You might not think it, but the United States’ military has taken up a significant task and role in fighting human trafficking overseas. With the 2016 Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise,Operational Contract Support (OCS) professionals received invaluable training on combatting trafficking tied to overseas contracts. Leaders in the U.S. Department of Defense have expressed their focus on fighting human trafficking which is typically found in instances of overseas contracting, as Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Frank Kendall, said “It’s often labor-related contracting, but many cases involved prostitution as well.”
Referred to as OCSJX-16, this training exercise is seen as an extremely vital one, and Col. Joshua Burris, the Executive Director for OCSJX-16, sees great importance in combatting trafficking in persons, better known as CTIP. “OCSJX and the DOD’s efforts to combat trafficking are very important. We understand this tarnishes the image of America and it affects our relationships with other countries,” Burris said.
OCSJX-16, a three-week long exercise, employed a scenario in which 500 service members and civilians involved in the OCS process had to defend the Panama Canal and provide humanitarian assistance. In addition, OCSJX-16 participants were given simulated CTIP violations and had to properly respond to the situation in order to prevent the mock human rights violations. Linda Dixon, the Defense Human Resource Activity CTIP Program Manager, says combatting trafficking in persons in OCS is all about knowing who you’re working with. “The main thing is you need to know who you’re doing business with,’ Dixon said. ‘Do they understand the labor laws in the area where you’re going to be performing? Do they understand what the policies are for the U.S. government? As far as our CTIP zero tolerance policy?”
Linda Dixon was directly involved with OCSJX-16, educating exercise participants on the common types of CTIP violations commonly seen in the area of operations. These type of violations include poor living conditions for workers, violence or abuse, and recruiters who charge exorbitant fees to place workers in jobs. It’s great that the U.S. military is placing such emphasis on CTIP in OCS situations, as U.S. contracted work overseas is one of the more common places to find human trafficking and modern slavery tied directly to the United States.
Source: The United States Army