Now that the coalition has shifted to an advisory capacity in the war-torn country, The Netherlands has agreed to participate in the country’s rebuilding.
Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has worked to limit forign influence in Iraq. Nevertheless, al-Kadhimi has been open to foreign advisory assistance and infrastructure support. The Dutch are also concerned about the security situation in Iraq. “ISIS is still a source of instability on the edges of Europe,” noted Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten. “After the loss of the caliphate in March 2019, the terror organization in Iraq and Syria went into an underground guerrilla struggle. ISIS carries out dozens of attacks every month against the Iraqi government, security forces and population.”
Although Iraq declared victory against ISIS in 2017 and the terrorist group has been marginalized, violence continues, most recently when a roadside bomb killed nine people northwest of Baghdad.
Recent Events in Iraq
In 2007, shortly after President George W. Bush’s troop surge, the Iraqi government asked the Americans to set a withdrawal timetable. Other coalition partners, notably Denmark and the UK, took this development as their cue to leave. The Americans withdrew most of their ground forces in 2009, but bitter fighting and political instability continued. Washington remained committed to the fight, mostly so that the servicemembers and contractors who had died would not have died in vain. The official withdrawal concluded in 2011, although many private military contractors remained behind.
Widespread violence and crime continued after the American withdrawal, fueled in part by Arab Spring protests and the escalating Syrian Civil War. Militant Sunni Muslim groups, many of them affiliated with ISIS, took control of Mosul, Fallujah, and other large cities. The instability continued, eventually reaching civil war proportions in 2014. Foreign air strikes, which killed hundreds of ISIS fighters and innocent civilians, turned the tide. A final government offensive in 2017 effectively ended the civil war.
The unrest resumed in 2018, largely because of high unemployment and allegations of government corruption. The deepening conflict between the United States and Iran fueled this violence. At some points, war seemed eminnet, especially after an American drone strike killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the second-most-powerful man in the country, outside Baghdad International Airport.
Contractor Assistance in Iraq
Against this backdrop of international tension and domestic unrest, ordinary Iraqis struggle to raise their families and have normal lives. Private military contractors help these very modest dreams come true.
As outlined above, security is a serious problem in Iraq. But the current situation usually does not call for aggressive door-kickers and large-scale airstrikes. Instead, deterrent security is usually best. A few armed men on the edge of a market or at a busy street corner often prevent problems from starting.
Many private military contractors are former law enforcement officers. So, they are used to these missions. In layman’s terms, they know how to look tough without acting tough.
On a related note, contractors are normally very adept at forming relationships with locals. Many contractors are translators and other forign nationals. Additionally, they do not have the stigma often associated with American servicemembers. These relationships are crucial for tasks like pacification and intelligence-gathering.
The first American private military contractors were almost exclusively service personnel. So, a little “back to the future” is exactly what is needed in Iraq.
Part of this service role involves security. A normal life in Iraq is impossible without places like hospitals, schools, bridges, dams, and other infrastructure. So, these projects are a constant in Iraq. Unfortunately, such efforts are also a tempting target for militants.
The aforementioned deterrence is important in this area. In America, security deterrence might be a fence and a few cameras. These things might intimidate restless kids, but they do not intimidate hardened militants. Only live security can do that.
Contractors also do much of the construction work themselves. Typically, a foreign company does most of the big picture project planning and budgeting. Locals do most of the work, partially to bolster the local economy and partially to link the project and the community. That leaves site managers. Experienced contractors usually fill these jobs. These individuals know how to properly manage workflow, so the project is completed on time and under budget.
Injury Compensation Available
By almost all accounts, Iraq is still a dangerous place, but it is not as dangerous as it was between 2003 and 2007, during the early stages of the Iraq War. Nevertheless, today’s contractors face essentially the same risks. If anything, they might be more prone to injury, because in addition to combat injuries, workplace injuries are now a problem, as well.
Fundamentally, injured contractors want to get back to work as quickly as possible. So, medical bill payment is important. However, it is difficult to focus on one’s physical recovery when financial stress peaks. So, the Defense Base Act also offers wage replacement benefits as well, as follows:
- Temporary Total Disability: At least initially, most injured contractors are unable to work. So, the DBA usually pays two-thirds of the victim’s average weekly wage for the duration of a TTD.
- Temporary Partial Disability: Once physical therapy is at least substantially complete, many injured contractors can go back to work. But they must accept lower-paying light duty assignments or they must reduce their hours. In these cases, the DBA usually pays two-thirds of the difference between the old and new salaries.
- Permanent Total Disability: Some contractors are so badly hurt that, although they can function, they cannot work again. To compensate these families for future lost wages, the DBA often pays a lump sum or an annuity.
- Permanent Partial Disability: Many wounds never completely heal. For example, a shoulder injury might leave the victim with permanent loss of motion. Once again, compensation is available, usually based on the nature and extent of the disability.
Calculating the average weekly wage is not always easy. Many contractors recently came from stateside jobs. And, there is a big difference in compensation between a truck driver in Mosul and a truck driver in Mobile.
For more information about DBA medical bill payment, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.