Commission Examines Contracting Issues
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2009 Improved oversight and management of civilian contracts involved with the development and training of Afghan security forces should result in better stewardship of U.S. tax dollars, the former military commander of that training effort said here today.
“We are keenly aware of the importance of good stewardship of the resources provided by the American people to support this mission. Good stewardship is critical to mission success and is of strategic importance,” Army Maj. Gen. Richard P. Formica, former chief of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, said in testimony before the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Formica commanded the organization from Dec. 18, 2008, to Nov. 21, 2009.
Congress created the commission in 2008 to examine and recommend improvements in contingency contracting for reconstruction, logistics, and security functions involved in the U.S. military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Combined Security Transition Command Iraq assists in the training of Afghan security forces to improve security and stability in Afghanistan. Its mission includes managing a $404 million contract to train and support Afghan national security forces.
To understand the command’s critical role, the commission has met with both Formica and its new commander, Army Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, who took command of the new NATO Training Mission Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan last month. The two organizations were merged under Caldwell’s oversight to create a unified command for the training of Afghan soldiers and police.
The command’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilians “work tirelessly and faithfully to fulfill their mission and to be good stewards of our nation's resources,” Formica told the panel. The organization’s principal task, he said, is to build sustainable capacity and capability of the Afghan national army and the Afghan national police.
The Afghan army, Formica said, is a respected by the country’s citizens and is on track to achieve its goals. The Afghan army is scheduled to expand to 240,000 soldiers by the end of 2013, he said. Meanwhile, Formica said, Afghan national police ranks are expected to include 97,000 officers by the end of December. Current plans, he added, are for the police to expand to 160,000 members by the end of 2013.
The focus of Afghan police training and development efforts, Formica said, is to reinforce good policing, to reform or eliminate corrupt or poor-performing police and to add more officers.
The mission to generate and train Afghan national security forces has been generously funded by Congress, Formica said. However, he added, the high demand for military personnel has outstripped the supply of properly trained military forces, which creates a demand for contractors to fill gaps in training and training support.
Today, Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan “requires the support of contractors in our mission accomplishments in the development of the Afghan ministries of defense and interior,” Formica said. The Afghan defense ministry oversees the country’s military forces, while the interior ministry manages the national police.
The use of contractors in training Afghan soldiers and police, Formica said, augments military capabilities, brings unique skills and provides continuity to the mission.
However, as Afghan national security forces grew over the past several years, Formica said, the number and size of contracts increased while the capacity to manage those contracts did not. This situation, he said, created “a challenging contract management and oversight environment which required continuous efforts to improve management of contracts funded by Afghan security forces funds.”
Accordingly, U.S. authorities “have steadily improved our stewardship and oversight of contracts involved with the training of Afghan security forces,” Formica said.
Subsequent measures and controls implemented to improve accountability and management control of such contracts were partially in response to Defense Department inspector general reports, Formica said, as well as findings and observations made by the commission.
Summing up, Formica acknowledged “that more work needs to be done to enhance our overall contracts-management effort.”
Nonetheless, he said, the application of leadership, accountability and implemented improvements in contract management and oversight “will lead to more effective development and fielding of capable Afghan national security forces and ultimately operational success in this critically-important mission.”