Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan
Fueling the Taliban, Senate Report Concludes
by Scott Horton
American decision to rely more heavily on contractors and to downplay
the use of uniformed military in Afghanistan has led to a sharp detour
in the process of nation-building, a Senate Armed Services Committee report
(PDF) has concluded.
R&R for ArmorGroup lads
To meet their security concerns, the contractors
have turned to “warlords and strongmen linked to murder, kidnapping
The report also documents incidents in which
contractors have tendered payments to the Taliban.
ArmorGroup, according to the report, subcontracted the task to two
men identified in company documents as local “warlords,” whom it
nicknamed “Mr. White” and “Mr. Pink” after characters in the 1992
Quentin Tarantino movie “Reservoir Dogs,” about hapless criminals who
turn on each other after a jewelry heist. At least one of the two was
recommended to ArmorGroup by military personnel at a U.S. forward
operating base adjacent to the air base, the report said.
In July 2007, Mr. White was ambushed and shot just outside the air
base, leading guards loyal to him to leave their posts and seek revenge
against Pink forces they believed responsible. White survived but was
killed by Pink in a firefight in the local bazaar that December. Pink
was reportedly “holed up with the Taliban” after the shooting, the
Despite his reported Taliban links, ArmorGroup continued to employ
Pink, identified in U.S. military documents as a “mid-level Taliban
manager,” until the contractor received reports that guards under Pink’s
command were providing him with military security information.”
Meanwhile, the contractor replaced White with his brother, identified as
Mr. White II.
The report focuses on the failure of management by the
“Our reliance on private security contractors in
Afghanistan has too often empowered local warlords and powerbrokers who
operate outside the Afghan government’s control and act against
coalition interests,” said Committee Chair Carl Levin (D., Mich.)
echoing the report’s major conclusions.
“This situation threatens the
security of our troops and puts the success of our mission at risk.”
Indeed, it reveals what those on the ground have long observed: private
security contractors often work at cross purposes with U.S.