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Thread: DoD's Use of Condolence Payments in Iraq & Afghanistan

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    Default DoD's Use of Condolence Payments in Iraq & Afghanistan

    GAO, 23 May 07:

    The Department of Defense's Use of Solatia and Condolence Payments in Iraq and Afghanistan
    ...There are a number of ways that the U.S. government provides assistance to Iraqi or Afghan civilians who are killed, injured, or suffer property damage as a result of U.S. and coalition forces’ actions. For instance, the U.S. Agency for International Development funds projects to assist Iraqi and Afghan civilians and communities directly impacted by actions of U.S. or coalition forces. Also, the Department of State administers a program that makes payments, in accordance with local custom, to Iraqi civilians who are harmed in incidents involving U.S. protective security details. In addition, the Department of Defense (DOD) administers a program that provides compensation under the Foreign Claims Act to inhabitants of foreign countries for death, injury, or property damage caused by noncombat activities of U.S. military personnel overseas. Further, DOD provides monetary assistance in the form of solatia and condolence payments to Iraqi and Afghan nationals who are killed, injured, or incur property damage as a result of U.S. or coalition forces’ actions during combat. From fiscal years 2003 to 2006, DOD has reported about $1.9 million in solatia payments and more than $29 million in condolence payments to Iraqi and Afghan civilians who are killed, injured, or incur property damage as a result of U.S. or coalition forces’ actions during combat. These payments are expressions of sympathy or remorse based on local culture and customs, but not an admission of legal liability or fault. Commanders make condolence payments using funds provided by Congress for the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP), whereas solatia payments are funded from unit operations and maintenance accounts....

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    Council Member redbullets's Avatar
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    I'm sure I'm misremembering at this late stage, but in Falluja in the early days of the war, weren't 13 civilians killed while protesting/demonstrating outside the gates of a US base? I want to say that it was the 82nd involved, but I can't remember, and wasn't in Falluja then.

    I was told by a number of Iraqis and Jordanians with whom I was working in 2004 that much of the Falluja problem could have been made to go away by enacting proper condolence payments to the families of the folks killed in the above incident. The view of my colleagues was that by not properly addressing these payments, the local tribal leadership felt threatened in that they were not able to make something "normal" happen in relation to their constituents, and things began to unravel.

    Hearsay, I know, but one of my Jordanian colleagues did have some strong tribal ties there.

    Cheers,
    Joe

    Just because you haven't been hit yet does NOT mean you're doing it right.

    "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." President Dwight D. Eisenhower

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    The ACLU did a FOIA request for examples of solatia payments in Iraq and Afghanistan. A partial record of claims, both granted and denied, is up here.

    Redbullets - The incident is this one, I think. The 82nd was the unit involved.

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    Council Member redbullets's Avatar
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    Thanks, Tequila. That is the one I was referring to.

    I know of an organization that makes payments to civilians in the war zones who have had property damaged by ongoing US military operations. I queried one of the organization's personnel three or four years ago concerning how, in a place like Afghanistan, one could distinguish between damage caused by coalition warplanes, Taleban on a punishment tour of a village, or one of the numerous, previous conflict periods. The answer was not satisfactory. There is an effort afoot to structure this like the manuever damage payments made to German farmers. Certainly some stabilization value in this, if handled properly, though its difficult to control once any gravy train gets rollin' down the tracks.

    Cheers,
    Joe

    Just because you haven't been hit yet does NOT mean you're doing it right.

    "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." President Dwight D. Eisenhower

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    Registered User Stone's Avatar
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    Default A function of CERP payments

    Part of my function as a contracting officer while deployed is training individuals on the proper use CERP funds in these situations. This not something anyone hopes for, however sooner or later property damage or collateral damage will occur and someone has to make the payments.

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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default I liked it

    I had to make a solatia payment after one of my LTs misread a situation and killed a passenger in a taxi that was taking a woman to the hospital. We were in Tarin Khot on a road construction project that required us to work outside the wire everyday. News of the shooting spread throughout the town and by the afternoon a crowd had started to gather outside the FOB. Luckily we had some friendly SOF guys on hand with cash. Making the payment and making it quickly turned what could have been a bad situation into a non-issue. So I am a big fan of using them.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

    Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
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