Afghanistan Security:

Department of Defense Effort to Train Afghan Police Relies on Contractor Personnel to Fill Skill and Resource Gaps

GAO-12-293R: Published: Feb 23, 2012. Publicly Released: Feb 23, 2012.

Additional Materials:


Charles M. Johnson, Jr
(202) 512-7331


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

What GAO Found

U.S. government (USG), non-USG coalition, and DOD contractor personnel perform various roles in the ANP training program. These roles include: (1) serving as advisors and mentors to build ministerial capacity in areas such as financial and human resource management at the Afghan Ministry of Interior; (2) serving as mentors and trainers to develop Afghan commanders’ abilities to operate training sites and provide training to ANP recruits in areas such as criminal investigation, weapons, survival skills, and physical fitness; and (3) serving as embedded mentors to help deployed ANP units develop civilian policing skills. DOD contractor personnel also provide maintenance, logistics, and security support at training sites.As of November 2011, about 778 USG, non-USG coalition, and DOD contractor personnel provided ANP training and mentoring at 23 NATO-managed sites. Approximately 66 percent of these trainers and mentors were non-USG coalition personnel, 21 percent were USG personnel, and the remaining 13 percent were DOD contractor personnel. In addition, about 2,825 DOD contractor personnel provided maintenance, logistics, and security services at 12 NATO-managed training sites.

After assuming program responsibility from State in 2009, DOD did not assess the advantages or disadvantages of using USG or contractor personnel for the ANP training program and has not assessed the potential impact of transferring responsibilities to USG personnel for the ANP training program since awarding the contract to DynCorp in 2010. Prior to awarding the DynCorp contract, DOD officials considered the use of government personnel to perform the mission and found that the ANP training program did not include any inherently governmental functions. We did not find any additional information in the contract files underlying their decision. DOD policy officials told us that DOD had “implicitly” approved State’s previous decision to use contractor personnel when DOD assumed responsibility. DOD officials told us they did not assess the impact of transferring ANP training responsibilities from contractors to USG personnel because USG agencies do not have sufficient personnel with the needed skills in civilian policing available to provide all the trainers and mentors needed by the ANP training program. DOD officials in Washington, D.C., and Afghanistan agreed that contractor personnel were used to fill skill and resource gaps. For that reason, these officials informed us, the ANP training program cannot fulfill its mission without using contractor personnel.

DOD officials reported that they were not aware of any lessons learned from other DOD-led foreign police training programs that directly address the advantages and disadvantages of using USG or contractor personnel to carry out the ANP training program. While we did not identify any such lessons, we reported in March 2009 that the United States lacked sufficient personnel to carry out the ANP training mission. We also identified several reports that focused on broader issues concerning the use of contractor personnel in a wartime environment. For instance, we reported in April 2011 that DOD faces a number of longstanding and systemic challenges that hinder its ability to achieve more successful acquisition outcomes. In addition, the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan reported on deficiencies in several areas of wartime contracting, including competition, management, and enforcement.

Why GAO Did This Study

The U.S. strategy in Afghanistan depends in part on building that country’s capacity to provide for its own security by training and equipping the Afghan National Security Forces, which includes the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police (ANP). Since 2002, the United States has allocated over $43 billion to train, equip, and sustain the Afghan National Security Forces, which includes about $14 billion to train, equip, and sustain the ANP. The ANP training program is intended to create and sustain a professionally-led police force that is accountable to the Afghan people and is capable of enforcing laws and maintaining civil order. Currently, U.S., coalition, and Department of Defense (DOD) civilian contractor personnel assist the Afghan Ministry of Interior in training the ANP at 23 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) training sites and in mentoring ANP units in the field.

From 2002 through 2010, the Department of State (State) was involved in the ANP training program. During this time, State contracted with DynCorp International (DynCorp) to provide police mentors and trainers and to develop and execute the ANP training program. DOD became involved in ANP training in 2004, working in conjunction with State, DynCorp, and others. In 2009, DOD became the lead U.S. agency for helping Afghanistan reform the ANP and the Afghan Ministry of Interior, which oversees the ANP.

In December 2010, DOD awarded DynCorp a new contract for ANP training, mentoring, maintenance, logistics, and security support. The contract has a potential value over $1 billion, if all options are exercised. In a June 2010 report, the Senate Committee on Armed Services expressed concern about problems with the ANP training program, including lapses in oversight and management of the contract that were identified by the DOD and State Inspectors General. In January 2011, Congress required that we report on the use of U.S. government (USG) personnel, rather than contractor personnel, to train the ANP. In response, this report describes (1) the roles and responsibilities of USG and contractor personnel in the ANP training program; (2) the extent to which DOD has assessed (a) the advantages and disadvantages of using USG or contractor personnel for ANP training and (b) the potential impact of transferring responsibilities for ANP training from contractor to USG personnel; and (3) lessons learned from other DOD foreign police training programs that directly relate to the advantages and disadvantages of using USG personnel or contractors.

For information, contact Charles Michael Johnson, Jr. at 202-512-7331, or

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