Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Afghan private security handover looking messy

Heidi Vogt Associated Press February 10, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The push by Afghanistan’s president to nationalize legions of private security guards before the end of March is encouraging corruption and jeopardizing multibillion-dollar aid projects, according to companies trying to make the switch.

President Hamid Karzai has railed for years against the large number of guns-for-hire in Afghanistan, saying private security companies skirt the law and risk becoming militias. He ordered them abolished in 2009 and eventually set March 20 of this year as the deadline for everyone except NATO and diplomatic missions to switch to government-provided security.

Afghan officials are rushing to meet the cutoff with the help of NATO advisers. But with fewer than six weeks to go, it’s likely that many components will still be missing on March 20. And even once everything falls into place, higher costs and issues of authority over the government guards will remain.

The change imperils billions of dollars of aid flowing into Afghanistan, particularly from the United States. In a country beset by insurgent attacks and suicide bombings, the private development companies that implement most of the U.S. aid agency’s programs employ private guards to protect compounds, serve as armed escorts and guard construction sites.

On March 21, approximately 11,000 guards now working for private security firms will become government employees as members of the Afghan Public Protection Force, or APPF. They will still be working in the same place with the same job. Except now they’ll answer to the Interior Ministry.

“We don’t want to have security gaps. This is really important to our customers and to us,” said the head of the APPF, Deputy Minister Jamal Abdul Naser Sidiqi. It will happen, he says, because the presidential order says it has to.

Officially, everyone is optimistic.

“The APPF is now open for business,” a U.S. embassy official said, speaking anonymously to discuss private agency contracts.

But many are still worried that the entire plan could fall apart. Development contractors for the U.S. Agency for International Development told The Associated Press they were explicitly told not to discuss the changeover with reporters because media attention could endanger the delicate process. Everyone critical of APPF insisted on speaking anonymously for this article

Please read the entire article here


February 10, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor | , , | Leave a comment

Legally binding controls needed for private security contractors, say UN experts

UN News Center 8 July 2011 –

A group of independent United Nations experts today called for the adoption of binding international regulations to control the activities of private security companies.
José Luis Gómez del Prado, the Chairman of the UN Working Group on Mercenaries, told a news conference at UN Headquarters that “the international community needs clarification on the jurisdiction” of such companies.

Mr. Gómez said there is a legal “gap” between recognized international conventions on the use of mercenaries, and the control of private security companies that are often used by governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The Working Group had already submitted proposed legislation to the General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva which were being discussed at the expert level.

Mr. Gómez said that many countries had proposed self regulation and codes of conduct, but the panel is proposing a specific international instrument that would be agreed on by national governments.

“What we are proposing is a binding instrument for States that is very clear” to include licensing, national and international monitoring of activities and civil and criminal laws regulating them.

The instrument, he said, would also have measures specifically to deal with victims.

Noting that four years after the killing of 17 civilians in Nissour Square in Iraq, the case against the alleged perpetrators is still pending in United States courts, he said “The victims don’t receive justice.”

The panel visited Iraq last month and urged the Iraqi Government to prioritize the adoption of legislation regulating security companies that has been pending since 2008.

“While US troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of the year, security contractors are there to stay. The urgency to regulate their activities couldn’t be greater,” he said today.

Alexander Nikitin, a member of the Working Group, said the different methods of control for private security companies in Iraq and Afghanistan highlighted the need for international standards.

The Group reports to the Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity

Press Conference by Working Group on Use of Mercenaries, Following Iraq Trip

July 8, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Legal Jurisdictions, Mercenaries, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, United Nations | , , , , | Leave a comment

Firms plan private war against pirates

UPI.com Security Industry  April  26,2011

MOGADISHU, Somalia, April 26 (UPI) — International naval forces are expected to step up operations against Somali pirates but private security companies are seeking to provide armed escorts for merchant ships to counter the pirates’ expansion into the Indian Ocean.

The leading British insurer Jardine Lloyd Thompson is organizing a fleet of 18 gunboats to shepherd convoys of vessels across the Gulf of Aden, which runs into Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, vital trading and oil routes now under increasing threat.

The project is known as the Convoy Escort Program, was conceived several months ago by Jardine Lloyd Thompson, which insures around 15 percent of the world’s maritime cargo ships.

It is working with the London security firm BTG Global Risk Partners. Its founder, Liam Morrissey, a former major in the Canadian army, is the principal consultant.

Although business sources say much of the funds to finance the program have been secured, the CEP has not yet been approved by the European Union.

Jardine Lloyd Thompson has been seeking to get other maritime insurance companies, as well as major shipping lines, to support the project.

If the project comes together, CEP could be operational this year, say insurance sources in London.

Please read the entire article here

April 26, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Pirates | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seven security companies dissolved in Afghanistan

AFP March 15, 2011

KABUL (AFP) – Seven private security companies operating in Afghanistan are being dissolved, the country’s interior ministry announced Tuesday, while dozens more face closure.

Private security companies help guard everything from Western embassies and international military convoys to non-governmental organisations and media companies in war-torn Afghanistan.

The announcement is the latest effort by President Hamid Karzai, who charges that they slow down the development of Afghanistan’s own security forces, to clamp down on them. He also accuses them of breaking the law.

In addition to the seven, the ministry also listed a further 45 companies that can continue their operations for another year but will then have their functions replaced by an Afghan government public protection force.

Its statement indicated that embassies would still be able to employ private security firms after the 12 months were up. But after that period, the public protection force would be responsible for guarding military convoys.

Please read the entire story here

March 22, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Contractor Corruption, Private Security Contractor | , , | Leave a comment

Afghanistan lets Blackwater stay despite shakeup of security contractors

Hamid Karzai forced to back down over expulsion of mercenary companies, with many likely to remain in country

John Boone in Kabul for the Guardian UK

Blackwater looks set to survive an Afghan government clampdown on mercenaries after Hamid Karzai was forced by his western partners to abandon a complete disbandment of private security companies.

File picture of a Blackwater security contractor in Iraq, where the company has since been banned from operating. Its successor, Xe, will enjoy favoured status as a provider of guards in Afghanistan under watered-down arrangements forced on the president, Hamid Karzai. Photograph: Jacob Silberberg/AP

Under plans to be announced by the Afghan government this month many security contractors, whom Karzai regards as being little better than militias, will be allowed to continue operating for another year.

As part of a complex new transition strategy the government is giving them until 21 March 2012 before most security for development projects is taken over by the Afghan Public Protection Force. The APPF is a government security service intended to assume control over the country’s hugely lucrative commercial security industry, which employs around 30,000 guards.

Western and Afghan officials say the draft plans drawn up by former Karzai opponent Ashraf Ghani will actually allow companies to keep supplying private guards and security services to development projects indefinitely. According to a list seen by The Guardian 11 companies operating in Afghanistan that have a good reputation with government officials will enjoy favoured status in taking over contracts.

Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater, is included in that group despite being banned in Iraq and notorious for its activities in Afghanistan.

Seven companies deemed too closely linked to senior Afghan officials have been sent orders to disband within 90 days. They include NCL, which is owned by the son of the defence minister and has interests in a $2.2bn US government transport contract.

March 7, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor, Xe | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rogue security companies threaten US gains in Afghanistan war

The Pentagon is dependent upon contractors in the Afghanistan war. But many of the security companies are undermining – or even working against –the US war effort.

By Anna Multrine Christian Science Monitor Washington

Since its Revolutionary days, the American military has been no stranger to the use of paid help – from carpenters to ditch diggers – to wage war. By 1965 in Vietnam, the practice of relying on private defense companies became widespread enough within the Pentagon that Business Week dubbed it a “war by contract.”

In Afghanistan, the use of private contractors has reached record levels. A 2010 Congressional Research Service report found that they now make up 60 percent of the Defense Department’s workforce. With fewer US soldiers than contractors throughout the war-torn country, the Pentagon is more dependent on private defense contractors than ever in its history.

Contractors bring in fuel and food for American soldiers in Afghanistan along what many consider to be one of the most complex and treacherous supply chains in the history of modern warfare. They keep installations running, guard key NATO bases, and train Afghan police.

IN PICTURES: On base in Kandahar

Yet there is a growing chorus of warnings from both within the US military and on Capitol Hill that the Pentagon’s dependence on contractors is undermining its own war efforts. A Senate Armed Services Committee investigation this month further concluded that the widespread use of contractors puts at risk the US exit strategy of training Afghan security forces – Afghan soldiers and police routinely leave the service to take more lucrative jobs with private defense companies.

The Senate investigation also turned up mounting evidence to suggest that largely unmonitored Pentagon contracts with private security companies – half of which are Afghan-owned – may also be lining the pockets of Taliban insurgents who agree not to attack convoys in exchange for cash.

“If you want to know the driving force of corruption in Afghanistan, it’s not Afghan culture,” warns Anthony Cordesman, a security specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “It’s American contracting.”

The Pentagon is beginning to grapple with the complexity of fixing what many now recognize as a deeply broken system. Though reforms are difficult to implement and come with their own risks, a failure to act now, say some US officials, may risk the entire US mission in Afghanistan.

Some contracting problems have long been apparent to US officials. One of them is that some Defense Department contract money goes to warlords who run classic pay-for-protection rackets with their own private militias. What is also clear is that the attrition rate for legitimate Afghan security forces remains as high as 130 percent in some units.

“We get them trained up and certified, and the contractors hire them for more money,” says T.X. Hammes, a retired Marine Corps colonel who served in Iraq and is now a fellow with the Center for Strategic Research at the National Defense University.

The delay in addressing a lack of oversight surrounding contractors who may also have ties to the Taliban has had consequences, Mr. Cordesman argues. The recent Senate Armed Services Committee report, for example, reflects concerns “that are seven or eight years old.” Efforts to address them have been “extraordinarily slow” to take hold, he adds. “Time and again you have created risk to American soldiers. You have almost certainly caused Americans to be killed or wounded – and you have essentially strengthened the enemy.”

Without greater controls on contracting dollars, “you have created a threat that is almost as great as the insurgency,” he says. “And that is a government that has so many forces corrupting it that it can’t win the support of the people.” Please read the entire article here

October 21, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Pentagon, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , | Leave a comment

Afghan gov’t: 4 months to disband security firms

Associated Press Update Original Story last post

KABUL, Afghanistan — A spokesman for the Afghan president says Hamid Karzai will order all private security companies in the country disbanded within four months.

Spokesman Waheed Omar says the decree is expected later Monday. It will both set the deadline and detail a process through which the companies should cease operations.

Omar spoke at a press conference in the capital and declined to give further details until the decree was released.

Afghan Government Sets Deadline for Private Security Firms

A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the Afghan leader is giving private security firms four months to cease operations in the country.

Waheed Omar told reporters that Mr. Karzai plans to issue the deadline later on Monday.

More than 50 international and Afghan security firms operate in Afghanistan, employing at least 30,000 people.

President Karzai has said the companies undermine the work of Afghan security forces by creating a parallel security structure.

Omar says greater regulation of the security companies will not solve the problem posed by the firms presence and “the way they function.”

NATO officials said dissolving the companies would be possible once the Afghan army and police are capable of providing the security that private companies currently offer, including protecting officials, troops and supply convoys.

August 16, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, NATO, Private Security Contractor | , , | Leave a comment