Six3 Intelligence Solutions recently received a $10 million contract to provide services in Syria, Italy, and Germany. The company is a division of CACI International. The company’s CEO called the contract “the biggest deal in CACI’s 51-year history.” The intelligence support branch of the company could eventually mean $15 billion in new business, he added. CACI’s prior contributions to the War on Terror include interrogation services at the scandal-plagued Abu Ghraib prison.
The government has not said whether private contractors are engaged in combat operations in Syria.
Understanding the Syrian Civil War
Throughout its very long history of human habitation, the western part of the Fertile Crescent (Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon) has been something of a crossroads. The great powers of that area, whatever nations they were, often came and went swiftly and often.
The last such great power was probably the Ottoman Empire. The Turks ruled this area for the better part of a thousand years. When World War I broke out in late 1914, the Ottoman Turks fought admirably in the Gallipoli/sDardanelles campaign that took place just outside the capital of Istanbul. But the Fertile Crescent area was a different story. With Arab nationalism growing and the Turkish garrisons falling to the British one after another, it seemed clear that Istanbil could no longer control this area. Even if the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey) won the war, a territorial loss seemed inevitable.
So, with the war’s outcome still very much in doubt, French and British diplomats drew up the Sykes-Picot Agreement in March of 1916 after several months of secret negotiations. In addition to dividing the future spoils of war, the British lion and French rooster wanted to keep the Russian bear out of the area. The fact that the talks took place before the Russian Revolution and the British, French, and Russians were all allies against the Central Powers seemed to matter little.
The British had the upper hand almost all the way through the talks. London was very interested in the oil-rich area of Mesopotamia (Iraq), but its negotiators cared little about the rest. So, the diplomats arbitrarily drew a line that separated the region into two spheres of influence – the French to the north and the British in the south.
What later became Syria sat almost literally astride that line. So, as other states developed firm national identities in the early 20th century, Syria remained mired in seemingly endless civil war. The intensity waxed and waned, but the fighting never went away entirely.
So, the latest conflict between strongman Bashar al-Assad and his Russian allies, rebel groups and their American allies, and Daesh (ISIS) forces who are on their own side, is just the latest incarnation of the Syrian civil war. And, as the latest news indicates, U.S. military contractors are in the thick of things.
How Contractors Get Hurt
Insurgency campaigns and civil wars have a lot in common. There are shifting loyalties and no clear-cut battle fronts. Moreover, these conflicts have personal overtones. When neighbors choose sides and fight their neighbors, there seems to be even more bloodshed. The American Civil War is a good example. In many ways, the country is still trying to get over that war some 150 years after the guns stopped.
So, for the combatants, there are savage dangers around almost every corner. Contractors may not spend as much time on the line as regular servicemembers, but they are not in “safe” areas in any way, shape, or form.
Both regular servicemembers and private contractors risk trauma injuries, like gunshot and shrapnel wounds. In the heat of battle, these injuries often do not appear very severe. But when the adrenaline wears off, the pain sets in. Many victims face long, slow roads to recovery.
Brain injuries are a good example of indirect combat injuries. For example, when an IED goes off, anyone in the immediate blast area obviously suffers serious injuries. Moreover, doctors now know that IED blasts emit shock waves that are basically like EMPs. Electro-Magnetic Pulses disrupt electronic and electrical systems. In the same way, IED shock waves disrupt brain functions.
The biggest difference between the two is that electronic devices can usually be repaired, but dead brain cells never regenerate. Surgery, drugs, and physical therapy can alleviate the symptoms, but they cannot reverse the injury.
Far from the actual fighting, the risk of injury does not go away. In addition to being a one-time trauma injury, some doctors believe that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can also occur over time. Prolonged exposure to combat conditions may have the same effect as the DIED blast. Toxic exposure, perhaps from an open-air burn pit, is a risk as well.
When these and other injuries strike, may contractors feel abandoned. Many end up in military hospitals far from home. Their rooms are often bee hives of activity. Contractors well know that all this activity is not free. They know that eventually, the bill is coming.
Meanwhile, their stateside families who relied on the income they produced suddenly have absolutely no way to pay the bills. That financial stress adds to the stress of the injury, significantly impeding their recovery.
The Defense Base Act fills these needs. Victims do not need to prove fault or negligence to obtain cash benefits for:
- Lost Wages: Most victims have temporary disabilities. For the duration of their injuries, most of these victims receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage. The AWW is not always easy to calculate. Not all wages are paid in cash. Furthermore, many contractors only have a few months of service in-country when they are hurt. So, their last 12 months of income may not accurately reflect their current and future earning capacity.
- Medical Bills: The aforementioned emergency care is fully covered. The same thing goes for follow up care and physical rehabilitation expenses. Ancillary costs, like medical devices and maybe even transportation costs are covered as well.
Many DBA claims settle out of court. Others get resolved after a trial-like hearing before an administrative law judge. Generally, the benefits are retroactive to the date of injury.
To learn more about the qualifications for DBA benefits, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen & Frankel P.A.