Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Policing Afghanistan

How Afghan police training became a train wreck

by Pratap Chatterjee

The Pentagon faces a tough choice: Should it award a new contract to Xe (formerly Blackwater), a company made infamous when its employees killed 17 Iraqis in Baghdad in 2007, or to DynCorp, a company made infamous in Bosnia in 1999 when some of its employees were caught trafficking young girls for sex?

This billion-dollar contract will be the linchpin of a training program for the Afghan National Police, who are theoretically to be drilled in counterinsurgency tactics that will help defeat the Taliban and bring security to impoverished, war-torn Afghanistan. The program is also considered a crucial component of the Obama administration’s plan for turning the war around. Ironically, Xe was poised to win the contract until a successful appeal by DynCorp last week threw the field wide open.

Some people in the U.S. government (and many outside it) believe that this task should not be assigned to private contractors in the first place. Meanwhile, many police experts are certain that it hardly matters which company gets the contract. Like so many before it, the latest training program is doomed from the outset, they believe, because its focus will be on defeating the Taliban rather than fostering community-oriented policing.

The Obama administration is in a fix: it believes that, if it can’t put at least 100,000 trained police officers on Afghan streets and into the scattered hamlets that make up the bulk of the country, it won’t be able to begin a drawdown of U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan by the middle of next year.

“The Obama administration’s strategy for the Afghan police is to increase numbers, enlarge the ‘train and equip’ program, and engage the police in the fight against the Taliban,” says Robert Perito, an expert on police training at the United States Institute of Peace and the author of a new book, The Police in War. “This approach has not worked in the past, and doing more of the same will not achieve success.”

When it comes to police training, the use of private contractors is not unusual – and neither is failure. North Carolina-based Xe has, in fact, been training the Afghan border police for more than two years, and Virginia-based DynCorp has been doing the same for the Afghan uniformed police for more than seven years now. Nonetheless, the mismanagement of the $7 billion spent on police training over the last eight years, partly attributed to lax U.S. State Department oversight, has left the country of 33 million people with a strikingly ineffective and remarkably corrupt police force. Its terrible habits and reputation have led the inhabitants of many Afghan communities to turn to the Taliban for security.

You’ll want to read the entire article here

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Police, DynCorp | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Failing Afghanistans Cops

by Pratap Chatterjee and Tom Engelhardt, March 22, 2010

Police training has been a crucial part of American counterinsurgency warfare and global policy for a long, long time. During the American occupation of Haiti, which began in 1915, the establishment and training of an American-led Gendarmerie d’Haiti would contribute to the sad, brutal modern history of that island; in the late 1950s and 1960s, U.S. police training helped shape South Vietnam into a quasi-police state ready to wield torture as a weapon of daily life; in Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s, U.S. police training under thuggish dictatorships led to torture and extrajudicial killings, a history painfully captured in journalist A.J. Langguth’s presciently titled book Hidden Terrors; in Central America in the 1980s, it led to a flowering of extrajudicial death squads. The story of U.S. police training could, in many ways, act as a substitute history of human rights violations.

All in all, it’s not a pretty tale and it’s not a history that’s left this country untouched, as Alfred McCoy, an expert in police training and counterinsurgency as well as the author of Policing the Empire, wrote for TomDispatch last November. What happens in our distant counterinsurgency wars, including the policing part of them, has a nasty habit of returning to these shores as ever more repressive surveillance and policing techniques in “the homeland.”

Still, when it comes to pure futility, not to speak of the generous enrichment of a few private corporate contractors, the various U.S. police-training programs in Afghanistan have surely taken the cake. As a multi-billion dollar exercise in disaster, our significantly outsourced training programs for Afghanistan’s “insecurity” forces are hard to beat. TomDispatch regular Ann Jones found this out in the summer of 2009 when she spent time with recruits being trained for an Afghan army that seemed barely to exist. She couldn’t help wondering, then, what might have happened if those training billions had gone into agriculture, health care, or a civilian job corps (either in Afghanistan or the U.S.).

Now, Pratap Chatterjee, an expert on the rise of the Pentagon’s corps of private contractors (whose classic book on the major private military contractor of our era, Halliburton’s Army, has just been published in paperback), considers the full history of our woeful Afghan police-training program. Eight years of bizarre efforts that add up to vanishingly little. At a time when desperate state governments in the U.S. are slashing budgets for everything from local education to mass transit systems, it becomes all the more remarkable how many dollars the Pentagon has poured – and continues to pour – down the Afghan rabbit hole.

Chatterjee, a TomDispatch regular, who last reported here on how corruption rules Afghanistan, returns to – you might say – the scene of the crime and offers an unparalleled history of the folly that passes for bringing “security” to Afghanistan. (If you have a moment, don’t forget to catch Timothy MacBain’s TomCast in which Chatterjee discusses the lives of contractor/trainers in Afghanistan by clicking here or, if you prefer to download it to your iPod, here.) Tom

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Police | , , , | Leave a comment

Colonel to Admit Role in Iraq War Corruption

U.S. Army Veteran Is Accused of Taking More Than $50,000 in Bribes

By JOEL MILLMAN at WSJ

A 26-year veteran of the U.S. Army is the latest and highest-ranking officer to plead guilty in a contractor-corruption scandal rising out of the Iraq War.

Col. Kevin A. Davis, who retired from the military in 2005, has agreed to plead guilty next month in a U.S. court in Washington, D.C., according to federal court documents.

Col. Davis is charged with taking more than $50,000 in bribes to help a Kuwait-based contractor win a rigged bid to operate weapons warehouses in Iraq. Col. Davis then went to work for that same company, American Logistics Services, as a senior executive after leaving the military. Col. Davis later joined Lee Dynamics International, which was formed by George Lee, a U.S. citizen who also directed ALS.

LDI was banned from government service after being investigated in probes of defense-contract fraud in Iraq and Kuwait. Mr. Lee is under investigation, and officials say they will likely seek an indictment. LDI challenged the ban in court, but it was upheld. Mr. Lee’s attorney says his client denies any wrongdoing by both himself and any companies he was involved with.

Col. Davis declined through his attorney to speak about the case. He is expected to cooperate with federal investigators after his guilty plea is accepted, according to his lawyer.

Another officer expected to plead guilty next month is Capt. Markus E. McClain, according to federal officials familiar with the investigation. The Mississippian is charged with taking $15,000 to help a Kuwait-based firm secure a contract to provide vehicles to military convoys supplying bases in Iraq.

Capt. McClain, 31, didn’t respond to requests for comment. He served in Kuwait in 2004 after being called to active duty from the Mississippi Army National Guard. A guard spokesman said he resigned from his unit on March 1.

Col. Davis, 52 years old, is the highest-ranking officer to be implicated in a scheme known among federal investigators as the Cockerham Case, for Major John Cockerham, who pleaded guilty last year to receiving more than $9 million in illegal payments for defense contracts, primarily to service the Camp Arifjan military base in Kuwait.

Early in the probe, Major Gloria Dean Davis, came under suspicion by investigators in the case. She committed suicide in Baghdad in December 2006, hours after confirming she received more than $225,000 from the same contractor Col. Davis later joined as a civilian, LDI.

The two officers weren’t related, however investigators familiar with the case say they were involved romantically.

Capt. McClain reported to Maj. Davis in 2004.  Read this story in it’s entirety at WSJ

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Contractor Corruption, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Deliver…….booty calls?

This is a Google Earth aerial shot of Life Support Area’s (LSA’s) at a camp near Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) in Iraq. Each one of these six LSA’s above house 300-600+ people.

Evidently KBR has had to put a stop to (or actually started enforcing) their no fraternization policy. On March 19, 2010 KBR HQ sent this ALL HANDS email to Iraq and Afghanistan LOGCAP III employees. I wonder if this includes KBR employees who have transitioned to the recently awarded LOGCAP IV Task Order for Corp Logistics, Transportation & Postal (CTP) in Iraq.

You’ll want to read this with documents  at Ms Sparkys

March 22, 2010 Posted by | KBR | , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Department of Defense Announces Latest Contract Awards March 22 2010

U.S. Department of Defense Announces Latest Contract Awards

by Veterans Today

CONTRACTS: NAVY

Raytheon Co., Marlborough, Mass., is being awarded a $28,144,958 firm-fixed-price modification to a previously awarded contract (N00039-08-C-0115) for eight Submarine High Data Rate Antenna Systems.  Work will be performed in Marlborough, Mass. (69 percent) and St. Petersburg, Fla. (31 percent), and is expected to be completed by December 2010.  Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  This contract was not competitively procured because Raytheon developed the submarine antenna under contract N00039-04-D-0033, which was competitively awarded Oct. 23, 1996.  The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.    See all contracts awarded at Veterans Today

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Contracts Awarded | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halliburton drops high court appeal in rape case

HOUSTON — Halliburton Co. and KBR have withdrawn an appeal asking the Supreme Court to block the trial of a former military contractor from Texas who says she was raped by co-workers in Iraq.

Halliburton confirmed today that the appeal was withdrawn, but wouldn’t elaborate.

Jamie Leigh Jones says she was raped while working for KBR in Baghdad in 2005. She later sued KBR and Halliburton, which split in 2007.

Halliburton and KBR had argued that Jones’ case should be settled in arbitration as required by her contract. A lower court ruled it could go to trial, which is set for May 2011.

The Associated Press usually doesn’t name people alleging sexual assault, but Jones’ identity has been broadcast in media reports and on her own Web site.  Original story at  bostonherald.com Also See Ms Sparky

March 22, 2010 Posted by | KBR, Rape, Sexual Assault | , , , , | Leave a comment

DynCorp Took Uncle Sam for Millions For a Nonexistent Database, Man Says

DALLAS (CN) – A DynCorp International executive says he was fired for complaining that the company charged the State Department millions of dollars for a database that did not exist. The 2004 contract awarded DynCorp $1 million to build a database of Americans trained in law enforcement who were willing to go to Afghanistan or Iraq at a moment’s notice, and $1 million a year to maintain it, Michael Riddle claims in Federal Court.      Riddle claims the database was never built. And he says that “During the last few years of plaintiff’s employment, the fact that the database was a nonentity was commonly discussed in plaintiff’s department.”
He adds that “DynCorp took the State Department’s money and never made a glancing blow toward producing or maintaining any type of database that was required by contract.
“Additionally, senior company executives, such as Aiman Zureikat and Richard Cashon, readily acknowledged that they were using funds that were earmarked as CADRE payments for other company expenses, such as recruiting.”
Riddle, who began as a technical adviser, says he was a senior employment manager when he was fired after voicing concerns about possible criminal consequences for using his work to fool the government.
Riddle says he kept his own database to track recruits sent to the Police Assessment, Selection and Training facility in Fredericksburg, Va. He tracked how many people washed out, and why, and who advanced out of the facility, according to his complaint.
In 2007, Riddle says, the State Department demanded use of the database. He adds that in 2008, his bosses at DynCorp approached him about using his personal database, and pawning off his work as work that was supposed to have been done for the government’s database.
“When plaintiff protested, plaintiff was reminded that plaintiff needed to be a team player,” his complaint states.
Riddle says he “has since learned that a responsible party at the State Department allowed DynCorp to avoid its contractual obligation to create the database. On information and belief, the State Department advised DynCorp that any data that it could cobble together would be sufficient to constitute compliance.”
Riddle claims that this “scheme was designed to (1) cover up DynCorp’s fraud in failing to do anything toward creation of the database; (2) as well as calculate to provide ‘cover’ for the State Department employee who had allowed the database project to languish and essentially become either impossible or impracticable to reconstruct.”
Riddle seeks damages for retaliation under the False Claims Act. He is represented by Steve Kardell with Clouse Dunn Khoshbin of Dallas.

March 22, 2010 Posted by | DynCorp, State Department | , , , , , | Leave a comment

DynCorp International Wins Contract Field Team Work at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa

FALLS CHURCH, Va., Mar 22, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — The U.S. Air Force has awarded DynCorp International /quotes/comstock/13*!dcp/quotes/nls/dcp (DCP 11.80, +0.20, +1.72%) a task order under the Contract Field Teams (CFT) contract to provide aviation corrosion control services at Kadena Air Base, in Okinawa, Japan, for U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy aircraft and aviation ground support equipment. The task order has a potential value of $4.5 million over 1 year.

DynCorp International is the incumbent, and has been providing these services at Kadena Air Base for more than 40 years.

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Contracts Awarded, DynCorp, Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

DOD seeks big penalties for IT errors

Government would withhold payment from vendors with deficient business systems

By Patrick Thibodeau

Computerworld – The U.S. Department of Defense has seen repeated instances of paying for critical war zone supplies that were not delivered, or double billed. At fault are, in many cases, underlying business, according to a U.S. commission that investigated these problems.

To fix this, the DOD has proposed a new rule allowing the government to withhold payment for goods and services starting at 10% for each deficiency that’s identified in a business system.

But the proposed rule is raising alarm with some industry groups, including the largest IT industry group, TechAmerica, which says the move is unfair and excessive.

The problems with double billing and missing order was raised by Commission on Wartime Contracting, a group formed by Congress in 2008 to look at the more than $800 billion that has been spent to fund operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, money which pays the salaries of 240,000 contractor employees.

Orders for body armor, rifle scopes and water purification systems are just a few of the things that have been affected.

The commission reported that many internal business systems used by contractors were inadequate and without “proper incentives” some contractors may not improve them. Some of the business system deficiencies remain despite repeated audits, the commission reported last year.

But the remedy, TechAmerica says, is that the withholdings could arise to 100% of a contract and “threaten the financial solvency of many contractors,” as well as reduce competition by driving some contractors out the market.

This threat of arbitrary withholdings “will impose exorbitant costs on contractors to try to develop systems that are free from even the potential from being questioned about deficiencies,” wrote Trey Hodgkins, TechAmerica’s vice president of national security and procurement policy.

Ray Bjorklund, vice president at consulting firm Federal Sources Inc., said traded companies “are supposed to have systems and processes that meet the requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley for adequate internal controls and financial visibility.”

However, absent additional checks and balances that could be achieved through ombudsmen and other governance mechanisms, Bjorklund said he believes the proposed rule does seem too severe.

Bjorklund does see the motivation, though. “[Ultimately] cash flow manipulation is a great motivational tool for getting a contractor to perform better,” he said.

Lauren Jones, principal analyst at market research firm Input Inc., said for a smaller contractor that only works on a couple of contracts at a time, the rule may cripple them. But she said it’s an effort by the DOD to put some teeth in its contracting rules. “They know how critical it is to keep that mission going,” she said.

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Wartime Contracting | , , , , | Leave a comment

AIRLINES WITH TIES TO BLACKWATER HAS LONG RECORD OF SERVICE IN REGION

Eurasia Net

A company with ties to Blackwater, the controversial private security firm formally known as Xe, has been ferrying US government-directed cargos over the past five-plus years across Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In addition, the company may be a candidate to continue its services for years to come, if a Sources Sought Announcement posted by the US Defense Department becomes a live contract.

Presidential Airways, which numerous Department of Defense documents identify as “[doing business as] Blackwater Aviation,” provides Short Take-Off and Landing air services in an area of responsibility that includes Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Presidential Airways has its head office in Moyock, North Carolina.

The company secured its first contract in September 2004, covering “airlift in and around the Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan area of responsibility.” In September 2007 Presidential Airways won a contract worth $92 million to perform “passenger, cargo and combi Short Take-Off and Landing air transportation services between locations in the Area of Responsibility of Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.” A modification to the 2007 contract HTC711-08-D-0010 says that services performed under the agreement are “expected to be completed [by] Sept., 30, 2011.”

Between 2004 and 2008, Presidential Airways netted contracts worth at least $192.1 million to cover the Central Asian region. The 2008 award for “Pressurized Short Take-Off and Landing Airlift Services for US Central Command” names Manas, Kyrgyzstan, and Karshi-Khanabad, Uzbekistan, as “potential” landing locations. However, “specific locations will be provided at the time of mission scheduling,” the award adds. The US air base at Karshi-Khanabad was vacated in late 2005. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

According to a recent Sources Sought Announcement, Army Contracting Command is looking to “determine interest in a multi-year services contract for fixed-wing aircraft, personnel, equipment, equipment, tools, material, maintenance and supervision necessary to perform passenger and cargo combination (COMBI) and Low-Cost Low-Altitude (LCLA) airdrop operations using Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) air transportation services between locations in the Area of Responsibility (AOR) Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.” The contract would be for a base year, along with four one-year options, meaning the potential contract potentially covers up to five years.

“The contractor shall provide all direct labor, transportation, supervision, training, fixed-wing aircraft, administrative support for conducting air operations and all other items and services necessary to perform Air Support Services (parachute operations) for Government-directed aerial delivery missions,” the announcement added on February 18, 2010.

Presidential Airways representatives did not respond to queries from EurasiaNet, but documents released under the Freedom of Information Act in 2007, and now publicly available on US Transportation Command’s website, reveal the company’s Bagram-based fleet for STOL services in Central Asia as of 2007 included 9 CASA 212-200; 2 Fairchild SA-227; 2 Eurocopter SA-330; 1 DeHavilland DHC-8 and 1 Cessna CE-208.

Presidential Airways is also approved to “provide on-demand operational paratroop and airborne jump support to all military services under a Special Operations Command contract.”

STOL/LCLA services appeal to the military because of their cost effectiveness. STOL/LCLA operations are typically used to deliver small numbers of passengers, both military and civilian contractors, food, medical supplies, propaganda and weapons into remote areas.

The 2008 contract for airlift services for US Central Command states that “the government requires passengers to carry a full compliment of munitions and explosives necessary to execute their mission as well as other [hazardous materials].”

A Presidential Airways contractor performance assessment report for 2004-2005 stated: “Presidential has transported 7,072 passengers, 902,664 lbs. of cargo, and 833,048 lbs. of mail to various locations.”

“Without this carrier’s support, the Helicopter task force currently in Pakistan would have ground to a halt,” the assessment continued. “Their service for light airborne operations (mostly leaflet drops) has saved the government over $40,000 in costs compared with either a C-130 or Helicopters.”

A similar assessment for 2005-2006 stated: “Blackwater has transported 12,987 passengers. 1,789,945 lbs. of cargo, and 942.666 lbs. of mail to various locations throughout the Combined Joint Operations Area (CJOA). These numbers represent an 84 percent increase in passenger movement, a 98 percent increase in cargo and a 13 percent increase in mail movement compared to the same period the previous year.”

By 2006-2007, operations had increased to “28,379 passengers, 2,950,331 lbs. of cargo, and 3,693,668 lbs. of mail” throughout the area of responsibility, according to that year’s contractor performance assessment.

A separate solicitation issued on February 25, 2010, to provide fixed-wing transportation services for US Central Command and the National Geospatial Agency (NGA), to which Presidential Airways is listed as an interested vendor, also includes Karshi-Khanabad as one of 16 airfields that could be potentially used within the scope of the contract.

The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency is a “Department of Defense combat support agency, and a member of the national Intelligence Community, [developing] imagery and map-based intelligence solutions” according to its website.

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Blackwater, Contract Awards, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment