Report: Massive flaws in Kabul embassy security

Meet the untrained, unvetted, non-English speaking Nepalese contractors guarding the U.S. embassy in Kabul

By Justin Elliott
Published October 28, 2010 8:51PM (UTC)
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ArmorGroup personnel party in Kabul, in a picture released by a government watchdog group in 2009.

As President Obama's war in Afghanistan continues to not be an issue in the midterm elections, the latest reminder of the grim situation over there comes in the form of a blistering State Department Inspector General report on the private security contractors at the Kabul embassy.

It was contractors with the company ArmorGroup, remember, who were accused in 2009 of maintaining a "Lord of the Flies environment" at the embassy (there was also the now famous picture of a vodka butt-shot. ArmorGroup, which is owned by UK-based private security giant G4S, is the subject of the just-released 50-page State Department IG report


From the report's key findings:

  • The Kabul Embassy Security Force (KESF), provided through a contract with ArmorGroup of North America (AGNA), has ensured the safety of chief of mission personnel in [ArmorGroup] has employed Nepalese guards without verifiable experience, training, or background investigations in violation of its contract.
  • [ArmorGroup] cannot account for 101 U.S. Government-furnished weapons that have been missing since 2007. [ArmorGroup] used U.S. Government-furnished weapons for training rather than required contractor-furnished weapons.
  • Several weaknesses were found in canine explosives detection testing procedures carried out by [ArmorGroup's] subcontractor, including failure to test for all scents required by the contract, use of expired and potentially contaminated materials, and explosives storage problems that may lead to cross-contamination.
  • The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) did not thoroughly scrutinize Nepalese guards hired by AGNA, allowing guards without experience, training, or background investigations to perform security duty.
  • DS did not verify that Nepalese guards met contractually required English language proficiency levels; some guards did not have required levels of proficiency.
  • When [ArmorGroup] could not acquire a sample of a certain explosive to test canines, DS changed the contract standards so that the canines would not be have to be tested to detect this particular explosive, which is available in Afghanistan.

For this caliber of work, ArmorGroup was on a $190 million contract, awarded in 2007. The company's guard force at the embassy number 400 men, who were "primarily" from Nepal. Another as-yet unspecified firm is set to take over the work this year, according to the IG report.

G4S, the parent company of ArmorGroup, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


There's a lot more of interest in the report -- dig in:



Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin

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