DynCorp International, a US military contractor notorious for its mercenary work for Washington and which was the subject of numerous complaints for abuses in other countries, has been fencing off the Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga for US troops. “How can a private, foreign corporation control a specific portion of a Philippine military camp?” Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares wants to know.
By ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
MANILA — What is the US mercenary corporation DynCorp International doing in the Philippines? It is, among other things, fencing off a facility of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) within the Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City.
In her recent exposé on the various offenses committed by US troops in the Philippines, former Navy Lt. Senior Grade Mary Nancy Gadian mentioned that the JSOTF-P’s office and warehouse, located near the airstrip at Edwin Andrews Air Base, “is fenced and secured by Filipinos and Americans hired by Dyn Corporation, an American private military contractor.”
The bemedalled former Navy officer, who was assigned in Mindanao for several years and had many direct dealings with US troops in the area, added that Filipinos have no access to that particular area.
The presence of DynCorp in the Philippines was one of the subjects of a privileged speech a few days ago by Bayan Muna (People First) Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares, who has also been calling for an inspection of all US military facilities in the Philippines.
In a webcast interview with Bulatlat Wednesday, Colmenares said that aside from the JSOTF-P office and warehouse in Edwin Andrews Air Base, DynCorp guards are also fencing off a JSOTF-P facility at Camp Bautista in Jolo Island, Sulu. He talked of reports that even camp commanders have to ask permission from DynCorp personnel before they could enter these facilities.
“Once it’s fenced off, entry to such restricted area is regulated by DynCorp personnel,” said Colmenares, a lawyer. “It’s illegal… It’s a Philippine military camp. DynCorp is not a Filipino corporation – it’s transnational. It’s private. How can a private, foreign corporation control a specific portion of a Philippine military camp?” Colmenares asked.
“I’m sure it’s not allowed. Not only is it a violation of the Corporation Code, it also violates a host of other laws,” he added.
In March 2008, DynCorp was awarded by the US Navy with a $16.34-million contract to provide support services for JSOTF-P. “The work to be performed includes all labor, supervision, management, tools, materials, equipment, facilities, transportation, incidental engineering, and other items necessary to provide support services,” read an announcement on DynCorp’s website.
But DynCorp’s presence in the Philippines began earlier than March 2008. It was here as early as March 2004, and possibly earlier.
The Philippines is just one of the numerous countries in which DynCorp International has a presence. In an article for the March 2004 issue of Esquire, in which he described DynCorp as “an American firm that specializes in high-risk contract work for the Pentagon and the State Department,” conservative American journalist Tucker Carlson enumerated the other countries where DynCorp is present. Wrote Carlson:
“Pick an unsafe country and DynCorp is likely to be there. In Afghanistan, DynCorp bodyguards protect Hamid Karzai, the most imperiled president on earth. In Colombia, DynCorp pilots fly coca-killing crop dusters slow and low over drug plantations, an integral part of Washington’s Plan Colombia. DynCorp is in Kosovo, Israel (three of its employees were blown up and killed in Gaza last year), East Timor, Sarajevo, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Liberia, and many other sketchy places. Last spring, DynCorp – along with Kroll Inc. and as many as twenty other large private security companies, and perhaps dozens of smaller ones, employing tens of thousands of individual contractors – came to Iraq.”
In 2007, DynCorp was the subject of the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) Session on Colombia. The indictment, prepared by the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective, cites DynCorp for its role in the commission of human-rights violations and crimes in Colombia, as well as other offenses in Nicaragua, Bosnia, Haiti, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Part of the indictment reads:
“Its presence in countries receiving US military assistance (either in low-intensity situations or in settings involving open US intervention) have produced important scandals, directly implicating the enterprise in the commission of crimes and human rights violations.
“For instance, in the 1980s the enterprise was implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal. In the 1990s, the enterprise became a fundamental component for the US intervention of Haiti. Lastly, DynCorp members in Bosnia were involved in the sexual trafficking of minors, but due to their immunity no one was ever tried before any court in the world.”
In Iraq, DynCorp has won several contracts amounting to $750 million for training police forces.
“Available information stresses that the Iraqi police, trained by private security enterprises like DynCorp, have become a key component in the current dirty war, rather than a foundation for democracy proclaimed by US authorities,” the indictment continues. “In fact, US federal investigators are examining reports of criminal fraud by DynCorp employees, including the sale of ammunition earmarked for the Iraqi police.”
In Afghanistan, aside from providing personal security for Karzai, it has trained police forces and has deployed 337 police advisers. In October 2004, one of Karzai’s security personnel from DynCorp aroused controversy after slapping the Afghan transport minister.
“How can you allow a corporation like that to exist here?” Colmenares said. “We should be worried, because it has a long list of charges against it.”
Tracing its roots to two companies founded in 1946, Land-Air and California Eastern Airways, DynCorp describes itself in its website as “a multifaceted, global enterprise that provides innovative solutions to the diverse technology and professional services needs of government and commercial industry worldwide.” The company claims to be “a highly successful provider of critical support to military and civilian government institutions” that also does business in aviation, infrastructure development, logistics, and security.
Robert McKeon chairs its board of directors, while William Ballhaus is its president and chief executive officer. The company’s board of directors and executive leadership include several retired military officers.
DynCorp is a member of the following associations: Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce, Airlift/Tanker Association, Association of the US Army, Business Council for International Understanding, Corporate Council on Africa, Council on Foreign Relations, Defense Industry Initiative, Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, International Peace Operations Association, Logistics Officers Association, National Defense Industry Association, National Defense Transportation Association, National Guard Association of the US, National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Professional Service Council, Society of American Military Engineers, and US-UAE Business Council. (Bulatlat.com)