U.S. prepares for casualties in Africa

By Steve Peacock

The extrication of U.S. Special Forces injured in African military ventures soon will provide contractors with an additional revenue stream, now that the Obama administration plans to keep such vendors on stand-by, 24/7, for cross-continent airborne mobilization.

While the Pentagon’s reliance on private vendors to support international military operations is nothing new, plans to station such providers specific to such a large swath of Africa does deviate from prior procurement actions.

The Trans-Sahara Short Take-Off and Landing Airlift Support initiative will rely on outside assistance in the event that soldiers of U.S. Special Operations Command-Africa sustain traumatic medical emergencies, thereby requiring urgent transportation out of hostile zones.

Indeed, SOCOM-Africa places such urgency on its anticipated use of such Casualty Evacuation, or CASEVAC, services that, at a minimum, contractors must be capable of launching an airborne response with only a three hour notice.

The selected vendor likewise must possess the ability to be placed on heightened response and “be airborne within one hour of notification,” according a revised Performance Work Statement released April 16 that WND located via routine database research.

Despite this urgency, the vendor securing that contract largely will engage in cargo- and personnel airlift activities, plus a limited number of air-drop missions.

The “most likely” locations for such operations are Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia, according to the U.S. Transportation Command solicitation.

Kenya, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Uganda also fall within the Primary Operating Area, or POA, of this endeavor, the USTRANSCOM document says.

SOCOM-Africa will enable this expedited response-capability by stationing the contractor in Burkina Faso, a landlocked West African nation, it says.

A search of prior Tactical Combat Casualty Care and CASEVAC solicitations available via the FedBizOpps system shows that USSOCOM and other Department of Defense units typically and primarily seek only training and equipment.

Rather than soliciting continent-wide provision of emergency medical and flight assistance, those contracting actions generally have sought assistance to enable combatant commands to provide themselves with such medical assistance.

One USSOCOM contracting action representative of the government’s acquisition of CASEVAC “kits” and trauma-management training, for example, described a critical need for Special Operations combat forces to obtain new techniques and technology in support of “ongoing operations worldwide.”

Another Special Ops solicitation from late last year revealed a $40 million, two-year contract extension awarded to Tribalco, LLC, a Bethesda, Maryland-based maker of CASEVAC and other “soldier-survival” equipment.

USTRANSCOM did not disclose an estimated cost of the Africa-centric CASEVAC procurement.

In other U.S. military procurement actions specific to Africa:

  • The Defense Logistics Agency on April 12 issued a request for bids to provide the U.S. Air Force with 547,500 gallons of No. 2 diesel fuel “for ongoing deliveries to Niamey Airport, Niger, (Africa).”
  • The U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command, or NAVFAC, announced it intends to spend up to $25 million for power plant upgrades at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti (CLDJ), Africa; however, despite acknowledging in an earlier document the estimated cost of the Caterpillar generators, a partly redacted no-bid Justification & Approval document blacked out the final award amount. It offered no explanation for the redaction .
  • NAVFAC additionally began soliciting bids to build a cold-storage food warehouse and a separate galley to store P-218 anti-malarial drug reserves, representing another potential $25 million contracting endeavor at CLDJ.
  • NAVFAC on April 12 revealed that it awarded a $33 million contract to Kellogg, Brown and Root to “perform base operating services at CLDJ and occasionally other locations within Africa.”
  • Despite announcing the KBR contract this month, the Navy unit actually awarded it in December, the document shows.

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