DOD official orders head count of private security guards

John Young, acting undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, has launched a comprehensive head count of private security contractors working for the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a Sept. 28 memo, Young gave Defense Department officials until Nov. 1 to record personal, contract and detailed deployment information on all private security contractors and translators working in those two countries.

They must enter that information in a centralized database called the Synchronized Predeployment and Operational Tracker, which DOD’s Business Transformation Agency manages. Earlier this year, DOD officials designated SPOT as the central repository for tracking the whereabouts and overseas assignments of contractors working for the military in war zones.

Military commanders and government auditors have said a lack of data about the growing number of private security contractors working alongside U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan makes it difficult to provide adequate oversight of those individuals.

Young’s memo, obtained by Federal Computer Week, came only weeks after Iraqi officials alleged that employees of the private security firm Blackwater USA opened fire on civilians in Baghdad without provocation. The company denies any wrongdoing in the incident, in which 17 civilians died.

Although the Blackwater guards involved in the shooting were working for the State Department and not DOD, some officials are concerned that the incident could cast a bad light on the Pentagon’s security contracting practices.

“I don’t think the average American makes that distinction,” said one defense source, who asked not to be identified. Young’s effort to collect information about DOD’s security contractors is “a way for us to get our hands around the issue,” the source said.

Featured

  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.