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USA: Defense Department to Treat Contractors Same as Military Personnel

"Training is going to be expanded beyond the military to DoD contractors and civilian personnel," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Jerry
Jennings. "So we have a broader mandate than we've ever had historically."

November 23rd, 2004

The Defense Department plans to teach U.S. contractors how to stay alive in

The Pentagon plans to train contractors in surviving insurgency strikes during
their missions in Iraq. Training will focus on search-and-rescue techniques in
urban areas.

"Training is going to be expanded beyond the military to DoD contractors and
civilian personnel," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Jerry
Jennings. "So we have a broader mandate than we've ever had historically."

Jennings said the Pentagon effort would treat U.S. contractors as soldiers and
defense personnel in Iraq. His organization would expend "all resources,
energy and time on ensuring that we bring them back," he said. "We'll leave no
one behind."

Officials said the contractor training is part of an effort to ensure the
completion of reconstruction projects as well as the supply of U.S. troops in
Iraq. Sunni insurgents, particularly those aligned with Al Qaida, have
abducted and executed scores of foreign nationals who work for the U.S.

"The contractors and civilian employees are in the same environment as
military personnel," said Air Force Col. John Hobble. "We have DoD contractors that have been kidnapped and isolated. They went through some training at  their processing centers before they went overseas. It's about at the same level as the military members who are at moderate risk of capture."

Officials said the Pentagon has bolstered its personnel recovery division
during the insurgency war in Iraq. They cited the heavy presence of U.S.
government civilians and contractors in Iraq amid the increasing combat burden
on American troops.

Hobble, director of personnel recovery policy for the Defense Prisoner of
War/Missing Personnel Office, said contractors face unprecedented danger in
Iraq. There are no longer any safe areas outside of U.S. military bases, he

"There are no defined lines," Hobble said. "You can walk out your door in the
hotel room or the front door of the hotel and you're in the middle of the
battle space. With the asymmetric battle space that we're encountering today,
we really have to change how we do business."

Officials said the Pentagon was preparing to complete a draft of a new
national personnel-recovery architecture, part of the National Presidential
Security Directive. They said the training for contractors would include the
relay of enhanced equipment for search-and-rescue missions in urban areas, the
location of most insurgency strongholds in Iraq.

Under the Pentagon plan, search-and-rescue in Iraq would become a mission of
the U.S.-led coalition. Officials said military commands would remain in
constant communications regarding missing personnel and efforts to locate them.

"It's important that we're able to work with each other in a seamless way,"
Jennings said. "We're going from a service-centric approach to a joint
approach. Then we have an additional concern of working with our allies -
coalition partners.

"We want to make sure that if they go down, we go out and rescue them," he
continued. "And we want to ensure that we have communications equipment that works on both sides."

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