By land and by sea, the Russians are coming to this war-torn country. Just offshore, the Kremlin recently deployed a huge flotilla of warships. Meanwhile, the Russian army declared that it would “liquidate” the rebels remaining in the stronghold of Idlib.
There are already 10 surface warships and two submarines off the coast, and more vessels may be on the way. Most of these ships carry advanced Kalibr cruise missiles. The powerful task force has two basic objectives. First, it is to support the expected assault on Idlib. Second, it is to deter the American Sixth Fleet from mounting major operations in the area.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the fortress city of Idlib is a “festering abscess” which must be liquidated. The region is one of the last remaining rebel strong points in Syria. Apparently concerned about the millions of civilians who would be caught in the crossfire, the Russians are discussing the situation with the other player in the area. However, Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad is said to favor an early, all-out assault.
In part to justify the operation, Russian officials recently circulated unconfirmed reports that area rebels were plotting a chlorine gas attack,
What is Happening Now
The showdown in northwestern Syria will probably involve Syrian, Russian, U.S., and Turkish forces. By some accounts, a major defeat here could break the back of the U.S.-backed resistance against Assad. But, as America learned in the Iraq War, there is a big difference between vanquishing an army and winning the conflict.
Besides, Americans have fought with their backs against the wall before. For about six weeks in August-September 1950, American, ROK (Republic of Korea, or South Korea), and other United Nations troops fought off relentless attacks from battle-hardened troops from the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea). These UN forces were able to hold the Pusan Perimeter, despite the fact that the North Koreans had already swept across the entire peninsula.
So, although things look like they may be wrapping up, that is extremely unlikely. The long-term Syrian Civil War will almost certainly continue for the foreseeable future.
During combat operations, contractors fill critical roles. They supplement troops on the front lines, and they also serve in important support positions.
What Might Happen Later
In another anti-insurgency campaign, the Vietnam War, America learned that winning the war and winning the peace are two different things. The Syrian conflict, like all such conflicts, will end eventually. What happens afterward may be more important than the combat outcome.
Once the fighting ends, reconstruction can begin. That cost is expected to be well into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Roads, schools, houses, hospitals, marketplaces, government buildings, and pretty much everything else must be rebuilt from scratch.
This rebuilding is critical. Until these things are back in place, most refugees will not return. Without people who expect things to return to normal, chaos will reign.
Contractors may be even more important in this phase of the conflict. They draw the plans and blueprints for these construction projects. Then, once work begins, they supervise the activity at the site. Contractors also provide security. In some places, there might be almost as many armed guards as there are construction workers.
The Two Stages of DBA Compensation
Whether contractors carry hammers or machine guns, the Defense Base Act provides injury compensation.
Congress showed considerable foresight when it passed this law in 1941. At the time, there were almost no overseas contractors working in foreign countries. But the number expanded significantly, largely thanks to the United States’ postwar superpower status. Furthermore, in the 1980s, the government did away with the restrictions on overseas contractor use. So, these individuals can now serve wherever they are needed and in whatever capacity they can assist.
Many DBA injuries involve combat wounds. These injuries come from many different places, but mostly:
- Enemy Action: Bullets and shrapnel are just one component of enemy action injuries. For the past several years, there has been an ongoing cat-and-mouse game between armored transport and roadside bombs. But this game is very deadly. When new armor innovations arrive, new IEDs appear to counter these new vehicles, and the cycle continues.
- Prisoner Injuries: It is rare for contractors to be captured and mistreated. However, it does happen.
- Vehicle Crashes: Most land and air vehicles are well-maintained and well-controlled. But all machines break down from time to time, and all drivers make mistakes. Injured contractors do not need to prove that the accident was anyone’s “fault” to obtain compensation.
As contractor casualties are not included in the official figures, it is very hard to determine how many of these people are injured in the line of duty.
As mentioned, the combat action continues during the reconstruction phase. A militant ambush or an IED could be around the next corner. Other types of construction injuries include:
- Falls: Both falls from heights and slip-and-fall incidents have basically the same source. The builder is unwilling or unable to provide basic safety protections. Once again, fault is usually not an issue in DBA cases.
- Vehicle Accidents: The combination of noisy construction sites, extremely large equipment, and very inexperienced drivers often leads to tragic results. The lack of nearby trauma facilities makes these situations even worse.
- Electrocutions: It is sometimes very difficult to tell the difference between a live wire and a dead one. This problem is even more pronounced when there is a language barrier involved.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that if these three categories of incidents were eliminated, the number of workplace deaths would plunge to almost zero.
Contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen & Frankel, P.A. for more information about the kinds of DBA compensation available.