The Department of Defense wants Amazon to be its exclusive cloud provider and wants to pay the online retailer $5 billion to fulfill this role. This contract would have tremendous implications for military contractors in Qatar and elsewhere.
After some considerable hand-wringing, the DoD finally concluded that it simply lacks the infrastructure to move to the cloud on its own, so it offered Amazon a no-bid contract. Most DoD contracts are of the no-bid variety, but in most cases, there is only one company capable of providing the requested service on a cost effective basis.
If the proposed contract is finalized, it would be the most expensive such procurement in DoD history.
Private Military Contractors and Cyber Warfare
In the 2012 film Skyfall, Q bragged to ace British secret agent 007 that he could do more damage on his laptop in his pajamas before his first cup of Earl Gray than Bond could do in a year in the field, and he may have been right. The power of the internet will probably increase exponentially in the next few years, and whoever best controls that power may also control considerably more than that.
Yet the DoD has a rather well-deserved reputation for moving at a glacially slow pace. Critics charge that the military is very good at training individuals to fight the ongoing war, but not very good at training them to fight the next war. The skills that new recruits and future officers learn today are very useful in counterinsurgency and anti terrorist campaigns, but they may do little good in a future conflict with a well-organized adversary like Russia or North Korea.
That is where private military contractors step in. These people often have a skill set that servicemembers simply do not possess, and that is often the case with regard to cyber warfare. As a bonus, although this job experience does not appear on their resumes, many computer engineers were once “hacktivists,” and as the old saying goes, the best way to catch a thief is to use another thief.
Common Injuries That Affect Cyber Contractors
Although they do not carry guns or confront evildoers face-to-face, cyber contractors at overseas U.S. military bases face the potential for serious injury every time they come to work. There is the possibility of bombings and other physical attacks, and there is also the possibility of long-term illness. The latter risk is even more acute overseas, where the physical facilities are often crude.
As many as 90% of people have some symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome. CVS is a repetitive stress injury which occurs after the eyes repeatedly follow multiple lines of text across a computer screen. Workers over 40 are especially at risk for CVS because many of these individuals develop presbyopia, or an inability to focus on objects that are either very close or very far away. Poor lighting also contributes to the problem.
Many times, simply adjusting the computer’s factory settings, along with frequent breaks, eases CVS. But in more acute cases, CVS can cause serious problems, such as:
- Double vision,
- Neck pain,
- Blurred vision, and
- Back pain.
Extended physical therapy is usually required to address these conditions, and in some cases, the patient may be unable to continue working with computers.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is another repetitive stress disorder that frequently affects office workers. The median nerve runs from the arm to the fingers through a narrow opening (the carpal tunnel). If there is any excess pressure on this area, the patient experiences numbness, tingling, and pain in the wrists, hands, and fingers. CTS is especially common in women who have at least one other risk factor, such as obesity, family history, or prior nerve injury. Many other risk factors, such as working in a cold room, are entirely beyond the patient’s control. CTS affects both work patterns and sleep patterns.
Much like CVS, carpal tunnel syndrome sometimes improves with some daily adjustments, such as better posture or frequent breaks. But in many other cases, physical therapy is the only solution.
Excessive sitting is unhealthy as well. Many contractors work under very tight deadlines and/or in very hazardous areas, so taking a walk around the block a few times a day is not an option. Sitting has been linked with a number of health issues, including:
- A 50% increased risk of a premature death, and
- A 125% increase in cardiovascular diseases.
Contractors who had to sit for long periods of time and later develop cardiovascular or other conditions may be eligible for compensation, as outlined below.
Benefits Available to Injured Contractors in Japan
The Defense Base Act is commonly associated with trauma injuries because most DBA claimants suffer from these wounds. But this no-cost insurance plan also covers occupational diseases, like the ones mentioned above. In fact, in some cases, even victims who had pre-existing conditions may be eligible for compensation that includes:
- Money for lost wages, and
- Medical bill payment.
In terms of lost wages, DBA benefits normally cover two-thirds of the victim’s average weekly wage while the victim is ill and unable to work. If the victim is unable to return to his or her prior occupation due to the illness or injury, the victim can potentially receives benefits for the rest of his/her lifetime. Usually, the insurance company pays medical bills directly, and victims are not responsible for any unpaid medical expenses.
To find out what benefits you are eligible to obtain, contact Barnett. Lerner, Karsen & Frankel.