Posts Tagged Kabul

Industry Talk: Aegis Guards Speak In Kabul… And Their Leaders Should Have Listened

First off, bravo to these guards for voicing their concerns and holding their company and leaders accountable. I also want to say thanks to POGO for putting this out there, both on their blog and over at Foreign Policy magazine.

As I read through this post, it looks to me like the company’s leaders have done a terrible job of listening to their guard force’s concerns about security or even about the day to day operations of the company. And if the actions of the company and these leaders are causing folks to leave, then that only creates more problems for the guys on the ground because they work more hours and get burned out.

Another point I want to bring up is that today’s security contracting industry is filled with combat seasoned contractors who know exactly what is needed to actually provide security in a war zone. If these guys are recognizing deficiencies in the security apparatus of the embassy, then it would behoove the leadership to listen to these concerns and make adjustments. Especially after such incidents like what happened in Benghazi.

They should be thanking these men for actually caring about the mission and the defense of the facility, and bringing these concerns forward. Instead, it looks like the ego of these leaders is more important and they have chosen to fire or reprimand those who actually spoke up. Shameful….

On that note, it makes no sense at all for a leader or leaders of a security force to not listen to this pool of combat veterans, security contractor veterans or police veterans, that when combined, would have years of experience and knowledge. It should be the goal of that leadership to tap into that pool of ‘human resource’, and take full advantage of that. To use that resource to build a better security apparatus or use it as part of their Kaizen or continuous improvement plan, and then reward that resource by giving them the credit and encouraging them to do it again and again. Call it collaboration or team work, and it works if you actually allow it to happen and know how to use it.

People will also support what they help to create, which is a Jundism. It is also a great way of showing that you are not a toxic leader.

Either way, we will see how this turns out? Obviously this is a black eye on the management of Aegis because it got to this level, and some changes are in order if they intend to hang onto this contract. –Matt

Edit: 01/24/2013- It sounds like four of the guards have filed a $5 million lawsuit against Aegis for being told to lie on their time sheets. The law firms they are using are The Employment Law Group and Lichten & Liss-Riordan. Here is a link to the court filing.


A “Mutiny” in Kabul: Guards Allege Security Problems Have Put Embassy at Risk
January 17, 2013
By Adam Zagorin
Private guards responsible for protecting what may be the most at-risk U.S. diplomatic mission in the world — the embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan — say security weaknesses have left it dangerously vulnerable to attack.
In interviews and written communications with the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), current and former guards said a variety of shortcomings, from inadequate weapons training to an overextended guard force, have compromised security there — security provided under a half-a-billion-dollar contract with Aegis Defense Services, the U.S. subsidiary of a British firm. “[I]f we ever got seriously hit [by terrorists], there is no doubt in my mind the guard force here would not be able to handle it, and mass casualties and mayhem would ensue,” a guard serving at the embassy wrote in a late November message to POGO.
“[I]f we ever got seriously hit [by terrorists], there is no doubt in my mind the guard force here would not be able to handle it, and mass casualties and mayhem would ensue.”
In July, dissatisfaction boiled over when more than 40 members of the embassy’s Emergency Response Team signed a petition sounding an alarm about embassy security, people familiar with the document said. The petition, submitted to the State Department and Aegis, expressed a “vote of no confidence” in three of the guard force leaders, accusing them of “tactical incompetence” and “a dangerous lack of understanding of the operational environment.” Two guards say they were quickly fired after organizing the petition, in what they called “retaliation.”
A State Department document obtained by POGO describes a “mutiny” among guards who defend the Kabul embassy — an apparent reference to the petition, though the document does not explicitly mention it. Dated July 18, 2012, and labeled “SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED,” the document says that the mutiny was “baseless” but that it “undermined the chain of command” and “put the security of the Embassy at risk.”

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Afghanistan: Attack On NATO Convoy Kills 17, To Include 8 Contractors

Very sad. These Rhinos are the large armored buses they use to transport folks and it sounds like it got hit by a very large VBIED. Rest in peace to the fallen. I do not know what company these guys were with, or if they were civilians hired directly by ISAF. –Matt

Edit: 11/01/11– Thanks to Ms Sparky. Fluor made a statement about the loss of their 7 contractors in this incident at her site. No word on the 8th contractor and who they worked for. Here is the statement:

Team Fluor,
Saturday we suffered a tragic loss of seven of our own teammates during an attack in Kabul. Each of those we lost was a friend and valued part of our team. We lived and worked together. We forged bonds of camaraderie that are only found at times like this.
We each deal with our grief in different ways; some will find comfort in memorial services like the one we held at Dubbs or the ramp ceremony at Bagram, others will find that talking to friends, a Chaplain, or counselor helps. We have Site Managers and Employee Assistance Program teams on site to help us through this difficult time and find ways to cope.
Yesterday we notified the families of those we lost and we have assistance officers with them to help each of the families get through the difficult times ahead. I have asked our leaders to stay engaged with our colleagues that need assistance here and answer the questions that we can. I want to be sure you all have this information, as I know that rumors and internet blogs have not always been the best source for information.
Should you have any questions or need assistance, please talk to your immediate supervisor. He or she can provide the first step to find direction or help and ensure the proper steps are taken. Keep in mind that we have professional counselors on our EAP team available to assist you.
Although many of us know them personally, out of respect for their families we are not releasing any names of those lost in the attack. Please join me as our thoughts and prayers are with our teammates and their families during this difficult time.

George Rabb, Country Manager, LOGCAP?Fluor Government Group



Attack on NATO convoy kills 17 in Afghanistan
October 29, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into an armored NATO bus Saturday on a busy thoroughfare in Kabul, killing 17 people, including a dozen Americans, in the deadliest strike against the U.S.-led coalition in the Afghan capital since the war began.
The blast occurred on the same day that a man wearing an Afghan army uniform killed three coalition troops, who were reportedly Australian, in the south — attacks that show the resiliency of the insurgency and are likely to raise new doubts about the unpopular 10-year-old war and the Western strategy of trying to talk peace with the Taliban.
A spokesman for the fundamentalist Islamic movement, which was ousted in the 2001 invasion for its affiliation with al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the bomber had used 1,540 pounds (700 kilograms) of explosives.
The Taliban and related groups have staged more than a dozen major attacks in Kabul this year, including seven since June, in an apparent campaign to weaken confidence in the Afghan government as it prepares to take over its own security ahead of a 2014 deadline for the U.S. and other NATO countries to withdraw their troops or move them into support roles.
Underscoring the difficulties ahead, the brazen assault occurred just hours after top Afghan and Western officials met in the heart of Kabul to discuss the second phase of shifting security responsibilities to Afghan forces in all or part of 17 of the country’s 34 provinces. Afghans already have the lead in the Afghan capital.

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Afghanistan: The US Embassy Is Attacked, And Yet Nothing Said About Security Contractor Performance?

Boy, this latest attack in Kabul was an interesting incident. Purely because I have yet to hear anything at all about the security contractor performance during this whole deal.

Now I will tell you what I have heard that is not making the news, and that is at least one Afghan security guard was wounded on the compound itself. I have also heard that the tower that the Taliban were using in this attack was a major concern of security contractors that have been posted at that site over the years. It is the high ground, and positions like this are always a concern. But what was done about it? Because I am sure the RSO’s over the years had received an earful about it.

I have also heard that there weren’t any M-2’s or MK-19’s used to decimate those enemy positions in the tower. At those distances, something like a M-2 .50 cal. could reach the tower and pour some hate on it.  It might have saved some lives, and yet I am hearing that the military component of the defense did not respond with such tools? I could be wrong here, and I would like to be corrected on this. Because I am sure the contractors didn’t have those tools or authority to use those kinds of weapons. (The video below shows the fight at ISAF, and I don’t see any heavy weapons being used?)

Either way, I would love to hear from any contractors or soldiers that were on scene on any of those compounds that were involved in this fight. Because it is just odd to me that we spend this much money on the WPS guys and the KESF guys, and everyone else in between, and there is nothing at all about their good work and sacrifice? It is actually in poor taste that the DoS, ISAF or NATO refuses to say anything at all about our industry’s contribution in incidents like this.

The other reason why I wanted to post this is to give any of the companies and DoS/ISAF/NATO a chance to communicate about the contractor performance during this deal. Because as we speak, the media and new media folks out there are filling in the vacuum of information with their narrative.

You have folks like POGO that have been excellent at pointing out the deficiencies of companies like AGNA, but currently is spinning this latest deal as if AGNA performed poorly in this incident? And yet POGO has not one shred of information to support anything of the sort. So instead, they go off on the past performance of AGNA to leave the reader with the idea that they ‘must have performed poorly during this incident’. That is what I mean by narrative, and DoS and company silence is doing more harm than good.

Hell, if you want, I could spin this as a deal where the contractors performed well?  I could just assume that because not one diplomat or federal employee was killed or injured, that the defense was excellent. Or I could use quotes from guys like General Carsten Jacobsen:

He said the attack proved the security of the Nato and US embassy compounds, which were not breached, and said the Afghan forces responded “very well” and quickly.

But instead, I would like to draw some conclusions based on facts. So help me out folks, and don’t let others who could care less about the facts control the narrative.

Now of course the DoS/ISAF/NATO is probably instructing AGNA or other companies not to make any press releases, or there is some contract stipulation against such things, but still?  It is just horribly odd to me that there is not a mention about the very people that put their lives on the line to defend the property and people of these compounds during such a publicized attack? –Matt

(definitely ‘like’ the US Embassy in Kabul, ISAF and NATO let them know on their wall what you think)

Edit: 9/15/2011- Supposedly there were two contractor injuries. Thanks to a reader for the information.

Edit: 9/16/2011- Ok, I have had several reports from readers that contractors were engaged in combat during this deal. Meaning, they were using their weapons to defend against attackers. Which I am glad they did, and I certainly hope they killed some of these Taliban attackers? Nothing confirmed as far as how many Taliban were killed by contractors. There were also multiple RPG hits within the compound.



Statement from Ambassador Crocker on Attacks of September 13, 2011
Yesterday was a long and difficult day for the U.S. Embassy, for ISAF and for the residents of Kabul.  We witnessed both cowardly attacks by an increasingly desperate insurgency, as well as instances of enormous courage and dedication on the part of ISAF troops and especially the Afghan National Security Forces.  It was Afghan police and soldiers who bravely ended the attack on the embassy and stopped further strikes on Kabul Airport, two police stations, and a local high school.  We mourn the Afghan civilians and the brave troops and security forces killed in these actions, and wish a full recovery to the wounded, which include Afghan civilians and American and partner-nation troops.  We offer condolences to the families of these innocent victims.??The attacks serve to highlight the weakness at the core of the insurgency.  Unable to confront ISAF and newly-trained Afghan troops on the conventional battlefield, they have turned to launching attacks on high-profile facilities like the U.S. Embassy in an attempt to garner headlines.  Yet their actions backfired. Afghan security forces showed they were up to the task of thwarting such operations and are willing to sacrifice their lives to reclaim their communities and country.  Unlike the insurgents, the ANSF took great care to avoid civilian casualties. The transition to Afghan-led security is on track, as we turn our focus to long-term efforts for supporting a more secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.??As Secretary of State Clinton said yesterday, “We will be vigilant, but we will be continuing with even greater commitment to doing all we can to give the Afghan people, who have suffered so much, a chance at a better future for themselves and their children.”
Press release here.
UPDATED: U.S. Embassy Statement
September 13, 2011
The U.S. Embassy confirms an attack occurred today in the area of the U.S. Embassy, including RPG and small arms fire.  Four Afghans were injured in the attack on the embassy compound, none with life threatening injuries.  They included three Afghan visa applicants and one local contract guard.

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Industry Talk: State Department Dismisses EODT From The Kabul Embassy Contract


This actually came out on the forums a couple days back.  Supposedly everyone that was slated for this contract is now being redirected to other places, like Iraq. Although that is just rumor from the forums. Perhaps if anyone from EODT would like to comment or correct the record on this, feel free to say so in the comments section or send me an email.

AGNA is also hanging on to this sucker for a bit longer. I am sure the guys working for them right now have been going through a roller coaster of emotions as to how long the contract will last and who will they work for next? These transition periods can be very aggravating to say the least. –Matt

State Department axes guard firm for Kabul embassy

March 17, 2011

The State Department has fired the contractor it hired to guard the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, leaving protection of the key diplomatic outpost in the hands of another company the department has been trying to replace for more than a year.

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Quotes: The Interior Ministry In Kabul Depends On 282 Foreign Advisors, And 120 Are Contractors!

     The Interior Ministry in Kabul has 282 foreign advisers working there, according to the NATO Training Mission Afghanistan, which placed them in the ministry. Of the 282 advisers, 120 are contractors, costing $36 million a year, paid for by the U.S. government. The rest are made up of 119 U.S. military and U.S. government civilians, and 43 from other coalition countries…..

     …..Several Interior Ministry officials, serving and retired, were complimentary about the work of the foreign advisers. One mid-ranking security official, who didn’t want to be named because he wasn’t authorized to speak to reporters, said that corruption would be “many times” greater if the foreigners weren’t present. 

     That last part of the quote up top is what I was focused on.  If you read through the article below, you hear all sorts of negative comments about the services of this foreign advisory group, to include bashing the contractor element. Of course those corrupt souls in the Afghan government would bash these pesky foreign advisors that would report on their greedy activities…. To me, this advisor crew is vital to the war effort, by helping to minimize the amount of corruption in this government.  Imagine if there was no adult supervision?

    Also, DynCorp and MPRI were listed as some of the top contractor advisors, which is interesting.  MPRI is like a retirement home for retired military officers. So it would make sense that this collection of military mind power and experience would be directed towards a very crucial part of the war.  And that is getting the Afghan government on it’s feet, and trying to make it look good in the eyes of the people.  A tall order if you ask me.

     This also indicates to me the strategic importance of contractors.  The US and NATO could have insisted on having an all federal or military group of advisors.  But they do not have that capability, and they have had close to ten years to try and develop an all government force.  As you can see, private industry has been able to answer the call just fine, and a majority of this group is composed of smart and very capable contractors, doing a very important job.

     It is also an example of the ‘blended workforce’ concept. This advisory corps has 162 government and military advisors in it, so they too can contribute in building the Afghan government, as well as keep track of and manage the advisory corps and it’s efforts. A federal/public partnership, or blended workforce is what you call this. You see this arrangement with other areas of war zone contracting, like with the WPS program–a federal handler, overseeing a contractor security team. Hopefully this blended workforce concept does not impede the advantages of private enterprise, or decrease the strength of government oversight. It should complement both, and the end result should be something everyone can support.-Matt


Afghans rely heavily on foreign advisers as transition looms

By Saeed Shah

Nearly 300 foreign advisers, most of them Americans, work at Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, and hundreds more work in other government departments, a reliance on foreign expertise that raises doubts about the viability of the West’s exit strategy.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai will announce later this month his plans for “transition” from heavy international involvement in Afghanistan’s governance and security to local control. But the number of civilian advisers in the ministries suggests that either Afghans lack the ability to govern themselves or that the international community is trying to run the administration itself, more than nine years after the U.S.-led invasion of the country.

There’s no clear plan to reduce that number.

Foreign advisers in the Interior Ministry, for example, appear to outnumber the senior Afghan officials they serve.

The Afghan government’s capacity to execute plans is so lacking it will spend only half of its $1.5 billion budget for economic development projects this fiscal year, according to the Ministry of Finance — despite the desperate need for investment in education, health and other basic services.

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Afghanistan: The Largest US Embassy In The World, Just Got Bigger–511 Million Dollars Bigger!

     Not to mention the 40 million dollars being spent to build two Consulates, one in Mazar-I-Sharif and the other in Herat. So technically, it would be 551 million dollars. No doubt there will also be cost overruns, so this price will go higher.

     A couple of points about this contract worth noting. During the Iraq Embassy debate, there was much heartache about the size and cost of that thing. Of course this was one more dig for the opponents of the war and of the Bush administration. Now fast forward to this Embassy in Kabul, and it’s size and cost, and there was nothing really mentioned about it?  Politically speaking, it was barely a whimper in the news and I heard no bashing of the Obama administration over this move. Hell, I just found out about it today, and I track this stuff. lol

    And yet the expansion and due date of it being built, completely conflicts with the idea that we are wanting to pull out of Afghanistan any time soon. If anything, it just indicates a continuation of our commitment there. That kind of thing is the stuff that pisses off the Taliban big time.  Although I certainly hope that Crazy Karzai will get the picture that he needs to stop making deals with the Taliban, and put a little faith in the process under the new command of Petraeus.

    This Embassy expansion also signifies a certain future that the security contracting community will be a big part of. That would be the WPS program and all of it’s security requirements. These Consulates and Embassy will be packed with civilian specialists and diplomats, all tasked with going out into the hinterlands of Afghanistan to do their business. Private security contractors in the form of PSD teams will be the guys to get them out there and back in one piece. PSC’s will also be the guys protecting these Consulates and Embassy, and as the military draws down in the future, these folks will be very important to the static security mission there.

     Iraq will also be the one to watch as this progresses. There will be many lessons learned in Iraq that can be applied to Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world. The WPS program will certainly be an intriguing wartime venture between private industry and government to watch as this unfolds. –Matt

US to spend 500 million dollars on embassy in Afghanistan

Nov 3, 2010

KABUL — The United States is bolstering its presence in Afghanistan with a 500 million dollar expansion of its Kabul embassy and the construction of two consulates, it announced Wednesday.

Washington’s Kabul embassy is already its biggest in the world, with about 1,100 employees, projected to rise to 1,200 by the end of the year, officials said.

Hundreds have arrived over the course of this year as part of a “civilian surge” bringing development experts into the country to compliment the military effort already in its 10th year.

The United States and NATO have 150,000 troops in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban-led insurgency, following a military surge aimed at speeding an end to the war.

The embassy expansion contract was worth 511 million dollars and had been awarded under US law to an American company, Caddell Construction Inc., ambassador Karl Eikenberry said.

Another two contracts, worth 20 million dollars each, have been awarded for the construction of consulates in Herat, the main city in western Afghanistan, and Mazar-I-Sharif in the north, he said.

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