EOD Technology (EODT) in Lenoir City, TN received a $99.9 million indefinite delivery/ indefinite quantity contract to provide security services to the coalition’s Task Force Duke. TF Duke operates in the north-eastern provinces of Konar, Nanganhar, Laghman and Nuristan; they sit between Kabul, Afghanistan and Peshawar, Pakistan, which are connected by the road that leads through the famous Khyber Pass.
The first task order under the contract, worth $8.5 million, is for EODT to provide security for Task Force Duke’s Forward Operating Base Fenty, located at Jalalabad Airfield. EODT will manage access at entry control points, blocking unauthorized personnel, contraband, weapons or explosives from entering installations; man the guard towers and conduct surveillance and counter-surveillance of the installation perimeter and vicinity. They are authorized to employ force. Their deployment in this fixed role frees up more soldiers for “tip of the spear” duties, while offering less risk of that contractor accountability issues that were present in Iraq, or of problems involving local civilians.
The contract was awarded by the Combined Joint Task Force 101 (CJTF-101). It serves as both the National Command Element for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, reporting directly to the Commander, United States Central Command. It also serves as the International Security Assistance Force’s Regional Command – East. EODT release.
Shortfalls in allied helicopter contributions to Afghanistan have been an issue for several years now. The USA ended up having to extend some of its Chinook fleet’s time in theater to make up the shortfall, but the longer term response to NATO’s under-performance has involved another option: contracted helicopter services from private firms like Hummingbird, Blackwater affiliate Presidential Airways, CHL, Jingle Air, et. al.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence was forced to drop a proposal to contract out battlefield helicopter support, for a number of obvious reasons. What the USAF’s recent “Teamwork shown as Airmen respond to helicopter crash” release demonstrates, however, is that other divisions of responsibility below full combat missions are seeing the lines blur. Defence-Aerospace’s Giovanni de Briganti was sharp enough to pick up on the key paragraphs:
“1/5/2009 – SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) — Six Airmen of the 379th Civil Engineer Squadron here used teamwork to recover a helicopter that crashed Dec. 15 at a forward operating base in Afghanistan… Medics arrived and treated one of the aircrew members for a minor hand laceration. The responders then began to remove the cargo and fuel from the downed aircraft. We worked with contractors and the Army’s movement control team to remove 4,000 pounds of ammo [emphasis DID’s] and transfer the fuel from the helicopter,” the firefighter said. The helicopter was eventually picked up by a crane, loaded on to a flatbed truck and removed from the scene.”
Securiguard, Inc. of McLean, VA received a $95.4 million firm-fixed price contract to provide armed security at Cape Canaveral, the US space program’s premier launch facility. The contract covers Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, including the Kennedy Space Center, and its associated Florida annexes – the Jonathan Dickinson Missile Tracking Annex, Cocoa Beach Tracking Annex, Fort Pierce Microwave Relay Annex, Malabar Transmitter Annex, Melbourne Beach Optical Tracking Annex, Stuart Microwave Relay Annex, Port Canaveral Cable Terminal Annex, Wabasso Microwave Relay Annex). Patrick AFB in Florida, which hosts Cape Canaveral, manages the contract (FA2521-08-C-0011).
Securiguard’s force will be fully trained, armed, and uniformed, and its capability and quality must meets USAF standards under Air Force Instruction (AFI) 31-101 and AFI 31-20. They will be responsible for protecting Cape Canaveral’s government and commercial space-lift resources, and protecting the facility’s apability to launch. Associated efforts include dedicated response to protection level 1-4 resources; managing and operating the Security Force Control Center; marine security operations; developing installation security plans and procedures; protection services; and services during crisis and contingency.
DynCorp International LLC in Falls Church, VA received a $13.1 million firm-fixed price contract to design and build a border police headquarters in Bermel, Afghanistan. Work is expected to be complete by May 14/09. Five bids were solicited on April 18/08, and 1 bid was received by the U.S. Army Engineer District in Afghanistan (W917PM-07-D-0014).
Bermel sits just inside Afghan territory in Pakitika Province on the Pakistani border, directly south of Kabul. Because it is so close to Al-Qaeda’s territories in Pakistan, and offers a short route to Kabul, it has been a frequent locus of fighting for American and Afghan National Army troops.
DynCorp International LLC in Falls Church, VA received a $30.3 million firm-fixed price contract to design and build facilities for the Afghan National Army in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Work is expected to be completed by Jan. 25, 2009. There were 30 bids solicited on Dec 28/08, and 18 bids were received by the U.S. Army Engineer District, Afghanistan (W917PM-08-C-0033).
Translators on the ground are an often-overlooked but critically important aspect of US operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, et. al. Indeed, when L-3 Communications acquired Titan Corp. in a $2+ billion June 2005 deal, one of the strengths it was buying was Titan’s status as the U.S. Government’s leading supplier of linguists and interpreters under the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command’s (INSCOM) Worldwide Linguist Support Contract.
In a services business, however, such strengths are only as durable as the contracts they’re associated with. Indeed, this is one of the reasons services businesses tend to have low acquisition multiples.
A December 2006 US Army award brought that principle into sharp focus, by handing the 5-year, $4.65 billion contract for Iraq-related translation and interpretation services to Global Linguistic Solutions LLC (GLS), a joint venture formed by security contractor DynCorp International (51%) and McNeil Technologies. But a GAO protest placed the whole process into limbo – and the GAO’s ruling stirred the issue up further. The process has finally resolved again after almost a full year, with L-3 providing all translation services in the interim. And the winner is…
On Sept 4/07, “$5B in CENTCOM Contracting Under Scrutiny” discussed ongoing investigations related to the wartime staple of contracting fraud. In mid-September 2007, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren appointed the “Special Commission on Army Acquisition and Program Management in Expeditionary Operations” to review contracting linked to the war effort. The 6-member commission was led by former Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Dr. Jacques Gansler, and now the report is in. Its blunt assessment? Many people have gone above and beyond the call of duty – but in the end a spiral of not enough people, too little training, and an antiquated system, equals serious problems managing contracting and fraud in Iraq. [Full report – PDF | Army article w. link to briefing video | Release: Army accepts report’s conclusions]
Secretary of the Army Geren pointed to post-Cold War cuts to the Army acquisition budget as one of the principal reasons behind the shortage of trained people, since it takes a number of years to restore that; at present, only 36% of those with contract oversight in Iraq and Kuwait are certified. Dr. Gansler, however, noted that the Army had 5 generals on the contracting force, and now has none. He recommended establishing an Army Contracting Agency and adding 5 generals to the Army contracting force, adding another 400 Soldiers and 1,000 Civilians, plus another 583 Army personnel to fill positions in the Defense Contract Management Agency.
Gansler acknowledged that “expeditionary contracting” is more demanding, because the needs of the operational commander are often immediate. This has been true since Wellington sent a reply to London from Spain, asking if they wanted him to oversee accounting or fight Napoleon. The question is how to implement valid shortcuts, while remaining within the law. In addition, products must often be purchased quickly from host-nation countries – indeed, involving host-nation businesses, who may have very different cultural standards and training, can be vital to military success. Making all of this work poses new challenges to military contracting, and success may require specific Congressional relief from statutory provisions such as Buy American, the Berry Amendment and Specialty Metals, and some civil service provisions. Not least of which is the proviso that contracting officers who volunteer to go to a war zone may lose their life insurance and medical benefits.
Overall, there is little question that the standard DoD contracting system is inadequate for dealing with the needs of expeditionary contracting in the modern world: too slow, too bureaucracy-laden, too nativist. The question is whether existing approaches to resolving that problem can be considered adequate either, and what should be done. The Gansler report is a first step toward offering answers.
An Oct 24/07 report in Canada’s Globe & Mail claims that: “NATO plans to rent helicopters to resupply front lines and remote bases in southern Afghanistan – an unprecedented move that could reduce ground casualties even as it exposes the unwillingness of major European allies to send their choppers into dangerous, Taliban-infested areas.” Which may be partly explained by US Secretary of Defense Gates’ remarks, in a recent European speech:
“As it stands today, non-U.S. NATO nations have more than 2 million men and women in uniform, yet we struggle to maintain 23,000 non-U.S. troops in Afghanistan. This is partly a function of how NATO militaries are organized, and partly a matter of resources – but it is mostly a matter of will and commitment. The same is true for equipment and other resources. Consider that earlier this year the U.S. extended its Aviation Bridging Force in Afghanistan in Kandahar [DID: 20 CH-47 Chinook helicopters] because the mightiest and wealthiest military alliance in the history of the world was unable to produce 16 helicopters needed by the ISAF commander. Sixteen.”
While European defense budgets are low, this is a case of forces being available, but not provided by member states. Charters have already been used to try to fill some of those gaps, but this would be a new step…
A $450 million, 5-year contract announced by the Pentagon on August 31, 2006 was issued for activation in response to “natural disasters, humanitarian efforts, contingencies and other requirements (i.e. due to non-performance by an incumbent contractor or instances where there is an unanticipated lapse in service) at various locations (including remote locations) throughout the world.”
The winner was Contingency Response Services LLC – a partnership of DynCorp International; Parsons Global Services Inc in Pasadena, CA; and PWC Logistics in Safat, Kuwait. Since that date, they seem to be picking up contracts in the Philippines, as well as one in the USA. As it happens, US SOCOM’s low-profile activities in the Philippines include a lot of community support work as part of their mission. Read “Imperial Grunts” to understand how and why, or delve into the work of Kilcullen and some of the other self-titled “Jedi Knights” of US counterinsurgency theory [New Yorker article: “The Master Plan” | front lines thoughts | Grim’s “Disaggregation & the Gravity Well” | Kilcullen writes on Small Wars Journal blog].
Iraqi Prime Minsiter Maliki called Sunday’s shooting is the 7th “troubling incident” involving Blackwater. On the other hand, the Shia police force’s attempt to block a reinforcement convoy, and known police infiltration by terrorists loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, does make one wonder. Meanwhile, there are wider repercussions. The U.S. embassy in Iraq has temporarily banned diplomatic convoy movements outside the international zone until this situation is resolved. In addition, the U.S. and Iraqi governments are setting up a joint commission to examine the role of private security companies operating in Iraq.