Report: Major US contractor accused of misconduct in Iraq

A U.S. business with hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts is being accused of allowing major violations to occur at the Balad Air Base in Iraq then allegedly firing investigators who uncovered the activities, reports the Associated Press.

Robert Cole and Kristie King reportedly identified serious misconduct by employees of Sallyport Global, a company which had been awarded almost $700 million to secure the base amid U.S. efforts to fight extremism in the area.

The pair alleges that staff participated in sex trafficking, alcohol smuggling, and lax security which enabled outsiders to steal heavy equipment like large generators.

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The Associated Press notes that on March 12, after more than a year on the job, they were reportedly both fired with no explanation. King says it was because they "knew too much."

While the Pentagon had no response to the story, Sallyport executive Matt Stuckart issued a statement saying, in part, "The company takes any suggestion of wrongdoing at Balad very seriously."

In January this year, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that it had awarded Sallyport an additional $200 million modification to a previous contract "for base life support, base operations support, and security for Balad Air Base, Iraq."

According to the company's website, it has 1,850 employees supporting the base in providing services like facilities operations, repair and maintenance, fire and medical, and crisis management.

The claims against Sallyport are another recent example of alleged misconduct related to the U.S. military; in March, several high-ranking Naval officers were charged, according to a Justice Department news release, of "acting as a team of moles for a foreign defense contractor, trading military secrets and substantial influence for sex parties with prostitutes, extravagant dinners, and luxury travel." The release further stated the scandal "ultimately cost the Navy – and U.S. taxpayers – tens of millions of dollars."