The Senate Armed Services Committee released a report yesterday cataloguing the “systemic failures” and lack of oversight in the contracting system in Afghanistan. ABC News
describes how some companies tried to fulfill their contracts:
“In some cases, companies were awarded contracts though they had no ability to provide the services needed. In those cases, companies then quickly hired local nationals without proper vetting or security checks. The chaotic system left US facilities and personnel vulnerable to attack. The report found that some Afghan security guards simply walked off their posts at remote forward operating bases.
“In two specific cases, the report charges that ArmorGroup and a contracting company EODT, hired private security guards who worked for Taliban-connected warlords. According to the report, a US military official initially recommended that ArmorGroup hire the warlord to help provide guards to fulfill a contract. After US military officials at a Western Afghanistan airbase discovered that Afghan security guards were passing sensitive security and troop information to the Taliban, the guards were fired. Within days, the fired guards were hired by a second contractor to supply security at a second US facility just a few miles north, the report claims. EODT, the report alleges, had two Afghans on their payroll who were known to US military intelligence as Iranian agents.”
The Armed Services’ report raises two primary concerns: One, we are holding the American taxpayer liable to pay for these contracts when, in turn, the money is flowing to the Taliban commanders, warlords, and spies who were hired. And two, our troops’ lives are put at serious risk when those hired to protect their bases are working alongside our enemy. They are individuals whose allegiance is to a dangerous and anti-democratic ideal. They wish to see our mission thwarted and fail.
Our soldiers and our nation deserves better. If we are to finish our mission in Afghanistan successfully, these security contracts must be reviewed and every single individual tasked with protecting American lives must be properly vetted immediately.
In the midst of war, the safety of our servicemen and women must not be taken for granted. But for operations in Afghanistan, 26,000 thousand military contractors are relied upon, most of whom are local Afghanis. Unlike our uniformed troops these civilians have not sworn to protect our nation, so it is imperative that contracting companies ensure the qualifications of each individual hired to serve in crucial positions such as security guards for military outposts. Unfortunately, a new report reveals that some hires have included Taliban commanders, warlords and Iranian spies.