Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Who Benefits from a War with ISIS?

As the ongoing conflict with ISIS continues, over the past few months, we frequently hear something resembling the following:

With these criticisms of the current Administration's policies, let's look at one key American beneficiary of the ramping up of anti-ISIS ground and air forces in Iraq.  

SOS International, also known as SOSi, was founded in New York City in 1989 by Sosi Setian, a Columbia University-educated Armenian American and is the largest family-wound business in the defense contracting industry.  Ms. Setian worked with several U.S. government agencies including the DEA, FBI and U.S. Customs Services before staring her own company which provided translation and interpretation services to federal, state and local law enforcement communities.  SOSi's mandate has morphed over the past 25 years and the company has provided a wide range of specialized consulting services to the Department of Defense Special Operations Command, contract intelligence analysis services to the U.S. military in Iraq, operating and managing the Counter-Narcotics Customs and Border Management Training Academies for the Afghan Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Finance and providing airfield infrastructure construction and engineering in Iraq for the U.S. Air Force among other duties.  The company now terms itself "an international solution provider".  In 2014, SOSi formed a Board of Advisors to "assist in the company's organic growth, acquisitions and professionalization.".  We will take a closer look at the Board of Advisors later in this posting.

Let's look at what SOSi has been up to recently.  According to their website, in 2015, the company was "awarded prime contracts, valued in excess of $400 million, to provide life support, sustainment and logistics services in support of thousands of U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq."  Here are three of the contracts as reported by Iraq Business News:

Camp Taji is a military installation located north of the city of Baghdad.  It was originally a Republican Guard base and was a centre for the manufacture of chemical weapons.  It is currently being used to house members of the new Iraqi Army with the purpose of training members of Iraq's new Air Force.  Under the terms of the contract, "SOSi will provide all services, equipment supplies, facilities, transportation, tools, materials and supervision necessary to meet the needs of several thousand deployed U.S. coalition forces and contractors.  This included lodging, office space, command and control centre operation, emergency fire and medical services, meal services, bulk water, bulk fuel, prime power, internet and IT communications, general facilities maintenance operations and site security.".

Notice that one bid was solicited for this $100 million contract and only one bid was received.  The contract is expected to be completed on June 30, 2018.

This compound is also being used to train soldiers from the Iraqi Army as shown on this document from the Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve:

Now, as promised, let's look at SOSi's Board of Advisors.  Here is a photo of the Board which is "comprised of leaders drawn from the government contracting and defense and security sectors":

Do you recognize anyone?  Take a closer look at the gentleman on the far left in the back row.  That's one Dr. Paul Wolfowitz, former President of the World Bank, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia and, most importantly, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense under Donald Rumsfeld between 2001 and 2005.  He was the chief architect of the Bush II Adminstration's policies on Iraq prior to and during the Iraq war and is also considered to be a key figure behind the "Project for a New American Century" (PNAC), a non-profit, ultraconservative organization that was established in 1997, dedicating itself to the proposition that "American leadership is good for America and the world" and that U.S. policy toward Saddam Hussein should entail the removal of his leadership from Iraq.  PNAC sent this letter to President Bill Clinton on February 19, 1998 advocating the following:

  Recognize a provisional government of Iraq based on the principles and leaders of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) that is representative of all the peoples of Iraq. 

  Restore and enhance the safe haven in northern Iraq to allow the provisional government to extend its authority there and establish a zone in southern Iraq from which Saddam's ground forces would also be excluded. 

  Lift sanctions in liberated areas. Sanctions are instruments of war against Saddam's regime, but they should be quickly lifted on those who have freed themselves from it. Also, the oil resources and products of the liberated areas should help fund the provisional government's insurrection and humanitarian relief for the people of liberated Iraq. 

  Release frozen Iraqi assets -- which amount to $1.6 billion in the United States and Britain alone -- to the control of the provisional government to fund its insurrection. This could be done gradually and so long as the provisional government continues to promote a democratic Iraq. 

  Facilitate broadcasts from U.S. transmitters immediately and establish a Radio Free Iraq. 

  Help expand liberated areas of Iraq by assisting the provisional government's offensive against Saddam Hussein's regime logistically and through other means. 

  Remove any vestiges of Saddam's claim to "legitimacy" by, among other things, bringing a war crimes indictment against the dictator and his lieutenants and challenging Saddam's credentials to fill the Iraqi seat at the United Nations. 

  Launch a systematic air campaign against the pillars of his power -- the Republican Guard divisions which prop him up and the military infrastructure that sustains him. 

  Position U.S. ground force equipment in the region so that, as a last resort, we have the capacity to protect and assist the anti-Saddam forces in the northern and southern parts of Iraq.

Of the many neoconservative signatories to the letter we find the name Hon. Paul Wolfowitz, Dean of John Hopkins SAIS (Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies).

It's nice to see that a voice from the past has reappeared as a key advisor to a family-owned American company that is benefitting to the tune of $400 million in (taxpayer-funded) contracts awarded for services provided in Dr. Wolfowitz's old stomping grounds.  After all, the Iraqi War Part I worked so well, why not get in on the ground floor of Part II? 

At least now we know who in the United States is really benefitting from the ongoing battle against ISIS....


  1. It is a mess and the easy answer as to who benefits is the makers of weapons! War is often not the easy solution many people think it will be.
    Glaring examples of America's lack of a sound strategy in fighting ISIS are presented in articles such as the May 23 Washington Post story that paints a picture of total chaos and mayhem garnered from the accounts of fighters in the city of Ramadi that recently fell. Bottom-line is the Iraqi's remain conflicted and ununited, this makes them unreliable as a fighting force.
    No amount of money or training will ever solve this problem. Iraqi security forces lost 2,300 Humvee armored vehicles when ISIS overran Mosul last year. This represents well over $1 billion of American tax payers money. The article below delves into our botched effort and how little progress is being made.