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The GAO Transcripts, Part 19: When PSCs Hurt U.S. Troops

07/23/2010 12:24 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • David Isenberg Author, 'Shadow Force: Private Security Contractors in Iraq'

This is the nineteenth 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.".

Given language like this, "The risk-to his troops could be minimized if PSCs would coordinate with the Division 1st", I assume, that this interview was done with members of the 1st Armored Division, Wiesbaden, Germany.

Note that three years after the U.S. invaded Iraq the U.S. military still has problems working with PSCs. As the interviewees state, "The MNF-I guidance they had received did not include how to use PSCs or how to interface with them."

They also noted that when PSCs do something wrong the blowback affects the military:

________________ explained that whether the PSCs were from Global, or hired by other contractors, they all wore similar uniforms to the U.S. military, so when something occurred, the American army was blamed.

...

The ________________ also had concerns that the actions of some PSCs were hurting the image of the U.S. military. The ________________ said that when the PSCs forced an Iraqi off the road or shot at an Iraqi vehicle, the Iraqis thought it was a U.S. military member. The Iraqis did not make a distinction between PSCs and the troops.

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: Laura Czohara Index: I
Date Prepared: April 10, 2006 DOC Number: 149037
Reviewed by: Carole Coffey 4/19/06 DOC Library: Atlanta
Job Code: 350732, 350739

________________
Record of Interview
Title Brief with ________________
Purpose To discuss our job objectives and scheduled meeting participants for the week 3/27/06 through 3/31/06
Contact Method. In-person
Contact Place ________________
Contact Date March 27, 2006 1300
Participants U.S. Army (Army), ________________
________________
________________
________________
________________

Government Accountability Office (GAO)
Defense Capabilities and Management Team:
Vince Balloon, Senior Analyst - (404) 679-1983; balloonv@ gao_aov
Laura Czohara, Senior Analyst- (404) 679-1814; czonaral@gao.gov
Wesley Johnson, Analyst - (202) 512-8475; johxzsonw@zao.dov
Aaron Kaminsky, Analyst - (214) 777-5782; kaminskya@gao.goy

Comments/Remarks: ________________ ith the U.S. Army as part of an ________________

Page 1 Record of Interview

Experience with Contractors in Iraq

________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________

Private Security Contractors

________________ provided his observations on the use of private security contractors (PSCs) in Iraq. He explained that the ________________ ad a difficult time working with and interfacing with PSCs during their deployment. For example; some were good while others acted like "cowboys." However, it was a trade-off in the numbers game.

The MNF-I guidance they had received did not include how to use PSCs or how to interface with them. However, once a week they would meet to gain situational awareness. There were about 91 PSCs in Baghdad. ________________ explained that whether the PSCs were from Global, or hired by other contractors, they all wore similar uniforms to the U.S. military, so when something occurred, the American army was blamed.

He provided an example of when a PSC company shifted and lowered their bid. For eight months, they worked with a ________________ ompany. Then, this other company came in, had a lower bid, and won the contract. There was a large risk involved in this shift; language, procedures, and an established working relationship had changed. ________________ tated tha ________________should have had a say; however, he had no input.

PSCs are a very different: thing. PSCs would pass through the area and the military would not even know of the movements so they could secure the area. In Baghdad, the military had no authority over them and no ability to communicate with them. However, ________________ xplained they could put pressure on it. MNF-I had a wing of PSCs. When asked about the Reconstruction 0perations Centers (ROCs), ________________ ted they were not familiar with ROCs.

Conclusion

________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________

Follow-up interview
On Friday, April 7, Carole Coffey phoned ________________ follow-up on the issues of PSCs. According to the ________________ some PSCs frequently did not coordinate their movements with his division. although others were very good about coordinating with the division. He re-iterated that the PSCs

Page 2 Record of interview

frequently entered the division's battlespace without notifying the division. He said that that the lack of coordination put his troops at risk. He said that most army officers believe they have a moral obligation to help contractors when they get in trouble, particularly American contractors. The risk-to his troops could be minimized if PSCs would coordinate with the Division 1st. If the PSCs coordinated, his troops could secure the area or recommend a different route or a different time of day that might be safer.

The ________________ also had concerns that the actions of some PSCs were hurting the image of the U.S. military. The ________________ said that when the PSCs forced an Iraqi off the road or shot at an Iraqi vehicle, the Iraqis thought it was a U.S. military member. The Iraqis did not make a distinction between PSCs and the troops.

The ________________ felt that the division had no way to really communicate with the PSCs although they tried. To work with the embassy's Regional Security Officer.

The ________________ aid that he had no idea how many PSCs would be in his AOR before he got to Iraq. The Division was based in Baghdad and the ________________ stimated that there were about 90 PSCs working in the Baghdad area. He said the division got no information about working with PSCs in Iraq but he believed that some training/guidance/information would have been helpful.

Page 3 Record of Interview