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Sié Chéou-Kang CenterPrivate Security Monitor

U.S. Congressional Oversight

U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee

Together with the House Armed Services Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee and its subcommittees oversee the nation's military, including the Department of Defense and proposed legislation that affects U.S. military strategy, resources, and operations. The committee monitors on-going governmental operations related to military affairs, identifies issues suitable for legislative review, gathers and evaluates information, and recommends courses of action to the full Senate. The committee also investigates Department of Defense programs and examines allegations of wrongdoing.

The oversight of the U.S. government's use of PMSC's fits squarely within the jurisdiction of the committee. The committee has issued reports on the subject, and has held hearings to investigate Department of Defense spending requests for contractor services, among other DoD policy and procurement issues.

Reports

investigations and Analysis

Inquiry Into the Treatment Of Detainees In U.S. Custody

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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This Senate Armed Services Committee inquiry examines the development of U.S. treatment of detainees and the effects it has had upon U.S. theater operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report details the legal and political timeline which resulted in using aggressive interrogation techniques, and largely concludes that decisions were expedited or completely shortened, to the detriment of a thorough examination of the consequences and legality of such practices.

Inquiry into the Role and Oversight of Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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In this report, the Senate Armed Services Committee found serious flaws, failures and unsatisfactory performance in the use of private security contractors in Afghanistan. The report documents the subcontracts given to Afghan warlords to provide security services for U.S. bases and troops and the significant negative impact it has on the U.S. mission for security in Afghanistan. The report also documents the poor performance of the contractors overall, and the failure of the DOD to properly conduct oversight of these personnel. 

Hearings

113th Congress (2013-2014)

DOD's Response to the Attack on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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In this hearing, the Committee questioned Secretary of Defense Panetta and Chief of Staff General Dempsey on the Benghazi attacks of September 2012. During the testimony, Sen. McCaskill asked the witnesses on the benefit of using private contractors to protect embassies in Libya and around the world. 

112th Congress (2011-2012)

U.S. Policy Towards Iraq (S. Hrg. 112-112)

Author: U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee
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The Committee heard discussion on reports by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction and the DOD Office of Inspector General that detailed concerns regarding the Iraqi Security Force following the drawdown of US troops in December 2011. The use of PMSCs and PSCs was discussed, with the discussion centering on the expected increase in the use of PMSCs in the wake of the troop drawdown. Of special concern was the method in which the contractors would be hired and managed.

Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2012 and the Future Years Defense Program: Part 3, Readiness and Management Support (S. Hrg. 112-80)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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This was a multi-day hearing held in March and May. At the May 18 hearing (transcript page 135), senators expressed concerns that the U.S. has become reliant upon contractors to provide logistics support for military operations. The witnesses, logistics experts, were questioned on the use of contractors and how contractors and contract oversight are integrated into military plans.

U.S. Policy Towards Iraq (S. Hrg. 112-112)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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Witnesses at this hearing discussed the drawdown of U.S. forces and the shift of lead responsibility for U.S. operations from the Department of Defense to the Department of State. Witnesses were asked about the thousands of DOS contractors that would be used to provide perimeter and movement security as U.S. Armed Forces depart, including who would oversee contractor operations, contractor training, and use of contractors for police training.

Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2012 and the Future Years Defense Program: Part 6, Personnel (S. Hrg. 112-80)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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At this hearing the Committee received testimony from the Department of Defense on the Active, Guard, Reserve, and civilian personnel programs contained in the administration’s National Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2012 and Future Years Defense Program. Witnesses were questioned on how much of the DOD budget is spent on independent contracting, and how many contractors are included in the workforce mix. Based on the testimony, senators remarked that they believe the DOD contracting workforce was not being evaluated as a part of the total force. 

The Situation in Afghanistan (S. Hrg. 112-198)

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General David Petraeus testified at this hearing about the situation in Afghanistan, including the decree issued by Afghan President Karzai banning private security contractors from operating there. The Committee was concerned because partners such as the World Bank were considering withdrawing from Afghanistan if private security could not be used to protect their personnel. 

111th Congress (2009-2010)

Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2011: Part 7, Strategic Forces (S. Hrg. 111-701)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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At this hearing, the Committee heard testimony regarding the budget request for fiscal year 2011. The testimony included discussion on the DOD’s attempts to reform its contractor acquisition programs, with emphasis on the DOD seeking to achieve greater contractor oversight in the area of weapon and space system acquisition.

Acquisition of Major Weapons Systems by the Department of Defense and S. 454, The Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009 (S. Hrg. 111-149)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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At this hearing, the Committee heard testimony regarding the performance of the DOD’s acquisition programs. The testimony included discussion on the methodology the DOD uses in awarding contracts. The discussion also included methods in which the DOD could adapt its contracting methods to improve contractor performance

United States Policy Toward Afghanistan and Pakistan (S. Hrg. 111-216)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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The Committee heard testimony regarding President Obama’s new plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan announced in March 2009. The testimony included discussion on the existing infrastructure for the use of contractors in Afghanistan, as well as how the lessons learned in Iraq about the use of contractors could be integrated into the strategy for Afghanistan. The testimony also included discussion on how the troop drawdown in Iraq affects contractors and contractor equipment used there. These concerns were addressed with special attention to the President’s plan for Afghanistan.

Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2010: Part 6 (S. Hrg. 111-100)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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The Committee heard testimony on the different active and reserve military forces regarding the National Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2010 and the Future Years Defense Program. The testimony included discussion on the alterations in the use of contractors, such as whether they should be held to the same standards as traditional soldiers, what is the best use to which the contractor force should be used in the future, and whether there are adequate tools to integrate contractors with existing active and reserve military forces.

Afghanistan (S. Hrg. 111-415)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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The Committee heard testimony regarding President Obama’s strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, which was revealed in December 2009. The testimony included discussion about the problems with keeping track of contractors operating within Afghanistan, the benefits and problems of the database designed to keep track of those contractors, and how and at what cost contractors will be used to support and augment the expected troop surge in Afghanistan.

Ongoing Efforts to Combat Piracy on the High Seas (S. Hrg. 111-165)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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The Committee heard testimony regarding the problem posed by and solutions to increased pirate activity. The testimony included details on the use of PSCs within a maritime setting and methods to incentivize merchant ships to carry PSC personnel aboard. Central to the discussion was whether the use of PSCs in maritime settings should be recommended or discouraged, and what form such a recommendation, if needed, should take.

Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2010: Part 5 (S. Hrg. 111-100)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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The Committee heard testimony regarding the budget request of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) for fiscal year 2010. The testimony detailed steps SOCOM had undertaken to lower acquisition and performance risk, including: increasing the amount of personnel overseeing contractors; reviewing contractor hiring practices; and clarification of contractor assignments to ensure they do not perform inherently governmental work.

Contracting in a Counterinsurgency: An Examination of the Blackwater-Paravant Contract and the Need for Oversight (S. Hrg. 111-571)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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At this hearing, the Committee heard testimony regarding the oversight and requirements on contractors hired by the U.S. The testimony centered on the consequences of contractors’ failure to adhere to U.S. requirements, with special focus on one contractor specifically, Blackwater-Paravant. The hearing also included discussion on government oversight of contractor personnel operating within Afghanistan and Iraq.

Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2011: Part 6, Personnel (S. Hrg. 111-701)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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At this hearing, the Committee heard testimony regarding Active, Guard, Reserve, and civilian personnel programs in review of the National Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2011 and the Future Years Defense Program. The testimony included discussion on the DOD’s use of contractors in administering the TRICARE program. The TRICARE discussion centered on the need for DOD oversight of the contractors overseeing the TRICARE program.

Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2011: Part 1 (S. Hrg. 111-701)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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The Committee heard testimony regarding the 2011 budget request. Among many other items, the testimony discussed DOD efforts to scale back the use of contractors and how to provide better oversight of contractors. The testimony also included discussion on the proper roles assigned to contractors and for what uses contractors can be employed.

The Current Readiness of the U.S. Forces (S. Hrg. 111-868)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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The Committee heard testimony on the readiness of U.S. forces. The testimony included discussion about whether a readiness reporting system is needed for contractors to ensure that they are quickly able to meet U.S. requirements. The testimony also included discussion about the uses to which contractors would be employed in the future.

The Situation in Afghanistan (S. Hrg. 111-867)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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The Committee heard testimony on the progress in Afghanistan. The testimony included discussion regarding whether and to what extent contractors undermine counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan, as well as the purpose and role of contractors there and in Iraq.

The Challenges Facing the Department of Defense (S. Hrg. 111-138)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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The Committee heard testimony on the challenges the DOD is facing and how the DOD plans to overcome those obstacles. The testimony included discussion about PSC activity in Afghanistan and how the contractors there are overseen, as well as methods to implement the lessons of contract-management learned in Iraq to the situation in Afghanistan.

Department of Defense Efficiencies Initiatives (S. Hrg. 111-898)

Author: Senate Armed Services Committee
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The Committee heard testimony regarding the efficiencies initiatives announced by the Secretary of Defense in May 2010. The testimony included discussion on the initiative’s proposals for reducing spending on contractors, as well as methods for reducing DOD reliance on contractor personnel.

110th Congress (2007-2008)

Department of Defense Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan (S. Hrg. 110-534)

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The Committee heard testimony regarding the steps taken by the DOD to implement the recommendations of the Gansler Commission on Army Expeditionary Contracting. The testimony included discussion regarding the role of private security contractors (PSCs) in Iraq and Afghanistan, and included the numbers of DOD-hired PSCs in those two countries. The discussion also addressed aspects inherent to DOD use of PSCs.

Abusive Practices in Department of Defense Contracting for Services and Interagency Contracting (S. Hrg. 110-165)

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The Committee heard testimony regarding abusive practices in DOD contracting for services and interagency contracting. The testimony included discussion regarding the waste and abuse conducted by contractors hired by the DOD. The testimony centered on the lack of planning and oversight by the DOD in hiring contractors, as well as the ability to oversee such contracts.

Situation in Iraq and Afghanistan (S. Hrg. 110-716)

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At this hearing, the Committee heard discussion regarding the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq. The testimony included discussion on the DOD’s contract requirements to ensure contractor accountability.

109th Congress (2005-2006)

Review of Department of Defense Detention and Interrogation Policy and Operations in the Global War on Terrorism (S. Hrg. 109-471)

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At this hearing, the Committee heard testimony regarded DOD) review of the detention operations and detainee interrogation techniques, commonly referred to as the Church Report. The testimony included discussion on the contractor abuses at Abu Ghraib, as well as whether the abuses were known prior to the media report. The discussion also included ongoing efforts to investigate the incident and what steps would be taken to ensure such abuses do not happen again.

Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2007: Part 3 (S. Hrg. 109-827)

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At this hearing, the Committee heard testimony regarding Iraq contracting issues in review of the National Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2007. The testimony centered on DOD roles and responsibilities for contracting, with emphasis on DOD contracts for services in Iraq. Of special concern during this hearing was the susceptibility of DOD contracts in Iraq to fraud, abuse, and waste, and what steps can the DOD take to mitigate any such problems.

108th Congress (2003-2004)

Transition to Sovereignty in Iraq: U.S. Policy, Ongoing Military Operations, and Status of Armed Forces (S. Hrg. 108-853)

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At this hearing, the Committee heard testimony on the transition to sovereignty in Iraq. The testimony includes discussion on the oversight mechanisms in place to manage contractors operating in Iraq. The discussion centered on drawing a distinction between two types of contractors; those working for the U.S. Armed Forces which the Armed Forces have responsibility for, both in terms of security and conduct, and those contractors who are independent and fall under Iraqi law.

Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2005: Part 5 (S. Hrg. 108-440)

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In this hearing, the Committee heard testimony on the DOD’s science and technology programs and how they will assist with the war on terror. The testimony included discussion on how many private security contractors there were operating in Iraq, who is hiring them, and what those contractors are employed to do. The discussion about contractors is in relation to an incident involving an attack upon private security forces operating within Iraq that occurred shortly before the hearing.

Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2005: Part 1 (S. Hrg. 108-440)

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At this hearing, the Committee heard testimony regarding the status of U.S. armed forces and the defense budget request for fiscal year 2005. The testimony included a statement that the Joint Staff is developing overarching DOD policy for the management of contractor personnel during contingency operations. Also included in the testimony is discussion on methods to remedy overbilling by DOD contractors, as well as discussion on the use of private contractors to provide security guard functions.

Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2005: Part 3 (S. Hrg. 108-440)

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At this hearing, the Committee heard testimony regarding the fiscal year 2005 Defense Authorization Request. The testimony included discussion on the uses to which private security contractors are employed and to what regulations those security contractors must adhere. The testimony also included discussion on the U.S. government’s ability to hold contractors liable for any abuses the contractors commit.

U.S. Policy and Military Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (S. Hrg. 108-867)

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At this hearing, the Committee heard testimony regarding the worldwide threat situation. The testimony included discussion on the rules governing the use of contractors when the new Iraqi government comes to power in July 2004. Central to the discussion was the DOD’s policy for the use of contractors under the new government.

Review of the Department of Defense Detention and Interrogation Operations (S. Hrg. 108-868)

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At this hearing, the Committee heard testimony regarding the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. Armed Forces personnel. The testimony included discussion regarding an incident of prisoner abuses in Iraq. The discussion included what duties contractors may perform and whether they are autonomous or operating under DOD authority. Central to the discussion was what role contractors played in the abuses and what steps will be taken to ensure proper management of contractors.

U.S. Military Commitments and Ongoing Military Operations Abroad (S. Hrg. 108-)

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In this hearing, the Committee heard testimony on U.S. global military commitments and ongoing military operations. The testimony included discussion on the DOD’s increasing reliance on the use of contractors and how the DOD intends to address the risks associated with using contractors. The discussion also addressed how the DOD is taking appropriate steps to assess its current use of contractors and to implement improvements in such use.

Current Army Issues (S. Hrg. 108-655)

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At this hearing, the Committee heard testimony on current and future Army issues. The testimony included a brief discussion on problems with contractors and the sufficiency of military management of contractors in Iraq.