Excellent post by Jake about the AGNA stuff, and the difference between fault and responsibility. Check it out, and this was also posted at Combat Operator and Private Military Herald. –Matt


The Difference Between Fault and Responsibility

Sep 16, 2009

By Jake Allen

The more I read about our government in the mainstream media the more I realize how neither one seems to understand the difference between ‘fault’ and ‘responsibility’.  The ArmorGroup fiasco at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul is only the latest incident but I will use it here because it is fresh on everyone’s mind and it is particularly illustratrative.

It’s critically important that we separate the terms fault and responsibility. Sometimes a person or an entity is both ‘at fault’ and ‘responsible’ but the two are not synonymous.  In other words there is room for ‘blame’ or ‘fault’ at both ArmorGroup and at the State Department but the ‘responsibility’ for what happened only comes down in one place.

There is little doubt that the antics being conducted primarily by C-shift on the expatriate guard force was nearly 100% the doing of immature and poorly supervised and lead ArmorGroup contractors.  ArmorGroup is ‘at fault’ for hiring these low-end nonprofessionals.

  They are also ‘at fault’ for not properly supervising some of the guard shift changes which left some stations undermanned for very brief periods of time.  Much of the ‘blame’ for this rests with ArmorGroup itself since the contract and its execution was structurally flawed in a number of regards in terms of cost estimates, shift requirements, and the list goes on. ArmorGroup is at fault for all of this. From the original under estimates of the work to the poor management of a plan they themselves devised. Incompetence abounded, particularly at the beginning by ArmorGroup leadership in the U.S.

But ArmorGroup is not solely ‘at fault’.  Similarly, those as the State Department who were responsible for ’shopping’ for security services and a qualified security provider were equally clueless as to what they were actually shopping for. In the end they selected the lowest price offer simply for that reason…price. Firms like Blackwater, Triple Canopy and Dyncorp who had experience performing these services in Iraq were passed over because their prices were deemed to high. Clearly in retrospect their price estimates were much more in the ballpark than those submitted by Armor Group. Furthermore, one of State’s significant decision making criteria was whether or not any potential supplier was already working in Afghanistan and had relevant experience. ArmorGroup did not meet this requirement at the time but because their price was so attractively low a ‘waiver’ was issued so that the in-country experience requirement could be navigated around.  So, from the very outset those at State must share the blame for the eventual calamity.  And throughout the life of the contract State continued to hide their head in sand even when confronted with facts on the ground which to any reasonable observer would be  clear alarm bells.

So if both sides are to blame then who is actually ‘responsible’? See here is the rub.  Responsibility cannot be outsourced.  Not by you, not by me, not by your town mayor, not your preacher, not a teacher, not your neighbor, not a police officer, not a fireman, not an electrician, not your boss and certainly not civil servants and bureaucrats in our government. If you ‘have responsibility’ for something then you own it and cannot give it away.  I am ‘responsible’ for ensuring that my kids get a good education. I might ‘rely’ on the local school district to make it happen but that does not abscond me of my responsibility. If they are not getting the education they need it remains my responsibility to take action.

The government of the United States of America and her Department of State are RESPONSIBLE for providing protection to our embassy staff abroad. (Take 5 seconds are read that sentence again…)

If State wants to do it themselves with DSS staff. Great.

If they want to ask the Department of Defense to ‘do me a favor and guard my embassy’. Fine.

If they decide to outsource the work to a private contractor, hey, I am all for it.

But never…ever…at any time or under any circumstances does the responsibility for embassy protection or the performance of those tasked to provide it shift away from the Department of State.   Full stop.  End of story.  When the citizenry of our country begin to hold accountable our own government you will see dramatic improvement in the service that government provides.  Until then just watch the carousel go round and round.

Just follow this story now with this distinction between fault and responsibility in mind and notice how everyone will hold ArmorGroup ‘responsible’ when in truth they were really only partly to blame.  You can shirk your tasks but never your responsibility. Wake the f’ up America!!  If we don’t see the termination or resignation of about 6 DOS staff as a result of this debacle then you will have only yourself to blame for the next incident that occurs on your watch.

Story here.