Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Defense Base Act vs War Hazards Compensation Act

This post looks at the significance of a non-hostile event vs a hostile event in determining how a casualty will be handled under the Defense Base Act. Any errors are strictly my own and, as always, corrections are very much welcome.


Under United States policies and laws, a casualty is composed of a) TYPE, b) STATUS, and c) CATEGORY.

a) TYPE:
(1) non-hostile or
(2) hostile

(1) deceased or
(2) duty status – whereabouts unknown (DUSTWUN) for military, or excused absence – whereabouts unknown (EAWUN) for civilians or
(3) missing or
(4) very seriously ill or injured (VSI) or
(5) seriously ill or injured (SI) or
(6) not seriously ill or injured (NSI) or
(7) Returned to Military Control (RMC) or
(8) Pending - for preliminary reports only

At the DoD Component’s discretion, an additional casualty Status may be used - generally used for illnesses that require hospitalization:

(9) Special Patient (SPECPAT) or
(10) Special Category (SPECAT)
There are a wide variety of casualty categories depending on the status. For example, categories used for 'Status - Missing' are - Beleaguered, Besieged, Captured, Detained, Interned, Missing, Missing in Action (MIA), and again, Pending is for preliminary reports only.
POW is not a casualty status for reporting purposes, rather Status and Category are "Missing-Captured."

The key to understanding the difference between the Defense Base Act and the War Hazards Compensation Act lies in the TYPE of casualty: non-hostile vs. hostile


The Defense Base Act is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act - the equivalent of worker's compensation for Americans working overseas for US government agencies.

The Defense Base Act is, in effect, a group of laws: Defense Base Act (1941), War Hazards Compensation Act (1942), Mutual Security Act (1958), and in part the Dayton Peace Accords (1995). In addition, the Federal Employees Compensation Act (1916) applies should an incident qualify under the War Hazards Compensation Act.

Because coverage under the Defense Base Act is a legal requirement, premiums paid by a contractor are a reimbursable expense under the terms of the contract. Contracts should carry the relevant contract clauses (see: PDF - Memorandum: Inclusion of Defense Base Act Clause in DoD Overseas Contracts 08 Dec 2003).

Defense Base Act vs War Hazards Compensation Act

Incidents are divided into two types: NON-HOSTILE and HOSTILE. Casualties the result of a Non-Hostile event are covered under the Defense Base Act. Casualties the result of a Hostile event, however, are covered under the War Hazards Compensation Act.

The following graphic is an attempt to help clarify the difference between the Defense Base Act and the War Hazards Compensation Act.

right click to open in a new window

Claims arising from incidents that are the result of non-hostile action generally are reported under the Defense Base Act and as such are 15-40% reimbursable. [see note below] Claims arising from incidents that are the result of hostile action are paid under the War Hazards Compensation Act and subsequently the Federal Employees Compensation Act and consequently are 100% reimbursable.


John Brown sprains his ankle getting out of his truck in Iraq. Even though he's working in a war zone, the type of incident is non-hostile. Claims will be covered under the Defense Base Act. The claims will be reimbursed at 15-40%.

Bob Jones sprains his ankle getting out of his truck in Iraq as he attempts to retreat from mortar fire. Even though the injury is physically and medically identical to that of his co-worker, John Brown, the incident is the result of hostile action. Claims will be covered under the War Hazards Compensation Act and subsequently the Federal Employees Compensation Act. The claims will be reimbursed at 100%.

Previous related posts

Casualty Status of Missing

Iraq Contractors and The Missing Persons Act

Note (added July 19, 2009)

Figures were provided by Department of Labor personnel during several presentations at the Defense Base Act conference in Washington DC in the fall of 2008. The vast majority of claims filed under the Defense Base Act are for injuries. Expense to be reimbursed is usually for Loss Time - that is, the amount of time that an employee is unable to work due to the injury - but only if more than 4 days. The first 4 days are expected to be paid as sick days by an employer, and are not reimbursed.

As a result, the bulk of the claims - which again are for injuries - generally end up being reimbursed at 15-40%. In more concrete terms, the vast majority of injuries result in a time loss of 5 to 7 days of which 1 to 3 days, roughly 15-40%, will be reimbursed.

The Department of Labor breaks down Loss Time as follows:
NLT - No Loss Time - No lost time and no medical expense
NL0 - No Loss Zero - No lost time and no medical expense * but may result in a later claim, Questionable No Lost Time Injury**
NL4 - No Loss Four - No lost time, medical expense incurred or expected *
DEA - Death
COP - Continuation of regular pay*
OTH - Other
* found on a DOL form for Federal Employee's Notice of Traumatic Injury and Claim for Continuation of Pay/Compensation
** CHAPTER 1-300 - INDEX AND CONTROL at the Department of Labor website

Monday, December 15, 2008

Websites of interest

A few websites for anyone interested on learning more about some of the common issues surrounding Iraq and American contractors and troops who served there. (Defense Base Act benefits, health and safety issues, etc). I'll be adding them to the side bar.

Host is Ms Sparky, an electrician who worked for KBR in Iraq from 2004-2007. 

Host is Jana Crowder, wife of a former KBR driver who worked in Iraq. My understanding is the site grew out of a discussion board for contractors families.

Hosts are two former soldiers, Ms. Missive who served in Iraq in 2005 and Skitz M. Jones, medic in Balad, Iraq from 2005-2006. 

Host is Cindy Morgan, a former KBR truck driver who spent two years in Iraq. Morgan wrote a book about her experiences, "Cindy In Iraq."

Host is the wife of a former Iraq contractor who returned from Iraq with severe health issues.

News out of Iraq.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Un-Justice for a Contractor in Iraq

There's something about this story that compels me to post it here at the Missing Man.

It may be that the unidentified contractor was essentially kidnapped and held against his will for months - his family assuming he was dead. Or that the contractor worked with intelligence personnel during the course of his work. Or that the military personnel charged with the authority to investigate seemed to have abandoned the responsibility given to them. Or that he and his family have suffered financially - his employer still owes him wages.

More than likely, it's the similarity - basic accepted principals of American justice based on forensic evidence and cold hard facts stood ignored while prejudice, jealousy, innuendo and gossip found favor.

Former U.S. Contractor Alleges 9-Month Detention in Iraq
By Emma Schwartz, ABC News, December 11, 2008
For months, he worked closely with American soldiers, ferreting out threats to the troops and forging a relationship with a key sheikh who went on to lead the Sunni awakening. But when this 52-year-old translator and veteran of the U.S. Army headed for his annual leave as a contractor in Iraq, he claims he was wrongfully imprisoned for nine months by American forces, with no access to a lawyer and no contact with his family for months.

The allegations are laid out in a lawsuit against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, recently filed in federal court in Washington where the former contractor for Titan, and a naturalized U.S. citizen, alleges that his due process rights were violated when he was detained and held in "torturous conditions." "There was no justice in what happened to me," the translator said in an exclusive hour-long phone interview with ABCNews.com. "There was no justice involved in it."

The translator's suit is filed under an alias, John Doe, because he fears for his safety and his family. But through his lawyer, Michael Kanovitz, the translator agreed to an interview about the details of his imprisonment. His case is the fourth known example of a U.S. citizen held in Iraq without a formal trial. Two other former contractors, Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel, have filed a similar suit in Chicago over their three month long detention at Camp Cropper. Another U.S. citizen, filmmaker Cyrus Kar, also filed suit over his arrest and several-week long detention, but a judge recently dismissed his suit on the grounds that the military officials had immunity.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Ultra Services Procured Cars

News to me.

I stumbled upon an article from November of 2003 featuring Ryan Manelick. The article was for a Swiss news outlet by the name of 24 Heures and is in French - probably why I missed it all these years. I can't be sure but I believe it includes quotes from Omar Hadi - who I believe is referred to as "Haydar." One very interesting note: according to the article, Ryan's job included procuring cars [voitures] for the US Army.

This of course raises a very big question - did Ryan Manelick help Kirk von Ackermann buy his vehicle? I'm going to bet the answer is yes. 

I am quoting the article in full below. Another thing to note - Ryan appears to still be working for Ultra Services. There is no indication of any kind of animosity within the company.

C'est l'histoire de deux chefs d'entreprise
24 Heures, November 18, 2003
C'est l'histoire de deux chefs d'entreprise. 
Haydar a 32 ans. Il est Irakien. C'est un « intermédiaire »: il cherche ? et trouve ? des entreprises capables de répondre aux commandes des multinationales américaines en charge de la reconstruction du pays. 
Ryan Manelick, lui, a 30 ans. Il est Texan. Il n'a qu'un seul client, l'armée américaine qu'il approvisionne en unités sanitaires, électroménager, meubles, ordinateurs ou voitures d'Europe et des Etats-Unis. Et l'option « grand bazar sur la Mésopotamie » s'est avérée plus que payante. Créée en janvier dernier dans l'optique de la guerre, l'entreprise de Ryan Manelick avance un chiffre d'affaires de 12 millions de dollars sur quatre mois et emploie près de 70 locaux. 
« Jamais, nous aurions rêvé une telle réussite », confie-t-il. « Mais qui aurait pu imaginer que l'armée américaine n'aurait rien prévu pour l'après-guerre ? On leur livre même des ballots de protection. »
Faveurs et privilèges
Près d'une cinquantaine de petites entités de toutes nationalités se disputent ce marché. Les contrats sont théoriquement distribués sur la base d'appels d'offres par courriel mais Ryan admet des entorses à la règle. « Je suis Américain donc je rentre facilement dans les bases et au quartier général. Des contrats se passent parfois de gré à gré. » 
Sa nationalité se révèle en revanche handicapante lorsqu'il s'agit de faire transiter les marchandises dans le fameux triangle sunnite, bastion de la résistance. « Ce n'est pas de tout repos », consent-il. « On essuie des tirs. Mais pour l'instant, il n'y a pas de casse, heureusement. »
Haydar, quant à lui, rêverait de connaître ce genre de problème. Son chiffre d'affaire en sept mois de présence américaine ? Néant. Il n'a pourtant pas ménagé ses efforts pour obtenir des contrats, répondant aux multiples appels d'offres de Bechtel et KBR, les deux entreprises américaines qui ont décroché les plus gros contrats (respectivement 1 et 2,3 milliards de dollars). « Bechtel ne m'a jamais répondu tandis que KBR me fait des propositions insensées, explique-t-il. Ils demandent parfois 50 rouleaux de scotch, 30 pinceaux à peinture ... Mais pour qui me prennent-ils ? Ils n'ont qu'à aller au supermarché. »
L'Autorité provisoire de la coalition (CPA) n'échappe pas à sa critique. « Eux, vivent sur une autre planète. Ils passent par exemple un appel d'offres pour approvisionner en matériel informatique une équipe de 800 personnes. J'ai envoyé une proposition d'une société syrienne et j'ai reçu pour toute réponse un mail m'expliquant que, finalement d'offres n'était pas assez étayé. Est-ce ma faute s'ils ne réfléchissent pas avant de lancer une proposition ?»
Et de montrer des factures de téléphone satellite de 500 dollars, 150 dollars, dépenses occasionnées par ces démarchages. « Ils n'ont aucune manière. Avant la guerre, nous travaillions avec des sociétés russes dans le secteur pétrolier, je peux vous dire que c'était bien plus professionnel. »
De Haydar le Bagdadi à Ryan le Texan, ces deux destins aux fortunes diverses résument les débuts anarchiques de la reconstruction économique du nouvel Irak.

English Translation

My French is a little rusty. Rough translation follows - I'm sure I botched a phrase or two. Corrections very much welcome.
This is the story of two businessmen. 

Haydar is 32-years old. He is an Iraqi. He's a 'middle man.' He searches and finds companies capable of answering the demands of the American multinationals [corporations] in charge of reconstruction.

Ryan Manelick is 30-years old. He is a Texan. He has only one client, the American Army, who he supplies with portable toilets, appliances, furniture, computers or cars from Europe and America. And the option of the 'big bazaar in Mesopotamia' for more proof of who is paying. Created last January at the first hint of war, Ryan Manelick's company grew to $12 million of business in 4 months and employs 70 locals.

"Never, did we dream of this much success," he confided. "But then, who could have imagined the American Army didn't plan ahead for the post-war? Even their security is hired."

Favors and Privileges

Close to fifty small companies of all nationalities compete for business. The contracts are theoretically distributed on the basis of public requests for proposals but Ryan admits there are exceptions to the rules. "I am an American and can easily enter the bases and contracting offices. Contracts sometimes get handled in private."

His nationality, on the other hand, appears as a handicap when he moves merchandise in the famous Sunni Triangle, bastion of the resistance. "It's not peaceful", he admits. "You hear about shootings. But for now, that's not the case, happily."

Haydar has his own problems. His business after seven months of the American presence? Little to nothing. Despite his best efforts, he hasn't been able to obtain contracts, responding to multiple requests for proposals from Bechtel and KBR, the two American companies who offer the biggest contracts (respectively $1 and 2.3 million) "Bechtel never responded while KBR made ridiculous requests," he explained. "They asked for 50 bottles of Scotch, 30 paint brushes...but why ask me? Why not just go to the supermarket?"

The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) doesn't escape criticism. "Them. They live on another planet. For example, they made an appeal for software and equipment for 800 people. I delivered a proposal from a Syrian company and in response, I received an email explaining that there wasn't enough documentation to support the proposal. Is it my fault they didn't provide a description of their needs to begin with?" 

[Haydar?] shows invoices of satellite calls for 500 dollars, 150 dollars, expenditures due to the proposal."They have no manners. Before the war, we worked with the Russians in the petroleum industry. Let me tell you, they were much more professional." 

Haydar the Bagdadi and Ryan the Texan, two destinies of diverse fortunes that summarize the anarchistic debut of the economic rebuilding of a new Iraq.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Contractor Fatalities as of September 2008

From the Associated Press:

Deaths of civilian employees of U.S. government contractors as of Sept 30, 2008: 1,264
No mention of injuries or missing personnel. 

As a side note, while I was at the Defense Base Act conference in Washington DC, I spoke with someone from the Department of Labor about missing persons. His words, "we can't prove it, but we know there must be more than reported." By "we," he meant the Department of Labor. 

According to the person I spoke with, the Department of Labor is aware that in some circumstances, employers continue paying the full salary of a kidnapped or missing employee rather than file a report or claim. There's some logic behind this. For one, employers want to keep a low profile and keep their company name out of the news media. Two, keeping an individual's names out of the news may aid with recovery especially in dealing with ransom demands. Three, families facing an already stressful situation want some privacy. 

Pretty much, no one really knows how many Americans are missing in Iraq today. 


Iraq: Key figures since the war began
Julie Reed and Rhonda Shafner, Associated Press, December 1, 2008