CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - Soldiers assigned to Regional Contracting Center - Kuwait, 408th Contracting Support Brigade, presented on combating trafficking in persons during the annual CTIP forum at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, May 16, 2019.
The forum's purpose was to bring awareness to CTIP and focused on discussing the CTIP findings and recommendations made by the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General and to discuss RCC - KU's way forward.
"I feel we accomplished that," said Staff Sgt. Antonio Dates, a CTIP noncommissioned officer assigned to the RCC-KU, 408th CSB. "I think the forum this year went exceptionally well. I believe it's a great idea to have all DoD components on the same page and events like this help accomplish that."
During the forum, participants learned how to identify the signs, along with the steps to take, to assure they are being proactive in eradicating and discouraging trafficking offenses. Other topics included challenges faced in trafficking in persons, highlighting CTIP's capabilities, presenting methods in combatting trafficking and providing common resources to assist organizations further.
"We may be associated with it and we can't stand idly by while many of these individuals, who like us, chose to leave their families to come get a job to provide for back home," said Lt. Col. Paul Tomcik, commander of the RCC-KU, 408th CSB. "So it's our duty not just as Soldiers, Airmen and government employees, but also humane individuals who have the capabilities to intervene and do something to act and eliminate this indignity suffered among those individuals, the very people who are supporting us in our mission here in Kuwait."
The majority of the victims in Kuwait are recruited for domestic service. They are subjected to conditions including forced labor, usually through sponsors and labor agents. More so, they are subjected to passports being withheld, confinement, physical, sexual and drug abuse, serious harm and non-payment of their wages.
Tomcik discussed the problems that exist not only in the Kuwaiti economy, but within the military's own contracts. The victims may ultimately lose trust and risk becoming sympathetic to anti-American elements.
"When you have sentiment out there that U.S. forces are not looking out for your best interests it may create a hostile environment," said Tomcik, "that can turn into a breeding ground where anti-American sentiments take hold and then turn into an insider threat."
A challenge that still exists for CTIP allegations is how to take the information that makes it past the screening cell and put some legs behind it. Violations can be real or perceived.
"The real violations, we have a responsibility to take action by not being a bystander and to push toward zero tolerance," said Tomcik. "Even a perceived violation can have deprecating effects on our readiness. At what point do we call this an actual CTIP violation as opposed to a CTIP allegation? How does that get reported, who does it get reported to?"
Defense Department Instruction 2200.01 states, "head of components will conduct an annual CTIP awareness training program for all members of their components." In bringing awareness to CTIP, the team wants to continue to improve the annual forums.
"If there are areas of improvement for next year, we'd like to get more of our customer base in, along with our contractor officer representatives, but it was a success with the direction we're going," said Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Dennis, CTIP noncommissioned officer in charge assigned to the RCC-KU, 408th CSB. "We are going to tackle CTIP issues across the area of operations."
If you or someone you know suspects human trafficking, reference U.S. Federal Acquisition Regulation 52.222-50: a process for employees to report, without fear of retaliation, activity inconsistent with the policy prohibiting trafficking in persons, including a means to make available to all employees the hotline phone number of a global human trafficking hotline at 1-844-888-FREE or email at help@befree.org.