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The Press Reports on Ada-based Global Security Contractor

October 16, 2009

On Thursday, the Grand Rapids Press reported that the Ada-based company, CSS Alliance, has been awarded a contract by the Somali government to “Provide security consulting services and training for government forces.”


The Press story was on the front page with pictures of the CSS Alliance founders, Somali pirates and a map of the region. This is only the second time we have documented any coverage of the local private military contracting firm. The first time the Press reported on them was in December of 2007 when they were award a contract in Iraq. Now the company has been hired to operate in Somalia.

The Press article says that “CSS Alliance has furnished counterterrorism services in other African nations,” but no details are provided about what these services entail. The Press reporter Ted Roelofs cites one of the co-owners of the company, Chris Frain, early on in the story who makes vague comments about what they will be doing in Somalia.

The article continues with some concerns over the stability of Somalia and references the 1993 US Marine battle in Mogadishu and its Hollywood depiction in Black Hawk Down. The story does cite what the Press calls an “expert in African security issue,” who is with the International Crisis Group. The Press refers to ICG as “an independent nonprofit conflict resolution advocacy group.” According to SourceWatch, ICG is loaded with former diplomats, many of which are from the US. One analysis of the group believes that ICG is not independent and operates with serious conflicts of interest.


The article goes on to discuss “the various Islamic factions that continue to vie for power” in Somalia and mentions the US special forces operation in September. The Press reporter echoes the US State Department position on this action, even though the US has been active for much longer than the recent raid in Somalia and there is no commentary about how Somalia has been a major target of the US war on terror since 9/11.

The rest of the article provides CSS Alliance co-founder Chris Frain with a forum to talk up what good the company has done in New Orleans after Katrina and in Iraq. One would think that with all the new information about human rights abuses and a lack of contractor accountability with private security forces, that the Press might investigate further companies like CSS Alliance before publishing such favorable stories.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. cap19 permalink
    October 21, 2009 6:13 pm

    Unlike some of the other highly publicized contractor problems you reference, CSS is not under contract with the U.S. State Department or other U.S. government entity to provide these services.

    CSS Global has been hired by the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia to provide security training and consulting services. It is accountable to the top leadership. This really is a different situation than what you’re referring to.

  2. October 21, 2009 6:35 pm

    I agree that CSS Global is not under a State Department contract and I never said so in my posting. The article was first of all analyzing the Press story about the new CSS Global contract. What I was pointing out was that in light of all that we now know about other military/security related contracts the media should investigate more before publishing such favorable stories.

    While CSS Global is accountable to the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, that government is being supported by the US, meaning there is a strong possibility of interaction and cooperation. In addition, CSS Global employees are mostly US citizens, some with pervious military experience, who will be working in a country that is identified by the US government as a country where international terrorism operates, this does impact all of us.

  3. Tim permalink
    April 15, 2010 5:51 am

    You ask for a more thorough investigation before publishing a “favorable report” about the security contracting company CSS.
    Well for starters, your own research is somewhat lacking as it was not U.S. Marines depicted in the 1993 battle portrayed in “Black Hawk Down”. It was U.S. Army Rangers along with members from The U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta supported by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne).

    You then make mention of “the new information about human rights abuses and a lack of contractor accountability with private security forces”. This myth continues to be perpetuated by bloggers such as yourself and other reporters without doing the very research that you say should be done before publishing a favorable story about CSS.
    So if it’s a negative story, I suppose research isn’t necessary?
    Contractors working for the U.S. State Department are under some of the strictest guidelines imaginable.
    I can gladly provide you with a list of infractions, some minor some major which would result in a contractor being fired immediately. The last time I checked, Contractors accused of a “bad” shooting were brought up on charges in U.S. Federal Court. It was a U.S. Federal judge that determined the case could not go forward due to the fact that the defendants rights were violated and rules of evidence not properly followed. In other words, they were accorded the same rights as any criminal in the United States would be after having been charged and indicted. So I’m not sure where you get your “lack of accountability”.

    One last point. Compare the numbers of missions run by Private Contractors to that of the U.S. Military. Then while doing this research, find out how much collateral damage is caused by Contractors vs. the U.S. Military and you will find that Private Contractors have been getting the job done in Iraq and Afghanistan with much less collateral damage (i.e. civilian deaths, property damage etc) than the U.S. Military. The numbers don’t lie and they are available for anyone caring to do some simple “research”.


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