Private Contractors, Aal-e-Saud and Wahabis
The Pentagon has awarded a 48-million-dollar contract to train the nucleus of a new Iraqi army to Vinnell Corporation, a US firm which also trains the Saudi National Guard. The Fairfax, VA-based company, a subsidiary of the US aerospace firm Northrup Grumman, said on its website it was hiring former US army and marine officers to train infantry battalions and combat support units for the new Iraqi army. The Vinnell Corp. of Alexandria, Va., owned by politically connected Northrop-Grumman. Founded in the early 1930s, Vinnell worked on the Los Angeles highway system before it started to expand into military construction during World War II. During the Vietnam War, the company built bases in South Vietnam that it later had to blow up after the United States withdrew from the country. According to The Boston Herald, a Pentagon official called Vinnell “our own little mercenary army” in a 1975 interview with The Village Voice. Vietnam almost led Vinnell to bankruptcy, but a 1975 contract worth $77 million to train the Saudi Arabian National Guard started a long and lucrative history of involvement in the Middle East. Twenty-eight years later, Vinnell’s Saudi operations employ more than 1,300 workers, including almost 300 U.S. government personnel, under an $800 million five-year contract to train land forces, the air force and other elements of the Saudi Arabian military. The contract, which is run by the U.S. Army Materiel Command, is financed by the Saudis. Vinnell is responsible for training the New Iraqi Army (NIA). Work on the $48 million one-year contract began July 1, 2003, and is expected to be completed by June 30, 2004. The contract includes a feature called “Not-To-Exceed Cost Ceiling,” meaning that Vinnell’s total contract invoices for the first six months cannot exceed 50 percent of the contract estimate, or $24,037,221. FOR FURTHER READING: Privatizing Military Training Volume 7, Number 6 May 2002 By Deborah Avant, George Washington University http://www.fpif.org/briefs/vol7/v7n06miltrain_body.html U.S. Ties to U.S. Ties to Saudi Elite May Be Hurting War on Terrorism by Jonathan Wells, Jack Meyers and Maggie Mulvihill PART 1 http://www.mapcruzin.com/news/bush121601a.htm Bush Advisers Cashed in on Saudi Gravy Train by Jonathan Wells, Jack Meyers and Maggie Mulvihill PART 2 Published on Tuesday, December 11, 2001 in the Boston Herald http://www.mapcruzin.com/news/bush121601b.htm
Thomas Fintel, Vinnell’s president and CEO, served 27 years in the U.S. Army. He attained the rank of colonel, and in addition to being a brigade commander, he also worked in the U.S. Army Force Modernization Coordination Office. Donald C. Winter, corporate vice president of Vinnell’s parent company Northrop Grumman and president of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, was program manager for space acquisition, tracking, and pointing programs with the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) from 1980 to 1982. William O. Studeman, vice president and deputy general manager for intelligence and information superiority in Northrup Grumman Mission Systems, served as deputy director of Central Intelligence from 1992 to 1995. He served in the U.S. Navy and retired as an admiral in 1995.
Kent Kresa, who stepped down as Northrop Grumman’s board chair in October 2003, worked with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) before joining Northrop Grumman in 1975. Retired Gen. John T. Chain, a member of Northrop Grumman’s board, also serves as a director of R.J Reynolds Inc., ConAgra Foods Inc., and Kemper Insurance Company. He is also the chairman of the Thomas Group Inc., and previously he worked for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation. He served as commander in chief of the Strategic Air Command before he retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1991. Former Democratic congressman Vic Fazio is a senior partner in Clark & Weinstock, a consulting firm. During his time on Capitol Hill, he was a member of the Appropriations Committee, Budget and Ethics Committee and the Armed Services Committee. Fazio was part of the Democratic leadership from 1991 to 1998, rising to the party’s third-ranking position as chair of the Democratic Caucus. Fazio has contributed more than $110,000 to mostly Democratic candidates since 1980. Retired Adm. Charles R. Larson served as commander in the Pacific from 1991 to 1994. He also consults government and industry on defense and foreign policy issues. Larson was also superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, first from 1983 to 1986, and again from 1994 to 1998. He is vice chairman of the board of regents of the University System of Maryland and is on the board of directors of Edge Technologies Inc., the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation and the Atlantic Council. Philip A. Odeen was chairman of TRW Inc. from February 2002 until December 2002. Odeen served as president, chief executive officer and director at BDM International Inc. from 1992 to 1997. BDM was acquired by TRW in 1997. He has held senior positions with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Council staff. Odeen is a member and former vice chairman of the Defense Science Board. FOR FURTHER READING: Privatizing Military Training Volume 7, Number 6 May 2002 By Deborah Avant, George Washington University http://www.fpif.org/briefs/vol7/v7n06miltrain_body.html U.S. Ties to U.S. Ties to Saudi Elite May Be Hurting War on Terrorism by Jonathan Wells, Jack Meyers and Maggie Mulvihill PART 1 http://www.mapcruzin.com/news/bush121601a.htm Bush Advisers Cashed in on Saudi Gravy Train by Jonathan Wells, Jack Meyers and Maggie Mulvihill PART 2 Published on Tuesday, December 11, 2001 in the Boston Herald http://www.mapcruzin.com/news/bush121601b.htm
Vinnell Corporation: 'We Train People to Pull Triggers' by Pratap Chatterjee, Special to CorpWatch March 20th, 2003 http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=6029
Vinnell Corporation: 'We Train People to Pull Triggers' by Pratap Chatterjee, Special to CorpWatch March 20th, 2003 http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=6029
Vinnell corporation was founded by the late A. S. Vinnell in 1931 to pave roads in Los Angeles. Since then the company has handled a number of large domestic as well as government projects. The company was the major contractor for US military operations in Okinawa, overhauled Air Force planes in Guam in the early 1950s, and sent men and equipment onto the battlefields of the Korean War.
Now based in Fairfax, Virginia, the company has been controlled in the past through a web of interlocking ownership by a partnership that included James A. Baker III and Frank Carlucci, former U.S. secretaries of state and defense under presidents George Bush senior and Ronald Reagan respectively.
Perhaps the most important military contract Vinnell landed was in 1975 when the Pentagon helped the company win a bid to train the 75,000 strong Saudi Arabian National Guard, a military unit descended from the Bedouin warriors who helped the Saud clan impose control on the peninsula early in last century.
An article in Newsweek at the time described the company's first recruitment efforts with the aid of "a one-eyed former U.S. Army colonel named James D. Holland" in a cramped office in the Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra to put together "a ragtag army of Vietnam veterans for a paradoxical mission: to train Saudi Arabian troops to defend the very oil fields that Henry Kissinger recently warned the U.S. might one day have to invade."
"We are not mercenaries because we are not pulling triggers," a former U.S. Army officer told the magazine. "We train people to pull triggers." One of his colleagues wryly pointed out: "Maybe that makes us executive mercenaries."
Since 1994 the company has been paid $800 million for training and construction alone according to a Freedom of Information Act request conducted by U.S. News and World Report. In return Vinnell has constructed, run, staffed, and written doctrine for five military academies, seven shooting ranges, and a healthcare system, as well as training and equipping four mechanized brigades and five infantry brigades.
In 1997 Charles Hanley, a special correspondent for the Associated Press newswire, got a rare glimpse inside the Saudi operation where he described 300 American military veterans in the desert hills overlooking Riyadh with yellow "Vinnell Arabia" patches on their khaki-and-olive-drab uniforms training young Saudis in the operation of new General Motors light armored vehicles and other weaponry while supervising supply operations, operating a hospital and updating the Guard's data processing, among other functions.
"The VINNELL Corporation" Research by Gregory Burnham Nov-08-99 http://www.prouty.org/vinnell.html
Technically Vinnell is contracted by the US government on behalf of the Saudi government, thus its personnel are not considered to be in the direct employ of the Saudis for most legal purposes. "Vinnell Selected for Award of $163.3 Million Contract for Saudi Arabian National Guard Modernization Program," news release, BDM International, Inc., McLean, Va., 3 May 1995.
BDM, Inc is the parent company of Vinnell. The author has visited one of the five Vinnell sites in Saudi Arabia. See also William D. Hartung, "Mercenaries Inc.: How a U.S. Company Props Up the House of Saud," The Progressive, April 1996, pp. 26-28. Philip A. Odeen is the CEO of BDM International, which owns Vinnell. Philip Odeen is also the Chairman of the NATIONAL DEFENSE PANEL - (bet you never even heard of that, eh?)--
Philip A. Odeen is President and CEO of BDM International, Inc., and serves on the BDM Board of Directors. He has worked within government in senior positions for the National Security Council and Defense Department. In the private sector, Mr. Odeen has served as a member of the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel and the Defense Science Board (DSB). Mr. Odeen led a DSB task force in early 1993 that reviewed anticipated defense management savings in the DOD budget and a DSB task force on outsourcing in 1995/96. Mr. Odeen played a leading role in a recent DSB study that resulted in the proposal of major budget savings that could be derived from a fundamental reengineering of the DOD infrastructure.
Secretary Cohen announced today the appointment of the National Defense Panel (NDP) that will review and make recommendations to the Secretary of Defense on the department's ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). In December 1997, the NDP also will provide an assessment of alternative force structures for the U.S. military through the year 2010.
Secretary Cohen's choice to chair the NDP is Mr. Phil Odeen, president of BDM International, a defense consulting and research firm. Other NDP members are: Richard Armitage, former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs; Richard Hearney, former assistant commandant of the Marine Corps; David Jeremiah, former vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff; Robert M. Kimmitt, managing director of Lehman Brothers, an investment banking firm; Andrew Krepinevich, director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments; James P. McCarthy, former deputy commander-in-chief, U.S. European Command; Janne Nolan, senior fellow, Brookings Institution Foreign Policy Studies program; and Robert R. RisCassi, former commander of U.S. forces in Korea. NDP members were selected in consultation with congressional leadership.
In announcing the appointment, Secretary Cohen said, "The Department looks forward to working with the panel and will welcome its insights and recommendations."
The NDP will submit interim recommendations on the Defense Department's work on the QDR to date in early spring and a final assessment to the Secretary of Defense as part of the report to Congress, which is required by May 15, 1997. NDP also will conduct an independent assessment of a variety of possible force structures for the armed forces through the year 2010 and beyond. The results of this analysis and Secretary Cohen's comments on the assessment are due to Congress by December 15, 1997
Vinnell Corporation is a construction company founded in 1931. Through experience gained in managing military assignments during the Second World War, Vinnell expanded into a booming construction business in Asia. It won hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts and employment for 5,000 personnel during the war in Vietnam.
Among its activities there were covert military operations. A Pentagon source described Vinnell as 'our own little mercenary army in Vietnam ... we used them to do things we either didn't have the manpower to do ourselves, or because of legal problems'.
In February 1975 Vinnell secured a US$77 million contract with King Fahd to train the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG), the military arm of the House of at-Saud. Today, Vinnell's advertising depicts the firm as 'providing a broad spectrum of professional and technical services to government clients in multiple areas of management and training. Client requirements have led Vinnell to a vast array of challenges, from Malaysia to Mexico to the Middle East, often to the very heart of international conflict areas'. Vinnell has subsidiary operations in Egypt, Oman, and Turkey, but the key area of responsibility remains with SANG. The contract for its one thousand-plus-strong team of advisors was extended in January 1994 to the year 2000 at a cost of US$819 million.
Other US military firms working in Saudi Arabia include Booz-Allen & Hamilton, which drills the Saudi marine corps and maintains the Saudi Armed Forces Staff College; Science Applications International Corp (SAIC), which provides guidance for the Saudi navy; and O'Gara Protective services, directly hired by the Saudi Defence Minister to provide security for the Saudi royal family.
Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), of Alexandria, Virginia, was founded in 1 987 by former special forces personnel 'to perform world-wide corporate contractual functions requiring skills developed from military service'.
MPRI has over 350 employees and can draw on a database of more than 6,000 former servicemen of the United States armed forces. MPRI is currently engaged in twenty contracts (seventeen domestic, three international) worth more than US$90 million in total. Twenty-two corporate officers Of MPRI are former high-ranking military officers. These include General Carl Vuono, US. Army Chief of Staff during the invasion of Panama and the Gulf War; Ed Soyster, former head of the Defence Intelligence Agency; and General Frederick Kroensen, former commander of the US. Army in Europe.
Its mission statement claims that 'MPRI can perform any task or accomplish any mission requiring military skills (or generalized skills acquired through military service), short of combat operations'. MPRI picked up the contract to train the Angolan Army after EO pulled out in January 1996. Its main focus of operations today is in the Balkans. MPRI training prepared the Croat Army for its successful counter-offensive against the Serbs in 1995. The head of Croat Army Headquarters, Zvonimir Cervenko, stated 'We can create by ourselves a new and efficient army. But why lose time if there are in the world institutions which can be paid so that they can transfer very quickly their maximum know-how'? Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, who brokered the Dayton peace accord, spoke favourably of MPRI in testimony to the US Congress. In March 1996 James Perdew, the Pentagon's point man at Dayton, flew to Sarajevo to urge the Bosnian government to contract MPRI or one of its competitors for the training of the Bosnian armed forces. In May MPRI Won the contract over rivals Vinnell and SAIC. Its $400 million programme is being paid for largely by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Brunei and Malaysia.
Mercenaries Keep the Peace
Why is the US government so keen to incorporate the services of private military firms in its international policy? The shadow of the disastrous Somalia operation looms over US peace-keeping operations. Cooperation with professional outsiders enables the State Department to keep a distance from potentially dangerous or compromising situations in the conduct of foreign policy. 'We will not be able to leave unless the Bosnian government is armed and prepared to defend itself', says Senator Joseph Biden (Democrat, Delaware). 'That's the ticket home for Americans'. MPRI has provided the most expeditious means of achieving that aim whilst maintaining the facade of official us neutrality in the region.
Similarly, Saudi Arabia, despite maintaining military contracts with us companies valued at over $60 billion US., officially does not sanction the stationing of us troops in the country. Vinnell training helps link SANG with the Office of the Program Manager (OPM), an agency of the US Army Material Command responsible for maintaining weapons programs. SANG shares its headquarters with OPM. Nationalists in Saudi Arabia recognize this link as being a key connection between the Saudi and US governments, which is why the building was targeted in the 13 November 1995 car bomb attack which killed five Americans and wounded thirty more.
Saudi Arabia: Vinnell Adds Saudis To Its Trainee Roster Business Week February 24th, 1975
Confirming reports this week that a little-known Alhmabra (Calif.) heavy construction company, Vinnell Corp., has a $77-million contract to train Saudi Arabian forces to defend Saudi oil fields, the Defense Dept. managed to shed little light on the deal. The Pentagon sidesteppped any probing questions about the contract, shunting them to the State Dept., which had approved it. Officials at State, clearly hoping to allay fears of U.S. military involvement or CIA-type intrigue in the touchy Middle East, treated it as part of routine policy to assist friendly governments with internal security. State confirmed, for instance, that Bell International is training an Iranian “sky cavalry” brigade using Bell equipment. Vinnell itself was maintaining the lowest possible profile. Neither President John F. Hammill nor Bob Montgomery, the company’s general manager for special projects, was available for comment. Experienced Industry sources familiar with Vinnell, however, are not surprised at the reticence. They know Vinnell as a publicity-shy contractor that has had many government jobs. It has not only had similar training assignments in the past, they say, but has been active in Saudi Arabia since 1957, when the U.S. Air Force brought it there to manage engineering at the Dhahran air base. The company has never acknowledged that it trains foreign nationals in anything other than equipment handling and maintenance. But as the chairman of one multinational company remarks, “Like many construction companies abroad, they tend to take on broad responsibilities.”
The venture in Saudi Arabia — if not canceled by the Senate Armed Services Committee — appears to fit the Vinnell mold. Founded by the late A. S. Vinnell back in 1931 to pave roads in Los Angeles, the company has handled a number of large domestic government projects, but its thrust in recent decades has been overseas.Between 1946 and 1967, it completed some $350-million of contracts in Southeast Asia. It handled equipment for the Republic of China in 1946, was the major contractor in Okinawa, overhauled Air Force planes in Guam in the early 1950s, and sent men and equipment onto the battlefields of the Korean War. For years, Hammill was boss of operations in Vietnam, where Vinnell operated floating power barges, land-based power plants, and electrical distribution systems through the height of the fighting. With overseas operations now spread from Bangladesh to Mexico, Vinnell is still operating electric plants in Vietnam.
FAIR USE NOTICE. This document may contain copyrighted materialwhose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner.CorpWatch is making this article available in our efforts to advance the understanding of corporate accountability, human rights, labor rights, social and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. FOR FURTHER READING: Published in the April, 1996 issue of The Progressive Mercenaries Inc.: How a U.S. Company Props Up the House of Saud
by William D. Hartung http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0513-06.htm [ACCESSED ON Monday, September 28, 2009
FOR RECENT EVENTS
November 13, 1995: Al-Qaeda Bombing in Saudi Arabia, US Realizes Bin Laden Is More than Financier
Two truck bombs kill five Americans and two Indians in the US-operated Saudi National Guard training center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaeda is blamed for the attacks. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 8/19/2002] The attack changes US investigators’ views of the role of bin Laden, from al-Qaeda financier to its leader. [MILLER, STONE, AND MITCHELL, 2002, PP. 150] The Vinnell Corporation, thought by some experts to be a CIA front, owns the facility that has been attacked. [LONDON TIMES, 5/14/2003] Reference: Profile: Vinnell Corporation Vinnell Corporation was a participant or observer in the following events: http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=vinnell_corporation May 12, 2003: Suspicious Circumstances in Riyadh Bombings Indicate Government Collusion with Al-Qaeda, American Contractors Say
The May 12, 2003, Riyadh suicide bombings, which left 35 dead, targeted several housing compounds for Westerners, include one for Vinnell Corporation employees (see May 12, 2003). (Vinnell had a large contract to train Saudi forces.) Some former Vinnell employees, who are predominantly former American servicemen, will later allege in interviews and court documents that the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG), the elite force which protects the royal family, colluded with the bombers to facilitate the attacks. They claim that an exercise organized by the National Guard removed most security staff for the day of the bombing, suggesting foreknowledge. They also claim that warnings were ignored and that security was inexplicably lax. [INDEPENDENT, 5/16/2004] They will then sue Vinnell and Saudi Arabia for negligence. [INDEPENDENT, 5/8/2005] Reference: Profile: Vinnell Corporation Vinnell Corporation was a participant or observer in the following events: http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=vinnell_corporation
July 3, 2007: US-Hired Contractor Deaths Top 1,000
It is reported that over 1,000 civilian private contractors have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since the start of hostilities in those countries. An additional 13,000 have been wounded. The casualty figures come from the Department of Labor. Civilians work in a number of areas in Iraq, from providing security and servicing weapons systems, to more mundane tasks such as logistics, construction, truck driving, and maintenance (see April 4, 2007). [REUTERS, 3/7/2004] Roughly one contractor dies for every four members of the armed forces. But despite the risks, Americans are lining up for jobs in the two war zones, lured by the prospects of high pay and, for some, adventure. As of the end of April 2007, 224 of the killed contractors were US citizens. [REUTERS, 3/7/2004] Reference: Profile: Vinnell Corporation Vinnell Corporation was a participant or observer in the following events: http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=vinnell_corporation