We’re hiring help for prison breaks too

by Craig Masters
A search for an update on the status of the American Marine Jon Hammer – being held in a Mexican prison for ransom – revealed an article posted on the New York Times web site that I believe was dated May 9, 2012. I was interrupted before reading the whole article and when I returned to my computer I was unable to retrieve the article. Subsequent searches in Texas newspaper web sites have not found any information about the doctor or the details of a prison break allegedly financed by an American to free Americans held in Mexico.

As I recall, the article was about a Dallas psychiatrist who allegedly funded a group of mercenaries to effect the escape of several American citizens from a Mexican prison. If this was true, kudos to that doctor. But if you are skeptical that such operations can and do occur, read the rest of this article.

The web site secretsofthefed.com got the story right this time .Their referenced sources were still up and running as of 4:30pm, Tuesday Dec. 18. But these postings often become “unavailable” if they start getting too many hits.

According to the web site of the US State Department, starting next month in Melbourne, Florida, the State Department will solicit some defense-industry feedback on a contract to help operate its 412 aircraft, based in at least eight nations, before it reopens the contract for bidding. Among the missions the diplomatic corps needs fulfilled: “Provide pilots and operational support for drug interdiction missions such as crop spraying, and the transport of personnel and cargo,” Those are the key items according to a pre-solicitation notice published by the department’s bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs made public about December 14, 2012.

From its headquarters at Florida’s Patrick Air Force Base, the State Department directs 51,000 annual hours worth of air operations. In Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Pakistan, and Guatemala, it mostly performs “counternarcotics and law enforcement activities,” explains State Department spokeswoman Pooja Jhunjhunwala. Private-security giant DynCorp currently holds the contract for supporting the diplomatic fleet.

It appears State will soon be accepting bids for these missions. So if you’ve got pilots and air-maintenance crews on your payroll, the risk of operating in “permissive and non-permissive” environments (i.e., dangerous places) could be worth your while. “The total dollar value of services could reach $10B over the life of the resulting contracts,” the pre-solicitation reads. That’s as much as State pays for its entire crew of mercenaries that protect diplomats worldwide.
If counter-narcotics is too risky for you, State also needs vendors for “personnel and cargo transport, aerial reconnaissance, medical and casualty evacuations, aerial herbicide application, aerial support to narcotics interdiction operations, aircraft ferrying, and emergent surge type operation.” But the lion’s share of missions have to do with stopping drugs.

And if you would rather bid on a contract from the pentagon instead of the State Department, one of the largest pots of security-contractor cash in the U.S. government, a big pot filled with $3 billion, comes from an obscure Pentagon bureau called the Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office (CNTPO), which disburses cash for missions that blend counternarcotics with counterterrorism. Among them: “airlift services the trans-Sahara,” internet support in Pakistan, and helicopter flight training in Mexico.
These contractors won’t start getting paid until at least fall of 2013. But Jon Hammer will hopefully be back on his surfboard by then.

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