Tuesday this week, President Obama visited Bagram Air Force base in Kabul. He was there to officially announce that 9,800 U.S. troops would remain until 2016. So much for ending the occupation of that country.
What he did not mention was the role that military contractors would play in the country moving forward. Much like Iraq, the number of private contractors outnumbered official military troops towards the end of that occupation.
One of the PowerPoint slides defines the four “mission areas” of the company’s five-year, $400 million contract with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, which provides contracted services to other combat commands, special forces and other parts of the U.S. military. They are “Expeditionary Warfare; Irregular Warfare; Special Operations; Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations.”
One of SAIC’s subcontractors is the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), stationed out of Adelphi, Maryland. They provide “’underpinning science, technology, and analysis that enable full-spectrum operations’ by the U.S. military, its website says.” This company helps supply the U.S. military with its “high-tech wizardry”:
“It is an SAIC contract vehicle to support COCOMs, DARPA and SOF, yet it can and has gone beyond this market as approved by ARL,” one slide states. It adds: “SAIC staff is very well matched with ARL counterparts.”
Tim Shorrock of Salon expands on the depth of this relationship between SAIC, ARL, the U.S. Military and the other “11 primes and more than 180 subcontractors”:
The primes include such well-known providers of weapons and intelligence as Raytheon, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and ManTech. Another major prime is General Atomics, which manufacturers the drones used extensively in Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, including the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper (it tags its ads with the slogan “dwell, detect, destroy”).
The SAIC document was obtained from a source working for one of the subcontractors on the ARL project who asked that his identity, and the name of his employer, be kept secret. He also provided a copy of his company’s teaming agreement with SAIC for its work in Afghanistan with DARPA under the ARL contract. It states that “the Army Research Laboratory is planning to issue a solicitation for classified work in support for DARPA requirements … The parties wish to establish a team arrangement in the form of a prime contractor/subcontractor relationship pursuant to which SAIC will act as the prime.”
Under the contract, the primes and their subcontractors provide typical technologies used by U.S. forces, including electronic and electro-optic equipment, systems integration software, energy generation and storage, as well as body armor and cold weather gear. But it also calls for contractors to provide software for “data analysis and intelligence tools,” as well as “individual and platform lethality.” The latter should be designed for “enhanced lethality, including accuracy, destructive capabilities, and speed of engagement for U.S. Army and USSOCOM individuals and platforms (air, land, sea).”
The contract ends in 2015, and “is being prepared now for recomplete,” the SAIC document says.
Just like Iraq, the military-industrial-complex needs to suck as much profit as possible out of the occupation of Afghanistan. The American presence in that country will not end while the ruling government still answers to Washington and there are still “insurgents” for military contractors and troops to test out new technology on.