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The GAO Transcripts, Part 7: It All Depends on What One Means by "May"

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This is the seventh installment of the Government Accountability Office interview transcripts that were prepared pursuant to the July 2005 GAO report "Rebuilding Iraq: Actions Needed To Improve Use of Private Security Providers."

This transcript describes Department of Defense efforts back in 2004 to manage private security contractor personnel in contingency operations. Of course management is one thing; protection of contractors is something else, as this language makes clear, "in regards to military support of private security contractors in the case of an attack, the policy will probably read: "military assistance may be available to the contractors;" therefore, there is no "real (legal) committal" for the military forces to support the contractors."

Standard disclaimer: I have put in ( _____ ) to reflect those words of phrases which have been blacked out in the transcript. I have also put in the underlining as it appeared in the original transcript. As in the transcript, I have left out letters from various words, even when it seems obvious what the word is.


Prepared by: Ryan J. Ona Index:
Date Prepared: July 13, 2004 DOC Number: 1135726
Reviewed by: Carole Coffey 7-16-04 DOC Library: Goal 2
Job Code: 350544
Record of Interview

Title Management of Contractor Personnel in Contingency Operations
Purpose To document existing DOD and inter agency policies and changes in policies on private security contractors
Contact Method Face-to-Face
Contact Place Pentagon, Arlington, VA
Contact Date July 7, 2004
Participants Steve Sternlieb, Assistant Director, DCM
Carole Coffey, Analyst In-Charge, DCM
Ryan Ona, Intern, DCM

Comments/Remarks:

We spoke to __________ during a visit to the Pentagon, Arlington, VA to discuss the current status of the DOD directive and interagency policy memorandum regarding management of private security contractor personnel in contingency operations. The new DOD directive and instruction, "Management of Contractor Personnel During Contingency Operations" and "Procedures for the Management of Contractor Personnel During Contingency Operations" respectively, are currently "draft" DOD working papers. __________ provide us with copies of the draft instruction (version: June 15, 2004) and the draft directive (version: June 21, 2004). The __________ told us that the recommendation for DOD-wide guidance for using contractors on the battlefield which was in GAO 03-695 Military Operations: Contractors Provide Vital Services to Deployed Forces but Are Not Adequately Addressed In Military Plans (June 2003) was the driving force behind both the instruction and directive.

Originally, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq expected the military forces to provide force protection for all contractors whether they were working for the military or the CPA. As reconstruction began, the CPA realized that DOD could not reasonably provide security for over 2500 sites. Since then, typically all DOD contractors (such as LOGCAP) would have the military provide force protection where as CPA contracts (basically, any agency other than DOD) would have the contractors provide their own force protection (though private security contractors).

In response to (1) GAO's June 2003 report on contractors on the battlefield, (2) the realization that DOD is increasing its use of contractors, and (3) the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 (H.R 4200), DOD is finalizing a directive and instruction that will provide guidance on managing contractor personnel during contingency operations. The currently drafted directive states that DOD policy is to "provide force protection of contractor personnel. [... ] Geographic Combatant Commanders shall provide force protection through military means, commensurate with the level of force protection provided DOD civilians, unless valid contract terms place that responsibility with another party. [... ] Contractor personnel may only be armed for self-defense or security pursuant to reference b [which is the aforementioned currently drafted DOD instruction]. Basically, unless otherwise written in the contract, DOD will provide force protection for contractors. Unlike old DOD guidance, the new directive does specifically allow for exceptions to

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be made in the contracts; which would allow armed, private security contractors rather than military forces to provide security. Furthermore, the directive explicitly states that "arming contractor personnel for [reasons] other than self-defense or security during contingency operations or within an area of international armed conflict creates an unacceptable risk that contractor personnel could be viewed as unlawful combatants..." Plainly, contractors du contingency operations can only be armed for "self-defense and security."

The currently drafted DOD instruction repeats many of the same policies (as the directive) regarding the provision of force protection for contractors and actual authorization for the possession and use of weapons by contractors. It also explicitly states that "contracts for security services shall not be used for direct support of combat operations where hostilities are ongoing or imminent. In addition, contract security will not be authorized to guard U.S. or coalition military supply routes, military facilities, military personnel or military property."

According to __________ there is also an Interagency Policy Memorandum that will address contractors and inter-government agency relationships and coordination with regard to contractors in Iraq. The Interagency Memo apparently will draw much of its policy and wordage from existing CPA orders, regulations, and memorandums. The DOD directive and instruction and the Interagency Policy Memorandum address "different phases of the operations," respectively. __________ The DOD directive holds up to the point of 'nation building', which is when other [government] agencies get involved. [...] The interagency memo addresses the 'country rebuilding' [portion] of the operation." It is important to note that the drafted interagency policy memorandum currently written only to address the operations in Iraq.

According to __________ major challenges in determining policies to manage contractors in contingency operations are the legal issues surrounding the "classification of contractors" (i.e. civilians vs. combatants). As contractors have more say in the actual contracts, in effect having more effect on regulations governing the contractors, the "gray area" in classifying [private security] contractors has the potential to grow. According to __________ currently, the term "contractors" includes "everyone" (including all subcontractors who can sometimes be foreign nationals). Possibly, different tiers of contractors need to be defined.

With regards to command and control of private security contractors, in future operations,
contractors will have to "register" themselves with in-theater military forces so that the contractors will have mere "visibility" to the military
. Furthermore, a "security operations center will be set up as an information dispatch center to alert contractors of dangerous areas and "hot spots" in the theater. According to __________ in regards to military support of private security contractors in the case of an attack, the policy will probably read: "military assistance may be available to the contractors;" therefore, there is no "real (legal) committal" for the military forces to support the contractors.

__________ lso provided other points of contact:

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_______

________


He also mentioned that after-action reports of contingencies involving private security contractors in Iraq would probably be available through the Joint Forces Command (JFCOM).


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