View Full Version : PMC / Mercenaries in Afghanistan (catch all)

08-10-2009, 07:54 PM
Safety of Russian Planes in Afghan War Questioned (http://www.ocnus.net/artman2/publish/Defence_Arms_13/Safety_of_Russian_Planes_in_Afghan_War_Questioned. shtml), by Catrina Stewart. AP 8/8/09.

MOSCOW - More than a year ago, the U.N. dropped the Russian air transport company Vertikal-T from its approved list of vendors after a fatal helicopter crash in Nepal.

Yet NATO continued to use helicopters owned by Vertikal-T in Afghanistan. And on July 19, one of those choppers crashed at southern Afghanistan's largest NATO base, killing 16 civilians on board.

The crash reflects a little-known reality behind NATO's military push in Afghanistan: It is relying on Russian aviators flying Soviet-design aircraft, who are clocking up lucrative contracts in a country Russian troops left two decades ago.

08-10-2009, 08:28 PM
I have to admit that I would usually cringe when the Mi-8s would get ready to take off from the pad behind my rotor-level room. I feel less silly reading this.

08-22-2009, 12:45 PM
As an A&P and frequent Russian aircraft flier, I haven't seen anything truly egregious about the quality or condition of the Mi-8 or AN-26 aircraft commonly used in Afghanistan.

Now, if we're overpaying for third world class aviation services, then I am be concerned.

08-22-2009, 12:52 PM
Defence of the Realm blogsite has developed the AP initial report and suggests something is wrong: http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.com/2009/08/smell-of-corruption.html


08-23-2009, 07:25 PM
In Congo, if you wanted to live, you did NOT get on a Soviet designed or piloted aircraft unless it was painted white and had a great big UN painted on the side. This was because they crashed a lot. And they crashed a lot because the Soviet types would cut corners and take chances. If they didn't they got to go back to Russia or wherever and live a really stinko life. The UN was able, for some reason, to get them to operate safely. And they can operate safely but you have to force them.

It really scares me that this nightmare seems to have moved to Afghanistan. It angers me that we can't get them to fly right. The UN in Congo can do this for God's sake. Why can't we? I never had to fly on the Russian aircraft when I was in Africa but it made my heart ache to see the NGO types in torment because they had to get to a place but they knew they ran a horrible risk by getting on a Russian airplane. Now our guys may be faced with the same torment?

This brings up again something I have been very concerned about since I saw it first hand starting in 2007. We are critically dependent of Russian airlift to support our war efforts in Iraq for sure and I assume Afghanistan also. We absolutely could not do the fight if the AN-12s and IL-76s stopped flying for us. This seems to me a great vulnerability. If it were the Australians or the Portugese running and manning all those airplanes that would be no big deal. But it is the Russians and the Ukrainians and the Stans etc. I don't think this is a good thing.

08-24-2009, 06:15 AM
During our 5 consecutive missions to Afghanistan we could not get a single western airline to fly people, dogs and equipment even as far as the 86thAW at Ramstein.

The wet leased AN72's were no fun to be in and we later found out that the company was granted a license "not intended for passengers". :wry:

08-24-2009, 11:01 PM
I sense an economic opportunity here.

02-27-2010, 06:09 PM
Saw this article today: U.S.: DynCorp Oversight in Afghanistan Faulted (http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=50477). Excerpt below...

WASHINGTON, Feb 27, 2010 (IPS) - Afghan police are widely considered corrupt, unable to shoot straight, and die at twice the rate of Afghan soldiers and NATO troops. After seven billion dollars spent on training and salaries in the last eight years, several U.S. government investigations are asking why.


But another rather surprising answer was offered in a little-noticed report published earlier this month...

The report - titled "DOD Obligations and Expenditures of Funds Provided to the Department of State for the Training and Mentoring of the Afghan National Police" - says that the U.S. State Department has completely failed to do any serious oversight of the private contractors to whom they paid 1.6 billion dollars to provide police training at dozens of sites around Afghanistan.

DynCorp's International Police Training Programme, run out of Fort Worth, Texas, has won the bulk of the contracts that have been overseen by the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). The company, which has annual revenues of 3.1 billion dollars, has followed a series of wars to run lucrative police training contracts from Bosnia in the 1990s to Iraq in 2003.

DynCorp's work with Kabul began in 2003, almost two years after the fall of the Taliban. It was expanded in 2004 when the State Department issued it a contract to build seven regional training centres, and provide 30 police advisers across Afghanistan.

This initial contract was replaced by a series of related contracts beginning on Aug. 15, 2005, under which DynCorp today employs some 782 retired U.S. police officers and an additional 1,500 support staff. The contracts expired Jan. 31, 2010 but have temporarily been extended till the end of March.

The cost of hiring contractors to train police is high: Each expatriate police officer makes six-figure U.S. salaries - at least 50 times more than an Afghan police officer. Many experts, including the authors of this new report, have questioned the utility of sending police officers - many from small towns in the U.S. - to teach handcuffing and traffic rules to recruits caught in a war zone.More at the link provided.

02-28-2010, 12:27 AM
That article paints a rosy picture.

The interagency coordination and cooperation interspersed with contractors in these FSO leaves everyone questioning who is in charge. The IPA types I have worked with received zip for guidance but they knew their entitlements backwards and forwards whether pulling 12 months or being long term contractors. When they did possess initiative they were quickly squashed and this in the theater that had an active police transition plan. My understanding of A-stan has been that PMT has never been a seriously focused and continuous effort.

I did work with a few good IPA but they were definitely the exception and any guidance direction and purpose they received were from the DOD.

I do not understand how the guru's continue to maintain that a local civilian police officer is a better or preferred trainer, mentor advisor to a highly centralized para military police force.

When working yourself out of a job you probably dont want guys who's fortune depend on persistence of conflict. The HN are not the only ones who see the US mil-gov as "cows to be milked."

Rex Brynen
06-07-2010, 03:52 AM
Afghan Guards Suspected of Colluding With Insurgents (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/world/asia/07convoys.html?pagewanted=1&ref=global-home)

New York Times, 6 June 6 2010

MAIDAN SHAHR, Afghanistan — For months, reports have abounded here that the Afghan mercenaries who escort American and other NATO convoys through the badlands have been bribing Taliban insurgents to let them pass.

Then came a series of events last month that suggested all-out collusion with the insurgents.

After a pair of bloody confrontations with Afghan civilians, two of the biggest private security companies — Watan Risk Management and Compass Security — were banned from escorting NATO convoys on the highway between Kabul and Kandahar.

The ban took effect on May 14. At 10:30 a.m. that day, a NATO supply convoy rolling through the area came under attack. An Afghan driver and a soldier were killed, and a truck was overturned and burned. Within two weeks, with more than 1,000 trucks sitting stalled on the highway, the Afghan government granted Watan and Compass permission to resume.

Watan’s president, Rashid Popal, strongly denied any suggestion that his men either colluded with insurgents or orchestrated attacks to emphasize the need for their services. Executives with Compass Security did not respond to questions.

But the episode, and others like it, has raised the suspicions of investigators here and in Washington, who are trying to track the tens of millions in taxpayer dollars paid to private security companies to move supplies to American and other NATO bases.

Although the investigation is not complete, the officials suspect that at least some of these security companies — many of which have ties to top Afghan officials — are using American money to bribe the Taliban. The officials suspect that the security companies may also engage in fake fighting to increase the sense of risk on the roads, and that they may sometimes stage attacks against competitors.

The suspicions raise fundamental questions about the conduct of operations here, since the convoys, and the supplies they deliver, are the lifeblood of the war effort.

“We’re funding both sides of the war,” a NATO official in Kabul said. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was incomplete, said he believed millions of dollars were making their way to the Taliban....

Ken White
06-07-2010, 04:46 AM
Welcome to South Asia. :rolleyes:

That worked with Alexander as well...

10-08-2010, 03:24 AM
Senate Armed Services Committee, 28 Sep 10: Inquiry into the Role and Oversight of Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan (http://armed-services.senate.gov/Publications/SASC%20PSC%20Report%2010-07-10.pdf)

.....The Committee's inquiry uncovered evidence of private security contractors funneling U.S. taxpayers dollars to Afghan warlords and strongmen linked to murder, kidnapping, bribery as well as Taliban and other anti-Coalition activities. It revealed squandered resources and dangerous failures in contractor perfonnance, including untrained guards, insufficient and unserviceable weapons, unmanned posts, and other shortcomings that directly affect the safety of U.S. Military personnel. The Committee also identified serious gaps in government oversight that allowed such failures to persist.

General Stanley McChrystal, the former Commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), has said that private security contractors are "just not right for a country that is growing law and order." And yet, U.S. Central Command's (CENTCOM) Anned Contractor Oversight Directorate (ACOD) reported that, as of May 2010, they were aware of more than 26,000 private security personnel operating in Afghanistan. According to the ACOD, 90 percent of those personnel were working under either U.S. Government contracts or subcontracts. The Committee's investigation reveals the threat that security contractors operating without adequate U.S. government supervision can pose to the mission in Afghanistan....
Publicly released classified report with redactions.

10-08-2010, 04:46 AM
AAAAAAND.... The sun rises in the east.

More proof that America sucks at COIN, and dealing with non-USian cultures.

Bob's World
10-08-2010, 08:39 AM
Yeah, this is not news. We are babes in the woods on this.

I got to know Matiullah Khan a bit during my recent tour. Guys like this are far more effective and have far greater legitimacy in the eyes of the populace. Matiullah even extends his legitimacy base across tribal lines fairly effectively and has been a great friend of SOF (US and Aussie) in Uruzgan; and the scourge of the Dutch who could not get past the fact that so much of his capacity was informal.

Does Matiullah make a ton of cash to ensure route Bear between Tarin Kowt and Kandahar stays open? Yes. Does he talk to the Taliban and use part of his payment to ensure that the Taliban don't attack his convoys? Also yes. That's just smart business. MG Carter always worried that he also used part of those funds to get the Taliban to attack other convoys to keep his business running.. He had no evidence of that; and personally I don't think he needed to provide those kind of incentives, but at the same time would not be overly surprised if he did either.

It's convenient to have someone to blame other than our own shortfalls at effective COIN, and guys like Matiullah become a convenient target. It's too bad, because these guys that have remained faithful to the people, and largely uncorrupted by the Karzai regime are arguably the hope for Afghanistan.

The Dutch however, were in bed with a competitor (who was widely known in Afghan circles as being hardcore Taliban) and while he helped maintain a circle of safety around the Dutch base, he also was constantly telling every Dutch official who would listen how evil Matiullah was.

Then there was Juma Gul, the Provincial ANP Chief. Like Matiullah, he is a protégé of Jon Mohammad Khan (former Uruzgan Gov and major power broker). The difference being that Matiullah is from and for Uruzgan, whereas Juma is from Kabul and for Juma. Somehow virtually all of some 600 new AKs he received "disappeared". No problem, he is the official ANP.... Then there is his Poppy eradication program. He was taking out acre after acre, and the Dutch were very proud of the success. Oops. Acre after acre of Jon Mohammed's tribal rival, but not a single plant from fields of Jon Mohammed's tribe. Last I saw of Juma he was spending the majority of his effort trying to get a sweetheart post back in Kabul, but that meant cranking up the bribe money to higher, so therefore cranking up the extortion locally.

Meanwhile, Matiullah, Also a Colonel in the ANP, goes to Kabul to see about getting his Tashkil extended. He had some 400 funded positions, and was paying another 1600 guys or so out of his pocket (at a much higher rate, and with much greater loyalty than the ANP pays), to include buying their weapons, ammo, vehicles, etc. Sort of like Moseby in a lot of ways. The response in Kabul? (according to Matiullah, I was not with him so who knows) the minister said for $50,000 he would consider the request. Matiullah told him to respectfully F-off. A few weeks later his Tashkil was cut in half, so I tend to believe his side of the story.

But all of these guys talk to each other. Much of the Taliban in southern Afghanistan are local boys who get paid to fight each summer following the Poppy harvest, and who reintegrate every fall back to normal life. They are a resistance insurgency and fight primarily because we are there, and because it is good, honorable Pashtun work. I know for a fact of one father who has one son in the ANP and one in the Taliban. He saw no conflict with that, it's just a good diversification of investment, Afghan style.

We have grossly mis-characterized the nature of the threat, the nature of the insurgency. We focus so much of our efforts in the south in places like Kandahar, Uruzgan, Helmand, and Zabul going after a resistance movement. This is the lower tier of the insurgency, and a resistance movement. The more we do, the more reason they have to continue. This is like digging at the base of a sand dune with an e-tool and is criminally incompetent COIN.

The top of the insurgency is much more political and much more a revolutionary movement. The Northern Alliance has a lock on the Government, so the greater Pashtun populace is largely excluded from participation in governance or economic opportunity. We throw a broad blanket of "Taliban" over them, but it's much more complex than that. The Northern Alliance and a Constitution that has placed the entire country in the position of owing patronage to Karzai personally have denied all hope to nearly half the populace, and they are happy to keep it that way. They suffered too long as the underdogs to Pashtuns to make reasonable concessions. (Yes, Karzai, AWK and many others are Pashtun, but then the tribal/family lines come into play as to who is in the circle of trust, and who is out. Look to the "outs" to find your Taliban)

To "win" the insurgency we must stop digging at the bottom and go to the top. We must drive efforts to scrap the current abortion of a constitution and encourage reconciliation and a new, better constitution designed for COIN rather than oppression. Not with the "Taliban" per se, but with the huge segment of the Pashtun populace that is excluded under the current system.

This is not rocket science, but neither is it warfare either. It's COIN, and that is social science and common sense. The warriors just want to wage war though, and the diplomats just deal with the existing government, and the developers just want to get out and build things for the people. My opinion, much of this is tragically misdirected to where it produces the least effect; while relatively effective and achievable options to go after resolving the top of the insurgency sit untouched.

I won't even get into our Pakistan ops; but they hurt more than they help due to the same misunderstanding of the nature of Insurgency in general, and in Afghanistan in particular.