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Sié Chéou-Kang CenterPrivate Security Monitor

U.S. Congressional Oversight

House Committee on Foreign Affairs

The House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs (known as the Committee on International Relations from 1995 until 2007) is responsible for leading foreign-policy legislation and debate in the House of Representatives. The committee also exercises oversight jurisdiction concerning the relations of the United States with foreign nations and U.S. foreign policy responses to world events. PMSC activity—especially the use of private security contractors by the U.S. Department of State—falls within the jurisdiction of the committee and is subject to review in committee hearings.

Hearings

112th Congress (2011-2012)

Preserving Progress: Transitioning Authority and Implementing the Strategic Framework in Iraq, Part 2 (H. Hrg. 112-49)

Author: House Committee on Foreign Affairs
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This hearing on Iraq, which at times discussed the State Department’s use of contractors, had as witnesses Max Boot, Senior Fellow for National Security Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; Michael Eisenstadt, Director, Military & Security Studies Program, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Richard Fontaine, Senior Fellow, Center for New American Security; and Marisa Cochrane Sullivan, Deputy Director, Institute for the Study of War.

Global Maritime Piracy: Fueling Terrorism, Harming Trade (H. Hrg. 112-41)

Author: House Committee on Foreign Affairs
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This hearing on maritime piracy touched on the use of private armed guards to thwart pirate attacks. Witnesses were the Andrew J. Shapiro, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, U.S. Department of State; and William F. Wechsler, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Counternarcotics and Global Threats, U.S. Department of Defense.

111th Congress (2009-2010)

Afghanistan Reconstruction Oversight (H. Hrg. 111-96)

Author: House Committee on Foreign Affairs
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At this hearing, the witnesses and Committee discussed the U.S. military’s use of contractors for various tasks, including security and intelligence, and one witness discussed how the vilification of contractors was misplaced.

Outlook for Iraq and U.S. Policy (H. Hrg. 111-48)

Author: House Committee on Foreign Affairs
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At this hearing, witness Christopher Hill, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, was asked about the State Department’s use of private security contractors, and the outlook for the Department’s use of private forces once the U.S.military exits Iraq. Committee members express their concern about the public perception in Iraq about these forces.

Oversight: Hard Lessons Learned in Iraq and Benchmarks for Future Reconstruction Efforts (H. Hrg. 111-82)

Author: House Committee on Foreign Affairs
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The sole witness at this hearing was Stuart W. Bowen, Jr., Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. During the hearing, he discussed the State Department’s contract with DynCorp to train Iraqi police forces, and was also asked and responded to the following question: “Is there any accounting for private contractors’ effectiveness in nation building in Iraq?”

110th Congress (2007-2008)

Status of Forces Agreements and UN Mandates: What Authorities and Protections Do They Provide to U.S. Personnel? (H. Hrg. 110-153)

Author: House Committee on Foreign Affairs
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At this hearing, witness Laura Dickinson, Professor of Law, University of Connecticut School of Law discussed theU.S.use of private military and security contractors inIraq, and the possible abuses committed by these forces. She suggested that theU.S.could improve contracting practices, oversight, and monitoring so as to better prevent abuses before they occur.

Beyond the September Report: What’s Next for Iraq? (H. Hrg. 110-109)

Author: House Committee on Foreign Affairs
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At this hearing, witnesses from the military were asked whether the U.S. would be able to maintain a qualified, high-standard, all-volunteer Army in the face of growing, better-paid American private security firms that employ former or would-be military members. 

U.S.-Colombia Relations (H. Hrg. 110-39)

Author: House Committee on Foreign Affairs
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Among other issues discussed at this hearing was the potential reduction of American contractors employed by theU.S.and used inColombiafor counternarcotics efforts, including aerial eradication efforts and police training. 

Iraqi Benchmarks: An Objective Assessment (H. Hrg. 110-108)

Author: House Committee on Foreign Affairs
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The sole witness at this hearing was David M. Walker, Comptroller General of theUnited States, U.S. Government Accountability Office. He was asked the number of contractors that are used inIraq for military purposes. In supplementary testimony, he stated that at the time the number of DOD contractors was about 130,000. About 9,000 of these contractors work in the security area. This number does not include State Department or other U.S. government contractors (data not available).