The Afghan village militia will be vetted for insurgent ties, officials say. Training of 1,000 new recruits is on hold after the latest ‘insider’ attack.
The LA Times September 2, 2012
KABUL, Afghanistan — American special operations forces have suspended the training of new recruits to an Afghan village militia until the entire 16,000-member force can be rescreened for possible links to the insurgency, U.S. officials said Sunday.
The move is the latest repercussion from a series of “insider” shootings carried out by members of the Afghan police and army against Western troops. Forty-five NATO service members have been killed in such attacks this year, and the U.S. toll in August alone was 12 dead.
The re-vetting drive, first reported by the Washington Post, mainly affects a village militia known as the Afghan Local Police, or ALP, which is being trained by American special operations troops. U.S. special forces also mentor Afghan special forces and commando units, which underwent a rescreening last month, according to U.S. officials.
Two American NATO-led troops were killed by an Afghan Border Police officer on April 4 a local official said.
The victims were teaching a group of border policemen in a meeting room in Faryab in northern Afghanistan, according to the deputy governor of Faryab province, Abdul Sattar Bariz.
The gunman escaped on foot, running toward the desert, Bariz said.
“Initial reports say that there were about six Americans inside the meeting room and only two of them have been killed,” he said, adding that he did not have many other details.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said earlier two NATO troops had been killed after an individual wearing an Afghan police uniform opened fire.
The NATO-led force did not identify the nationality of the dead.
The United States did not immediately confirm that the victims were American. The Pentagon usually does not name casualties until 24 hours after next of kin have been told of their deaths.
Afghan troops and the International Security Assistance Force were investigating the shooting, the force said.
In November, a gunman in an Afghan Border Police uniform shot and killed six US troops during a training mission in eastern Afghanistan, the force said. VOVNews/CNN
When the death of US Army Sgt. Michael Lammerts was first reported, his family thought he was a war casualty.
However, officials in Afghanistan are confirming to Eyewitness News that Sgt. Michael Lammerts and another soldier, Staff Sgt. Scott Burgess, were killed on April 4th after being shot by an Afghan Border Policeman in the Faryab province, Afghanistan
Danger Room has confirmed that DynCorp, one of the leading private-security firms, has held on to a contract with the Army worth up to $1 billion for training Afghanistan’s police over the next three years. With corruption, incompetence and illiteracy within the police force a persistent obstacle to turning over security responsibilities to the cops by 2014, NATO has revamped much of its training efforts — except, apparently, the contractors paid lavishly to help them out.
The details: DynCorp will provide security personnel to train the Afghan cops at 14 different locations across the country. Those trainers will support the NATO training command run out of Kabul by Lt. Gen. William Caldwell in getting the police into an “independently functioning entity capable of providing for the national security of Afghanistan,” the Army’s Research Development and Engineering Command says in the award. The contract runs for two years and earns DynCorp $718.1 million, but an option to re-up for a third year brings the total price to $1.04 billion.
And to think: this all could have slipped through DynCorp’s fingers. From 2003 to 2009, company held a contract with the Department of State for training the Afghan police — law-enforcement training has historically been a State Department operation — that earned the company over a billion. But last year, Gen. Stanley McChrystal successfully lobbied to place the police training under his control. An obscure Army entity usually dealing with counter-narcotics known as CNTPO let it be known in fall 2009 that DynCorp wasn’t part of the companies it considered for the bid. So DynCorp registered a complaint with the Government Accountability Office contesting CNTPO’s fitness to award the contract. GAO sided with DynCorp in March; the bid went out under the Research Development and Engineering Command instead this summer; DynCorp won yesterday.
“We are honored to continue to support coalition efforts to train the Afghan National Police under this competitively-awarded contract,” company spokeswoman Ashley Burke emailed Danger Room. “Our extraordinary law enforcement professionals, working at the direction of the coalition forces and side-by-side with the Afghan people, have helped to make significant progress in developing a civilian police force in Afghanistan under challenging circumstances. We look forward to continuing this important work.”
A series of audits over the years have chided the State Department’s oversight of DynCorp’s police-training contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, but have mostly criticized the State Department, not the company. Still, the company’s performance in Afghanistan has recently raised eyebrows: in an incident disclosed last week, DynCorp guards assigned to protect Afghan President Hamid Karzai were fired after drinking and whoring in 2005; late payments to a subcontractor got an elderly U.S. citizen thrown in an Afghan jail this weekend; and WikiLeaks released a cable seeming to indicate that DynCorp guards hired young male prostitutes for a party it threw in 2009 for Afghan bigshots. (The company and the State Department deny that.)
But perhaps the biggest question surrounding the contract is the weakness of the Afghan police. Official U.S. complaints about corruption and incompetence have plagued the Afghan cops since a 2006 joint Pentagon-State inspectors-general inquiry gave the force poor marks, all while barely studying the DynCorp contractors who trained them. NATO has a goal of expanding Afghanistan’s cops to 134,000 by October, even as they’re considered the most troubled element of the Afghan security forces. The training command is short several hundred uniformed trainers that U.S. allies were supposed to provide. And now the same contractors who’ve trained the cops from jump are sticking around for the remainder of the effort.
“With years of hard-earned experience in the Balkans, East Timor, Haiti, Sudan, Liberia, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan,” Burke says, DynCorp “has provided more than 6,000 experienced civilian police advises in support of civilian police training programs around the world.” Please see the original story here
Recently I wrote about the contract for training the Afghan National Police. Actually I wrote about a Newsweek/Pro Publica article on the subject. This contract was held DynCorp which naturally enough, given some of the allegations in the article, took exception with what I wrote.
I don’t know what the truth is. T. Christian Miller from Pro Publica who worked on the article has an outstanding record on reporting on this issue. But DynCorp said it had records proving it did everything required under the contract. Hopefully, the truth of the matter will come out in the near future.
But since DynCorp subsequently brought up the issue of its record, albeit limited to Afghanistan, I think it fair to look back further. So let’s step into Mr. Peabody’s time machine and look at its performance doing similar training in Iraq.
We don’t have to travel very far in time; only to February 24, when the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight, chaired by Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) held a hearing, “Hard Lessons Learned in Iraq and Benchmarks for Future Reconstruction Efforts.” The witness was Stuart W. Bowen, Jr., Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). Before you read the below excerpt. bear in mind that it says as much about the U.S. government as it does about DynCorp.
REP. CARNAHAN: Thank you. Now I want to move on to talk about the issue of the police training. When I traveled to Iraq back in early 2005, I had a tour of a police training facility, and there was much fanfare about — this was one of the highest priorities for success in the country, and substantial funding had been provided to it, and there were glowing numbers about how quickly they were going to get the numbers of police trained up to where they needed to be. And, you know, even today, as you mentioned, General McChrystal saying, you know, that’s one of the number one priorities, is to get our police trained. You know, between 2005 and now we haven’t seen anywhere near the progress that we need to have seen. And I guess with the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by December 31, 2011, what challenges do you foresee — I guess my first question – what challenges in terms of the transition and responsibility from the military to state, and do you believe state will be able to successfully take over that training program in October of 2011? MR. BOWEN: First of all, great question, because I think it is the critical issue to ensure improved security in Iraq going forward. We’re going to go down to 50,000 troops in four months. And that’s going to obviously mean that the Iraqis have to shoulder the complete security burden moving forward. We have trained hundreds of thousands of police and equipped them over the last five years, and we’re doing an audit now to provide you the particulars of how the military executed the police training contract. And that’ll be out later this year.
But the transition issue I think that’s paramount is the fact that the contract and the management of the contract that we criticize in this — most recent audits, the DynCorp contract, is up for bid right now in Iraq, and no surprise. DynCorp is one of the bidders for that, and I think that it’s got — it’s a contract that has to be managed by the State Department. And the core of our criticism was the lack of in-country oversight, the failure to review invoices, the questions raised about the vulnerability to fraud and waste regarding billions of taxpayer dollars.
Those weaknesses have not been remedied yet. Now, Deputy Secretary Lew, when I met with him on this a month ago, assured me that he is going to take a personal interest and ensure that there is adequate oversight. But that promise needs to be fulfilled, and thus, here is the issue, the number one issue, ensuring contract management of this continuingly very expensive oversight package for Iraq.
REP. CARNAHAN: So to the question of this transition, how do you see that happening?
MR. BOWEN: Well, I have visited with the State Department, individual in charge of management. It’s going to be a radical reform, I think, of the approach simply because of the limited assets the State Department has vis-a-vis the Department of Defense. And so it’s going to move, as he described it, up to 30,000 feet from 5,000 feet. It’s going to be about macro improvements to ministry capacity, and it’ll be a reduction — there won’t be the individual police training execution at the level that’s going on now.
REP. CARNAHAN: And to the specific contract, you indicated we have put $2.5 billion into police training — that’s correct –
MR. BOWEN: Mm-hmm, yes, sir.
REP. CARNAHAN: — and that this is the largest single contract –
MR. BOWEN: Yes.
REP. CARNAHAN: — in all of the Iraq reconstruction?
MR. BOWEN: In State Department –
REP. CARNAHAN: In –
MR. BOWEN: — in — the State Department has ever managed.
REP. CARNAHAN: In State Department history.
MR. BOWEN: Yes.
REP. CARNAHAN: And how many U.S. government officials were overseeing this contract?
MR. BOWEN: In-country contracting Office of Representatives — three. This is the tough story here, Chairman Carnahan. We looked at this four years ago, and the problem we identified four years ago was lack of contract management raised in our first audit issued in first month of 2007. Then we got into the whole contract and found that it was inauditable, and so we issued a review in October saying the State Department asked for three to five years to get their records in order because it just — it was a mess. And then we went in in 2008 to see if there were remedial measures, and there were. Then we go in last summer and find the same problem, three people in-country overseeing a contact that has — that is spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. And more disturbing — the lack of clarity about who was supposed to do what. The in-country contracting Office of Representatives — my auditors interviewed said well, invoice accountability is being done back in Washington. We went back to Washington, asked them. They said it’s being done in Iraq. Huge vulnerability.
REP. CARNAHAN: And with regard to the contractor, DynCorp, describe how that contract was initially awarded.
MR. BOWEN: It was an existing contract that was held by the State Department that was used
– I don’t have the specific facts of the bidding process, but it was in existence in 2004 and used to apply to this program in — at the level of $2.5 billion. And again, as I said, it was DOD money that went into it. So I think DOD was looking for a vehicle that it could use to spend this money, and it did so, and I think there are some questions about that process. But it certainly shows how bifurcated or disjointed both the source of the money, the contract management of the money, and then the execution of the contract, all different places. It shows, I think, just the lack of clarity in stabilization reconstruction contracting.
REP. CARNAHAN: And in your reviews, to what extent can you account for how that money has been spent?
MR. BOWEN: As I said, we’re looking at the execution of it now. My auditors in Iraq are
today reviewing that matter, and the outcomes, which are an important question for you, we
will answer later this year.
REP. CARNAHAN: And you expect that report out when?
MR. BOWEN: By July. No later than July.
REP. CARNAHAN: I’m going to yield to Judge Poe.
REP. POE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I had just one question. Which of our government agencies, in your opinion, was the most irresponsible about money, DOD, State Department, USAID?
MR. BOWEN: I think that the State Department did not carry out its contract oversight responsibilities sufficiently enough. In this particular contract we’re discussing – is the most egregious example of that. And the disturbing point is it hasn’t remediated that weakness sufficiently today.
REP. POE: All right, thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. CARNAHAN: Thank you, Judge Poe. Yeah, I think if — I don’t know anything about police training, but if I had a $2.5 billion contract, I think I could figure out a way to train police. I mean, that’s outrageous.
Think about that last question and Bowen’s answer for a moment. When the State Department is judged to be more irresponsible than the Pentagon in terms of contract oversight you know you have a huge problem on your hands.
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