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Sep 01, 2009

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Comments

gregg

Is it any wonder that ordinary Afghanis consider us to be diseased? I'd rather loose the Gitmo detainees in the US than this pack of trailer trash... apologies to mobile home communities all over.

Can't we just drop them on the Pacific Gyre with the rest of the trash?

Bryan Rahija

Thank you all for the comments. Andrew brings up a great point--$189 million may sound like a huge sum to pay, but in fact, some folks complained that this contract a lowball offer. As a result, the contractor could not afford a robustly trained guard force (i.e., a guard force without language barriers).

Unfortunately, the problems with hiring low-cost labor may not be confined to ArmorGroup in Afghanistan. Back when we brought up the case of Rocky Baragona, the Lieutenant killed in traffic accident in Iraq, one commenter said,

"Many transport companies in Kuwait still continue to search the world for the cheapest possible people to drive their trucks so that their profits can be maximised."

(seen here: http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/2009/05/update-court-dismisses-dominic-rocky-baragona-lawsuit.html)

The key here is oversight, oversight, oversight. It would be easy to blame the contractors and move on, but without a concerted commitment to oversight at the federal level, we cannot expect incidents like this to disappear.

Andrew

You get what you pay for. In this case, the US Government is getting a sweetheart deal and the contractor is losing over $1 million per month honoring a low-ball agreement originally made by a competitor. Far from holding the contractor accountable, State is shaving pennies at the expense of decent physical security. This is why criticisms were followed by a contract renewal -- when you have a contract that you can use to compel free services, you don't surrender that contract lightly.

http://mccaskill.senate.gov/pdf/061009/BrinkleyTestimony.pdf

"An irony of the current situation is that WSI submitted a proposal for the Kabul Embassy Contract – and was not selected for award because WSI’s price was substantially higher than the price offered by AGNA. Now, WSI has come to own AGNA, and WSI is incurring huge losses as a result of AGNA’s unreasonably low price."

"We feel we can safely say that adequate guard services for the Kabul Embassy cannot be provided for the Contract price. AGNA proved that it could not provide adequate services for the price. In our year on the Contract, I have become convinced that we cannot provide the services required by the Contract for the Contract price."

"The Contract is structured such that the contractor bears the risk of any costs incurred above the Contract price. The Government pays a fixed price for day-to-day guard services . . . that is calculated by multiplying fixed hourly labor rates by a fixed number of hours . . . The Government also pays a fixed monthly rate for operation, maintenance, repair, food services, medical services, vehicles and ammunition."

"WSI’s costs of providing the services required under the Contract are exceeding the Contract price by approximately $1 million per month – $12 million per year with no profit."

"Each continuing year of the Contract is awarded by means of the State Department exercising an option for that year. The option is the Government’s – not WSI’s. If the State Department exercises an option, AGNA must perform."

Is there corruption here? Yes. Someone at State decided to take the lowest bid and to hell with the consequences not only for embassy security, but for the reputation of our nation overseas.

As an aside, I would point out to Jon Nugent that Y-12 at Oakridge is NOT a "nuclear power plant."

Clara Coen

I have been reading about the behavior of the guards at the embassy in Kabul. it is appalling:I do not know how long this contractor has been operating in Afghanistan,nor how much we pay for it.I makes me furious that my tax money is being wasted to pay these awfully incompetent and irresponsible people, while many in congress are telling us that we cannot afford health care coverage for all Americans..I am also incensed by the lack of sensitivity by these so called professionals to the mores and culture of the host country. This company should not receive one penny more of our money..

Jon Nugent

Part of the problem with this program is the lack of qualified guards that are on the contract. To bring in guards from a nuclear power plant to guard a US Embassy is ridiculous. They is a plethora of qualified guards in the contracting world that are much better suited for this program. Lack of qualified recruiters and bad management will cause another witch hunt that will affect all of us contractors that are qualified and do the right thing.

Mark E. Smith

If David Rockefeller has decided that the U.S. Embassy in Kabul is not mission-crucial to Exxon-Mobil profits from the Afghan oil pipeline, Hillary would not have the power and authority to increase embassy security even if your letter was brought to her attention and she wanted to do so. National interests are always secondary to multinational profits.

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