Gates moving to improve oversight of security firms

Gates moving to improve oversight of security firms

first_imgThe group also reviewed how contractors working for the State Department operate there. Gates dispatched the fact-finding team to Baghdad early last week, expressing concerns about whether the military has exercised sufficient oversight of the contractors. A top military officer has said he’s seen private security guards overreact, but stressed that they fill a critical need. Gates was meeting Tuesday with military and national leaders in El Salvador, the first stop in a five-day, five-country swing through Central and South America. The new review comes after a Sept. 16 incident when Blackwater USA guards killed at least 11 Iraqi civilians. It set off a wave of investigations, from the Pentagon and State Department to Congress, into the conduct and oversight of the security companies that routinely protect U.S. diplomats and others. Blackwater is the largest of the State Department’s three contractors. U.S. military commanders have the authority to discipline the guards, and to ensure they are following proper rules of conduct in their use of force. Key topics during Gates’ trip to South and Central America include regional security, counternarcotics strategies and discussions about an alternate location for a key air base in South America. He also is expected to discuss the need for additional peacekeeping forces in the Middle East, particularly in Afghanistan.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that he expects to move on recommendations to strengthen the Defense Department’s oversight of private security firms in Iraq. Speaking during a news conference here with Salvadoran leaders, Gates said he has reviewed a preliminary report from the five-person fact-finding team he sent to Baghdad last week to investigate problems involving the security contractors. “The recommendations from the group look very reasonable to me,” said Gates, who declined to outline the contents of the report. “I anticipate that we will move forward to try to implement them.” He said the “report made a number of recommendations on how we can strengthen our oversight of contractors working for the Department of Defense.” last_img

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