John Stossel Speaks Up in Support of Contractors

John Stossel Speaks Up in Support of Contractors

If the United States is serious about ending its longest war ever, it will use more contractors in Afghanistan, veteran journalist John Stossel opined.

Prior to an interview with Blackwater founder Erik Prince, Mr. Stossel was impressed by Mr. Prince’s success in virtually ending Somali piracy. In 2010 the pirates captured more than a thousand hostages, but none in 2014 after Mr. Prince’s private army intervened at the behest of the United Arab Emirates. During the interview, Mr. Prince insisted that he could perform a successful counterinsurgency operation with fewer troops and more effective tactics. Mr. Stossel also alluded to successful private contractor ventures in the past, including the Flying Tigers of World War II.

Mr. Prince downplayed the infamous Nisour Square massacre that led to four former Blackwater guards being found guilty of manslaughter. “The guys did more than a hundred thousand missions, protective missions, in dangerous war zones. In less than one half of 1 percent of all those missions did the guys ever discharge a firearm,” he offered.

The War Against the Taliban

Given that the roots of this conflict go back even further than the post-9/11 hunt for Osama bin Laden, Mr. Prince’s comments about the bloated military pursuing a misguided strategy may not be entirely misplaced.

In 1979, shortly after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan (or intervened to stop a bad situation from deteriorating even further, depending on whose interpretation you believe), the CIA elected to arm Islamic militants to fight a proxy war against the Red Army. For several years, the two sides fought to a standstill. Then, in 1986, the mujahedeen obtained Stinger shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles from the United States, and these tools turned the tide of battle.

Throughout the conflict, American media generally compared these Islamic militants with freedom fighters dedicated to Afghan independence. In reality, however, they were little more than warlords who wanted to obtain power with the help of U.S. equipment and money. Therefore it is little surprise that after the Red Army left, the country quickly descended into chaos, especially since the George H.W. Bush administration elected to declare victory and leave rather than stay to help sort out the situation.

Despite this long history, the U.S. quickly found itself involved in an Afghan war almost as costly and indecisive as Vietnam a generation earlier and Korea about 20 years before then. Given the lack of progress, a new direction may be in order.

Contractors in Afghanistan

This direction would not be entirely new, as contractors in Afghanistan currently outnumber regular servicemembers by about three to one. In fact, except for a brief period between 2010 and 2012, contractors have consistently outnumbered regular servicemembers in the war-torn country. That ratio is likely to continue, as President Trump has close ties with the business community and it is longstanding conservative dogma that the private sector can “do it better” than the government.

However, putting private contractors in charge of tactics would be a major change and also be essentially uncharted territory for the United States. After World War II, General Douglas MacArthur did govern Japan as something of a viceroy, but the general was obviously not a private security contractor.

Solutions for Injured Contractors

The high number of contractors also means a high number of casualties, especially since there is no safe “rear area” in an anti-insurgency campaign. Furthermore, the aforementioned three-to-one ratio may be understated, since this figure does not include security contractors who work for non-DoD agencies, such as the CIA or State Department.

When contractors are injured, whether it be as the result of enemy action or an unintentional incident, like a fall, they can turn to the Defense Base Act to get the benefits they need. However, obtaining these benefits is not always easy.

First, the DBA has important time deadlines with specific requirements. Insurance companies often argue that claimants either failed to comply with all requirements or filed their initial claims too late. These arguments are especially common in occupational disease cases, such as contractor-related respiratory problems from burn pit exposure.

Next, the insurance company often tries delay tactics. Their lawyers try to arrange a settlement conference instead of a full hearing. Their goal is to try and force an early settlement for less than fair compensation. Sadly, this tactic often works if the claimant has a less-experienced attorney.

At a hearing, the claimant’s attorney can present evidence, summon witnesses, and make legal arguments. The insurance company can do the same thing, and one of the most frequent claims is that all the claimant’s medical bills are not medically necessary. But many combat injury treatments, especially Traumatic Brain Injury treatments, often involve cutting-edge therapies.

The benefits available include compensation for lost wages and direct payment of medical expenses. Most DBA victims receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage, and they have the ability to choose their own doctors.

Contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen & Frankel, PA to get an aggressive attorney on your side.