The GAO Transcripts: Part 3, Aegis Defence Interview

Here is another of the Government Accountability Office interview transcripts that were prepared pursuant to the July 2005 GAO report "Rebuilding Iraq: Actions Needed To Improve Use of Private Security Providers." This April 11, 2005 interview as conducted with an official of Aegis Defence, a major British-headquartered private military company

Putting aside the fact that the word "Aegis" appears at the top of the first page, as in "Record of Interview with ___________"with Aegis" handwritten above its blacked out typed name it would be obvious who the firm is because of the discussion of the management of the Reconstruction Operations Center.

Back in 2004 Aegis won a contract (worth $293 million over three years) to provide security support services to the U.S. military's Project and Contracting Office (PCO) in Iraq, responsible for managing the reconstruction program. These services include:

- providing static and mobile security details for the PCO and United States Army Corps of Engineers;
- maintaining situational awareness of logistical movement and reconstruction security operations;
- facilitating intelligence-sharing between security forces and reconstruction contractors; and, providing continuous information on the viability of road movement throughout the country.

Note that if the interview had been conducted about half a year later the answer in this question and exchange would have been different.

3. Have any of your employees been accused of committing any crimes while in Iraq? If so, were the incidents investigated by either Iraqi or U.S. authorities? How did ___________ deal with the accusations? What, if any legal steps were taken relating to these accusations, and by whom?

• None of ___________ employees have been accused of a serious or major crime but there have been about ½ dozen discipline cases.

On October 27, 2005 a number of "trophy" videos showing private military contractors in Baghdad firing upon civilian vehicles without clear reason sparked two investigations after they were posted on the internet. The videos were linked unofficially to Aegis Defence Services. Both the US Army and Aegis conducted investigations into the video; while the Aegis report is closed for client confidentiality reasons, the US Army inquiry concluded that the contractors involved were operating within the rules for the use of force. The Army investigation was never made public.

I have put in ( _____ ) to reflect those words of phrases which have been blacked out in the transcript. I have also put in the underlining as it appeared in the original transcript. As in the transcript, I have left out letters from various words, even when it seems obvious what the word is.

Prepared by: Carole Coffey Index:
Date Prepared: 5/19/05 DOC Number:1325366
Reviewed by: Steve Stern ieb DOC Library:
Job Code: 350544

Record of Interview

Title Record of Interview with ___________
Purpose To obtain an understanding, of PSCs in Iraq and particularly
___________ its role as ROC operator
Contact Method Face to Face
Contact Place ___________
Contact Date April 11, 2005
Participants ___________
From GAO Steve Sternlieb, DCM AD
Carole Coffey, AIC 202-512-5876

Comments/Remarks:

Company Description and Security Overview

1. What contracts do___________in Iraq?

___________has a contract with the PCO to provide ______________________
for the ROC. It also has a contract to _________________________________
been in business for abou ___________as a sub-contract with a U.S. firm -
which provides any U.S. employee ___________ ght need.

2. What types of security or security services (convoy, personal security, facilities) doe., provide for contractors and government agencies in Iraq?

___________provides all of the above services as well as security management. However, the most important aspect of their work in Iraq is the management of the Reconstruction Operations Center (ROC) and Regional ROCS.

Chain of Command and Military Interaction

1. The section H-4 clauses in the contract require ___________ ployees comply with orders of MNFI relating to health safe force protection and non-interference in military operations. What is the impact of this clause in your opinion? For example, does this clause place you under the command and control of MNFI? To the best of your knowledge has this clause come into play in Iraq?

___________ said that the clause was confusing because of the complicated nature of the of the contractual relationship between the PCO, the State Department, and MNFL Even though the contract was written and awarded by the Army, and the PCO is part of the Army, the civilian members of the PCO are under the security protection of the Chief of Mission and as such ___________ es direction from the Embassy's Regional Security Officer (RSO) when providing security for the PCO's employees. For example, according to

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___________, the RSO recently increased the number of cars needed when employees, who fall under the force protection responsibility of the COM and the RSO, travel around
Iraq. According t ___________ RSO decided that convoys would now consist of 3 cars,
instead of 2 which had been the policy. I told us that they were required to comply with the RSO instructions even though the contract was not awarded by the State Department and the es not provide security for State Department personnel. ___________said this change resulted in some PCO movements being cancelled. Also, ___________wondered who would financially responsible for paying for the additional vehicles necessary to meet the RSO requirements. Also, the PCO is not under the command of the MNFI-1 commander or the CENTCOM commander so if the commander's orders and the orders of the PCO and or the State Department were in conflict they would have to follow either the PCO or the State Department. However, in reality, if the MNFI commander (or his representative) told ___________ to travel down a road, or stay out of a mosque they would do it because they don't want to put themselves or their clients in danger.

2. Section H-4 also requires that your employees cornply with applicable DOD and service rules, regulations, general orders etc. Did the contracting officer provide you with a list of applicable rules, regulations, general orders etc? If they did could you provide us with a copy and if they did not please explain how you are complying with this contract clause.
.
The military did not provide any DOD rules, regulations, etc. and the representatives
from were unaware of CENTCOM General Order IA.

3. Do any contracts require ___________ or its its employees to coordinate with MNFI or coalition forces? If contracts do require coordination, how does ___________ or its employees coordinate with the U.S. military? Has ___________ established any procedures for working with the military? Has the military established any procedures for working with PSCs that is aware of?

___________ contract with the PCO requires that they coordinate with the military and they do on a daily basis. Actually, coordinating with the military ___________mary responsibility under their contract.

4. Has ___________ or its employees ever requested military aid or backup? If so, please explain the incident and its consequences. What was your opinion of the assistance provided to you by the military?

___________ as had to call for assistance a number of times. Based on the companies experience with the ROC they have found that generally contractors are calling for medical assistance instead of a Quick Reaction Force because incidents with insurgents are usually over within a matter of minutes. That being said however, no one could remember a time (since June 2004) that a request for assistance did not get the help they have needed.

5. Have ___________ mployees ever provided aid or backup to the military? If so, please explain.

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• No answer provided.

6. Has ___________ noticed any differences in dealing/coordinating with the Marines or coalition military as opposed to the Army?

There has been no difference. One of the RROC is located with the Marines and they have been very cooperative.

7. Ha ___________ suffered any friendly fire incidents with the military or other contractors? Please describe the circumstances around these incidents and any actions the company may have taken to prevent such incidents in the future. To whom are these incidents reported? If these incidents are reported in writing would you make them available to us?

8. Have ___________ mployees discharged small arms or other weapons in performance of its contract(s) in Iraq? If so, does ___________ produce a report of these incidents? If these incidents are reported in writing would you make them available to us?

• ___________ epresentatives did not say whether or its employees had discharged their weapons, but the noted that resorts of PSCs firing warning shots have been filed with the ROC and are available on line.

9. Has ___________ developed its own intelligence/information gathering capability.? If yes, to what extent has this intelligence/information been shared with the military? Also, does the military provide intelligence and security information to ___________

• Because of the ROC ___________ has not developed its own inforrnation/intelligence gathering capability. However, if it should receive some information, it would be passed on to the military through the ROC. In addition see question 5 below

10. Are there any interoperability issues between the military?

• Communications continues to be a problem because the and other forms of communication in Iraq are inconsistent. Most
PSCs, including ___________ have cell phone numbers for the units in Iraq so the companies can call the military if the need to and if the phones are working.

The PCO's ROC, Movement Coordination, and Communication

1. Please explain ___________ role as the ROC contractor. Please provide details on your specific responsibilities.

• ___________ provided us with a document that explains the ROC and its operation. According to ___________ the company is a facilitator. It can not direct the military nor can it direct

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other security contractors in Iraq. It can not make people participated in the ROC although ___________ said he does not understand why everyone does not use the ROC since it's available to all contractors, NGOs, government agencies at no cost.

2. How would you assess the cooperation between MNFI and the MSCs and the PCO/ROC particularly in the regional centers? Has the rotation of forces caused any problems for the ROC operations?

The cooperation between the ROC and the MSCs is good. The RROCS are located with
the MSCs and this has helped to improve coordination between the PSCs and the local
military units. In addition, MNFI is issuing a FRAGO on the ROC shortly which should further clarify responsibilities and strengthen the coordination between the combat forces and the PCO. (Note: Per ___________ the FRAGO has not been issued and will be classified. He agreed to send us a copy as soon as it is released.) The rotations have not caused any problems; in fact the military 'units now look to the RROCs as the institutional memory.

3. What services are provided by the ROC and how would a PSC or other contractor request such services? For example, how would a contractor request a QRF?

• The ROC provides intelligence information and briefings, acts as the 911 for contractors who need assistance for example medical assistance or a QRF, and provides communication interface between the maneuver divisions and the contractors.
Contractors who need assistance contact either the RO or the regional ROCs and ROC personnel contact the closest military unit and ask them to provide assistance. Assistance such as a quick reaction force or medical assistance is provided if military assets are available. Furthermore, communications between the military can be difficult in Iraq because of lack of radio interoperability between the military contractors. The ROC facilitates communications between the military. First, the ROC provides contact numbers for the military to private security providers to use when they are moving around Iraq. Second, the ROC will ensure that the military is aware of contractor movements. Security providers, who choose to, can provide the ROC with information on convoy movements which the ROC will forward to the appropriate military commands. Third, the ROC can contact the military to provide assistance to contractors, and finally, the ROC can track convoys through a real-time tracking system which uses the global positioning system and includes a communications link with the ROC if assistance is need.

• ___________ stressed that PSCs are urged to work through the nearest RROCs. There is no need for a PSC to contact the national ROC if the PSC can contact the RROCs. The RROCs are doing most the facilitating between the military and the PSCs when it comes to coordinating routes etc. A PSC might contact the national ROC if he intended to move from one end of Iraq to another because it would be easier for the national ROC to advise all Of the necessary military units of the move.

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4. What is ___________ role in scheduling and monitoring convoy movements?

• ___________ is not involved in scheduling convoy movements however they do track them. The LMCC (which is part of the PCO but not past of the ROC) schedules the movements of convoys and tracks them as well. The LA1CC is run by ___________. It is not located with the ROC but they do communicate. The ROC tracks convoy movements if the convoy is equipped with a transponder that works with Tapestry system. Tapestry is the civilian version of "Blue Force Tracker". It is a real-time tracking system which uses the global positioning system and includes a communications link with the ROC. To encourage participation in the ROC and the LMCC the PCO has purchased a number of transponders (about 200) to give to contractors. In addition, many contractors have purchased there own transponders that work with Tapestry. The military can contractor convoy movements on "Blue Force Tracker" but the ROC can not see the military on Tapestry.

• Recently there was an incident when a contractor was in trouble and instead of hitting the panic button on the transponder, they contacted the LMCC. The LMCC had to call the ROC (because they are not co-located) and the ROC had to call the appropriate division for assistance in some instances every second counts so it would be good if the LMCC was co-located with the ROC.

5. What role does ___________ and the ROC play in providing intelligence and security information to PSCs and contractors?

• The ROC serves as a conduit for intelligence information. The military sanitizes the intelligence information and provides it to ___________ ho uses it to prepare the daily intelligence summary which is posted on the website. In addition, the ROC hosts a daily intelligence briefing which highlights current intelligence information in addition, ROB users can call the ROC and get intelligence info over the phone for specific routes etc.
___________ just recently received access to the SPIRnet which will improve intelligence sharing. According to ___________ has several U.S. employees that have secret or top secret clearance and these folks will be able to use the SPIRnet.

6. To what extent are the ROC's services being utilized by other contractors?

• The ROC's services are being used by a large number of contractors (about 75 to 80 percent is the guess) however using the ROC is voluntary and there some parties that prefer not to be involved. Also, no records of who uses the ROC are kept so it's impossible to know exact numbers. According to ___________ some contractors se all of the ROC's services while other contractors avail themselves of just a few. Every day, ROC personnel see convoys moving along the Tapestry Map and have no idea who these people may be. ___________ said that the services of the ROC are available to all contractors, NGOs, etc at no cost so it does not make since that people don't participate. However, he said that some agencies such as USAID don't get too involved with the ROC because their contractors may use the ROC frequently. Also, ___________

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are not required to use the ROC by State and generally, do not use the national ROC but do use the regional ROCs on occasion. (According to ___________ folks we talked to the do not use the ROC because they get the same information from the Embassy Operations Center. Also, it is the RSO's responsibility to coordinate State Department movement
with the military ___________ does not need to use the ROC to coordinate there movements with MN -I.)
• Also, the Iraqi security adviser has indicated that he would like to have someone sit in the ROC.

7. In your view how can the ROC operations be improved?

While many contractors use the ROC, the ROCs value could be improved if all contractors were required to use the ROC. If all participated then there would be a true common operating picture in Iraq.

Regarding reducing the incidents of blue on blue violence the ROC/PCO should be
involved in developing-procedures for approaching checkpoints and passing convoys.
MNFI and MNFC have provided some oral instructions regarding dealing with
checkpoints and convoys but nothing in writing. The contractors all use various forms of identification however nothing is official. Most popular means of identification is a U.S. OR U.K. flag ___________ noted that friendly fire incidents spike during the rotation of troops.

Training should be provided to the incoming units about the ROC and the RROCS one from the ROC briefs the incoming units. A briefing would be helpful.

Interaction with other Private Security Companies

Does ___________ have interaction (separate from its interactions via the ROC) with other private security contractors? If so, please describe this interaction.

• ___________ has been doing more and more work for the Gulf Regional Division of the Army Corps of Engineers at the request of the Corps. ___________ thought if was because the Corps was becoming more involved with the PCO regarding the management of reconstruction contracts. Corps has their own security contractor ___________
___________ not offer an opinion as to why the Corps was not using their own contractor. At this point ___________ has not received any funding from the Corps.

2. Is the Private Security Companies Association of Iraq (PSCAI) still intact and is your company actively involved in the group?
• ___________ he believed the organization has outlived its usefulness.

3. Do you think that PSCAI has helped to convey contractor's issues to the Iraqi government?
• No answer provided

Interaction with the Iraqi Government

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1. ___________ gistered with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Trade n Iraq? What has your company's experience been with the Iraqi Government?

• The company is fully registered with the MOT and MOI. The company looks forward to working with the Iraq security forces as they begin to take on more responsibility.

Employees
1. How many U.S. citizens work for ___________ in Iraq? ___________ employs U.S. citizens in Iraq are any of them former U.S. military? If the company employs former U.S. military were these employees hired when they separated from military or did they work for other PSCs prior to joining?
• ___________ has only a handful of U.S. employees working for them. They were hired because the contract requires that some contractors that work in the ROC hold U.S. security clearances so they can deal with classified information.

2. What are the employment arrangements for individuals working in Iraq for ___________ Are they company employees or are they independent sub-contractors?

• About 99 percent ___________ mployees working in Iraq are actually subcontractors to
___________ Western employees sign a 1 year contract and they get 90 days paid leave. The employees get paid the same rate inside or outside of Iraq.

3. Please provide us with the daily pay rates for employees working in Iraq.

• Answer not provided

How does ___________ vet its employees?

Vetting of Iraqis is very difficult because of the lack of records etc. The State department now vets the Iraqi employees that ___________ . For commonwealth employees a counter terrorism check is ran by the government.

Legal Issues Related to Working in Iraq

What is the legal status ___________ mployees working in Iraq? Do you have any concerns regarding issues of immunity from Iraqi law?

2. Are you aware of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) and its possible ramifications for your employees (U.S. citizens and otherwise)? Did anyone provide you with information on MEJA? Do you have any concerns regarding MEJA or the application of other U.S. or international laws to your employees? Also, could you provide the following for your non-U.S. work force?

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• No one briefed on MEJA

a. Number of non-U.S. citizens working fo ___________ n Iraq -- Not provided
b. Countries of origin of these employees -- Not provided
c. Number of employees from each country -- Not provided

3. Have any of your employees been accused of committing any crimes while in Iraq? If so, were the incidents investigated by either Iraqi or U.S. authorities? How did ___________ deal with the accusations? What, if any legal steps were taken relating to these accusations, and by whom?

• None of ___________ employees have been accused of a serious or major crime but there have been about ½ dozen discipline cases.

4. Are employees of ___________ ubject to British criminal laws for acts committed in Iraq?

• No answer provided

Concluding Questions

How would you describe the security situation in Iraq? How has the security situation changed in Iraq since ___________ began working in Iraq?

• According to ___________ the security situation has turned the corner. We are at the beginning of the end. Intel flow from Iraqis has improved.

2. In the company's view how could the PSC/military relationship in Iraq be improved?

• The government could set up an armory and provide weapons GFE. The weapons become government owned property at the time of the purchase anyway so having the government supply the weapons could result in a cost savings, plus the contractors would not have to des with import/export licensing. Also, the company would like to draw Ammo from the central ammo supply point. This could also save money as well as improve control of the ammo.

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