Afghanistan — Pentagon, Karzai Work to Disband Security Companies

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2010 — Pen­ta­gon offi­cials are work­ing with Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai to dis­band pri­vate secu­ri­ty con­trac­tors in Afghanistan, Pen­ta­gon spokesman Bryan Whit­man said today.

“We share a com­mon goal with Pres­i­dent Karzai, and that is the elim­i­na­tion of the need for pri­vate secu­ri­ty con­trac­tors in Afghanistan,” Whit­man told reporters. “But while we share that goal, we also rec­og­nize that Afghanistan presents a daunt­ing secu­ri­ty challenge.” 

Karzai issued a decree today in which he urged the dis­band­ing of all inter­na­tion­al and nation­al pri­vate secu­ri­ty com­pa­nies with­in four months. 

But U.S. offi­cials believe such a time­line is “very chal­leng­ing,” Whit­man said. 

“With respect to a time­line of four months, obvi­ous­ly that’s a very aggres­sive time­line, and it’s one that our forces, our com­man­ders, as well as the State Depart­ment and ambas­sador, will be work­ing with the gov­ern­ment of Afghanistan to achieve what we believe is a com­mon goal,” he said. 

Whit­man said there’s strong desire among the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty for Afghanistan’s gov­ern­ment to reach the point of man­ag­ing secu­ri­ty in its own country. 

“Ulti­mate­ly, we all look for­ward to the day that the secu­ri­ty envi­ron­ment is such when you don’t need pri­vate secu­ri­ty con­trac­tors, that the secu­ri­ty of the coun­try can be secured by the armed forces and police forces of Afghanistan,” he said. 

Karzai’s decree tar­gets the con­duct and func­tion of pri­vate con­trac­tors who guard embassies and invest­ment com­pa­nies. The con­trac­tors also pro­vide train­ing as well as escort ser­vices for trav­el through unsafe areas. 

How­ev­er, this is a role that may be tak­en on by Afghan forces because of the NATO ini­tia­tive in train­ing those forces, Whit­man said. 

“That’s why [NATO forces] have a very aggres­sive train­ing pro­gram for both the police and the mil­i­tary, to march towards that day when pri­vate secu­ri­ty con­trac­tors are not need­ed,” he added. “We are work­ing with the gov­ern­ment of Afghanistan to improve over­sight and man­age­ment as well as devel­op a plan to aggres­sive­ly reduce them as the secu­ri­ty con­di­tions permit.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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