Thursday, October 28, 2010

Kabul Embassy Security Force contract now combined with Baghdad Embassy contract and WPPS II into one base Worldwide Protective Services (WPS) contract

We've blogged about the Kabul Embassy Security Force last year (see below):

State's OIG recently released its performance review of the KESF contract. The following items stick out from the report:
  • The Kabul Embassy Security Force (KESF), provided through a contract with ArmorGroup of North America (AGNA), has ensured the safety of chief of mission personnel in Kabul.
  • The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) did not thoroughly scrutinize Nepalese guards hired by AGNA, allowing guards without experience, training, or background investigations to perform security duty.
  • AGNA has employed Nepalese guards without verifiable experience, training, or background investigations in violation of its contract.
  • OIG found that 57 percent of Nepalese guards lack a proven level of proficiency required by contract.
  • Due to the guards’ low levels of English language proficiency, some supervisors are unable to adequately communicate with their subordinates, which could lead to serious problems during an emergency. OIG calculates that penalties totaling $6 million could be imposed on AGNA for posting guards without required English language proficiency.
  • Because AGNA was unable to acquire a sample of an explosive commonly available in Afghanistan, DS changed the contract standards, allowing AGNA to end testing of this material by explosives detection canines. Since this particular explosive is readily available in Afghanistan, the lack of testing could put the embassy at risk.
  • DS does not provide a sufficient number of U.S. Government-furnished weapons to the KESF. Currently, there are more guards than weapons, and the day-shift Nepalese guards are sharing weapons with their counterparts on the night shifts. Sharing weapons means that weapon sights are not calibrated to individuals, which affects firing accuracy. 
  • OIG noted problems with firearms training that may undermine the readiness and professionalism of the guard force and potentially the security of Embassy Kabul. OIG visited an AGNA firing range, an area 10 miles outside of Kabul, to observe weapon requalification. An OIG team member with 15 years of military experience observed some guards repeatedly missing their mark due to improper breathing techniques and unadjusted sights. No instructors were correcting these deficiencies.
Oh dear! How do you instruct a guard to do something ... anything, in case of an attack of the embassy if he/she does NOT speak English or if the response to your every command could be something equivalent to no habla Englis or bistaari bhannus (please speak slowly). 

You know, that contractor would have been better off hiring moi. Really.  (Please quit laughing, you'll hurt our feelings!)  We don't have any verifiable guard or police training, we'll admit that off the bat; and truth to tell -- we can't shoot straight.  But at least we speak some form of English and have never been known to play with our drinks or run around half neked.  

Below is part of Diplomatic Security's response to the review:   
During late summer of 2009, allegations of misconduct were brought to the Department’s attention and investigated jointly by DS and OIG. As a result of the investigation, 20 AGNA personnel, including its senior in-country management team were removed from the contract. DS also implemented the following measures: a DS Agent was assigned to live at the guard camp; an additional DS agent was designated as a COR to enhance RSO oversight; DS has established a personal services contractor (PSC) position (i.e. a direct government employee, not a third-party contractor) who will arrive in Kabul August 27 to further augment the RSO’s oversight responsibilities; DS introduced mandatory cultural awareness training and banned the consumption or possession of alcohol. A senior level review of the misconduct allegations against AGNA personnel, combined with AGNA’s history of contract compliance deficiencies, led DS, AQM, and Embassy Kabul to conclude that it was in the best interests of the Government to compete a new contract. In light of recent legislation, the KESF contract has been combined with the Baghdad Embassy Security Force and Worldwide Personal Protective Services II (WPPS II) contracts into one base Worldwide Protective Services (WPS) contract.

Details aside, the big picture question is still out there. What do you do when a contractor is unable to fulfill some parts of the contract?  Oh, we know you can kick them out, but then what? Start with the new who's also part of the old?

We really do hope that the new WPS contract works. Word has it that about 7,000 security folks are needed just for Iraq, and we presume that number is for PSD only and does not include the static embassy guards.

State OIG Report | Diplomatic Security Kabul Embassy Security Force

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