Afghan police training contracts likely to go to Blackwater
Politico - 25 February 2010 - By Laura Rozen
Former officials familiar with the deal say that Blackwater is likely to get a Defense Department-issued contract worth several hundred million dollars to train and mentor the Afghan police.
The police training contract, known as TORP 150, is supposed to be decided next month, and the company has not been officially notified that it will get it. But the only competing bid for the police training contract, submitted by Northrop with MPRI, has been disqualified, a former official knowledgeable about the contract said.
We have no knowledge that the contract will be awarded to us, Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Blackwater, now known as Xe, told POLITICO Thursday.
Lockheed, meantime, is likely to be awarded an associated logistics contract to support the Afghanistan police training effort (a contract known as TORP 166), for which Blackwater also bid, the former officials said.
While a Blackwater subsidiary's activities in Afghanistan were the subject of a scathing hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, U.S. Central Command and top U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal are said to be very happy with Blackwater’s work in Afghanistan, the former official familiar with the contracting deal told POLITICO. Blackwater has contracts to do intelligence support, counter-narcotics support with the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Afghan border security work, with which Centcom has been pleased, the former official said.
So Gen. McChrystal has pushed for the Defense Department to issue the Afghan police training contract, rather than the State Department’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement bureau (INL), the former official said. The DoD has five “primes” — companies eligible to bid on contracts in Afghanistan: Raytheon, Lockheed, Northrop, Arinc (owned by Carlyle) and Blackwater.
Of those five, only Blackwater bid for both Afghan police training contract components — the training/mentoring and the logistics. Its only competitor for the police training and mentoring contract, Northrop with MPRI, was disqualified, the former official said. Its only competitor for the logistics contract is Lockheed. The source said the Army had Lockheed rewrite and resubmit its proposal to make it more suited to receive the logistics contract.
DynCorp International, a Falls Church, Va.-based defense contractor, has filed a protest that only the five DoD “primes” were made eligible to bid for the Afghanistan police training contract, the Huffington Post Investigative Fund's Christine Spolar reported this week. (DynCorp itself is in the process of being made a “prime,” the sources said.)
Meantime, DynCorp got some good news on the Afghan contract front. Last week, it beat out MPRI to win a $232.4 million contract to train and mentor Afghan Ministry of Defense forces.
The contract was issued by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. Of note: that on DynCorp’s board is retired Gen. Peter Schoomaker, former U.S. Army chief of staff. Also on the DynCorp board, retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who recently wrote an Afghanistan assessment commissioned by Centcom commander Gen. David Petraeus. Among McCaffrey’s findings, lavish praise for the military brilliance of Petraeus and McChrystal, and that there would be no meaningful civilian “surge” to Afghanistan.
The former official who spoke to POLITICO about the police training contracts, who is not associated with MPRI, said that MPRI is widely considered to have more experience doing military training and said that MPRI’s bid came in at 25 percent less the cost of DynCorp’s.
Congressional sources said they were not yet aware of the Afghan police training contract award. But yesterday, Sen. Carl Levin (D.-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, slammed the activities of a Blackwater "shell" company in Afghanistan — Paravant — for its “reckless use of weapons, its disregard for the rules governing the acquisition of weapons" and lack of vetting resulting "in those weapons being placed in the hands of people who never should have possessed them," POLITICO's Marin Cogan reported.