U.S. trainer in program for Afghan officers

The Obama administration has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into supporting the Afghanistan National Police and plans to spend millions more by the end of the year, a review of federal procurement documents shows.

The continued level of investment into Afghan police and fire operations comes at a time when budgets and personnel levels for similar services across the U.S. are being slashed.

While state and local law enforcement agency woes are not exclusively a consequence of federal belt-tightening, the White House has proposed eliminating $415 million from Justice Department-funded police assistance programs.

The administration also seeks to cut $296 million from the federal COPS community policing support program.

Meanwhile, construction of a new regional police training complex – one of several endeavors planned or already under way in Afghanistan – will cost U.S. taxpayers an additional $25 to $100 million, according to a recently updated solicitation, No. W5J9JE11R0096.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is coordinating the project in the Balkh Province, where it is now seeking a contractor to design and build a modern police compound that includes barracks; classrooms for more than 300 trainees; weapons and fuel storage facilities; a parade review stand; and fortified headquarters.

A separate ANP project that the Corps is arranging in the Balkh Province will provide two new police stations with an estimated price tag of $5 to $10 million.

Though various other police infrastructure initiatives are in the early procurement stages, the final product of a $96 million, ANP-specific contract that the Corps in 2009 awarded to a Rosslyn, Va.-based firm is about to be unveiled.

Technologists, Inc., in solicitation No. W917PM-09-C-0005, is nearing completion of construction of another ANP training facility in Maydan Wardak, Afghanistan.

The contractor in this case is tentatively scheduled to finish in June a flagship ANP National Police Training Center, which the Army at the time of the award described as “one of the largest Corps projects in the country.”

An Army article about the initiative said that “once completed, the training center will feature eight classrooms built to accommodate 3,000 students, living quarters for students and support staff of 500, a helicopter pad, multiple ranges for pistol, rifle, RPG and live-fire driving training, a parade field, and an 11,000-square-foot gym.”

The national and regional ANP complexes are one of many endeavors that the U.S. Army is pursuing or planning to pursue across the war-torn nation.

Included in that laundry list of planned or procured Afghanistan police facilities is the design and construction of:

In addition to the above-mentioned solicitations and contract awards, the U.S. Army also has released a list of ANP- and other related police-agency projects it will procure over the next few months whose overall potential value is in the hundreds of millions.

In the meantime, as the U.S. government simultaneously cuts domestic funding and boosts the Afghanistan police system, headlines across the homeland feature local law enforcement agencies in serious trouble.

This week in Costa Mesa, Calif., for example, the chief of police handed in his resignation, saying he cannot possibly lead a force that is so inadequately underfunded, the Los Angeles Times reported.

City officials in Sarasota, Fla., have gone as far as to hire a third-party consultant to help them figure out how to best trim their largest annual expenditure, which is the police budget, the Herald-Tribune of Sarasota, Fla., recently noted.

The city of Los Angeles managed to avoid police and fire personnel layoffs, but in order to bridge the gap in its $336 million budget shortfall, it put a freeze on police overtime and shut down some fire engine teams, according to the L.A. Times.

Pennsylvania officials have been forced to slash their statewide DUI program, following a U.S. Department of Transportation decision to cut a third of related funding, the Erie Times-News reported.

As was widely reported earlier this year
by CNN
and other media outlets, Camden, N.J., was forced to lay off 168 cops and 67 firefighters.

Despite being one of the nation’s most crime-ridden cities, Camden cut what amounted to half its police force and a third of its fire department.

Similarly, Trenton, N.J., in 2010 laid off 163 police officers and hired some back. But currently the mayor is proposing to axe 111 officers in an upcoming round of layoffs, according to the Times of Trenton.

Despite diminished federal financial support of state and local enforcement, Washington not only has found money for the Afghanistan National Police, but it also is funding “civilian police” initiatives around the globe.

Indeed, the U.S. State Department recently awarded the latest round of contracts to vendors for the future provision of private police and prison services to client-nations worldwide – a project with a potential value of $10 billion to contracting behemoths such as DynCorp, MPRI and PAE Government Services.

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