Monday, July 2, 2007

Afghan War Yields 'Procurement Bonanza'

In war profiteering news, Alberta-based ATCO Frontec was

"awarded five contracts to provide multiple support services for up to five years at the Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan for the more than 10,000 troops serving NATO's International Security Assistance Force."
These contracts, the amount of which was undisclosed in the press release, are a spin-off of business generated by Canadian Forces contracts. Increasingly since the interventions in the former Yugolslavia, the CF and its allies have been contracting out services that would ordinarily be performed by the military themselves - in effect, privatizing certain aspects of the military in order to free up personnel for war-fighting. ATCO is one of the larger beneficiaries of what the CF calls their Contractor Augmentation Program, or CANCAP(formerly the Contractor Support Program). How this translates to a NATO contract in Kandahar is explained in a Business Edge article:
"It's common for Canadian defence firms to use DND contracts as the basis for developing products and services that can then be sold to foreign military customers. Atco Frontec, for example, developed valuable expertise during 2000-03 providing support services for 1,500 Canadian Forces personnel deployed in Bosnia. That know-how soon led to more opportunities for the company in the upkeep of military camps."
More generally, Atco is one of the largest recipients of what is being referred to by defence industry insiders as a "rearmament boom" and "procurement bonanza," credited to PM Stephen Harper (but really begun under the previous Liberal government), where it is now common for war contractors to be "bursting at the seams" with war-related revenues.

The President of ATCO Frontec, Harry Wilmot, is also on the Board of the Canadian Association of Defence and Securities Industries (CADSI). As the CADSI homepage states, "CADSI is the voice of Canada’s defence and security industries." Thanks to government and allied largesse, CADSI member-companies generate some $7 billion in annual revenues.

Half of ATCO's Board of Directors' are retired from long careers in the Canadian Forces. One of those former CF board members, Michael Gervais, gushed about how "Defence is the fastest-growing part of our business."

- Elsewhere, Granby, Quebec-based Stedfast, Inc. has "recently landed an $850,000 contract from the Department of National Defence to come up with enhanced personal protection for soldiers in Afghanistan against improvised explosive devices, or IEDs." In the Montreal Gazette article, we again see the theme of Canadian war-waging as a boon for business:

"With the increasing number of military contracts alone, mostly from the Defence Department, but also from the U.S. and Britain, Stedfast is leaving behind what [CEO Rob] Kellock referred to as "the challenging period we went through from 2000 to 2002."

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