6 years, 8 months ago
Hamid Karzai has ordered the disbanding of military contractors in Afghanistan. I had written and asked Tim Lynch for his reaction, and he gives it to us here.
As the fighting season continues the good guys are losing more land and population to the various insurgent groups operating in the country. Teams of doctors are being murdered in the remote provinces, attacks are launch inside the ANP “Ring of Steel” anytime the Taliban feels like it, and so where is the focus of the Afghan government? On private security companies of course… yes why not? Now is exactly the right time to make all PSC’s illegal and let the ANP and ministry of the interior (MOI) provide security to convoy’s military bases, and all the mobile security for internationals working in the reconstruction sector. Ignoring that there are not enough Afghan security forces to go around as it is and also that their proficiency in preforming these tasks is suspect (to put it politely) what about the money? We already pay for the ANP and ANA – if they are going to provide mobile and static security then I guess the millions of dollars being paid to private companies will no longer be needed right? Right. The problem is one can predict with 100% certainty what will happen if President Karzai goes through with this crazy scheme. The logistics pipeline will start to rapidly dry up , internationals will be unable to move without their (mandated by contract) expat security teams and their projects will ground to a halt. Military operations will have to be suspended because there will not be enough Afghan Security Forces to both fight and provide theater wide static and mobile security support. And of course there are yet more millions of dollars to add another chapter in the long saga of wasted OPM (other peoples money) by our respective governments.
I cannot for the life of me imagine how this law is going to work out. There are (in my opinion) more international PSD teams then needed – why do EuPol police officers need PSD teams to drive them around Kabul? They have guns and armored vehicles already and should be capable of taking care of themselves. Why do the contract police trainers needs a whole section of dedicated PSD specialists? It is a crazy waste of money to have armed international PSD teams guarding armed ISAF personnel but it is also currently a contractual requirement. For companies working outside the wire in the reconstruction sector the absence of international PSD teams will also have a huge impact on the ability to get insurance for their internationals at reasonable rates. At exactly the time that internationals operating outside the wire need to be armed the laws are changing to make it illegal for internationals who are not ISAF military members to be armed. How are we supposed to operate now?
Tim is accurate and smart in his assessment as always, but he is just being nice to Karzai. Hamid Karzai is a stooge, and there is no possible way that this will work. Logistics and force protection will break down. We don’t have enough troops as it is, and that goes for contractors too. Standing down even a portion of either category will spell death to the campaign. In fact, there are approximately as many contractors as there are troops in Afghanistan, doing everything from intelligence to cooking, from force protection to FOB construction, from fire fighting to translation. Whether KBR, Xe, Triple Canopy, Dyncorp, or smaller companies like Free Range International, contractors are needed, and needed badly. Karzai’s plan will be stopped before being implemented.
But that doesn’t mean that military contractors won’t be bilked by the U.S. government. I am no defender of any particular company, and I have no dog in any particular fight. I owe no one anything, and so Erik Prince can solve his own problems. Xe (Blackwater) has never given me anything, and they don’t know me. But the folks at the State Department do, and I get regular visits from their network domain. “Show me the money” is the latest topic of interest.
That’s right. The State Department has reached an agreement with Blackwater.
Blackwater, the private security firm founded by Holland native Erik Prince, reportedly has reached a $42 million settlement with the State Department over what is described as “hundreds of violations of United States export control violations.”
According to the New York Times:
The violations included illegal weapons exports to Afghanistan, making unauthorized proposals to train troops in south Sudan and providing sniper training for Taiwanese police officers, according to company and government officials familiar with the deal.The deal would relieve Blackwater, now called Xe Services, from the possibility of facing criminal charges. Paying the fines will allow the firm to continue doing government contract work.
It does not, however, excuse Blackwater/Xe from the other legal issues currently pending, among them the indictment of former executives on weapons and obstruction charges and allegations the firm bribed Iraqi officials to win favor following the infamous 2007 slaying of 17 civilians.
The BBC provided more details on the more than 300 alleged violations:
• The investigation covered Blackwater’s business practices from 2005-2009 and found the company guilty of violating provisions of firearms licenses, violating terms of authorizations involving military or security training, unauthorized export of technical data and defense articles and record-keeping violations, among other things.
• A 2007 violation had national-security implications. Specifically, the company intentionally failed to disclose biographical information on Taiwanese nationals being trained as snipers. Similar instances appeared throughout the list of violations.
• In 2008, more than 100 weapons were missing or unaccounted for in Iraq. Elsewhere, weapons intended for U.S. military use were diverted to Blackwater employees.
Oooo. Weapons charges. Sort of like, you know, they had automatic weapons in a war zone, or something? I’m sure that the State Department will want them to relinquish all automatic weapons. But wait … maybe not. You know, there is that little thing of U.S. troops being withdrawn from Iraq, and the State Department needing force protection. From 6000 to 7000 more contractors in Iraq. That’s how many. The $42 million might go a long way towards funding this expense.
When private citizens do it it’s called extortion. When the government does it it’s called arbitration.