Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

As Iraq, Afghan wars end, private security firms adapt

Rueters October 21, 2012

* Iraq, Afghan withdrawal may mean leaner times for contractors

* Shift to guarding private sector’s oil fields and mines

* Some see big shakeout in private security industry

* U.N. member states wary of private security forces

By Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (Reuters) – On a rooftop terrace blocks from the White House, a collection of former soldiers and intelligence officers, executives and contractors drink to the international private security industry.

The past decade – particularly the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – provided rich pickings for firms providing private armed guards, drivers and other services that would once have been performed by uniformed soldiers.

But as the conflicts that helped create the modern industry wind down, firms are having to adapt to survive. They must also, industry insiders say, work to banish the controversial image of mercenary “dogs of war” that bedevil many firms, particularly in Iraq.

“This industry has always gone up and down,” Doug Brooks, president of the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA), told Reuters on the sidelines of its annual conference in Washington. “What we’re seeing now is that it is becoming much more mature – and much more responsible.”

The free-for-all atmosphere that pervaded the industry, particularly in the early years of the war in Iraq, insiders say, appears gone for good. A string of high profile incidents – often involving armed private guards firing on sometimes unarmed Iraqis – trashed the reputation of firms such as Blackwater, a Virginia-based firm since renamed several times, as well as the wider industry.

Members of the ISOA – which include some but not all of the major contracting firms as well as smaller players – subscribe to a code of conduct that they say helps identify responsible firms.

Despite these efforts, industry insiders and other observers say quality remains mixed. Some firms providing armed guards for merchant ships passing through the Somali pirate-infested Indian Ocean, for example, only hire elite personnel who have served in the Marines or special forces. Others, however, have a reputation for being less discriminating and for unreliable staff and weapons.

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October 21, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Iraq, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kabul backs off private contractor ban

At The Raw Story

KABUL — The Afghan government Sunday rolled back its plan to disband all private security firms, declaring that those protecting embassies and military bases could maintain those operations in the country.

President Hamid Karzai’s office said firms “providing security for embassies, transport of diplomats, diplomatic residences, international forces’ bases and depots can continue operation within these limits”.

Karzai in August ordered that all private security contractors operating in the country, both Afghan and international, must cease operations by January 1, 2011.

The decree led to widespread concern that the deadline was too tight to find alternatives amid a deteriorating security situation, and fears that some diplomats and private companies would be forced to leave Afghanistan.

While the measure received widespread support in principle, diplomats, military officials and private security contractors have said Karzai’s government has been under intense pressure to reconsider the blanket ban.

In a brief statement Sunday, Karzai’s office said that “concerns expressed by NATO commanders and foreign embassies about the dissolution of private security companies” had been considered.

Firms not involved in military or diplomatic security would be dissolved as planned, it said.

“Other private security companies pose a serious threat to internal security and national sovereignty, and the dissolution process will continue with no exception,” the statement said.

Afghan officials have said that more than 50 private security firms, about half of them Afghan, employ tens of thousands of armed personnel across the country.

Following the collapse of the Taliban regime in a 2001 US-led invasion, private security firms rushed in to fill a vacuum created by a lack of adequately trained police and army forces.

In 2006 the Afghan authorities began registering, regulating and licensing the firms but there have been questions about the activities of some.

The firms provide security to the international forces, the Pentagon, the UN mission, aid and non-governmental organizations, embassies and Western media companies in Afghanistan.

But Afghans criticize the private security forces as overbearing and abusive, notably on the country’s roads.

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October 17, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , | Leave a comment