10/08/2010 12:23 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Liability of Using a PMC to Do Foreign Police Training

Last month the independent publication Intelligence Online reported that Altegrity, the "global security solutions and specialized law enforcement training company" headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, which as of this past August also owns Kroll Inc., is counting on the extensive contacts of William J. Bratton, formerly Chairman of Altegrity Risk International (ARI) and now Kroll Chairman, who headed the Los Angeles Police Department for seven years, to help it nab some of the lucrative foreign police force training contracts that Dyncorp's International Police Training Program has monopolized in recent years.

Okay, nothing exceptional there. Companies hire people all the time in order to capitalize off their past and present business contacts.

And if DynCorp gets some competition in training foreign military or police forces that is a good thing. I've written in the past, here and here about some problems DynCorp has had doing that.

But the real question is whether the benefits of using any PMC for this job outweigh the costs. To be sure, PMC supporters have a large number of countries to point to where PMC have done exactly that, and in most cases have done so without major problems. Of course, most of those contracts have been far smaller than those contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have seen major problems.

But some people, who have the credentials to back up their viewpoints, have their doubts. Let's look at a recent U.S. Army Peacekeeping & Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI) paper. The PKSOI serves as the U.S. Army's Center of Excellence for Stability and Peace Operations at the Strategic and Operational levels in order to improve military, civilian agency, international, and multinational capabilities and execution.

The paper is "U.S. Military Forces and Police Assistance in Stability Operations: The Least-Worst Option to Fill the U.S. Capacity Gap" by Colonel (U.S.-Army Ret.) Dennis E Keller. He writes:

DoS INL directly contracted with DynCorp International to provide 690 International Police Liaison Offcers (IPLOs) who provide assessment, training, and mentoring functions for Iraqi police in the feld. INL funded DoJ's ICITAP, which then contracted Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI), to provide International Police Trainers (IPTs), who provide assistance to Iraq's police training academies. INL also funded 143 Border Enforcement Advisors, 123 of whom were provided by an INL contract with DynCorp, and 20 of whom were provided by an ICITAP contract with MPRI.

DoJ's OPDAT [U.S. Department of Justice, Offce of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training] had provided seven Resident Legal Advisors (RLAs) to Iraq as of February 2008. Six RLAs were deployed to Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Iraqi Provinces, with the seventh RLA in Baghdad.

The interagency arrangement provides that CPATT and MNSTC-I set overall requirements for the civilian security development mission, that Multi-National Force--Iraq (MNF-I) exercises operational control over IPLOs and IPTs supplied by INL and ICITAP, and that ICITAP and INL manage and oversee the contracts with service providers such as DynCorp and MPRI.

At first glance, it would seem that these interagency arrangements among DoS INL, DoJ ICITAP, DoD, and USAID for civilian police training, along with the international academies supported by DHS, more than replicate USAID's police training prior to 1974. However, it is important to note that ICITAP and INL's police training, unlike USAID's Cold War-era police training, is executed by contract police trainers, usually through the large contractors DynCorp and MPRI in the case of the police training in Iraq and Afghanistan. While using a private sector company to contract police trainers on a short-term basis does enable a rapid increase in the quantity of trainers available, it also has some inherent disadvantages when compared with the use of full-time USG employees to manage and conduct foreign police training. It is notable that in its heyday, USAID's OPS had 590 permanent employees, which included overseas advisors and trainers as well. As of 2007, to provide support for the much-larger force of contracted police trainers in Iraq and Afghanistan, DoS INL increased its staffng by adding 64 permanent positions in Washington, and increasing its Embassy Baghdad staff to 20 people-- to supervise a contracted police trainer force of some 833 police trainers in Iraq alone. However, these low ratios of permanent government employees to temporarily contracted police trainers allow the permanent staff to conduct only the minimal contract oversight and broad policy guidance for law enforcement development. They are not able to develop more-detailed procedures and greater operational oversight of police and law enforcement reform.

Simply using a contracting mechanism to conduct police training does not create the kind of institutional capacity in the USG that is required for a consistently effective approach to enabling local police to establish and maintain a safe and secure environment in a recovering state. Contracted police trainers often cannot or will not operate in nonpermissive environments, thus confning their training to the capital city or secure areas while leaving unsecured remoter areas of a country without desperately needed police trainers and mentors, as is often the case in Iraq and Afghanistan today. Moreover, if a particular contracted police trainer/mentor is identifed as having superior ability to impart police skills and values in a foreign environment, there is no mechanism to keep that person on at DoS INL or elsewhere in the USG to help establish institutional knowledge and long-term capacity to manage and conduct foreign police training.

P.S. I should note that the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs has a letter to the editor by Senator Edward E. Kaufman (D-Delaware) in which he comments on a previous article by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who wrote about ways to improve the advising and mentoring capacity of the Defense Department. Sen. Kaufman notes in passing,

The U.S. government must also better train foreign police. The State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs has had success in training civilian law enforcement agencies around the globe, but its model has not worked in Afghanistan. The United States needs a more robust civilian approach to partnering with foreign law enforcement and defense counterparts. Something so critical should not be an afterthoughts or be contracted out to private companies.