Contracting in Afghanistan – how it is changing
Private Military Contracting companies are slowly being phased out and being replaced by Risk Management Consultancies. Private companies were utilized to counter the reduction of troops on the ground, to fill voids in the system for providing security.
Prior to the Afghanistan government policy changes in Presidential Decree #63, companies could u…se expatriate, foreign nationals, third party nationals.
Now all PMC companies had to re-register as RMC’s and use the local national Afghanistan Public Protection Force (APPF). All the licensing fees went through the roof cutting into profits and many companies have since folded or reduced their work force. There are a few exceptions for the use of all expat security operators; Embassy and DOS contracts at this time.
With the APPF, there is a ratio of Officer’s and NCO’s that have to be used, we do not have a choice. This is the most corrupt country in the world which is rife with nepotism, bribery, theft, where the officers and NCO’s can buy their ranks and are generally not trained, many cannot even read or write.
The APPF guards are generally good, and are willing to learn and work hard and are not afraid of combat which is almost a complete opposite from the Officer and NCO corps. The APPF guards are making approx. half of their former salaries when they used to work for Private companies.
While there are still Private Contractors and RMC’s working here, the qualities for these expatriates are ever more demanding. Being a good shooter is still paramount, but with the APPF there are other factors that are becoming ever as important. Contractors (RMC’s) are now required to be imbedded into all Local National security teams where diplomacy, tact, and mentoring will go further at keeping you alive. The old days of yelling at the troops, degrading, and insulting them are gone and now and will generally result in a Blue on Green incident. Their culture is different than ours and we cannot have the same expectations from them, it is a tightrope walk that must be carefully managed.
For companies, security is always the last item on which they will spend money on, it’s a case of maximizing profits and the money doesn’t flow until something bad happens. There is a business mindset of weighing profit vs. risk of wrongful death law suits. Until more of us die, the purse string will stay closed.
Many PMC companies and some RMC’s don’t have all their proper paperwork; entry visas, work visas, weapons, radio, or armored vehicle permits… making extremely dangerous if you get pulled over by the NDS, or Police. They will think of nothing of carting you off to jail or confiscating your weapons, radios, and vehicles if your paperwork is not correct. I am fortunate to work for a company that has all its paperwork in order, I have many friends over here that don’t.
It is nowhere near the ideal situation for contractors in Afghanistan, the times have changed and are continuing to change, a different breed of contractors is required, yes you still have to have the skillsets from before, but you now need to be a diplomat, a politician, and a mentor and be perceived as a friend.
This is the hand that has been dealt to contracting companies here, not much good is coming of it. But for those who can adapt to this it can be rewarding as you will not get this type of experience anywhere else.