Unspecified enemies, probably Russians or Russian mercenaries, are jamming communications in Syria, according to Army General Raymond Thomas.
During a recent symposium, Gen. Thomas mentioned that these efforts had hindered the ability of C-130 aircraft to obtain and disseminate intelligence. Companion aircraft from the Air Force, including the EC-130H Compass Call, have also been successfully targeted. These enemy activities have made Syria “the most aggressive EW [electronic warfare] environment on the planet,” Gen. Thomas concluded.
Accurate and timely intelligence is critical for the C-130 gunships. Operating from a high altitude, and generally at night, it is impossible to distinguish between hostile and friendly forces. Further complicating matters, C-130s often operate in “danger close” situations in which American forces are in serious jeopardy. A lack of intelligence could mean a mission abort when fire support is needed most. Or, a blind attack could lead to friendly fire casualties.
Several friendly fire incidents have made negative headlines recently. In 2015, a C-130 aircraft inadvertently destroyed a Doctors Without Borders field hospital in Afghanistan. In 2017, French Mirage jets refused to engage ISIS fighters in Niger, citing a fear of friendly fire casualties. Four Americans died in that firefight.
Fundamentally, firearms have not changed too much since the first “hand cannons” appeared in the 1360s. But electronic warfare has changed immensely over the past few decades. Furthermore, it will probably keep changing dramatically and rapidly for the foreseeable future. Military academies and boot camps are very good at developing basic skills, but not terribly adept at keeping up with changing technology.
That is where contractors come in. Many surveillance technicians and other professionals come from non-military backgrounds. These backgrounds prepare contractors for the ever-changing world of electronic warfare. Some other notably non-military backgrounds include:
- Longshoremen: The military is so dependent on ship loaders and unloaders that the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation, which is part of the Labor Department, actually oversees the Defense Base Act.
- Translators: People can learn new languages in school. But these schools often do not teach communication skills in that foreign language. Moreover, they almost never focus on cultural distinctions. Only native speakers have these skills, which is why they are the best translators in the field. Even if they are not American citizens, these individuals may be eligible for DBA compensation if they are injured.
- Trainers: Similar dynamics apply to training. Tough drill sergeants in the mold of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (RIP R. Lee Ermey) may not go over very well in many foreign countries. Contractors can overcome these cultural barriers and help make a foreign fighting force more effective. That allows more regular servicemembers to go home.
- Logistics: Some servicemembers consider kitchen duty a form of punishment, but to chef contractors, it is a way to make art. Servicemembers may lack advanced mechanical and repair skills, but contractor mechanics have all the tools needed for success.
Contractors use these skills, and others like them, in a wide variety of places around the world.
In a nutshell, contractors serve almost everywhere that regular service members serve. Many contractors even work for non-DoD agencies, such as the State Department or CIA. Some of the places they serve and some of the roles they fulfill include:
- Kuwait: In the 1990s, this region was among the most hostile and contentious in the entire MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. Now, it is much more placid. That relative tranquility makes it a perfect logistical base for American forces in the region. Contractors provide vital security services here. They serve as a visible deterrent to would-be terrorists.
- Diego Garcia: Many of the contractors on this isolated Indian Ocean outpost are longshoremen. Almost literally everything and everyone comes and goes by plane or ship, so the docks and runways are busy 24/7/365. Their work keeps this vital installation going.
- Afghanistan: When the public thinks of “contractors,” they often have images of the armed contractors that roam Afghanistan. These individuals give American commanders a degree of flexibility that they simply would not have otherwise.
- Iraq: As combat operations finally begin to wind down, Iraqi contractors fill a variety of roles. Many work on rebuilding and reconstruction projects. They either do construction work or handle security duties. Other contractors work in logistical roles at some of the large U.S. military bases in the country. Sporadic fights against ISIS and other militant groups continue, and contractors often play vital support roles in these operations.
A few large employers provide most of these contractors. The typical contractor is a longtime veteran of the civilian or military workforce with considerable experience in a given field. These individuals usually work on short assignments and earn considerable compensation while they are in-country.
Substantial compensation is also available to injured contractors, thanks to the aforementioned Defense Base Act. That compensation usually includes money for both lost wages and medical expenses.
Injured contractors do not need to establish fault to obtain these benefits. They must only establish a relationship between their service and their injuries. For example, a contractor could be shopping for base supplies in a public market when a suicide bomb goes off in the area. Or, a contractor could be swimming partially for recreation and partially for training when sudden injury occurs.
Compensation is also available even if the victim has a pre-existing condition. The deployment-related injury need only have been caused or aggravated by the work environment. This benefit is especially important for victims who struggle with things like repetitive stress disorder, hearing loss, or breathing problems.
Strict time deadlines apply in these claims, so reach out to Barnett, Lerner, Karsen & Frankel, P.A. for help in preparing your case.