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DynCorp Garrison-Complex Delays Hampered Afghan Troop Training, Audit Says

By Tony Capaccio at Bloomberg

DynCorp International Inc. delays in completing a northern Afghanistan garrison complex forced Afghan troops to be housed in temporary facilities that exposed them to mud, freezing conditions, unsafe food storage and sewage, according to U.S. auditors.

Falls Church, Virginia-based DynCorp International, one of the U.S. Army’s largest contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, is at least 19 months late completing the Kunduz facility, according to U.S. auditors. The $72-million project is slated to be finished by August and house 1,800 troops.

“Pervasive delays” in construction projects for Afghan personnel are hampering U.S. efforts to build a credible Afghan security force, North Atlantic Treaty Organization trainers told investigators for Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction Arnold Fields.

Delays at the Kunduz garrison project are “dramatically restricting training and operations,” said an audit Fields released June 29.

DynCorp spokeswoman Ashley Burke said in an e-mail “it is impossible to anticipate the myriad of unexpected challenges that face construction teams operating in hostile areas.”

“In addition to the challenges operating a project in a war zone, soil abnormalities have been a major issue impeding progress,” she said.

‘Terrible Conditions’

The DynCorp project is meant to support a U.S. effort to train and house the Afghan Army, which is scheduled to grow to 172,000 by October 2011 from 103,000 a year ago. Delays at the Kunduz complex have hampered training, the audit found.

“We saw the effects of construction delays on the development of units at that site,” said Emily Rachman, the senior auditor who compiled the report.

“We observed Afghan army personnel living in temporary facilities and dealing with terrible conditions that were impeding the training efforts of NATO mentors,” Rachman said in an interview.

During a February visit, auditors saw “Afghan army personnel coping with deep mud, freezing conditions, unsanitary shower and bathroom facilities, inadequate dining facilities, medically unsafe food storage and sewage being openly discharged on the surface of the compound,” the audit said.

German military mentors training the Afghan unit said “they were enormously frustrated,” Rachman said. “We went out and trudged through the mud at the site and observed it first- hand. The effect on training and mentoring is obviously enormous.”

Fields disclosed the basic construction delays and problems in an April 30 audit. It concluded the garrison in Kunduz province was unusable because of “poor quality welds, rust on steel supports” and “severe settling” of soil.

DynCorp Action

DynCorp’s Burke said the company hired geological experts to investigate the soil problems. The experts are working to “determine a definitive cause” so a corrective plan can be developed, she said. The company is making a series of interim repairs to contain the damage, she said.

Those include reinforcing foundations and adding additional soil grading to aid drainage from structures, she said.

The company has been docked $1.4 million so far for the cost of administering the contract beyond the scheduled completion date, said Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Eugene Pawlik. Under its contract, Burke said, the company is working to provide the proper justification for delays it believes fall “outside the contractor’s control” and hopes to receive the payments in full once the work is complete.

DynCorp is addressing all the problems and the complex is scheduled to open in August, Pawlik said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Capaccio at acapaccio@bloomberg.net

June 30, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Civilian Police, DynCorp, NATO, State Department | , , , | Leave a comment