05/28/2010 07:39 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Aegis' Charm Offensive in Iraq

My May 21 post regarding Aegis Defence winning a contract to help provide security for the 2012 Olympics in London has brought back some unpleasant memories for one person who dealt with Aegis in Iraq.

I received the below email from a retired U.S. military officer involved in private security contractor oversight in Iraq. I am reprinting it as received, except for adding words in brackets to explain acronyms.

1) my understanding of the evolution of AEGIS was that they were originally hired to provide intel support along with manning of the ROCs, [Regional Operations Centers] and provide a website where PSCs [Private Security Contractors} could file route requests into the battlespace. It wasn't until later that they got into the protection of convoys and private security detachment work.

2) the one thing AEGIS had going was that they had a great PR [Public Relations] program and a compliant customer, The Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division (GRD). I told the White House Commission on wartime contracting that their relationship was incestuous. They were totally embedded with GRD. If you walked through their workspace, you couldn't tell if you were in an AEGIS work area or a GRD work area. The country manager at the time, a retired British Army Brig knew how to put on the charm to DCMA [Defense Contract Management Agency] . And since they were essentially the military arm of GRD... So, not surprising that their customers really like them. Again, incestuous!

3) SIGIR. [Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction] They were nice people, but didn't understand the environment. And I can't imagine that they truly understood the contracts. I got so sick of trying to get AEGIS to make changes to the ROCOPS [Regional Operations Center Operations; click here to see website)] website and wasn't getting any help from GRD that owned the contract, I wrote a FRAGO [Fragmentary Order - used to direct operations] directing it to be handed over to MNC-I G-3 [Multi-National Corps - Iraq. G-3 refers to military staff responsible for operations, including staff duties, exercise planning, training, operational requirements, combat development & tactical doctrine]. The COR [Contracting Officer Representative} for GRD developed a ppt laying out possible course of actions (COA). The first COA had an estimated cost of $2.8m. This sent me into orbit. I have a little background in website development and upkeep. The site had been in service for a couple of years, so not much upkeep, only help with developing the extras I wanted. So, I made a fraud, waste and abuse claim to SIGIR and request DCMA to investigate. DCMA came back to me and said that the contract(s) were so convoluted that it was impossible to figure out just how much the running of the website was costing GRD.

4) CONOC [Contractors Operations Centre;]. I had a one-page ppt that visually showed how screwed up the relationship was between the CONOC, LMCC, GRD, and AEGIS. Before Nisour Square, GRD pretty much ran the show. They owned the ROCs, they owned the website, and their LMCC (logistics movement control center) managed the convoys entering the battlespace. After Nisour Square when [Gen.] Petraeus ordered a change, ACOD [Armed Contractor Oversight Division] was established to provide oversight and the ROCs (now CONOCs) were handed over to MNC-I G-3. GRD maintained the LMCC and the website. The problem I ran into was that GRD still owned the contracts for the CONOC support. The only change was the COR duties were given to G-3. I had a major problem with the CONOC and its leadership not complying with MNF-I FRAGOs, specifically our emergency communication procedures. On one incident, I sent a very blunt note to the leadership of the CONOC, that message was forwarded to AEGIS who then forwarded to GRD. What did GRD do? Forwarded it to JCC-I [Joint Contracting Command in Iraq] who lived and worked on GRD's compound. Go figure.

5) A little segue. Afghanistan was going to ramp up. Centcom [U.S. Central Command] wanted to use our model and implement it into Afghanistan. The difference was that they were going to contract out ACOD. Who got the contract? AEGIS. I raised a fit with both CENCOM and DoD. How could they give the oversight role to a PSC? Their answer was the AEGIS didn't have any PSC contracts in Afghanistan, so no problem. My reply, that's how it started in Iraq! Okay, back to Iraq. I went to both DCMA and JCC-I and said that the contract AEGIS has for the CONOCs need to be renegotiated and that another company has to run the CONOCs. Again the reasoning was that the CONOCs were part of the oversight paradigm and that meant that AEGIS could not provide oversight over themselves.

How did it all come out? I dunno. I understand that CENTCOM was going to reopen the Afghanistan ACOD contract based on my issues, don't know if they did or didn't. The CONOC contract was supposed to be rebidded, but again, I left and that meant the issue may have been dropped.

DCMA was heavily civilian. However, the leadership over the PSC contracts were military. The problem there was that the Air Force guys were on six month contracts, so there was some break in, then as soon as you had a good working relationship, they were gone. The two Air Force O5's[rank of Lt. Col.] were good folks. However, most of their staff was civilians.

Okay, so I directed a CAR (corrective action request) against the CONOC contract. DCMA sent out an investigator. She gave them a clean bill of health. Nothing wrong. I ordered a meeting with DCMA key folks to include the investigator. She had no clue what she was investigating, nor did she understand the FRAGO. You could tell that the O5 was embarrassed. AEGIS got a CAR.