Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Insourcing “Inherently Governmental” Work Will Save Money

By Pratap Chatterjee | January 25, 2011  Center for American Progress

The U.S. Army has identified 2,357 contractors doing work that is supposed to be reserved exclusively for federal employees, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office released last week.

Another 1,877 contractors are doing “unauthorized personal services” for the Army, the GAO found, while 45,934 contractors are doing Army jobs that are considered closely associated with inherently governmental functions, which require strict oversight and management. Other military services as well as civilian agencies are probably employing thousands of contractors with similar conflicts.

Work that is “inherently governmental,” such as oversight functions or those that may commit the government to overall policy decisions, must not be done by contractors, according to draft guidelines issued last March by the Obama administration.

The GAO estimates that 766,732 contractors worked for the military on service contracts worth $140.4 billion in fiscal 2009. That’s more than the 737,000 civilians that were employed by the military in 2009, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The Center for American Progress believes that eliminating contractors who do “inherently governmental” work will save the military dollars and bring it into compliance with the law. Returning or “insourcing” these jobs back to the permanent federal workforce should be the military’s first action in complying with Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s request for a 10 percent annual reduction in contract spending over the next three years.

It’s a shame, but not a surprise, that no such suggestion was included in the spending reduction proposal released last week by the Republican Study Committee. As CAP Senior Fellow Scott Lilly has previously noted: “The real question is why Republicans, in their earnestness to reduce the deficit, have not taken on the issue of government contracting. That has been where the real growth in government has occurred.”

Please read the entire article here

February 21, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Government Contractor | , , , , | Leave a comment

Afghanistan: military quagmire and government money pit

One reason US reconstruction work in Afghanistan is so fruitless is that oversight into where the billions go is wholly inadequate

by Pratap Chatterjee at the Guardian.co.uk

Louis Berger, a major construction company headquartered in New Jersey, has agreed to pay out a record $69.3m in fines (pdf), the largest ever such penalty imposed on a contractor working in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq. The company has been awarded billions of dollars in contracts for the construction of roads, schools and electrical plants in Afghanistan.

Harold Salomon, a former senior financial analyst at the company, discovered that company officials were sending bills for items like the cost of the music system in its Washington, DC office to the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Salomon blew the whistle on estimated overcharging of up to $20m and took the company to court with the help of Phillips & Cohen, a trial law firm in Washington, DC.

“Today I can affirm to those who told me the Louis Berger Group can get away with anything that they were wrong,” Salomon said in a press statement, when the settlement was announced on 5 November. “To those who said, ‘If you cannot beat them, you have to join them,’ I say they were wrong, too.”

Louis Berger’s work in Afghanistan was first heavily criticised in a 2006 report by Fariba Nawa of CorpWatch titled “Afghanistan, Inc.” (full disclosure: I commissioned this report when I worked at CorpWatch). Nawa described a clinic in Qala Qazi built by Louis Berger, which she had visited, that was falling apart:

“The ceiling had rotted away in patches; the plumbing, when it worked, leaked and shuddered; the chimney, made of flimsy metal, threatened to set the roof on fire; the sinks had no running water; and the place smelled of sewage.”

Louis Berger also advised USAID on a road from Sar-e Paul province and Shiberghan, the capitol of Jawzjan province, which Nawa also visited. The highway did not have shoulders for emergency stops, gravel on the road caused their car punctures and broke windshields, and the runoff from the raised road was flooding local homes. A petition, signed by 1,000 local residents, was delivered to the local governor, but since the road was paid for by Washington, the governor was unable to do anything.

“On a programme of this magnitude, there will be problems; the challenges in Afghanistan make it even more difficult. There will be disagreements and mistakes made by anybody at any given time. However, you overcome those problems and you keep the objectives in mind and move forward,” Fred Chace, deputy operations manager for Berger in Afghanistan, wrote in an email to Nawa when she asked for explanations of these problems in November 2005.

Five years later, the company has admitted that its employees were overcharging the government at about the same time. “When the company identified issues with its allocations to the federal government for projects overseas, it began refunding the government in addition to implementing a companywide internal improvement programme,” asserted company spokesperson Holly Fisher in an official statement last week.

Despite this investgation and settlement, a slew of new reports from the special inspector general for Afghanistan (Sigar) suggests that the US government still does not have a full grasp of what happens to the billions of dollars that are being funnelled into Afghanistan today. Between 2007 and 2009, the Pentagon, the state department and USAID approved nearly $18bn to nearly 7,000 contractors. According to an October 2010 audit by Sigar, they cannot readily account for this expenditure: “If we don’t even know who we’re giving money to, it is nearly impossible to conduct system wide oversight,” said Major General Arnold Fields, director of Sigar.

A second audit issued by Sigar last month showed that “six Afghan National Police (ANP) facilities funded by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in the strongholds of Kandahar and Helmand are so poorly constructed, they are currently unusable.” And a third audit by Sigar issued at the same time reported that the “US government is unable to determine how much money it has given the Afghan government in salary supplements since 2002, or how many recipients are being paid.”

The litany of financial mismanagement goes on. In a fourth audit issued by Sigar in October, investigators reported that Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan was receiving millions of dollars in aid which local government officials were unable to properly oversee. “This haphazard approach to development assistance results in overlapping, or duplicate, projects, and also a lack of much-needed facilities because donors funnelling in millions of dollars do not know what specific projects the various donor countries are responsible for,” Maj Gen Fields reported. “This is a recipe for a disaster, and a recipe for tremendous waste of money and resources.”

Nine years after the invasion of Afghanistan, one has to ask the questions: why is there no proper way to manage money in Nangarhar (where the US has a major military base); why are police stations in Helmand and Kandahar (the two provinces with the largest military operations) unusable; and why is there, apparently, no way to tell whether or not the government salaries are being paid out properly; and what, finally, has happened to the last 18bn of US taxpayers’ dollars spent in the country?

Yet, reconstruction funding is only part of the problem in Afghanistan. An estimated $14bn a year has been spent by the Pentagon and Nato on contractors to build bases and drive fuel trucks. Some of that money is believed to leak out into the hands of insurgent groups like the Taliban, according to an investigation conducted by the US Congress.

The Pentagon has appointed a special group called Task Force 2010 to follow those billions. The answers to where the money has gone aren’t necessarily going to be made public by the Pentagon, in which case American taxpayers may have to hope there will be another Harold Salomon willing to put the information in the public domain via WikiLeaks or trial lawyers like Phillips & Cohen.

Please see the original here

November 12, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Whistleblower | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraq war logs: America’s virtual war

The WikiLeaks logs show how the US military was seduced by the promise of hi-tech drone operations like Task Force Odin’s

October 25, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Pakistan | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hearings Reveal Lapses in Private Security in War Zones

By Pratap Chatterjee*

WASHINGTON, Jun 21, 2010 (IPS) – Jerry Torres, CEO of Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, has a motto: “For Torres, failure is not an option.” A former member of the Green Berets, one of the elite U.S. Army Special Forces, he was awarded “Executive of the Year” at the seventh annual “Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards” in November 2009.

On Monday, Torres, whose company provides translators and armed security guards in Iraq, was invited to testify before the Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC), a body created in early 2008 to investigate waste, fraud and abuse in military contracting services in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Torres was asked to testify about his failure to obtain the required clearances for “several hundred” Sierra Leonian armed security guards that he had dispatched to protect Forward Operating Base Shield, a U.S. military base in Baghdad, in January 2010.

Torres didn’t show up.

An empty chair at the witness table was placed ready for him together with a placard with his name on it next to those for representatives of three other companies working in Iraq – the London-based Aegis, and DynCorp and Triple Canopy, both Virginia-based companies.

“This commission was going to ask him, under oath, why his firm agreed in January to assume private security responsibilities at FOB Shield with several hundred guards that had not been properly vetted and approved,” said Michael Thibault, one of the co-chairs of the commission and a former deputy director of the Defence Contract Audit Agency.

“This commission was also going to ask Mr. Torres why he personally flew to Iraq, to FOB Shield, and strongly suggested that Torres AES be allowed to post the unapproved guards, guards that would protect American troops, and then to ‘catch-up the approval process’.”

Instead, a lawyer informed the commission staff that Torres was “nervous about appearing”.

The failure of a contractor to appear for an oversight hearing into lapses was just one example that the use of some 18,800 armed “private security contractors” in Iraq and another 23,700 in Afghanistan to protect convoys, diplomatic and other personnel, and military bases and other facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq was not working.

Blackwater’s new Afghan contract

Perhaps the most famous private military contractor in Afghanistan and Iraq – North Carolina-based Blackwater – was not invited to sit at the witness table either, despite the fact that the company had been the subject of several investigations into misconduct.

For example, in September 2007, security guards from North Carolina-based Blackwater guards shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square.

Blackwater staff have also been accused of killing other private security contractors – in December 2006, Andrew J. Moonen, was accused of killing a security guard of the Iraqi vice president, Adel Abdul Mahdi. And as recently as May 2009, four Blackwater contractors were accused of killing an Afghan on the Jalalabad road in Kabul.

Members of the commission noted with astonishment that the State Department had awarded Blackwater a 120-million-dollar contract to guard U.S. consulates in Heart and Mazar-i- Sharif in Afghanistan this past Friday.

Asked to explain why Blackwater was awarded the contract, Charlene R. Lamb, deputy assistant secretary for international programmes at the State Department, stated that the competitors for the contract – DynCorp and Triple Canopy – weren’t as qualified.

Yet Don Ryder of DynCorp and Ignacio Balderas of Triple Canopy testified that they were both qualified and able to do the contract. The two men said that they would consider lodging a formal protest at the State Department Tuesday after a de-briefing with the government.

The choice of Blackwater, which has been banned by the government of Iraq, left the commissioners with little doubt that the contract award system was flawed. “What does it take for poor contractual performance to result in contract termination or non-award of future contracts?” wondered Thibault.

Inherently Governmental

At a previous hearing of the commission last week, John Nagl, president of the Washington, DC-based Centre for a New American Security, submitted a report on the subject that explained why the government was turning to these companies: “Simple math illuminates a major reason for the rise of contractors: The U.S. military simply is not large enough to handle all of the missions assigned to it.”

Yet it appears that the government does not even have the oversight capability to police the companies that it has hired to fill the gap.

Some witnesses and experts said that by definition this work should not be handed out to private contractors in war zone.

“Private security contractors are authorised to use deadly force to protect American lives in a war zone and to me if anything is inherently governmental, it’s that,” said Commissioner Clark Kent Ervin, a former inspector general at both the State Department and the Homeland Security Department. “We don’t have a definitional problem, we have an acknowledgement of reality problem.”

Non-governmental expert Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), said: “It has become clear to POGO that the answer is yes, PSCs are performing inherently governmental functions. A number of jobs that are not necessarily inherently governmental in general become so when they are conducted in a combat zone. Any operations that are critical to the success of the U.S. government’s mission in a combat zone must be controlled by government personnel.”

*This article was produced in partnership with CorpWatch – http://www.corpwatch.org.

June 21, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracting, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, DynCorp, Iraq, NATO, Private Security Contractor, State Department, Triple Canopy | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Overseas Press Club Awards, Propublica

ProPublica, with reporters T. Christian Miller, Doug Smith and Pratap Chatterjee, won the award for Web coverage of international affairs for “Disposable Army: Civilian Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The Overseas Press Club Awards were founded in 1940 to recognize excellence in foreign coverage in the categories of print, broadcast and photography. Read more at the Washington Examiner

April 22, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Civilian Police, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

DynCorp oversight in Afghanistan faulted

by Pratap Chatterjee, Special to CorpWatch
February 26th, 2010
Dyncorp police
DynCorp mentor watches Afghan National Police practice riot control tactics at the Kabul Central Training Center. Photo by Ronald Nobu Sakamoto

Afghan police are widely considered corrupt and unable to shoot straight; they die at twice the rate of Afghan soldiers and NATO troops. After $7 billion spent on training and salaries in the last eight years, several U.S. government investigations are asking why?

Some answers are obvious: Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries of the world, with extremely low literacy and a serious drug problem: One in five police recruits tests positive for drugs, and fewer than one in 10 can read and write. Unofficial estimates suggest that the Taliban pays twice as much as the government, luring away many candidates from law enforcement careers.

But another rather surprising answer was offered in a little-noticed report published earlier this month after a high-level investigation by two major U.S. government agencies. The report — “DOD Obligations and Expenditures of Funds Provided to the Department of State for the Training and Mentoring of the Afghan National Police” — says that the U.S. State Department has completely failed to do any serious oversight of private contractors they paid $1.6 billion to provide police training at dozens of sites around Afghanistan.

DynCorp’s International Police Training Program, run out of Fort Worth, Texas, has won the bulk of the contracts that have been overseen by the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). The company, which has annual revenues of $3.1 billion, has followed a series of wars to run lucrative police training contracts from Bosnia in the 1990s to Iraq in 2003.

DynCorp’s work with Kabul began in 2003, almost two years after the fall of the Taliban. It was expanded in 2004 when the State Department issued it a contract to build seven regional training centers, and provide 30 police advisers across Afghanistan. This initial contract was replaced by a series of related contracts beginning on August 15, 2005, under which DynCorp today employs 782 retired U.S. police officers and an additional 1,500 support staff. The contracts expired January 31, 2010, but have temporarily been extended through March.

The cost of hiring contractors to train police is high: Each expatriate police officer makes six figure U.S. salaries — at least 50 times more than an Afghan police officer. Many experts, including the authors of this new report, have questioned the utility of sending police officers–many from small town America–to teach handcuffing and traffic rules to recruits caught in a war zone.

“The DOS [State Department] Civilian Police Program contract does not meet DOD [Pentagon]’s needs in developing the ANP [Afghan National Police] to provide security in countering the growing insurgency in Afghanistan,” says the report signed by Pentagon Deputy Inspector General Mary L. Ugone and State Department Assistant Inspector General for the Middle East Richard “Nick” Arntson. The report concludes that the State department-led training “hampers the ability of DOD to fulfill its role in the emerging national strategy.”

Oversight Failures

That the government awarded billions to DynCorp when it was not qualified to teach Afghans how to fight a counter-insurgency is only part of the problem. What the investigators want to know is why the State Department failed so miserably at keeping track of the company.

The inspector generals have a long list of complaints:

– State Department officials take as long as six months to implement training requirement changes requested by the Pentagon.

–The State Department failed to draw up any means of assessing DynCorp’s work. “The current task orders do not provide any specific information regarding what type of training is required or any measurement of acceptability. …Additionally, the current contract does not include any measurement of contractor performance.”

– Oversight of invoices and receipts submitted by the contractor was virtually non-existent.

– The description of the State department’s seven-member oversight team as “in country” is “misleading.” Only three of the seven “in-country” State Department officials officially in charge of overseeing DynCorp contract were based in Afghanistan. (Three were U.S-based and the seventh worked on an entirely different contract.) Indeed some $675 million had been approved for spending as of early 2008, without any evidence of an in-country supervisor actually present in Afghanistan. The report questioned how “performing product and service inspection, accepting work on behalf of the Government, and maintaining inventory lists of Government-furnished property” could be even possible without “a physical presence at the place of performance.”

– Much of the equipment provided by the U.S. for training had gone missing. During site visits to three police training centers in Bamiyan, Herat, and Kandahar, the inspectors randomly selected 123 items from an inventory list of vehicles, weapons and electronics, but could only locate 34. In Kandahar, nine “sensitive items” — pistols, rifles, and scopes — could not be located. A subsequent check at DynCorp’s headquarters in Kabul, showed that the weapons were signed out by company personnel. Of 89 non-sensitive items, only two could be located. The Kandahar site coordinator explained that the list was inaccurate and out-of-date.

– Money, too, was unaccounted for or misappropriated: Inspectors quoted a preliminary audit that identified $322 million in invoices for the State department’s global police training program that were approved “even though they were not allowable, allocable, or reasonable.” Roughly 50 percent of the approved invoices that the inspectors reviewed had errors. The inspectors general recommended that the State Department should return a “minimum” of $80 million from the Afghanistan budget to the Pentagon.

Curiously the company has also recently taken aim at its paymasters, stating that the lack of oversight in the field impeded the contractor. At a December hearing of the Congressionally mandated Commission on Wartime Contracting, Donald Ryder, program manager for the DynCorp’s Afghanistan police program, told commissioners: “It is impractical for the contracting officer to oversee, monitor, and direct a contract from a location in the US, many time zones away from the work, without a visceral understanding of combat conditions.”

Douglas Ebner, a company spokesman, emailed CorpWatch to say that DynCorp “welcome[d] the emphasis on oversight and accountability,” and that its inventory system had been approved by the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA). “Sensitive items are inventoried and documented on a monthly basis. The audit report notes that sensitive items in fact were accounted for as being properly signed out by contractor personnel,” wrote Ebner.

The State department acknowledges many of the problems with oversight. “We agree with report recommendations to station more contracting officer representatives in country for oversight and are moving forward,” said Susan R. Pittman, a State Department spokesperson. The State Department, she added, was developing “standard operating procedures [specifically] identifying duties and responsibilities” for the oversight officials.

But Pittman took issue with the inspector general conclusion that there was an $80 million over-charge, noting that the State Department was conducting an audit to determine “how much we can return.”

Even if it turns out that the U.S. does not have to pay the overcharge, “in the long run,” Nick Arntson told CorpWatch. “they should still have the documents to show where the $80 million went.”

Yet the report on Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs’s (INL) failures in Afghanistan is not unprecedented. In January, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), came out with an equally critical report about how the agency had failed to properly oversee a $2.5 billion contract with DynCorp to conduct police training in Iraq beginning in 2004.

SIGIR says it has “no confidence in the accuracy of payments of more than $1bn to DynCorp” during the early stages of the contract. “Poor contract management which plagued the early years of the contract” have largely continued because the bureau’s initiatives to improve performance have “fallen short.”

Just as in Afghanistan, the SIGIR report documented that INL paid DynCorp for questionable work. In Iraq, a DynCorp security team got $4.54 million per year to protect six prison instructors even though the instructors already had another security team that cost just $546,000 per year. INL also paid seven times more than the U.S. embassy did to lease facilities for DynCorp.

INL chief David Johnson called the SIGIR’s key findings “unfounded.”

Failing Grades

While the inspectors general have criticized the lack of State Department oversight, they have not found fault with DynCorp. “Based on what the contract stated, we saw no problem with the contractor,” report co-author Arntson told CorpWatch.

Yet, if the measures used to track the capabilities of the Afghan police are any guide, the contract has not been a resounding success.

All told, as of December 31, 2009:

– the Afghan National Police had on its rolls 94,958 personnel organized into 365 police districts, but only about one quarter have actually completed formal training, according to Pentagon records.

– Just 17 percent of the 64 police districts reviewed by the inspectors general had sufficient equipment and were capable of conducting law enforcement operations by themselves.

–Half of the police districts were classified as “present in geographic location” with up to a level of 69 percent of equipment and personnel and “partially capable of conducting law enforcement with coalition support.”

And recent statistics appear to show that the success rate is sliding backward, despite a March 2009 promise by the Obama administration to devote more resources to standing up the Afghan security forces. This poor record bodes ill for Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, who has been asking for permission to expand the police force to 160,000.

Figures tucked away in a January 2010 Special Inspector General for Afgahnistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report, for example, displayed some alarming trends.

–A review that covered 97 police districts, assessed just 12 percent as capable of independent operations.

–Between the third and fourth quarter of 2009, the number of police districts that were considered incapable of conducting law enforcement operations, rose from 13 to 21 percent.

–Making matters worse, a quarter of the trainees quit every year, according to official statistics. Thus, if recruitment and training were to stop tomorrow, Afghanistan would have virtually no police force left in five years.

Battle of the agencies

Also unstated in the report is a fierce clash between the State Department

– a civilian agency that deals with the complexities of foreign relations and long-term economic development, and a Pentagon that sees enemy targets everywhere and believes in short-term counter-insurgency style change.

While this philosophical conflict between U.S. government agencies is long-standing, it spilled into the open when the U.S. invaded Iraq. The Coalition Provisional Authority, staffed partially by State Department officials, commissioned dozens of huge, corruption-riddled projects in 2003 and 2004 that were abject failures, including a very similar police training program run by DynCorp. Eventually, under orders from Gen. David Petraueus the Pentagon took charge of police training as well as all reconstruction projects in Iraq.

Today, the same is about to happen with the Afghanistan police training project. The State Department and DynCorp have been given an extra two months to wrap up work, at which point full control will revert to the newly-created NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan run by Lieut. Gen. William Caldwell IV, a West Point classmate of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, under orders from Petraeus.

“This was based on a mutual recognition by the two departments that the lack of a single, unified chain of command for police training had resulted in confusion and unnecessary delays in modifying and implementing the program,” Kenneth P. Moorefield, assistant inspector general for Special Plans & Operations for the Global War on Terror and Southwest Asia at the Pentagon told the December meeting of the Commission on Wartime Contracting.

DynCorp is not being considered for a new billion dollar training contract by the Pentagon office in charge — the Counter Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office (CNTPO) in Dahlgren, Virginia. Instead CNTPO plans to select from five pre-approved vendors: Xe (formerly Blackwater), Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and ARINC Engineering Services.

DynCorp is not taking this exclusion lying down. The company has filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office, alleging that the approach is “procedurally and legally flawed.” A decision is expected by March 24, 2010.

Ryder continues to insists that DynCorp is the most qualified to do police training. “[N]either our military nor European National police were formed or trained to teach basic law enforcement skills,” he told the Commission on Wartime Contracting. “At DynCorp International we do not build satellites. We do not design aircraft. We do training and mentoring. That is our core competency — and this competency is represented in the DNA of our 30,000 employees worldwide.”

Others disagee. “DynCorp and INL squandered six years of training by focusing on quantity and neglecting quality, especially the quality of leaders, who are much harder to produce than rank-and-file policemen,” wrote Mark Moyar, professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Marine Corps University in The Daily Beast, after a visit to Afghanistan last month. “DynCorp and INL were supposed to have turned over all police training to the NATO training mission by now, but the transition has been suspended by an appeal from DynCorp. The suspension threatens to set the training effort back by months, if not years.”

* This article was produced in partnership with Inter Press Service News Agency. Pratap Chatterjee may be reached at “pchatterjee@igc.org”

February 27, 2010 Posted by | DynCorp | , , , , , | 1 Comment