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Report: Taliban Link to U.S. Base Guards

10/08/2010 -Firms hired to provide security at U.S. bases in Afghanistan may be funneling money to "warlords and strongmen," according to anew report from the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The report results from a year-long investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee. The report details evidence that both United Nations and United States-funded contracts are benefitting Afghan warlords.

According to the New York Times:

The Pentagon’s oversight of the Afghan guards is virtually nonexistent, allowing local security deals among American military commanders, Western contracting companies and Afghan warlords who are closely connected to the violent insurgency, according to the report by investigators on the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The report also contends that in certain instances, firms have even turned to what are referred to as "local strongmen" for help. These include known militants.

Some of the report's other conclusions:the proliferation of private security personnel in Afghanistan is inconsistent with counterinsurgency strategyAfghan strongment and warlords acting as force providers to private security contractors have worked against U.S. interestsU.S. government contracts for private security are undermining the Afghan government's ability to retain memebers to the army and security forces by offering higher pay and recruiting experienced members

According to the Times, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has issued a letter of response, "saying that the Pentagon recognized the problems and has created new task forces to help overhaul contracting procedures in Afghanistan. "Through the new programs we have implemented, I believe D.O.D. has taken significant steps to benefit our forces on the ground while not providing aid to our enemies," Mr. Gates wrote."