Limited Reopening in Kuwait

Limited Reopening in Kuwait

The Kuwaiti Cabinet, the political arm of the Royal Family, announced that direct flights to the United States and several European nations will resume on July 1, 2021.

Direct flights will now be available to Austria, France, Kyrgyzstan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the UK, Spain, the U.S., Holland, Italy, Germany, Greece and Switzerland. Kuwait had previously re-established direct flights to Great Britain, but suspended them as a new COVID-19 variant spread in the UK. The nation said it would also open its borders to fully-vaccinated individuals beginning August 1, 2021.

The newly-announced rules should make it easier for private military contractors to enter and leave Kuwait.

Kuwait and the Global War on Terror

This Persian Gulf state has been an important location in this ongoing conflict from the very beginning, mostly because America’s close military relationship with Kuwait predates the GWT.

Most people do not know that the United States indirectly caused the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In the early 1980s, U.S. President Ronald Reagan sent future Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as a Special Envoy to Baghdad. Rumsfeld negotiated a large arms transaction with Saddam Hussein, who borrowed heavily from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to pay the bill. After the 1980s Iraq-Iran War ended, Kuwait pressured Hussein for payment.

This pressure opened an old wound between the two nations regarding a border dispute. Back in the Ottoman Empire days, Kuwait was part of the province of Basra, a key Iraqi port city. Hussein used this rather selective view of history to justify his claim that Kuwait was lawfully part of Iraq.

Everything came to a head in 1989, when Iraq accused Kuwait of slant-drilling across the border. Iraq demanded $10 billion in compensation, Kuwait offered $500 million, and massed Iraqi troops surged across the border. Kuwait’s meager defense forces were no match for the battle-hardened Iraqi army, which at that time was the fourth-largest fighting force in the world.

Most of us probably remember how this conflict ended. American-lead coalition forces swept the Iraqis from Kuwait in a matter of days. The al-Sabah family, which rules Kuwait, has been very grateful ever since.

Today, Kuwait is an important staging area for operations in that part of the world. In recent years, the targets have mostly been in Afghanistan and Iraq. Very soon, most of the targets might be in Iran. The United States and Iran almost came to blow several times during the Trump years, and tempers are still hot on both sides.

China is a possibility as well. In terms of flight time, Kuwait City is little more than a hop, skip, and a jump away from Beijing. So, it is close enough to be strategically significant. At the same time, it is also far away enough to be effectively immune from attack.

Contractor Activities in Kuwait

By law, all American private military contractors serve in support roles. In Kuwait, these support roles usually include maintaining equipment, loading/unloading supplies, and base construction or expansion.

Sophisticated weapons, such as smart bombs, guided missiles, and drones, dominate the American military arsenal in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. These weapons require a high degree of skill to operate and maintain. Furthermore, pretty much every year, a new version appears. The new version usually makes the old version look like the slingshot David used against Goliath.

American military academies train leaders. They are not technical schools. Furthermore, academies usually train cadets to fight the upcoming war. They do not train students to fight future conflicts.

Private military contractors often fill in the gap. In many cases, contractors worked at the companies which designed and built the materiel at issue. Therefore, contractors are in a unique position to service these weapons and pass on their knowledge to regular servicemembers.

As for supplies, pretty much everything that American servicemembers use in Kuwait comes off a ship. The Longshore Division of the Department of Labor oversees the Defense Base Act. Therefore, the Administrative Law Judges who hear appeals are usually quite familiar with longshoreman injuries. More on that below.

Facilities expansion is an important role as well. Frequently, contractors serve as onsite managers at construction projects. People in cushy stateside offices usually draw up the blueprints. Locals usually do much of the construction work. That arrangement pumps some money into the neighborhood economy and helps the community feel like it is a partner with the Americans. The United States has a pretty bad reputation as an imperialist power, even in friendly nations like Kuwait.

Injury Compensation Available

Both trauma injuries, like falls, and occupational diseases, like hearing loss, are an issue for contractors in Kuwait. The same basic procedure applies in both situations.

First, contractors must immediately report their injuries to their supervisors. This requirement normally is not a problem in trauma injury claims. Sometimes, however, trauma injury victims do not feel hurt. Adrenaline masks the pain, at least for a while. So, always tell your supervisor, even if you do not feel injured.

Occupational disease claims can be tricky. Most victims do not immediately run to the doctor the first time they have trouble hearing or their knee is stiff due to repetitive motion. In fact, by the time their conditions worsen, the claims deadline has usually passed. Typically, full compensation is still available. Usually, victims do not have a legal obligation to report their injuries until they know the full extent of damage and they connect the injury with their work environments.

A settlement conference usually comes next. A third party mediator reviews the medical records and other documents in the case. Then, the mediator tries to facilitate a settlement between the two sides. If the victim and insurance company already agree on most issues, these settlement conferences often work. Most frequently, however, the claim goes to the next level.

That next level is, as mentioned, a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. For most purposes, an ALJ is like a federal judge. About the only difference is that an ALJ only has authority over the case at bar. At the ALJ hearing, attorneys may challenge evidence, introduce evidence, and make legal arguments. Since insurance companies know that attorneys have a free hand at ALJ hearings, many DBA claims settle immediately prior to the hearing.

For more information about DBA eligibility, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.