Global Operation – DSS Series Coming Soon to a Web Near You

“the most compelling, hard-hitting crime/drama on the web”
I got a heads up on this new series over the weekend.  This is what its website says — — “The hard-hitting and emotional web series centers around the incomprehensible crime that should not be a part of the 21st century, human trafficking, and the elite U.S Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agents of the Los Angeles Field Office who take the lead in combating these transnational crimes.”

Brief summary posted on its website, Global Operation:
Diplomatic Security Service, (DSS) Special Agent Samantha Morgan, a former army soldier, is a tough agent highly skilled at her job.  She heads the field office in Los Angeles and is responsible for the safety, welfare, and professional development of nearly 100 special agents every two years.  Having trained well over 1000 agents in the course of her career thus far.  Morgan believes, each individual has a reason for being in law enforcement; a personal tragedy, a passion for a cause, personal angst that runs deep and drives them to a career in law enforcement; truth and justice. With the assistance of the lead investigation detail Special Agent Varga, Morgan uses this information to hand  pick a team that will work around the clock to combat this incomprehensible crime that she says, should not be part of the 21st century.  In recent years, the United States has made human trafficking a priority.  An estimated 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the U.S. each year, a crime Morgan says, that will put hate in your heart.
These DSS agents are the backbone of investigative mission, conducting criminal, counterterrorism, and background investigations.  When they’re not investigating and apprehending criminals and terrorist, they are the agency identified to accept high threat protection assignments around the globe.  The majority of its Special Agents are members of the Foreign Service and federal law enforcement agents at the same time, making them unique.

The web series accept sponsorships ranging from $100 – $5,000 (Executive Producer Credit/ Full page ad). It also accepts product placements and brand ads from $2,000 to $10,000 to have a company written into the episode or the series. And if you want exposure (and have $3,000), you can also become a co-star of Global Operation.

The production is operating out of Los Angeles with zero budget; thus, the need for sponsorships and ads.  The creator/producer has indicated an interest in collaborating with filmmakers in DC to shoot scenes there that can be incorporated into the series. If you have an interest in film-making, here is your chance.

The GO website says that 10% of all funds raised go into GO’s non-profit of choice, International Justice Mission, a human rights group based in WashDC that “secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.”
Two teasers/trailers have been posted online but no full episode is available for viewing at this time. I must say I love that intro music! The series creator told me that they are currently busy with post production and pre-production for episode #2 and that the pilot will have its online debut at the end of this month. 
This should be exciting, right?  I could not recall a series on TV or the web that centered on DSS. I feel old but my recollection only goes back a couple of decades and may not be accurate.  There was that one season show on TV some years back, I can’t remember the name, but that was about a junior diplomat in London, wasn’t it?. This might be a first for DSS; do correct me if I’m wrong.

In any case, we are hoping to post the pilot episode here as soon as it’s released. Stay tuned! 

State Dept’s New Helo Fleet: Up to 110 S-61 Sikorskys for Worldwide Operation

I took this photo of a Canadian Helicopters Si...Image via Wikipedia

First four helos to go to US Embassy Kabul

Sikorsky Aerospace Services announced on February 21 at Heli-Expo that the U.S. State Department has entered into an IDIQ (indefinite delivery-indefinite quantity) agreement to purchase up to 110 modernized S-61™ aircraft for passenger and cargo transport missions in support of its worldwide operations. Delivery of the first four modernized S-61™ aircraft will support missions for the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan. Sikorsky Aerospace Services (SAS) is the aftermarket division of Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (UTX).

The S-61 helicopters are being delivered as part of the Sikorsky S-61T™ Program – a comprehensive modernization program to upgrade existing S-61/H-3 aircraft to increase performance in high/hot operating conditions. The S-61 helicopter is known as the workhorse of the industry and, for more than 50 years, has reliably and safely performed missions in U.S. and foreign allied militaries. The five-year purchase agreement for the S-61T helicopters will add to the U.S. State Department’s worldwide fleet.
“With its rugged endurance, spaciousness and lift capabilities, the Sikorsky S-61 helicopter continues to be one of the most dependable aircraft in the aerospace industry. Its outstanding and durable performance history has given impetus to the S-61T Modernization Program, which builds upon that proud legacy,” said David Adler, president of Sikorsky Aerospace Services.
Sikorsky and Pennsylvania-based Carson Helicopters Inc. have launched an exclusive joint upgrade program. The S-61T Modernization Program incorporates key upgrades that include composite main rotor blades, a state-of-the-art glass cockpit and modular wiring harness – all of which dramatically improve aircraft supportability. The S-61T helicopter also has been equipped with 1,200 pounds of added lift capability and enhanced speed capacity. Additional features have been incorporated to reduce pilot fatigue and reduced maintenance requirements for increased safety.
Providing an alternative to the Pentagon’s current purchase and use of Russian helicopters, Sikorsky’s American-made modernized S-61 aircraft is mission-ready now for deployment to Afghanistan and the surrounding regions.
Sikorsky Aerospace Services provides comprehensive support for rotary and fixed wing aircraft around the world. It offers its military and commercial customers a full portfolio of support services. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.
That’s it for the PR news. Active links added above.
Of course, if the State Department will soon have its own helicopter fleet, it will also need pilots and helo mechanics for this, right?  Other aviation personnel were recruited in the last couple of years through PSC contracts mostly for INL operations in the Western Hemisphere.  We should expect more aviations jobs advertised here before too long. 

In May 2008, in support of Diplomatic Security’s protection responsibilities throughout Iraq, the High Threat Protection Division (HTP), Office of Overseas Protective Operations (DS/IP/OPO) of the State Department awarded a Task Order under one of its Worldwide Personal Protective Services (WPPS II) contracts for $17,245,199.68 to Gold Coast Helicopters of  Glendale, Arizona.

But now, State will actually own them helos! 

Tuberculosis Risk Index (TBRI) Released

Maplecroft, a UK based organization has released a new study ranking 196 countries on their vulnerability to Tuberculosis (TB).

The Tuberculosis Risk Index (TBRI) developed by Maplecroft, uses 10 separate indicators to measure the impacts of TB in each country, including: incidence, prevalence, mortality, treatment success and the capacity of a country to contain infectious diseases.
Africa is by far the region most at risk with 23 out of the 25 most vulnerable countries. The top ten countries most at risk are:
Hardship Differential as of 2/14/2010) 
Côte d’Ivoire
Sierra Leone
All the above listed countries have hardship differentials between 25-30%. The State Department’s hardship differential is established for any place when, and only when, the place involves extraordinarily difficult living conditions, excessive physical hardship, or notably unhealthful conditions affecting the majority of employees officially stationed or detailed at that place.  Living costs are not considered in differential determination.
The Maplecroft report adds that TB is curable, but underfunded health services in Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs) means that the inter-relationships with poverty and the disease are inescapable. The World Health Organisation estimates that 92% of TB cases and deaths occur in low income and lower-income nations and according to Maplecroft’s Poverty Index, more than half of the 30 countries most severely affected by poverty are also severely affected by TB.
The CDC recommends that travelers who anticipate possible prolonged exposure to persons with TB (for example, those who expect to come in contact routinely with clinic, hospital, prison, or homeless shelter populations) should have a tuberculin skin test (TST) before leaving the United States. If the test reaction is negative, they should have a repeat test 8 to 10 weeks after returning to the United States. Additionally, annual testing may be recommended for those who anticipate repeated or prolonged exposure or an extended stay over a period of years.
If you are assigned overseas and plan on hiring household help, do check with the embassy’s health unit for health screening requirements of prospective employees before they start working for you. 
Additional Information below that you may also find useful:
CDC. BCG Vaccine (2006).

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Quickie: Ambassadors on Angry Fight?

Josh Rogin of The Cable on U.S. envoy in angry fight with Turkish ambassador, right outside Clinton meeting (February 19, 2010 – 11:21 AM): 

U.S. Ambassador to Doha Joseph LeBaron got into an angry — and by some accounts physical — altercation with Turkish Ambassador Fuat Tanlay in Qatar last weekend, when LeBaron tried to cut off the late-running meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan
State Department Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley was an eyewitness and gave his account to The Cable.
“There was a sharp exchange of words, after which the ambassador banged on the door that led to the meeting location,” Crowley told The Cable. “I recall that he was pulled away from the door, at which time several of us interceded.”
Josh’s later posted an update: LeBaron sent The Cable this on the record response, which directly contradicts the accounts told by Crowley and in the Turkish press. “The facts portrayed in the article do not reflect what actually transpired; no violence or physical contact occurred, for example. What was important was that Secretary of State Clinton was able to have a series of constructive talks in Doha, meeting with Qatar’s head of state, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and with other top officials such as Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey. “
Read the whole post here.

Imagine if somebody in the delegation was actually on Twitter when this went down and had a blow by blow account…yep, I know, bad idea. More difficult to scrubbed, massaged, get a spa-treatment for an runaway message or incident.    

Ambassador LeBaron’s Wikipedia entry is here; current enough that it includes a report about the ambassadors’ diplomatic row.