I read a recent posting on Jake’s very informative blog (www.privatemilitaryherald.com) that was titled “Misconduct by US embassy guards in Kabul alleged”. The article was written by David Alexander. To put it mildly, the allegations in the article were shocking and if I were the owners/directors of the said company, I would hang my head in shame.
Then I recalled reading on the same blog the alleged unfair treatment of security guards in Uganda – you guessed it, the same company that are acting out their Ramboesque dreams whilst getting paid for it in Afghanistan are treating their staff in Uganda as though they own Africa. Allegedly, they have now been taken over by another company.
Even more concerning is that it appears that the US State Department was aware of the despicable behaviour of these so-called “contractors” yet chose to continue giving them multi-million dollar contracts. Apart from making me want to ask some searching questions on how these clowns are awarded their contracts – and who has benefitted from the contracts, I have to wonder if this despicable behaviour is in line with US foreign policy. And is this the type of “contractor” that the US Department of Defence wants to protect its secure zones from enemy activity?
If PMCs are concerned at their image, they need to look no further than articles such as these. Not only does reporting such as this deepen the hole PMCs are digging for themselves, it also smacks of a multitude of problems in the industry.
Not only that, it points to massive problems within the said company. Starting with no direction and control, poor leadership, no code of conduct, a lack of discipline and inexcusable vetting practises – to name but a few.
When awarding contracts, does no one really care if the company that wins the contract is professional and able to comply with the given mission? Are there no guidelines to these companies? Are they allowed to do whatever they want? Is this type of behaviour condoned?
If it is accepted that men under pressure need to be allowed to let off steam, they should be taken away from the area they are deployed in. If they want to show their hooliganism, they should do it away from prying eyes. The type of behaviour this company has allowed to take place has given the locals in the area a very good reason to view them with distaste.
I am aware of similar practices by some companies working in East Africa and the locals are viewing them with increasing contempt. Maybe they are unaware of just how offending their behaviour has become, but it has not gone unnoticed. It is very possibly also proving to be a great recruiting campaign for the insurgents.
If PMCs want to ensure that they get decent and fair media coverage, they had better clean up their act. But, I believe that companies such as this (I do not believe they are worthy of the term “PMC”) have no place in the industry and even less place on the African continent.
But then again, maybe it is only me that feels this way.