct external operations throughout the region and the rest of the world, task force officials said.

The list above contains all strikes conducted by fighter, attack, bomber, rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft; rocket-propelled artillery; and some ground-based tactical artillery when fired on planned targets, officials noted.

Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike, they added. A strike, as defined by the coalition, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single or cumulative effect.

For example, task force officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined, officials said.

The task force does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria over the previous two days, conducting 95 strikes consisting of 109 engagements Oct. 7 and yesterday, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported yesterday.

A Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet receives fuel from an Air Force 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker during a mission over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Sept. 7, 2017. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Trevor T. McBride

Officials reported details of those strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Oct. 7 Strikes in Syria

In Syria on Oct. 7, coalition military forces conducted 53 strikes consisting of 56 engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Abu Kamal, a strike destroyed an ISIS tactical unit and a vehicle.
  • Near Dayr Az Zawr, a strike destroyed an ISIS command-and-control network.
  • Near Raqqa, 51 strikes engaged four ISIS tactical units; destroyed 50 fighting positions, a tactical vehicle, six vehicles, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device and four command-and-control networks.

Yesterday’s Strikes in Syria

Coalition military forces conducted 25 strikes consisting of 30 engagements against ISIS targets in Syria yesterday:

  • Near Abu Kamal, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed a vehicle.
  • Near Raqqa, 24 strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units, destroyed 15 fighting positions, 11 vehicles, a vehicle-borne IED, a machine gun and four command-and-control networks.

Oct. 7 Strikes in Iraq

On Oct. 7, coalition military forces conducted 10 strikes consisting of 16 engagements against ISIS targets in Iraq:

  • Near Qaim, two strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed a headquarters and a vehicle.
  • Near Bashir, a strike destroyed an ISIS tactical vehicle.
  • Near Hit, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed a tunnel system.
  • Near Rawa, four strikes destroyed an ISIS headquarters, a vehicle-borne IED and a weapons cache.
  • Near Tuz, a strike destroyed four ISIS-held buildings.
  • Near Huwija, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit.

Yesterday’s Strikes in Iraq

Coalition military forces conducted seven strikes consisting of seven engagements against ISIS targets in Iraq yesterday:

  • Near Qaim, three strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units and destroyed a vehicle.
  • Near Huwija, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit.
  • Near Rawa, three strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed three staging areas, a headquarters and a vehicle.

Previous Strikes

Officials also provided details today on 25 strikes consisting of 31 engagements conducted Oct. 5 and 6 in Syria and Iraq for which the information was not previously available:

  • On Oct 5 near Raqqa, a strike damaged an ISIS fighting position.
  • On Oct 6 near Huwija, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit.
  • On Oct. 6, near Raqqa, 23 strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed 17 fighting positions, six vehicles, a vehicle-borne IED and an ISIS supply road.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

These strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The destruction of ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria also further limits the group’s ability to project terror and conduct external operations throughout the region and the rest of the world, task force officials said.

The list above contains all strikes conducted by fighter, attack, bomber, rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft; rocket-propelled artillery; and some ground-based tactical artillery when fired on planned targets, officials noted.

Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike, they added. A strike, as defined by the coalition, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single or cumulative effect.

For example, task force officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined, officials said.

The task force does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)