Blackwater Loses Protest To DynCorp For Afghan Training

It's back to the drawing board for Blackwater.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) upheld a protest by DynCorp International (DCP) of the Army's award to Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater, of a $1 billion, five-year contract to train Afghanistan's police.

DynCorp International had been providing similar services under the auspices of the State Department. The firm argued that not only was there no competition for the contract but that when the mission was transferred to the Pentagon, the Army chose the wrong contract vehicle. The contract to Xe was awarded under the Counter-Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office (CNTPO) contract. The GAO ruled that this could only pay for equipment and support, not training. DynCorp expects to compete for the new contract. The Defense Department also intends to compete further contracts to provide this type of support that could be worth up to $15 billion.

Blackwater was the most famous private company providing security and training services for the U.S. government. And probably the most controversial: It has been accused of improperly charging the government, excessive violence and other problems. The company restructured and changed its name. Still, its Congressional critics bristled when it got the Afghan contracts.

The Afghan National Police (ANP) Force is critical to the future security of the country. The force is relatively large but suffers from equipment and a lack of professionalism.

The problem is that there is only so much U.S. military and government security to go around. The private security forces provide a key role.

Ditto for training. Contractors like DynCorp and Xe provide a necessary service because the U.S. simply does not have enough troops to do all the required training. However controversial such companies are, improving the capabilities of the Afghan forces is essential if the U.S. and its Allies are eventually to leave the country in something like good order.