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The GAO Transcripts, Part 8: WANTED: Village Idiots Guide for PSC/Military Relationships

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This is the eighth 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 April 7, 2005 interview as conducted with an official of what is clearly The Hart Group, a British private security contractor.

The transcript makes it quite clear that when private security contractors first began operating in Iraq relations between them and the U.S. regular military were often tense, sometimes to the point where new additions to the casualty list were narrowly avoided.

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: Carole Coffey Index: C BR/4 Date Prepared: April 28, 2005 DOC Number: 1310949 Reviewed by: Steve Sternlieb DOC Library: Goal 1 Job Code: 350544


Record of Interview

Title Interview with ____________
Purpose To obtain information regarding PSCs in Iraq
Contact Method Face to Face
Contact Place ____________ Headquarters
Contact Date April 7, 2005
Participants ____________
Mr. Steve Sternlieb, GAO DCM Assistant Director
Ms. Carole Coffey, GAO AIC
Comments/Remarks:

Company Description and Security Overview

1. What contracts does the ____________have in Iraq?

• ____________ as no contracts directly with the U.S. government. The largest contract they have is providing security fo ____________ who is under contract to the Corps of Engineers to rebuild the Iraqi electrical infrastructure.

2. What types of security (convoy, personal security, facilities) does the ____________ provide for contractors and government agencies in Iraq?

• _____________ generally works in and _____________ provides PSDs, convoy security, residential security, static security, and security assessments depending on the needs of the client.
• The _____________ business model is a low profile business model and uses no TCNs and very few westerns (who are referred to as Internationals). Instead, they use local Iraqis who provided by the local tribal leaders. The ratio is generally 1 international to 7 or Iraqis. The tribal leaders act as labor broker _____________ pays the leader and the leader pays the local labor _____________ pects and assures that the local nationals are following procedures and are providing the right services in the right manner. When they find problems, they reduce their payments to the tribal leaders.

• In keeping with its low profile business mode _____________ses soft sided sedans and station wagons, and perhaps some SUVs. They have very few "hard cars"

Chain of Command and Military Interaction

1. Do any contracts require the _____________ or its employees to coordinate with the U.S. military? If contracts do require coordination, how does the _____________ or its employees coordinate with the U.S. military? Has the _____________, established any procedures for working with the military? Has the military established any procedures for working with PSCs that the _____________ is aware of?

• _____________ has tried to coordinate with the military in Iraq and has had a varying degree of success. Generally _____________area managers contact the U.S. military commanders in the area

Page 1 Record of Interview

and try to establish a working relationship. According to _____________some commanders are very willing to work with the _____________ area managers, even offering them lodging and others have no interest in working with the PSC _____________ believes that the differences are a result of personalities. There are no procedures for working with the military and when PSCs suggest that standard procedures be established for checkpoints etc, the suggestion is met with initial enthusiasm and then nothing happens. The military has not provided any instructions for the PSCs on how to deal with military. There is no "Village Idiots Guide" for PSC/military relationships and everything is dependent on personalities. _____________ did not think that, because _____________ mpany, they had any more problems dealing with the American military than other companies. _____________ did express a feeling of frustration during those times when the military is transitioning one unit in and other out because of the need to establish new working relationships. _____________ said that he is unaware of any military commander trying to coordinate with the PSCs and others who might be operating in the commander's AO. If any coordination is done, it is initiated by the contractor.

Has the _____________or its employees ever requested military aid or backup? If so, please explain the incident and its consequences? What was your opinion of the assistance provided to you by the military?

• _____________ requested assistance from the military in April 2004, when their "house" in al-Kut was under attack from an armed mob but never received any assistance. According to _____________ the Ukrainian Brigade was tasked to provide assistance but the assistance never came despite repeated requests.
_____________ _____________ _____________ _____________
_____________ __________________________ _____________ _____________
_____________ _____________ _____________ _____________ _____________
oted that during the same incident, the CPA "house" which was about 400 meters away, came under attack as well however, the Ukrainian Brigade assisted the CPA contractors _____________ _____________ and then pulled out of the area. _____________
said that _____________ generally stopped asking for Quick Reaction Force assistance from the military because incidents are generally over so quick that the assistance can't get to their location in time. In response to our question noted that his people have the ability to contact the local commanders if assistance is needed. They do not have to go through the ROC. After this incident was resolved, an Army Lt. Colonel with the CPA suggested that _____________, develop personnel relationships with the military commanders in what ever areas they are working. While it might not have changed the outcome, such a personnel relationship might result in a more favorable outcome when assistance is requested.

• _____________ said that he could not comment on U.S. provided medical assistance; because. they work primarily in the south, they use more British services.

3. Have the employees ever provided aid or backup to the military? If so, please explain.

Page 2 Record of Interview

• No answer provided

4. Has the _____________ noticed any differences in dealing/coordinating with the Marines or coalition military as opposed to the Army?

• No answer provided

5. Has the _____________ suffered any friendly fire incidents with the military or other contractors? Please describe the circumstances around these incidents and any actions the company may have taken to prevent such incidents in the future. To whom are these incidents reported? If these incidents are reported in writing would you make them available to us?

• According to the _____________ representative, the company is routinely involved in friend fire incidents at check points and when encountering U.S. military convoys. _____________ provided written information on the incidents including several incidents that happen within the last few months. _____________ encountered one incident where the Hart vehicles came upon a U.S. military convoy and was given permission to proceed past the convoy. Apparently unaware that the convoy had been given permission to proceed (according to _____________ sometimes the vehicles in military convoys can't communicate with each other) the second vehicle in the military convoy blocked their movement. _____________ convoy slowed down behind the last military vehicle and again was given permission to pass the convoy. When they tried again, their route was again blocked. This went on for two hours until the _____________ pervisors (an American and two other Westerns) got out of their vehicle and approached the Army Captain in command. The captain directed his crew served weapon on the _____________ mployees and threaten them. The American has his passport out and identified himself as an American but this did not seem to make a difference to the Captain. No one was hurt in this incident _____________ believes that the U.S. troops lack "trigger discipline" particularly when troops first come into country. This _____________ believes is because the troops receive no training on PSCs and how to deal with them before they deploy to Iraq. _____________ ressed the view that U.S. troops need to have a better understanding of what PSCs are doing in Iraq and how they operate.

_____________ also related an incident that happened in March 2004 One of his teams was coming in from Jordan and was involved in an incident with an IED. One member of the team was badly burned and the team decided to turn around and return to Jordan. As they were heading back to Jordan, they were fired upon by U.S. troops who believed that they were the insurgents who had, set up the IED. According to _____________ several of his employees were hurt by the gun fire and the previously injured team leader got the cars off the road and dragged the men to cover. However, the U.S. troops had called in attack helicopters and just by chance the team was able to find the correct frequency and identify themselves. Although this happened quite some time ago, _____________ is not at all confident that a similar incident would not happen today. _____________ nd not believe it

Page 3 Record of Interview

was necessary for the military to take these actions, and again he stressed what he saw as the lack of trigger discipline.

According to _____________, PSCs are not required to report Blue on Blue incidents and he believes that many do not get reported. The problem of Blue on Blue incidents is a matter of great concern to the Iraq Private Security Association and is one that _____________ trying to get a handle on. _____________ provided us with a copy of an E-mail from _____________ urging PSCs to report all incidents so that he can take them to the military and try to get a resolution. In his emai _____________ stated that no PSC had died as a result of a Blue on Blue incident as of yet, but the odds were against the PS Cs.

6. Have the _____________ employees discharged small arms or other weapons in performance of _____________contract(s) in Iraq? If so, does _____________ produce a report of these incidents? If these incidents are reported in writing would you make them available to us?

The incident at al-Kut required the _____________ mployees to discharge their weapons. _____________ provided information on this incident. _____________ id that the _____________ has clear rules on the use of force and these are modeled on the British military's "Yellow Card" or rules of engagement.

7. Has the _____________ developed its own intelligence/ information gathering capability? if yes, to what extent has this intelligence/information been shared with the military? Also, does the military provide intelligence and security information to the _____________

• _____________ believes that the extensive use of Iraqis provides the company with excellent intelligence; as according to _____________, the Iraqis know when something in not right. Any information or intelligence that has been gathered is provided to the ROC or to the local units if the units were interested in receiving it. _____________ id a U.S. SOF unit located in southern Iraq was always very happy to get any intelligence/ information from the _____________ felt that the information sharing between his employees and the U.S. military was very good.

8. Are there any interoperability issues between the _____________ and the military?
• From a communications point of view there are interoperability issues because PSCs generally can't communicate with the military directly with radios. aid that his teams in the field have phone numbers of the local commanders and these are useful if a cell phone is working. Also, the ROC and the LMMC has improved communications. According to • they use transponders in their trucks which are tied into the LMMC.

The PCO's ROC, Movement Coordination, and Communication

Page 4 Record of Interview

Who is responsible for scheduling convoy and personnel movements? Is there any coordination of movements or activities with the U.S. or coalition military? How does the _____________ensure coordination with the military?

2. What, if any, is the _____________ 's relationship with the Project and Contracting Office's (PCO) Reconstruction Operation Center (ROC) and or Logistics Movement. Coordination Center (LMCC)? What services offered by the PCO/ROC does the _____________ use? What is the company's opinion of the services provided by the PCO/ROC?

3. Does the _____________ have access to other government run operations centers that provide different information than that provided by the ROC? What are the pros and cons of having more than one operation center available to PSCs?

• No information provided

4. How does the _____________view the success of the PCO and the ROC? How could the PCO and ROC be improved?

• No information provided

5. Has the _____________ utilized the PCO website? If so, how helpful is the website?

• No information provided

6. Does the _____________ keep a database of its personnel and their movements in Iraq? What type of information is included in the database? Has the ____________, shared this information with the ROC or any other U.S. or British government agency?

• No information provided

7. Does the ___________ write after-action or incident reports? What types of reports regarding security do you issue to your clients? To the PCO's ROC? Are you required to provide after-action or incident reports to the military?

• When the ___________ teams have contact with the insurgents, it sends a report to the company's headquarters and contacts the military as soon as possible. It also provides reports to its clients.

Interaction with other Private Security Companies

I. Does the ___________ have interaction with other private security contractors? If so, please describe this interaction.

Page 5 Record of Interview

The ___________ sometimes works with other PSCs and described their relationship with the PSCs as generally good ___________mentioned that they had a very good relationship with the ___________ ks in Iraq.

2. Is the Private Security Companies Association of Iraq (PSCAI) still intact and is your company actively involved in the group?

• The PSCAI is intact and the ___________is very active in it. They are currently acting as the President of the group

3. Do you think that PSCAI has helped to convey contractor's issues to the Iraqi government?

The PSCAI and its executive director, ___________ help resolve issues with both the Iraq government and with the U.S. military. For example ___________ is very involved wit getting the Blue on Blue issue resolved.

Interaction with the Iraqi Government

1. Is the ___________ registered with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Trade in Iraq? What has your company's experience been with the Iraqi Government?

• ___________ gistered with both the MOI and MOT. Regarding the weapons cards that are about to expire, ___________ noted that there have been other deadlines regarding weapons cards, and that the issues have always been resolved. He is not worried about the approaching deadline.

Employees

1. How many U.S. citizens work for th ___________ in Iraq? If ___________employs U.S. citizens in Iraq are any of them former U.S. military? If the company employs former U.S. military were these employees hired when they separated from military or did they work for other PSCs prior to joining th ___________ What are the employment arrangements for individuals working in Iraq for the ___________ Are they company employees or are they independent sub-contractors?

• At the current time not employ any U.S. citizens. ___________ ployees in Iraq are independent contractors and the international employees who come primarily from the UK, Frances, and South Africa, work 8 weeks in Iraq and then get 3 weeks out of Iraq. While they are out of Iraq they do not get paid

2. Please provide us with the daily pay rates for employees working in Iraq.

• Rates not provided

Page 6 Record of Interview

3. How does the ___________vet its employees?

• ___________ depends on the local tribal leaders to vet its employees. To date they have been very pleased with the local Iraqis who work for them.

Legal Issues Related to Working in Iraq

1. What is the legal status of the ___________ employees working in Iraq? Do you have any concerns regarding issues of immunity from Iraqi law?

No answer provided

2. Are you aware of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) and its possible ramifications for your employees (U.S. citizens and otherwise)? Did anyone provide you with information on MEJA? Do you have any concerns regarding MEJA or the application of other U.S. or international laws to your employees? Also, could you provide the following for your non-U.S. work force?

• __________was not familiar with MEJA. and wondered if it would have any impact on non-U.S. employees. He was unaware if anyone had provided ___________ with a briefing on MEJA, but would check with legal counsel.

• Number of non-U.S. citizens working for th __________in Iraq?
• None of the __________ employees are U.S. citizens
• Countries of origin of these employees
• __________ Iraqis and also some western employees from France, the UK, and South Africa.
• Number of employees from each country
• Number not provided

3. Have any of your employees been accused of committing any crimes while in Iraq? If so, were the incidents investigated by either Iraqi or U.S. authorities? How did the __________ deal with the accusations? What, if any legal steps were taken relating to these accusations, and by whom?

• No one employed by __________ Iraq has been accused of crimes; however some employees have been let go for misconduct.

4. Are employees of the __________ subject to British criminal laws for acts committed in Iraq?

• __________ that British law did not apply in Iraq and his British employees were not
subject to British law when they were in Iraq (he believed, but would check with counsel)

Page 7 Record of Interview

5. Are you aware of any PSC employees in Iraq being accused or involved with criminal incidents in Iraq? If so, please describe.

Concluding Questions

1. How would you describe the security situation in Iraq? How has the security situation changed in Iraq since the __________ began working in Iraq?

• __________ said the state of the security situation in Iraq is very hard to measure. While there may be fewer incidents, the insurgents still have a very clear capability to attack. The criminal activity is generally down in most parts of the country however, it is still quite high between the Jordanian border and Baghdad.

2. What does __________ as issues involving private security contractor activities in Iraq?

3. In the company's view how the PSC/military relationship in Iraq could be improved?

• __________ was very concerned that it appeared to him that U.S. troops have had no preparation or training on dealing with PSCs. __________ believes it would be very helpful if part of the pre-deployment training included information on PSCs.

Other Comments

• __________ so noted that there are no standard procedures for dealing with U.S. military either at check points or when encountering a military convoy. Getting through checkpoints can be a nightmare depending on who is at the gate on any given day.

• It is a difficult and time consuming process to get DOD access cards. Sometimes his employees have waited in line for 2 days before getting the cards. He felt that the U.S. military sometimes made getting the cards difficult because they could.

•__________ purchased their weapons in Iraq. Tried to import weapons but it proved to be too difficult. They generally use AK-47s, pistols, RPKs, and machine guns. There are no weapons that they want to use that they can not use. __________aqi employees are armed.

• __________ also tries to coordinate its actions with the Iraqi Armed Forces as well as the local Iraqi police chief. __________ believes this is a necessary task as the Iraqis are now out front on more and more missions.

• __________ does not sub out any of its work in Iraq.

Page 8 Record of Interview

 
 
 

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