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Last Updated:12/18/01
DynCorp in Colombia

DynCorp Aerospace Technologies, founded in 1946 and based in Reston, Virginia, is a "technology and services company" with over $1.8 billion in annual revenues, a $4.4 billion contract backlog, and more than 23,000 employees worldwide, according to its website. One of the largest U.S. defense contractors, the company's contracts with over 37 federal agencies account for 98 percent of its business.

A May 2001 Department of State Fact Sheet discusses DynCorp's role in Colombia.

On its website, DynCorp categorizes its contract with the State Department, which centers on the aerial herbicide fumigation program, as one of the company's "success stories." According to the website, DynCorp has worked with the State Department's International Narcotics and Law Enforcement aviation program since 1991, and the contract was renewed in 1996.

In September 2001, the International Labor Rights Fund, a U.S. non-profit group, brought a lawsuit against DynCorp on behalf of families reportedly harmed by aerial fumigation.

The State Department contract:

As of late March 2001, there were just over 100 U.S. citizen civilian contractors with Dyncorp in Colombia, the majority of whom were in place well before the legislation in support of Plan Colombia was enacted. An approximately equal number of third country nationals and Colombian citizens are also employed under this contract. These contractors work on counternarcotics projects with the Antinarcotics Directorate (DIRAN) and air wing of the Colombian National Police, and also support the Aviation Brigade of the Colombian Army. [State Department Fact Sheet, May 2001]

Last year, Congress limited to 300 the number of civilian contract workers participating in U.S.-financed drug-eradication efforts in Colombia. But in a little-noticed decision, the State Department has counted only U.S. citizens toward that limit. As a result, DynCorp has 335 civilians working on the anti-drug campaign here but less than one-third are U.S. citizens. [Los Angeles Times, August 18, 2001 - link to article text at Detroit News]

Since 1997, DynCorp has operated under a $600 million-dollar State Department contract in Latin America. But, according to its contract with the State Department, recently acquired by CorpWatch, "mission deployments may be made to any worldwide location, including, potentially, outside of Central and South America." The company mainly "participates in eradication missions, training, and drug interdiction, but also participates in air transport, reconnaissance, search and rescue, airborne medical evacuation, ferrying equipment and personnel from one country to another, as well as aircraft maintenance," according to the contract. DynCorp operates several State Department aircraft, including armed UH-1H Iroquois and Bell-212 Huey-type helicopters and T-65 Thrush crop dusters. DynCorp provides the pilots, technicians, and just about any kind of personnel required to carry out the war in Colombia, including administrative personnel. Some of its personnel in Colombia, such as its helicopter pilots are Colombians, Peruvians, and Guatemalans, but most are from the U.S. All must speak passable Spanish and English, and all must possess U.S. government "Secret" personnel security clearances, except in the cases of foreign contractors, where this requirement may be waived. [Corpwatch.org, May 23, 2001]

DynCorp is tight lipped when it comes to its clients. Company spokesperson Janet Wineriter refused to comment on the company's overseas operations. Nor will the State Department make on-the-record statements about DynCorp's operations. Company paramedic Michael Demons apparently recently died of a heart attack on a Colombian military base and the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá attempted to keep his death secret. Because Demons was not a military officer and didn't work directly for the U.S. government, there was no official report and his death was treated as if he were a tourist. DynCorp has also lost three pilots in action. None of these deaths were reported in the news media. [Corpwatch.org, May 23, 2001]

Assistant Secretary Beers: I can't speak to the DoD contractors and so you'll have to ask that question at the Defense Department. But with respect to the DynCorp contract, it has ranged over the last several years between 35 and 50 million dollars on an annual basis. The adjustment upward has come really at the end of calendar year '99 and in calendar year 2000. It was below that prior to that. [State Department, May 16, 2001]

Operations:

Members of Search and Rescue (SAR) teams are believe to have engaged in about 15 rescues during the past six years, about half of them "hot extractions" from combat areas where team members have been at risk, a source in Bogota said. ...The teams usually include a pilot, copilot, a paramedic, a door gunner and two rescue specialists. SAR teams are largely composed of former U.S. special forces and normally stay in Colombian military or police compounds, working for several weeks and then taking 15 days off. They are under orders from DynCorp and U.S. officials to avoid journalists. [Miami Herald, Feb. 22, 2001 - link to article text at Yahoo Groups]

After the pilot of one of the police helicopters was shot and forced to set down, the five other helicopters - three of them piloted by DynCorp employees - moved in and began shooting at rebel positions, said [Capt. Luis Fernando] Aristizabal, a Colombian co-pilot of one of the Dyncorp-piloted helicopters. He said the door gunners were all Colombians and that Americans did not fire weapons during the mission. [Associated Press, Feb. 21, 2001 - link to article text at Yahoo Groups]

Consequences:

As civilians, their work and fate comes under less scrutiny. When a DynCorp paramedic died of an apparent heart attack here in October, the U.S. Embassy handled his case like the death of any American abroad, declining to release information on his background or next of kin. [Miami Herald, Feb. 26, 2001 - link to article text at corpwatch.org]

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