A settlement of $42 million over has been reached with the State Department who they’re currently still contracting with, not an actual court. It almost certainly includes provisions about “admitting to no wrongdoing” so this is really just a whitewash. The fines were for “export violations” including:
- Illegal weapons exports to Afghanistan.
- Making unauthorized proposals to train troops in Sudan.
- Providing sniper training for Taiwanese police/paramilitaries.
The first is an actual export violation, the others could be if you count them as “services” but that’s kind of a ridiculous way to treat the situation in Sudan in particular. The story cited anonymous sources and it’s all probably classified so I don’t expect any documents to be released.
On the same day, the NYT has an Op-Ed about how Afghan women will be maimed at a faster rate if foreign contractors are banned.
UNDER orders from President Hamid Karzai, over the next four months Afghanistan will be phasing out almost all foreign private security companies, a move meant to bring the country’s vast security apparatus under tighter government control.
It’s a laudable goal. But it also means that foreign aid workers, government officials and companies will have to rely instead for security on the Afghan National Police and the Afghan National Army — arguably two of the most corrupt and incompetent organizations in the country. Without a more effective replacement for foreign security companies, Mr. Karzai’s order could make the situation in Afghanistan significantly worse.
There is a new push to dramatically expand the size of the Afghan Army and police, as the military operations now under way in southern Afghanistan is marked by a conspicuous absence of Afghans in the fight.
The Helmand offensive points to the need for more Afghans in the battlefield. There are roughly 4,000 US Marines operating in the Helmand region, but only about 650 Afghan soldiers fighting alongside them. There are also 6,500 British troops in the province.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” said Brig. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, commander of the Marine Expeditionary Brigade running the operation there, in a briefing with reporters earlier this month. “The fact of the matter is, we don’t have enough Afghan forces, and I’d like more.”
There are in fact a total of 5,000 Afghan soldiers in Helmand, and more are said to be on the way, but officials haven’t explained why they’re not involved in the new offensive. The rest of the Afghan army is posted around the country, with many in the north, where violence is reasonably low.
Putting an “Afghan face” on military operations is more than window dressing.
“Building a larger – yet still professional – ANA [Afghan National Army] will be one of the pillars of a successful counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan,” says Carter Malkasian, an analyst with CNA, a think tank in Washington. “The ANA are cheap, good at gathering information, and respected by the population. The more well-trained, well-advised Afghan soldiers, the better.”