Industry Association Calls on Government to Better Protect U.S. Contractors Working Overseas

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper Evan Vucci/AP

Letter to Defense and State departments follows recent U.S. contractor deaths in Kenya and Iraq.

Following the deaths of several U.S. contactors working overseas, a national industry association is requesting increased coordination and communication with the federal government to enhance security.

The Professional Services Council, which has over 400 member companies who contract with the federal government, wrote to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and State Secretary Mike Pompeo on Monday following the recent deaths of U.S. contractors in Kenya and Iraq. 

The council “urges you to issue a joint public statement that recognizes the vital roles contractors play in supporting missions around the world and alerts all contractors to the increased threat, as you have already done for military and civilian personnel and their families,” wrote PSC President and CEO David Berteau. “In addition, we urge you to establish an improved U.S. government process to provide updated threat information regularly and as needed to all contractors...We have also encouraged our members to take appropriate steps to prepare for the increased threat environment.”

On Dec. 27, the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah attacked an Iraqi air base, killing a U.S. contractor and leading to escalated tensions and retaliatory actions between the United States and Iran. Last week, the United States killed a top Iranian military official, and then on Tuesday Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq where U.S. personnel are based.

Additionally, on Sunday two U.S. contractors were killed and a contractor aircraft was destroyed during an attack on a military base in Kenya. “While this attack may not link directly to the increased danger of retaliation from Iran or its proxies, these events do show the increase in worldwide threats faced by U.S. government contractors,” Berteau said.

The contractor group told the secretaries that “we stand ready” to help with the requested actions.

The Defense and State departments did not immediately respond for comment.