David Isenberg: Military Sub-Contractors Managing Kitchens a Major Health Threat to Entire Battalions

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David Isenberg

You Want Chicken Pox with That?


The story of what might be called the ghost of chicken pox future starts with Najlaa International Catering Services (NICS), a KBR contractor, headquartered in Kuwait. NICS was solicited by KBR in the spring of 2008 to provide a Request for Proposal (RFP) for approximately 32 Dining Facilities (DFAC) at various military camps in Iraq under the Army’s LOGCAP (Logistics Civil Augmentation Program) III program. NICS subsequently won the contract.

Around the end of the first week of November 2008 it was discovered that NICS’s temporary tent city housing camp at Victory Base Camp had a confirmed chicken pox case and 37 employees were supposed to be quarantined. NICS disputed with GlobalMed, its KBR-approved medical service provider, that it was a chicken pox case. NICS began to release the employees from the quarantine tent and put them back to work at the DFAC’s.

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Phi Beta Iota:  This little-noticed story is actually–in our view–a major investigative expose.  At multiple levels, from irresponsible acquisition to potentially catastrophic infections of entire divisions by “friendly contractors,” this is a story that merits much more attention.  It is also a story that reinforces our view that contractors have no business being employed or engaged in a combat zone.

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