Saturday, March 12, 2005

Editor's Note

The emphasis of The Missing Man is Kirk von Ackermann and Ryan Manelick.

The overall intent is to link to articles that mention either of the two men. Occasionally, I'll provide links for background information on specific subjects, such as links to their employers' websites.

With that said, there are two posts I feel should be included for context but that fall outside of the general scope of The Missing Man.

Stratex Freedom Services
Reports of Corruption in Iraq
Stratex Freedom Services in Afghanistan looks to have been a successful business model that John Dawkins of Ultra Services hoped to recreate in Iraq. The company's track record gives some insight into what should have been Ultra Services experience in Iraq. That this was John Dawkins' intention is assumption on my part, which is why I hesitate to include the information.

Reports of Corruption in Iraq. Rare or widespread? Colin Freeman reported in his most recent article that both von Ackermann and Manelick had raised concerns about corruption. News reports of corruption in Iraq have recently been appearing in the press. While the various articles discuss companies and people unrelated to Kirk von Ackermann or Ryan Manelick, it provides a glimpse into the bigger picture of the overall business environment that some contractors are working in.

Stratex Freedom Services

Note: Kirk von Ackermann and Ryan Manelick did not work for Stratex Freedom Services. They were employed by Ultra Services.

The successful business model of Stratex Freedom Services appears similar to what Ultra Services sought to repeat in Iraq. The following is provided as background and context.


Stratex Freedom Services constructs the Team 5-designed Air Operations building on the Karshi-Kahabad base, using conex containers. Closed Circuit, Vol. 25 No. 22, October 24, 2003

John Dawkins, President of Ultra Services, is listed as a founding member of the company, Stratex Freedom Services. Geoff Nordloh, listed as management of Ultra Group, is Chief Finance Officer at Stratex Freedom Services.

According to the Ultra Services website, Stratex appears to have begun work in Fall 2001, under the umbrella of the Ultra Services Group:

Our first contract with the Department of Defense came in October, 2001 in Uzbekistan. We entered Afghanistan in December, 2001.
Like Ultra Services, Stratex Freedom Services is a contractor that provides containerized buildings.
Stratex Freedom Services is pleased to offer top-quality custom conex containerized office and living units throughout Central Asia. The units are made locally using western-quality building materials for a result that is as good as or better than what is available in the West.
Stratex Freedom Services
1 Catamaran Street
Suite A
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

Company locations are listed as: Gator Village, Kabul, Karshi, Afghanistan; Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Baku, Azerbaidjan; Marina del Rey, CA, USA.

Stratex Freedom Services Management is listed as:
Glen H. Lockwood - General Director
Frank A. Edgerly - Director Business Development & Marketing
Geoff Nordloh - Chief Financial Officer
Martyn Taylor - Afghan Project Director
According to the Center for Public Integrity Stratex Freedom Services was awarded a $1,978,175 contract in Afghanistan to provide trailers. The contracting agency was ARCENT*.

It is worth noting that Stratex products are referenced in several articles written and distributed for American military personnel in Afghanistan, an indication that Stratex services were well appreciated by those who relied on them. One such publication, Freedom Watch, was published by the 11th Public Affairs Detachment at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. At least two articles in separate issues of Freedom Watch identify Stratex.

Operation Camp Civi underway (PDF)
by Pfc Christina Carde, Freedom Watch, June 12, 2003
To consolidate all civilian personnel in an organized manner, one compound is being constructed to house every civilian on Bagram.

"About a month ago, we began the construction of Camp Civilian that will consist of 60 B-huts complete with air-conditioning, latrines and four Stratex shower units," said Blancaflor. "The compound is expected to be complete by the end of July, but we will begin relocating civilian employees in about two weeks or whenever the first of the huts is available."

Based on information at the Stratex websites above, the business is still in operation and has expanded: supplying furniture as well as managing a restaurant, The Gator.

As has been previously mentioned, John Dawkins worked in Far East Russia on the Sakhalin 1 Project where he met Greg Manelick, Ryan Manelick's father. Both Frank Edgerly and Glen H. Lockwood of Stratex also worked in Far East Russia. Edgerly as an entrepreneur of small businesses, and Lockwood as the Director of the Far Eastern Regional office of the Eurasia Foundation.

A quick glance shows a consistent pattern of highly intelligent, well-educated, business professionals with a preference to work along trusted colleagues.

Had Kirk von Ackermann and Ryan Manelick seen the accomplishments of Stratex with expectations of replicating the same business model? One team had achieved success in war torn Afghanistan. Manelick and von Ackermann joined a new team for similar work in Iraq.

Following the model of Stratex, Ultra Services appeared ready to roll in Iraq. The company had hired experienced and qualified professionals, knew how to deliver its product, and was familliar with the difficulties of doing business in a war zone. It should have been a big success. But that's not how it played out: Kirk von Ackermann is missing and Ryan Manelick is dead.

We may never know what or why, but clearly something in Iraq went terribly wrong for Ultra Services.

*ARCENT: U.S. Army Forces Central Command (ARCENT), Third Army, located at Fort McPherson, GA is a component command of USCENTCOM.

It is unclear why the Stratex contract, as reported by CPI, was not covered under LOGCAP (currently administered by Halliburton). It is unknown which agency handled contract awards to Ultra Services in Iraq.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Irex Corp

Irex Corp. is mentioned only once, as the employer of Ryan Manelick. It is the only known reference to date. There is no on-line information to indicate how Irex Corp. is participating in Iraq reconstruction. There is also nothing further than this one article to ascertain the relationship of Irex Corp. to Ultra Services.

Family mourns CV grad killed in Iraq ambush
by Cindy Stauffer, Lancaster New Era, December 18, 2003

Mrs. Manelick said her family found out about her son's death via a telephone call from the State Department.

She said a representative from her son's company, Ultra Services/Irex Corp., plans to attend her son's funeral Monday. She does not know if that person will be able to tell them more about the attack.

Manelick had gone to Baghdad in August and was living in company-supplied housing, his mother said. He was chief operations officer and logistics and services manager for the company.

The Lancaster New Era, which published the article, has an avearge daily circulation of 45,000. Their offices are located in Lancaster, PA.

Editor's Note: Irex was mis-identified in the above article as "Irex Corp". The correct name of the business is Irex Ltd. Additional information will follow in a later post. - July 21, 2005

Irex Corporation, also known as Irex Contracting Group, is listed in Lancaster, PA.

Irex Corporation
120 North Lime Street
Lancaster, PA 17608

The company website reports $144 million in revenues for 2003.

Irex Corporation Management is listed as:
W. Kirk Liddell - President & Chief Executive Officer
Irex subsidiaries:
Advanced Specialty Contractors, LLC, Aston, PA
Altair Contracting, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
Argus Contracting, LLC, Long Beach, CA
Atlantic Contracting and Specialties, Westwood, MA
Cornerstone Services Group, LLC, Kansas City, MO
New States Contracting, LLC, Linden, NJ
Pyro-Stop, LLC, Aston, PA
SpaceCon LLC Architectural, Lancaster, PA
SpaceCon LLC Marine, Thibodaux, LA
Summit Contracting, LLC, Salt Lake City, UT

Side Note

The following is provided as additional background information on Irex Corporation.

Armstrong Linoleum was first offered for trade in 1909 from its factory in Lancaster, PA.

From the sale of one of Armstrong's subsidiaries, Armstrong Contracting and Supply Corporation, renamed AC&S, Irex Corporation was formed in 1968.

The wholly-owned subsidiary of Irex Corporation, AC&S, filed for bankruptcy due to asbestos litigation--a situation that Halliburton has also found itself in due to their merger in 1998 with Dresser Industries. According to one site that monitors asbestos litigation, "Certain of the products installed by AC&S between 1958 and 1974 contained asbestos. Effective January 1, 1974, AC&S adopted the policy that it would no longer handle, furnish or install friable asbestos-containing materials."

The President and CEO of Irex Corporation, W. Kirk Liddell, was a guest at the White House for the February 18, 2005 signing of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 by President Bush.

Law on class action suits a triumph for Bush
by Ken Herman, Cox News Service, February 19, 2005
Kirk Liddell, president of the Irex Corporation of Lancaster, Pa., and one of the guests at the East Room signing ceremony, praised the new law and echoed Bush's call for further efforts to protect businesses.

"It's imperative that Congress builds on this momentum and presses ahead with critical asbestos, medical liability and other comprehensive legal reforms," said Liddell, chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers legal issues policy committee.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

A Grave Discovery

Brief reference to Kirk von Ackermann in an article on the discovery of remains of four bodies. The bodies have not been identified.

Graves found at depot pose puzzle in Iraq
by Harry Esteve, The Oregonian, March 03, 2005

Oregon Army National Guard soldiers found a series of shallow graves in southern Iraq over the weekend that appeared to contain the remains of four Western civilians, a spokesman said Wednesday. The victims appeared to have been executed, said Oregon Guard Maj. Arnold Strong. [...]

The remains, which were handed over to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI, have not been identified publicly, and neither their nationality nor cause of death had been confirmed by late Wednesday. [...]

Seven Americans and a handful of civilians from other Western countries appear on lists of missing foreigners in Iraq.

Among those reported missing are Army Pfc. Keith Maupin; Timothy Bell, a contract employee with Halliburton; Dean Sadek, a manager at the Baghdad airport; Roy Hallum, a contractor who was working for a Saudi firm; Sadeq Mohammed Sadeq, a Lebanese-American contractor; Aban Elias, an Iraqi-American engineer; and Kirk von Ackermann, a contractor.

Additional details in the article on why troops believe the vicitms may be Americans.


David Corn, the Washington editor of The Nation magazine, has a blog post up on Kirk von Ackermann. While it provides no new information (it links to the article in Sojourner which in turn links to the Chronicle) a number of smaller bloggers have been picking up the story from Corn and are linking to his post.

An Iraq Murder Mystery for Negroponte?
by David Corn,, February 18, 2005

I'd like to see a senator ask Negroponte about von Ackermann and Manelick. As the US ambassador in Iraq last year, did he do anything to solve this mystery?
Not much of note in the comments section.