Saturday, June 21, 2008

Map of Camp Anaconda

Well, no actually, there isn't a map of Camp Anaconda. And I thought the military loved maps. Another myth shattered.

I filed an FOIA for a map of Camp Anaconda (also known as Balad Air Base, LSA Anaconda) from the time period of September - December 2003. I wasn't looking for anything fancy, just some basic info, nothing hush hush. According to CENTCOM, such a thing doesn't exist.

Despite our extensive and careful search for documents pertaining to your request, we were unable to locate responsive documents.
I was pretty certain CENTCOM were the go-to guys. Maybe I directed my request to the wrong agency and I should have written to the Defense Supply Center or the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

So now I'm not sure what to think. I was hoping to use the map in another article I'm working on.

Addendum: to the left is the actual FOIA letter with some identifying information blacked out specifically, officer's name, FOIA #, and contact phone number.

2nd Addendum: I thought this article might be of interest.
Terrain Team Ensures Roads are Mapped Out
By Sgt. Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown, Defend America, April 12, 2007

LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Iraq — Most offices have them, but trailer six in the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)’s compound here, holds a very large one.

Operating out of a small trailer is a four-member contingent of the 70th Engineer Company, (currently attached to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) ), who have the responsibility of making maps by request of the ever-changing roads of Iraq. And of course, they have a very large plotter printer for printing out their custom-made maps.

“All of our maps are mission-dictated,” said Sgt. Byram D. Faulk of Washington, D.C., the terrain team noncommissioned officer-in-charge.

The team creates maps requested by units who need the maps for specific reasons. They may need a map outlining bodies of water, or other terrain features, or they may just need a more current map then they already have, Faulk said.

But nope, no map of Camp Anaconda from the fall of 2003.

Photo of LSA Anaconda by James Gordon, taken on July 26, 2005

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I'm feeling the need to cover some technical territory. It'll make for some dry reading I'm afraid but it's much needed background.

So... I'm preparing some future posts on Chain of Custody for Evidence and Property; overview of a relatively new Hostage Reporting contract clause requirement (ref); as well as a look at disposition of Personal Effects in Theater of Operations (ref); and a quick look at the Missing Persons Act (ref).

There's just no other polite way to say this: decades of standard operating procedures went right out the window in 2003. It's almost as if the Pentagon had never fought a war before. That won't be clear without introducing the background material.

PS Bonus offer...a peek at the role of the Coalition Provisional Authority in local law enforcement.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Missing Notebook

Kirk von Ackermann liked to take notes. Lots and lots of notes.

He liked to record his thoughts, using his own personal form of a cryptic short hand, described as an "idiosyncratic writing system," that in part used multiple languages. (If memory serves, Kirk von Ackermann spoke 6 languages.) Most often, he relied on a mixture of Russian and English. And he kept up his habit of taking notes while he worked for Ultra Services.

Kirk always had something with him to write on - always. His notes are almost impossible to read since he had very small handwriting, regularly used multiple languages, personal acronyms, abbreviations etc., and almost always wrote very quickly as he tried to keep up with his own ideas. - Megan von Ackermann
What happened to Kirk von Ackermann's notebook?

Habit dictates Kirk von Ackermann had a notebook with him in the car on the day he disappeared. Unfortunately, no one seems to really know what happened to most of his personal effects among which, was a soccer jersey from an Iraqi national team player meant as a gift for his son. What might his notebook say about the days immediately preceding his disappearance?
He used his notebook to write down ideas, notes about people he met, suggestions, inspirations... that sort of thing. So he would probably write down observations about the people he was meeting (the military officers he was dealing with, anyone else he found helpful or who might be interested in a product or service), notes he had on how the processes were working (deliveries, contract negotiations, employee relations etc) or ideas for a new way to use an existing product or a new need he had noticed.

Left, sample of Kirk von Ackermann's notes taken around the year 2000, recorded in a Dayrunner. Coin is for size comparison.

Maybe Kirk von Ackermann's notebook is even now sitting in the glove box of his vehicle in an impound lot. Maybe not.

Shortly before his murder, Ryan Manelick alleged fraud within the company and that it involved US Army officers. Von Ackermann had an acute sense of observation. It seems highly unlikely he would have missed something like fraud and kickbacks....
If Kirk knew about the fraud allegation he certainly might have made notes about what he was seeing. Even if he didn't, his habit of writing notes the way he did might have made someone else think he was jotting things down about it.
Where is that notebook today?

That's the bingo question.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Irex Ltd.

What follows is a general overview of Irex Ltd, a company that no matter how hard one tries to avoid it, just seems to cast a shadow over the events of 2003.

And yet, Irex Ltd was a legal entity only and never fulfilled any contracts in Iraq.

Irex Ltd is not Irex Corp

Ryan Manelick was gunned down on December 14, 2003 shortly after leaving a meeting at Camp Anaconda in Iraq. His obituary in Pennsylvania newspapers listed his employers as Ultra Services and Irex Ltd – mistakenly identified as Irex Corp in his obituary.

This misidentification of Irex Ltd has caused some confusion. Irex Ltd had no relationship to a company of similar name, Irex Corp of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, formerly a subsidiary of Armstrong, which earned some notoriety for its involvement in asbestos suits.

The company history starts in 2003 more or less coinciding with the split of another logistics supplier, Stratex Freedom Services, in to two entities: one American, one Uzbeki as shown in the middle of the graphic provided.

History of Irex Ltd

The story of Irex Ltd begins with the founding of another company, Ultra Services, in early 2003 to fulfill logistics contracts for the US Army in Iraq.

Through a $50,000 investment from a company working in Central Asia, Stratex Freedom Services LLC, a Turkish businessman, Mete Mutluoglu, agreed to change the name of his then inactive Turkish company, Microserve to Ultra Services. Through this arrangement, Mutluoglu would own 50% and Stratex Freedom Services LLC would own the other 50% of the new company Ultra Services. For putting the company together, an American businessman, John Dawkins, would own 25% of Ultra Services through his own share in Stratex by additionally providing “sweat equity” in Iraq.(1) Mete Mutluoglu brought in two Turkish employee managers to Ultra Services, Bora Tuncay and Egemen Çakmak.

Stratex' Chief Finanical Officer, Geoff Nordloh, traveled to Turkey to help in setting up the new company, subsequently returning to Central Asia. Norldoh was never an officer or employee of Ultra Services. John Dawkins handled sales and installation in Iraq while the managers oversaw production in Turkey.

By summer, Nordloh had heard from former Stanford Business School classmate, Albert “Charles” Phillips who read about Nordloh in Stanford’s Alumni notes. Phillips was interested in Nordloh’s work in Central Asia. While Stratex had no immediate need of Phillips in Central Asia, Dawkins was pressing his Stratex partners for more help in Iraq. After several phone calls, Phillips arrived mid-summer to work for Ultra Services out of their Istanbul office.(2) Also joining the company was Ryan Manelick, the son of a close personal friend of Dawkins. Initially intending to work out of the Istanbul office, Manelick was shifted to Iraq as he spoke some Arabic. Manelick oversaw site installation.

While in Turkey, Phillips was in contact with a former colleague from Siebel Systems of San Mateo, California, Kirk von Ackermann, a former Air Force officer who had served in Kosovo. Von Ackermann traveled to Iraq and joined Ultra Services in August of 2003.

By the Fall of 2003, relations within Ultra Services had begun to sour.

Several Ultra Services’ employees, unhappy with John Dawkins —- who had more or less pushed his Turkish partner Mutluoglu aside -- sought to create a new company, Irex Ltd. The employees sought to partner with Stratex Freedom Services LLC, later renamed TFI International LLC after the company severed ties with its former Uzbek partners.

Corporate Structure

Irex Ltd principals were originally intended to be:

Albert Charles Phillips – Chief Executive Officer
Geoff Nordloh – Chief Financial Officer
Egeman Cakmak
Bora Tuncay
Kirk von Ackermann
In addition, Charles Phillips suggested bringing in a third Stanford Business School colleague, Michael Finkelstein. Finkelstein would look into financing but never formally joined the company.

Irex Ltd had already developed its first product, a Demountable Guard Unit, designed by Kirk von Ackermann and his wife, Megan. Investors and manufacturers were showing considerable interest. Potential buyers were lining up in no small part due to von Ackermann's prior experience in the military. The product was already showing potential outside of Iraq.

The company website,, was registered on October 2, 2003. Cached pages from the original Irex Ltd website, now the site of an Internet services company, can be viewed at the Internet Archive.

In an email to Nordloh, on October 8, 2003 (2) , Phillips sketched out in considerable detail the corporate structure of what would eventually be Irex Ltd. He noted that Mete Mutluoglu was “under the impression that he is Stratex’ exclusive partner in Turkey”, and that this would need to be resolved. Even though he was essentially John Dawkins' business partner in Ultra Services, Mutluoglu's agreement was actually signed with Stratex. It was anticipated some sort of financial arrangement with Mutluoglu would need to be worked out.

The next day, on October 9, 2003, Kirk von Ackermann disappeared while traveling on business in Iraq.

Irex Ltd was incorporated in Bermuda on October 22, 2003. The company would exist as a legal entity only and would never fulfill any contracts.

By mid-November, Ryan Manelick had decided to join Irex Ltd as the company's representative in Iraq, writing an email to his father on November 16, 2003 that he and Charles Phillips had split from Dawkins. (3)

On December 14, 2003, Ryan Manelick was killed shortly after leaving a meeting at Camp Anaconda. Charles Phillips, Bora Tuncay and Egemen Cakmak continued to try to get Irex Ltd off the ground.

By February of 2004, Phillips returned to the United States for good.

By March, Irex Ltd and Ultra Services both ceased to exist.

Most of the information that follows originated from what still remains of the original website at the Internet Archive.

Contact Information

From the Irex Ltd website:
Acıbadem cad. Bayir sok. Neyyire hanim apt. No:4 D:2 Uskudar
Istanbul / TURKEY
Tel: +90 (216) 545 4610
Fax: +90 (216) 545 4602

Clarendon House (registered agent for Irex Ltd)
2 Church Street
Hamilton HM11
Corporate Mission

From the Irex Ltd website:
Irex Services is dedicated to supporting the execution of United States policy and maintaining the safety and well-being of United States citizens and personnel throughout the globe. We are committed to the highest levels of safety, product design, and operational effectiveness. Each of our employees represents our outstanding standards of customer service and corporate integrity in each and every interaction with one of our customers.
About Irex Ltd

From the Irex Ltd website:
Irex Services, Ltd. was founded and incorporated in 2003 to provide a base of operations to serve the construction needs of the United States government in Southern Turkey and Northern Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi freedom. Irex' formation is a direct response to the previous absence of regionally owned, American-staffed companies providing services in the rebuilding of Iraq after the recent war. Irex contracts directly with the United States government for goods and services in the construction arena. Irex is also available to sub-contract to foreign firms looking to tap local vendors for projects. Irex is committed to providing the highest level of service at the most effective price.

Irex' diverse management team is specifically designed to effectively provide logistical and supply support to the United States Armed Services. Irex' American management component provides a familiar point of contact to U.S. personnel, providing a level of comfort unusual in companies which are managed solely by local talent in areas of deployment. Irex' Turkish management component is able to source and sub-contract with vendors who can fill the materials and labor needs of Irex' contracts, utilizing decades of expertise in Turkey and the rest of Europe and Asia . The combination of these components allows Irex to design, manufacture, and deliver goods and services throughout the Eastern Hemisphere . Since its formation, the company has successfully won and executed contracts to provide good and services in Baghdad and throughout Northern Iraq totaling more than $10 million. Irex Services, Ltd. is a Bermuda corporation corporate headquarters in Hamilton , Bermuda and operational offices in Istanbul, Turkey.
Company Catalogue

The website originally included information about products available through Irex Ltd. such as:
Armored Protection – Steel Umbrella for Containerized Units

Containerized Office Units

Mobile Armored Guard Units This product was designed by Kirk von Ackermann and his wife Megan. More information on the Guard Unit including pictures can be found here: The Demountable Guard Shack
General Information of Irex Ltd Principals

Albert Charles Phillips - Chief Executive Officer
(Information from the Irex Ltd website)
Charles Phillips has been a sales, marketing and operations executive at a mix of new ventures and established firms in the arenas of software, telecommunications, and professional services. His most significant recent experience is at Siebel Systems where he managed the company's $10 million relationship with its largest channel partner (Microsoft). He also worked in Global Sales Operations where he architected Siebel's Global/Strategic Accounts program, and served as an Engineering Operations manager, supervising 1000+ engineers in the release of the latest version of Siebel's suite of Customer Relationship Management software (v. 7.5). Prior to Siebel, Charles was director of Business Development for Certive Corporation, a small business application services provider. At Certive, Charles was solely responsible for the relationship and strategic initiatives with the company's largest channel partner and chief investor, Office Depot. Charles also spent two years as a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group, covering healthcare and the pulp and paper industry.

Charles Phillips has an AB in Government from Harvard University and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Geoff Nordloh - Chief Financial Officer
(Information provided by Geoff Nordloh - also see About Geoff Nordloh)
Geoff Nordloh received his bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) from Princeton University in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He received a full fellowship to study Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University and completed his master’s degree there in 1993 followed by an MBA from its Graduate School of Business in June 1999.

From 1993 to 1997 he served as an officer in the United States Air Force, responsible for the launch, deployment, and operations of several communications satellite programs. Nordloh co-founded Mesopotamia Group LLC and now serves as the company’s CFO traveling between the United States and Afghanistan.
Bora Tuncay – partner
Bora Tuncay with Egeman Çakmak and Kirk von Ackermann, was to hold a 20% interest in the company, vested after 2 years. (4)
Egemen Çakmak – partner
Egeman Çakmak with Bora Tuncay and Kirk von Ackermann, was to hold a 20% interest in the company, vested after 2 years. (5)
Kirk von Ackermann - partner
A former Air Force Captain, Kirk von Ackermann, with Bora Tuncay and Egeman Çakmak, was to hold a 20% interest in the company, vested after 2 years. (6) Von Ackermann had previously served with distinction as a Russian linguist for the US Army then as an officer with the US Air Force where he was decorated for work for NATO operations in Bosnia behind enemy lines, eventually working with with an elite joint force command counter-terrorism unit that regularly briefed the White House. After leaving the military, he went to work as a manager at Siebel Systems in San Mateo, CA.
Extensive biographical information on von Ackermann can be found at the weblog, Missing in Iraq by Megan von Ackermann, see March - August 2006


(1) Information provided by Geoff Nordloh for the article
One Missing, One Dead: An Iraq Contractor in the Fog of War
By Susie Dow with Steven Reich, ePluribus Media, May 15, 2006
(2) Ibid
(3) Death of a Contractor: Greed and Murder in Iraq's Lawless Desert
By Dan Halpern, Rolling Stone, March 8, 2007, Issue 1021
pp 70-74, 76-69 (print version includes photos)
(4) Email from Charles Phillips to Geoff Nordloh sent October 8, 2003 10:23 AM Subject: Corporate Structure (A copy of the full text of this email is available to read here: Irex Ltd. - Corporate Structure)
(5) Ibid
(6) Ibid

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Americans Missing in Iraq - June 2008

Update: On July 9, 2008 the remains of Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Michigan were found and identified. Sincere condolences to their family and friends.

I'm going to try to provide regular updates on the Americans known to be missing in Iraq. In some cases the entries are very brief as information was limited. I'd like to encourage following the reference links. Ages given are those at the time of incident. Listed in chronological order. Corrections and/or additions very much welcome.

Kirk von Ackermann of Moss Beach, California missing since October 9, 2003

37-year old Contract Manager for Ultra Services of Istanbul, Turkey. 45 minutes after calling an Iraqi employee for assistance with a flat tire, von Ackermann's car was discovered abandoned. The car contained his satellite phone, laptop computer and $40,000 cash. There was no sign of struggle. Von Ackermann has not been heard from since. His colleague, Ryan Manelick, was killed in a drive by shooting shortly after claiming von Ackermann's disappearance was tied to fraud. Von Ackermann had previously served as a linguist for the US Army then as an officer with the US Air Force. The investigation was complicated by his former work with an elite joint force command counter-terrorism unit that regularly briefed the White House. The investigation remains open under the US Army CID even though CID determined he is presumed dead. Von Ackermann is married, father of 3 children.

Missing in Iraq
By Megan von Ackermann

Bay Area civilian vanishes in Iraq
by Colin Freeman, San Francisco Chronicle, November 11, 2003

Suspicion surrounds missing Bay Area man
by Colin Freeman, San Francisco Chronicle, February 13, 2005

Timothy E. Bell of Mobile, Alabama missing since April 9, 2004

45-year-old, electrician for Halliburton subsidiary KBR. Bell has been missing since the fuel convoy he was driving in was hit by gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades in an attack outside of Baghdad. Nine Americans were killed and at least 17 were injured. Thomas Hamill, truck convoy commander, was taken hostage and later set free by US forces. The remains of SSG Keith "Matt" Maupin, also missing after the attack, were recently identified. Timothy Bell is the only member of his convoy who has not been accounted for. Bell is the father of three and previously served in the US Army. He was planning to be married in the summer of 2004.

Not Knowing is the Most Frustrating
By Garry Mitchell, Associated Press, June 04, 2004

Family Of Tim Bell Not Giving Up - includes video of an interview with family
By Diana Lucio, April 23, 2008

Timothy Bell...Four Years Later
By Jessica Taloney, WKRG, April 9, 2008

CNN - includes photo

Aban Abdel Malek Mahmoud Elias also known as 'Aban Elias' of Denver, Colorado was kidnapped on May 3, 2004

45-year-old, civil engineer possibly with the US Army Corps of Engineers. Elias was kidnapped while working on a road project near Baghdad. Elias has not been heard from since he was seen blind folded in video footage aired in 2004. His mother is said to blame his kidnapping on his choice of car, a new Jeep Cherokee SUV. Elias is an Iraqi-American who had moved back to the Middle East, living in Jordan and the UAE, with his family. Married, father of three. His mother is said to have traveled to Iraq to try and gain his release.

Another American taken hostage in Iraq
MSNBC, May 6, 2004

Arab TV shows new U.S. hostage in Iraq
CNN, May 6, 2004

Iraqi Born U.S. Citizen Taken Hostage In Iraq
CNN, May 6, 2004

More Than a Year Later, American Remains Hostage in Iraq - radio interview
NPR, December 1, 2005

CNN - includes photo

Radim Sadeq Mohammed Sadeq also known as 'Dean Sadek' of Charlotte, North Carolina was kidnapped on November 2, 2004

Formerly worked for SkyLink USA at the Baghdad Airport, he was said to be working for a cell phone company under contract to the US Army at the time of his abduction. Sadek is a Lebanese American. He was kidnapped from his home in the Mansour district of Baghdad. Sadeq has not been heard from since he was seen in video footage aired in 2004. Divorced and remarried, he is the father of two sons.

Remembering the Forgotten American Hostages: Dean Sadek

CNN - includes photo

Jeffrey Ake of LaPorte, Indiana was kidnapped on April 11, 2005

Owned and operated a water-bottling equipment company, Equipment Express. Ake was installing a bottled water line that his company had manufactured when kidnapped. His abductors contacted the family shortly after he was taken, but have not been heard from since. Married, father of four children.

Third Anniversary of Jeffrey Ake's Abduction by Iraqi Terrorists
Press Release,, April 9, 2008

CNN - includes photo - website

Spc. Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie (also Ahmed K. Altaie) of Ann-Arbor, Michigan was kidnapped on October 23, 2006

41-year-old Specialist in the US Army. Altaie is a linguist (translator) with the Provincial Reconstruction Team Baghdad. Married. Altaie was kidnapped with his brother-in-law when he went to visit his wife in Baghdad. His brother-in-law was quickly freed. A ransom demand was made for $250,000. Altaie has not been heard from since a proof of life video was released by his captors on February 14, 2007.

A Ransom Demand for the Missing U.S. Soldier
By Brian Bennett, Time, November 2, 2006

Abducted Altaie Seen in Video - with updates
AII POW-MIA, February 14, 2007

Wikipedia, includes additional sources

Pfc. Byron W. Fouty of Waterford, Michigan missing since May 12, 2007

19-year-old Private First Class in the US Army when he was ambushed and abducted with two other soldiers, one of whom was later found killed. Searchers found the men's ID cards in June. Fouty was with the the 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum, NY.

Missing soldiers' family unite in shared grief
By Anna Badkhen, Boston Globe, July 22, 2007

Still missing: Walled Lake GI kidnapped in Iraq a year ago
By Catherine Jun, The Detroit News, May 12, 2008

Sgt. Alex Ramon Jimenez of Lawrence, Massachusetts missing since May 12, 2007

25-year-old Specialist in the US Army when he was ambushed and abducted with two other soldiers, one of whom was later found killed. Searchers found the men's ID cards in June. Jimenez was with the the 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum, NY.

Missing soldiers' family unite in shared grief
By Anna Badkhen, Boston Globe, July 22, 2007

Missing in Iraq: Jimenez - lists articles to date
The Eagle Tribune

Photos were found publicly displayed on the web and are intended as "fair use" under Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. Please email me if you'd like a photo removed, changed, or added.

Previous posts

Americans Missing in Iraq (photos)
March 31, 2008

Click on the label "Missing" to view other related posts