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Old 01-03-2008   #41
Old Eagle
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I'm all about having somebody else clean my boots and gear -- just haven't figured out how to accomplish it. Note to Stan -- asking the wife to do it doesn't work.

I am not against hiring qualified personnel to perform noncombat functions. My point is that when you do, you hold their feet to the fire over standards.

As I mentioned earlier, the companies they work for are getting rich, even with "low bid" contracts. So scream, bitch, file reports until those guys get the message and tighten up their operations. The companies' going in position is that they will do the minimum to get by. To them, no news (no complaint) is good news. Forced into compliance, they will have to hire more first line supervisors, provide better training, etc. All that cuts into the bottom line, and they absolutely won't do it out of some goodness of their hearts syndrome.
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Old 01-03-2008   #42
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I take Stan's point.

Old Eagle: It's a -shame- all of the PMCs are privately-held. It'd be...interesting to see just what the net margin is on these contracts.
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Old 01-03-2008   #43
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I'm all about having somebody else clean my boots and gear -- just haven't figured out how to accomplish it. Note to Stan -- asking the wife to do it doesn't work.
OMG, is that why I went through three (wives) so quickly ? Hey, it's in the contract, man
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Old 01-04-2008   #44
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I disagree...I would not fault SOC-SMG. In essense they are doing the best job they can with the money they are given. They are a private for profit company and as such need to show a profit. However, they are the lowest bidder, and therefore the government gives them the contract. They government cannot afford to pay expats 15,000/month to man internal security, so they have forced companies like SOC-SMG (EODT, Sabre and a couple other companies also do this work on other bases) to find ways of cutting their overhead...paying a TCN 1000/month is a way of doing that.

So the question is...who is at fault...the Private COmpany that was awarded the contract, or the governemnet for chosing the lowest bidder?
This really isn't a proper view of the contracting process. The government isn't "forcing" anyone to do anything. The government identifies a need and puts out an invitation for bids (IFB) or request for proposals (RFP), depending on the need. Companies that can meet that need then review the requirements as set forth in the IFB or RFP and, if they can meet them, submit a bid or proposal. If they determine that they cannot make a profit, then they shouldn't bid. Indeed, I know of no companies that would bid if they didn;t see a profit. They may cut overhead by hiring TCNs or something like that, but they must still meet the requirements.

Now the rub is whether the government is properly overseeing the contract. This falls into the hands of the contracting officer or his representative. He is responsible for ensuring that the terms of the contract are satisfied. Hopefully, Gnaeus reported his findings up the chain.

Just because the government selects the lowest bidder does not mean it is at fault. Sure, the lowest bidder is usually selected for contract award, but price is never the only consideration. The bidder must be responsive and responsible. This basically means that the bidder must demonstrate an ability to perform the contract and to meet the terms of the contract. A term in use for some contracts is "lowest price technically acceptable." If you look at it in these terms then you see that the government is using the ocntracting process to ensure that any awardee is capable of meeting the contract requirements. Of course, capable and actually doing it are two different things and this is where the contracting officer comes in. As Stan and Old Eagle indicate, oversight is key.
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Rule of Law in Afghanistan

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Old 01-05-2008   #45
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Hopefully, Gnaeus reported his findings up the chain.
Although I never did anything official, I did speak to a few of my senior officers about it. Partly, I was too busy to really focus my energy on griping about substandard security guards and partly becuase...I'm not sure who I would address this to. My command had no direct influence over these individuals or this organization. We were a unit that worked out of that FOB, but by no means "owned" it. I don't even know what government agency awarded the contract. I suspect it was either the DoD or DoS. Anyone have any advice to offer to help get this ball rolling? Now that I have some more free time (if you can call it that), I am interested in pursing this further.

Personally, I'm not too thrilled with their presence or the job they are doing. The guards were a little more than an annoyance and I fear that in a real attack they would do little good.
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Old 01-05-2008   #46
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Originally Posted by Gnaeus View Post
Although I never did anything official, I did speak to a few of my senior officers about it. Partly, I was too busy to really focus my energy on griping about substandard security guards and partly becuase...I'm not sure who I would address this to. My command had no direct influence over these individuals or this organization. We were a unit that worked out of that FOB, but by no means "owned" it. I don't even know what government agency awarded the contract. I suspect it was either the DoD or DoS. Anyone have any advice to offer to help get this ball rolling? Now that I have some more free time (if you can call it that), I am interested in pursing this further.

Personally, I'm not too thrilled with their presence or the job they are doing. The guards were a little more than an annoyance and I fear that in a real attack they would do little good.
Everything runs through the contract, so the remedy is through that mechanism. There is likely a contracting office (or at least a contracting officer) at your FOB. That would be the first place I'd go. Even if they don't directly manage the contract, they can get in touch with the folks that do. If there isn't a contracting rep there, go talk to the JAG. They are likely involved in the contracting process (it's big business for us over there) and can get the ball rolling. If you run into a roadblock, PM me and I can might be able to inquire about other potential avenues. Stay safe.

Okay, I just noticed that you are now back at the Stumps. You can make your inquiries through the contracting office there. They should be able to track down who manages the contract. -john
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Rule of Law in Afghanistan

"You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)

Last edited by LawVol; 01-05-2008 at 03:14 PM.
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Old 01-09-2008   #47
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This may seem childish, but it served a useful purpose for me...what if I really was a individual who meant to do real harm and was able to get in there.
Yeah, it does.

Other than amusing yourself, what useful purpose did you serve?

If you have legitimate concerns you could have addressed them to the NCOIC of the facility, or to PMO, or to the Force Protection Officer. Or you could be real grown up and express your issues to the SOC-SMG Site Manager. Be sure to have your plausible explanation for how screwing with the Ugandans is within your lane.
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Old 01-10-2008   #48
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Yeah, it does.

Other than amusing yourself, what useful purpose did you serve?

If you have legitimate concerns you could have addressed them to the NCOIC of the facility, or to PMO, or to the Force Protection Officer. Or you could be real grown up and express your issues to the SOC-SMG Site Manager. Be sure to have your plausible explanation for how screwing with the Ugandans is within your lane.
Force protection is in everyone's lane. Whether he should have done what he did or not is now irrelevant. He identified a potential security breach and now it needs to be addressed; although it should have been done then.

Speaking as one who has performed security guard duties, using another's ID to gain access isn't screwing with someone if they're doing their job. If it had been me, rest assured he wouldn't have gotten in with another's ID. I would have turned him away and would have made him use another entrance just to show him that I'm master of my domain (General Order #12 is always in effect).
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Rule of Law in Afghanistan

"You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)
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Old 01-10-2008   #49
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Talking Hmm. Good thing I wasn't the Gunny

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Originally Posted by LawVol View Post
...
Speaking as one who has performed security guard duties, using another's ID to gain access isn't screwing with someone if they're doing their job. If it had been me, rest assured he wouldn't have gotten in with another's ID. I would have turned him away and would have made him use another entrance just to show him that I'm master of my domain (General Order #12 is always in effect).
in that scenario 'cause I'd have had strip of hide. What if he went to another entrance and someone not as alert as you let him in? Depending on the local rules, he shoulda been detained -- at a minimum you should've confiscated the improper ID to turn in. Attempts and tricks like that just for fun may be tolerated nowadays but let me tell you, Mac, back in the Old Corps, we usedta ...

All hypotheticals (and in fun) of course but even as long as it's been I still remember both the 12th and the 11th GOs...
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Old 01-10-2008   #50
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Default Testing and Evaluating the Guard Force is not in everyone's lane

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Force protection is in everyone's lane.
Complying with FP regulations, cooperating with FP personnel, and reporting FP threats is in everybody's lane. Instigating controversy for ####s and grins just gets the Ugandan sent home and ends up making it a helluva lot harder to get everybody fed at lunch.

People want to play games, each and every uniformed service member can have their CAC card run through a Hand Held Terminal and recite their PIN every time they want to eat.
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Old 01-10-2008   #51
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People want to play games, each and every uniformed service member can have their CAC card run through a Hand Held Terminal and recite their PIN every time they want to eat.
If it can prevent this (Carnage in Mosul), I'm all for it.

Luckily for me, my chow hall was guarded by some fine soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division ("Balls of the Eagle," "No Slack;" see I speak Army ).
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Rule of Law in Afghanistan

"You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)
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Old 01-12-2008   #52
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Other than amusing yourself, what useful purpose did you serve?
Did you mean what useful purpose did it serve or what useful purpose did I serve? I will assume you mean the former.

I will try to address your concerns the best I can. First, maybe childish and just for fun were bad choice phrases to use. There was necessity in doing this. First of all, we had a job to do and tasks to accomplish. Has one of my fellow Marines forgotten thier ID card and then when they returned to the FOB, only then did they realize that they did not have it. Sure...that thing could have possibly happened over the course of a deployment. So, now, we are posed with a delima. Do I try to explain for 15 minutes to a security guard that this Marine left his ID on the FOB, but verify to him...who has no authority over me or is not in my chain of command...that this is individual is in fact a United States Marine, even though this security guard can barely understand English. Or, do I make another choice. We're tired, hungry, and the sun is down. We may have returned to our FOB, but it will still be another serveral hours before we finally rack out. Do I really have time for this? By the mere fact that I could have pulled this off, shows the whole internal security situation to be a farce.

Second. There was no PMO. The first, MP unit to roll into our FOB arrived as we were preparing to leave. But, as you probably know, just being an MP unit doesn't make you PMO.

Third. I literally had about a hundred tasks to accomplish in a single day. What number do you think talking to the site manager was on my list?

After we were able to get through the first time this peaked my interest. So, we "tested" it a few more times. This was by no means a normal or everyday occurance. 99% of the time we went through the regular routine, all presenting our own valid cards, and proceeded about normally.

Maybe it would have been better to say it was an experiment born out of a situation that arose during a specific time period. I recall something similar to this happening in the news when agents smuggled bomb making materials through TSA checkpoints. Fortunately we had only ourselves and our equipment to bring through the gate.

Now that I'm back in the States I can address this issue. I assumed that taking it to a fourm for discussion would be a good starting point. Criticize the issue, but do not go into a personal attack.
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Old 01-12-2008   #53
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Default How can you address the issue from back in the rear?

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Did you mean what useful purpose did it serve or what useful purpose did I serve?
What useful purpose did your little Red Team exercise serve? What deficiency did you identify to anyone who could correct the deficiency?

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I will assume you mean the former.
Ass U Me. Not out of me, Devil Dog.

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First, maybe childish and just for fun were bad choice phrases to use.
Particularly bad if you consider any agreement with your own characterization a personal attack.

Quote:
There was necessity in doing this. First of all, we had a job to do and tasks to accomplish. Has one of my fellow Marines forgotten thier ID card and then when they returned to the FOB, only then did they realize that they did not have it.
Your fellow Marine was in the wrong.

Quote:
Sure...that thing could have possibly happened over the course of a deployment. So, now, we are posed with a delima. Do I try to explain for 15 minutes to a security guard that this Marine left his ID on the FOB, but verify to him...who has no authority over me
Does a security contractor manning an entry control point not have the same authority to challenge you or your CAC cardless buddy when you try to get into his DFAC as you have over him when he tries to get into your ASP?

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even though this security guard can barely understand English.
Is this another assumption on your part, or did you attempt to explain? Most of the Ugandans speak some English. He wasn't in radio contact with his Supervisor?

Quote:
Or, do I make another choice. We're tired, hungry, and the sun is down. We may have returned to our FOB, but it will still be another serveral hours before we finally rack out. Do I really have time for this? By the mere fact that I could have pulled this off, shows the whole internal security situation to be a farce.
Your buddy is running around without his CAC card, you are aiding and abetting unauthorized entry into the facility, and the whole internal security situation is a farce because both of you aren't face down in the gravel?


[QUOTE] Second. There was no PMO. The first, MP unit to roll into our FOB arrived as we were preparing to leave. But, as you probably know, just being an MP unit doesn't make you PMO.[/UNQUOTE]

No Facility NCOIC? No Force Protection Officer? No Guard Force Supervisor?

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Third. I literally had about a hundred tasks to accomplish in a single day. What number do you think talking to the site manager was on my list?
Quite low, obviously. What has caused this incident to rise to the top of your priority list so many months later?

Quote:
After we were able to get through the first time this peaked my interest. So, we "tested" it a few more times. This was by no means a normal or everyday occurance. 99% of the time we went through the regular routine, all presenting our own valid cards, and proceeded about normally.
Who did you report the results of your "test" to? What use was made of the information you obtained? What deficiencies were corrected through your diligence as a self-appointed Assistant Contracting Officer's Representative?

Quote:
Maybe it would have been better to say it was an experiment born out of a situation that arose during a specific time period. I recall something similar to this happening in the news when agents smuggled bomb making materials through TSA checkpoints. Fortunately we had only ourselves and our equipment to bring through the gate.
What gate would this be?

Quote:
Now that I'm back in the States I can address this issue.
Negative. The time to address the issue in a positive manner was when you discovered the deficiency. The people who should have been made aware of it at the time have been deprived of your input from then until now. And many of those people may well be gone by now.

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I assumed that taking it to a fourm for discussion would be a good starting point.
See paragraph 4 above.

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Criticize the issue, but do not go into a personal attack.
If you consider criticism a personal attack, perhaps you can understand how people who work for SOC-SMG or who have worked with them could consider your statements slanderous.

1-866-369-9100 is the toll free number to SOC-SMG.

ce_pao_watch_officer@mnf-wiraq.usmc.mil <ce_pao_watch_officer@mnf-wiraq.usmc.mil> can probably hook you up with AT/FP at the FOB in question.
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Old 01-12-2008   #54
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Complying with FP regulations, cooperating with FP personnel, and reporting FP threats is in everybody's lane. Instigating controversy for ####s and grins just gets the Ugandan sent home and ends up making it a helluva lot harder to get everybody fed at lunch.

People want to play games, each and every uniformed service member can have their CAC card run through a Hand Held Terminal and recite their PIN every time they want to eat.
Well maybe they should. They do that at the residence hall dining facilities on my university. Any student who wants to eat has to have his or her ID with them and have it swiped before they can enter. No card, no food. And the gate folks are supposed to compare the picture with the bearer (and most do...not worth your job just to let some idiot eat on someone else's meal plan). They're even going over to a palmprint system within the next year or so. And that's just for dorm food.

And on a side note, I'd appreciate it if folks could keep this discussion civil. That includes basic things like refraining from posting responses in either ALL CAPS or all bold. Thanks.
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Old 01-21-2008   #55
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All PMCs are not privately held. DynCorp, which is fighting a private war for the USG/State Dept in Colombia, is traded on the NYSE. Stock has done well, even with the current downturn.

http://www.dyn-intl.com/
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Old 01-29-2008   #56
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The LA Times did an interesting story yesterday (28 Jan) on TCNs from Latin America who are making good money as security contractors in Iraq. http://http://ebird.afis.mil/ebfiles/e20080128576144.html[/URL]

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Old 03-12-2008   #57
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DISCLAIMER - I AM NOT DEFENDING SOC NOR THE USE OF TCNS

I have been following this thread as I have first hand experience working with the TCNs in question as well as the PMC in question. I can say that they are doing what they can. Several years ago, money was of no real object to the government. Now however, there has been a dramatic decrease across the board in money that is available. Anyone that has been to Iraq can testify to this...wages for expats are significantly less than they were 3 years ago.

We can comment and critique on the TCNs ability to accomplish the mission, but at the end of the day I have to look at the USG for allowing it to happen...not the PMC. In the following example, please realize I m breaking it down into very simplistic terms for brevities sake. The USG looks at the proposals frm the various PMCs to provide internal security for say Camp Victory. PMC A bids 3million for a one year base period, PMC B 2.5 Million, and PMC 3 2 million. Who gets the contract...C. Why, because they bid the least...now C has to figure out how to man, equip and provide for that contract for less than 2million...the cheaper they do it, the greater the profit. We can say that profit should not be their concern, but at the end of the day, they are a company based on capitalism and need to make money to work. So where do they make money...well instead of hiring Westerner's at 500/day...let's hire TCNs at 800/month....instead of M4s lets use a cheap knockoff... you see the point...who is at fault? The PMC that is out to make money...or the Government to allow them get away with those standards.

My specialty is medicine...so let me give a real world example. Under the current TWISS contracts, the government is asking the PMCs to provide a medical officer to handle the primary healthcare needs for the guard force. The USG will only provide support in cases of life, limb or eyesight. The USG defined a medical officer as a PA, RN or an EMT with 2 years of experience, and that is THE ONLY MENTION OF MEDICAL CARE IN THE RFPs. I can say that on the vast majority of sites that SOC is manning there is a former Special Forces Medic or PA. They are trying to maintain the intent...PMC taking care of itself...however, their competition is bidding contracts using EMT-B's with 2 years of experience. There is a significant difference. An EMT-B is designed to provide a level of care above that of a first responder, but are very limited in their scope of practice. In addition, the USG makes no mention of Medical Oversight (everyone works for a medical director, unless you are a MD or DO) and no mention of medical supplies or medical liability insurance. So in the case of SOC, they attempt to do the right thing in this case, but are underbid by one of their competitors, say Sabre. Sabre, bids the contract based off of the minimums that are put out in RFP...SOC bids on a little more than minimum. Sabre wins...so what does SOC do next time....they bid the minimum, which in this case means a greater drain on the military healthcare system for having to treat patients for coughs and colds.. Again...who is at fault...the PMC or the USG? If the problem is to be resolved...the USG needs to clearly define what the standard is. Not in vague terms.

Just my opinion...now back to my hole.

Last edited by CT Medic; 03-12-2008 at 05:24 PM.
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Old 05-12-2008   #58
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Default Contracting Out Iraqi Army Advising

Lessons Not Learned: Contracting Out Iraqi Army Advising by Peter W. Singer at The Brookings Institution, 12 May 2008.

Singer is with Brooking's 21st Century Defense Initiative which is charterd to produce cutting-edge research, analysis, and outreach that address some of the most critical issues facing leaders shaping defense policy in the coming century. The initiative focuses on the following three core issues: The Future of War, The Future of U.S. Defense Needs and Priorities, and The Implications for the U.S. Defense System.

From Contracting Out Iraqi Army Advising:

Quote:
One of the key questions surrounding the government’s escalating uses of military contractors is actually not whether they save the government client money or not (this, however, is getting harder to argue with the more than $10 billion that the Defense Contract Audit Agency believes was either wasted or misspent on contracting in Iraq. Rather the crucial question that should asked at the onset of any potential outsourcing is simple: Should the task be done by a private company in the first place?

...the Pentagon is seeking to hire private contractors to help fill out the teams that will train and advise Iraq army units, including in their operations in the field. In more blunt terms, arguably the most important aspect of the operation in Iraq, the crux to defeating the insurgency/getting our troops out of there (whichever you care more about), is starting to be outsourced.
This one is a doozy of lessons not learned. First off, outsourcing training of the Iraqi military has been tried before and is actually one of the many, many factors into why we have had such a hard time...

Second, to turn over the task of advising the Iraqis now, at such a critical stage in the war effort as we try to translate the limited tactical success of the surge into something more permanent, is not just horrible timing. In the words of one U.S. Army officer, it is “definitely not a job that rational USG policy-makers should want in the hands of U.S./western contractors anytime soon.”...

Thirdly, the resultant messaging and long-term effects have to be a cause for concern. General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker testified a few weeks to Congress that building up Iraqi capabilities was the priority in the year ahead. Contrast this with the message that this contract sends to Congress, the American public, and most importantly, our Iraqi counterparts...

But, fourth, advising a partner military is not just about building up their military skillset. It is also about passing on values and building long-term relationships. When you contract out military advisors, the values of civil-military relations and professionalism are supplanted by the evident commoditization of military skills, not always the best message in a developing democracy. In turn, the relations are not built between officers advancing up the ranks between the two forces, but with a company and its ever-changing staff of employees...
Much more at Brookings. Hat tip to Phil Carter at Intel Dump for the e-mail pointer to this piece.
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Old 05-13-2008   #59
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In turn, the relations are not built between officers advancing up the ranks between the two forces, but with a company and its ever-changing staff of employees...
Plain and simple right there. It would be dumb. Might as well place a few phone calls to the Comoro Islands while theire at it, to see if they can dig up any consultants lingering around.
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Old 05-13-2008   #60
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Default Just a few thoughts

1) Hard to blame CENTCOM/MNF-I for what is essentially their approach to filling a capacity gap. The number of units and individual augmentees going into theater to do advisory work has not fallen off; it is actually on the increase as more and more units going into theater are finding some aspect of SFA and advising in their mission set. We can continue along with lots of identified but unfilled holes, or we can do what I believe is trying to be done, contracting out those gaps. Its my understanding that these are primarily meant to be support teams, which will play a key role as LOG architecture in Iraq is modified over the coming years - this may prove to be the more sustainable option. It may also allow more uniform types to go where they are critically needed vs. in the supporting structure. I'd also mention that at least one segment - those of senior level/ministerial advisor teams may actually be better filled from the pool of retirees who have worked at those levels vs. plugging a NBQ O5 into that position who has not developed the specific skill sets required for that job - he might be a hell of an Infantryman, but might not know anything about FMS or developing bureaucracy.

2) Even if we said we were going to reorganize and create something new for Iraq, it would take some real time to get there. We can outline new stuff on paper, but until we actually recruit, train, equip and grow our own force structure - the holes would continue to go unfilled - a concern for MNF-I/CENTCOM who must contend with current and future conditions which not only reflect those in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also those here on the domestic political front. In my opinion, they are taking action as opposed to leaving it up to hope.

3) We have not determined if Iraq and Afghanistan are representative of the real demand signal for SFA in a given state. While we know the requirements in both of those places, and we know that we are not meeting them like we'd like to (e.g. development across their security services has been uneven not because we like it that way, but because we've had to make choices due to our own resource constraints). It may be that Iraq and Afghanistan are not representative of future SFA requirements with regard to any one state. Regime change, and the complete dismantlement or destruction of a security sector have created requirements that may not reflect the typical future requirement for SFA - its hard to say for sure, but I think unless we have a situation where regime change is a requirement and the complete destruction or dismantlement of that regime's security sector is a requirement, we'd be well advised to consider alternative ways of generating, organizing, training, equipping, rebuilding and advising FSFs - its just that big of an investment, and the political objective needs to be of commensurate importance - as I contend they are in Iraq. Future SFA may look different in its scope.

4) You could make the issue that all ground forces should be converted to TTs to meet the CENTCOM demand signal, however - as I mentioned in points one and two - most units going over now already are touching SFA in some way - and there is still some requirements there to do the things that BCTs do best as well. If you converted them all to work as advisors exclusively you'd create risk in other areas - some of it would be of the unacceptable type. There is also the issue of our global commitments - as important as Iraq and Afghanistan are - we still have other GCCs to support - the number of violent places seems to be on the uptick.

Singer had some decent points, and in a perfect world where we had the luxury to concentrate on 1 or even 2 things for awhile, where we had all the resources we could ask for, where we wrote something on paper and received authorization and funding for it, and it was filled the same day - we might come up with more palletable, please everyone solutions. These are not the times we live in. - the low hanging fruit disappeared from the tree some time ago. Can we do better - probably some - particularly in the individual leadership piece - but that is almost always the case. Hopefully they have done the legwork to determine what advisory efforts within the broader whole require a set of ACUs/Cammies over a pair of slacks and knit polo. It may be the best we can do based on the rules of supply and demand.

Anyway, just a few thoughts, things never seem to be quite as easy or straight forward as think tanks paint them.


Best, Rob

Last edited by Rob Thornton; 05-13-2008 at 01:01 AM.
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