Despite the cultural resistance to women’s rights in Afghanistan—evidenced by poison attacks on girls’ schools, public executions of women, officially sanctioned wife beating, and last month’s car-bomb assassination of the Director of Women’s Affairs—the Obama Administration is about to dump an additional $260 million into that nation in an attempt to bring about changes to that society.
The U.S.-funded construction of an Afghan National Army slaughterhouse -- whose estimated cost reaches upwards of $100 million -- is coming closer to fruition, as contractor bids are due this Saturday (July 21) . The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers project, as spelled out in a 1,300+ page solicitation released earlier this year, will provide a modern, climate-controlled facility to help the U.S. achieve its policy goal of making the Afghanistan military more self-sufficient. The facility will be located in the Deh-e-Sabz District, Kabul Province.
The federal agency responsible for administering civilian foreign aid is now hiring workers to combat negative news media and promote positive spin about its Afghanistan operations.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is enlisting private-sector assistance to “lead rapid response efforts to correct erroneous or misleading news accounts.”
The agency on Tuesday re-launched its recruitment of a senior press liaison, who among other tasks must embark upon “aggressive outreach efforts” and “forge productive relationships” with international as well as Afghan news organizations, according to a Personal Services Contract, or PSC, notice – Solicitation #SOL-306-12-000025-01/OPPD – that WND located the via routine database research.
Just last year, U.S. foreign aid to Afghanistan was the subject of a damning comprehensive congressional report that found billions of dollars of American aid may have been used to fuel corruption and create programs that would collapse as soon as the U.S. exited the region, causing dependency and future economic troubles for the poverty-stricken country.
In 2010, a media report exposed a $60 million “mismanaged” USAID project that left Afghans “angered over project failures, secrecy and wasted funds.”
This latest contracting action is only one of many media-monitoring and news-manipulation endeavors that USAID and the U.S. Department of State recently have launched.
Obama, likewise, is creating the equivalent of propaganda ministry that will leverage the assistance of “global news coverage service providers” who will create and disseminate department “news.”
USAID, in this most recent project, is aiming to hire a press liaison with an extensive background as a working journalist – someone possessing not just deep knowledge of what news organizations need, but, most importantly, an exhaustive understanding of how the U.S. government might enable those media to meet their editorial needs.
The liaison therefore must be “persistent, tactful and thorough in gathering and placing stories,” the PSC emphasized.
“The Embassy Public Affairs Office performs this function for the embassy, and the USAID senior press liaison would work closely with the embassy, coordinating efforts,” the document said.
The ability to perform under “changing and often-difficult conditions” – while simultaneously displaying “cultural awareness and sensitivity” – are among other contract requirements. Consequently, the agency prefers applicants with demonstrated leadership skills and Afghanistan-specific experience.
Daily communication with the Afghan and global media is another demand of this position, according to the PSC. Inviting journalists to the USAID Mission-Kabul for tours, providing informal interviews and holding “on-background” conversations with journalists likewise is expected.
Liaison visits to news operation facilities – where he or she will attempt to become “a familiar presence” while “working to earn trust” among journalists – is yet another critical element of the position. The selected candidate, serving as a member of the Mission Development Outreach and Communications Office, conversely will be tasked with arranging reporter tours of USAID-Afghanistan projects.
Getting agency-approved stories published in media, however, represents only part of this job, as the liaison also must “write senior-level speeches that tell the USAID story eloquently and catch the attention of reporters, editors and producers.”
Similarly, training USAID Mission-Kabul leaders and officers how to deal with difficult reporters is another key element of this outsourced post. The liaison not only will deliver lectures to mission staff, but also will conduct what are known as “murder boards” – which USAID described as “rigorous mock interviews designed to prepare subjects to deal with aggressive reporters.”
The liaison additionally will work with locally employed USAID personnel in scanning Afghan and international reporting on the agency.
To counteract what USAID deems to be “inaccurate or incomplete stories and editorials,” the liaison ultimately is responsible for producing “effective stories and hard-hitting commentary to fill gaps in news coverage.”
The Kabul-based position pays in the $84,697-$110,104 range, not including a 35 percent post differential allowance and 35 percent danger pay. Perks under the one-year contract include two rest-and-recuperation, or R&R, trips, three “regional rest breaks” and 20 days of administrative leave, in addition to 48 hours of travel time for each reprieve.
This article originally was published via WND.com on July 6, 2012. Under agreement with WND, rights have reverted back to the author, Steve Peacock.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration tentatively is planning to purchase 121,000 rounds of ammunition specifically for DEA Aviation Division operations in the U.S., the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Afghanistan.
According to a Sources Sought notice that U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor located via routine database research, the agency is looking to buy the following quantity and types of bullets:
80,000 rounds; .40 Smith & Wesson, full metal jacket (FMJ);
15,000 rounds; .40 Smith & Wesson, jacketed hollow point (JHP);
11,000 rounds, 9mm. Luger, FMJ;
3,000 rounds; 9mm. Luger, JHP;
10,000 rounds; .38 Special wadcutter;
2,000 rounds, 38 Special; Hydra-Shok (JHP).
The ammunition, according to manufacturer descriptions, is used for defense and target shooting, respectively.
DEA is seeking capability statements from vendors, but has not yet issued a Request for Proposals. Responses are due June 28.
An analyst tasked with auditing governmental and nongovernmental financial documents is being sought by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to fill a contractor post in Afghanistan. The selected contractor will, among duties, review "activity approval" documents as well as "contracts, grants and cooperative agreements..." according to a Personnel Service Contractor/Third Country National notice released today.
The contractor would be housed in the heavily guarded Embassy compound, but USAID said conditions have gotten better for workers. For instance:
Life in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan has somewhat improved since the establishment of the government, and great strides have been made to regularize the availability of services, utilities, and supplies of common consumer items. Living conditions, however, are still difficult but this is an historical opportunity to work closely with a dedicated team to assist the Afghans to bring about peace and stability to their war-torn country.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) recently approved a $63 million award to multibillion-dollar contracting behemoth AECOM to help Afghanistan officials at the district level to provide
improved functioning of government and to enable the provisioning of priority GIRoA [Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan-] led basic services to better instill confidence and build stability for affected populations.
Many thanks to Sens. Jim Webb (D-VA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) for pressing the Archivist of the United States to release contracting records that the government decided to seal for the next twenty years. Considering that possibly tens of billions in contracts allegedly have been squandered or lost to fraud and mismanagament in Iraq and Afghanistan, it borders on criminal that the Archive would dare keep this critical information from the citizenry. Of course, it remains to be seen whether the government will actually rescind the decision to seal that data.
The first phase of $750 million in potential contracts "to renovate and modernize Afghanistan's energy and water sectors" was awarded this week by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
1. Oil and Gas Development 2. Generation, Transmission and Distribution 3. Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency 4. Water Supply and Sanitation 5. Commercial Operations 6. Small Irrigation Dam Design and Construction 7. Large Signature Multi-Purpose Dam Design and Construction 8. Integrated River Basin Planning 9. Capacity Building, Advisory, Policy Work 10. Provision of Equipment and Commodities
USAID in its original solicitation (#RFP-306-11-0015) had noted that it may award up to five IQCs for the initiative, including two that may be reserved specifically for Afghan firms.
FOR ADDITIONAL COVERAGE OF THE U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, PLEASE VISIT THE MONITOR'S USAID PAGE.
Nearly $300 million in contracts could be awarded to help the U.S. provide “technical leadership in the field of electoral and political processes” in foreign nations. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will use private contractors to provide “rapid-response, one-time only” assistance as well as “iterative,” or repeated, goods and services, according to an updated solicitation (#SOL-OAA-11-000037) that U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor located via a routine search of the FedBizOpps database.
USAID currently is carrying out such assistance projects under previously awarded contracts in Afghanistan, Sudan, Pakistan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The agency recently extended the contracts of three vendors—Creative Associates (award #DFD-I-00-05-00197-00), Democracy International (award #DFD-I-00-05-00198-00), and IFES (award #DFD-I-00-05-00225-00)—to continue operating in those nations. USAID estimates that that the approx. $40 million extension will bring total expenditures under that initiative to $185 million—far short of the previous $400 million ceiling that it set for such ventures.
The new solicitation once again will open up the process to competitive bidding over a five-year ordering period.
FOR ADDITIONAL COVERAGE OF THE U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, PLEASE VISIT THE MONITOR'S USAID PAGE.
The latest addition to the U.S. Agency for International Development's global "gender mainstreaming" initiative (which in FY 2010 alone cost $175 million) is the recruitment of a "gender specialist" to supplement existing efforts in Afghanistan.
A USAID "position description" points out that the agency:
attempts to integrate gender into all of its programs in the technical sectors of health, education, demoracy and governance, economic growth, agriculture, infrastructure, and stabilization. Certain sectors are more successful and proactive in targeting women than others; however, it is goal of the entire [U.S.] Mission to enhance its gender programming.
The pay range is $71,674-$93,175, plus 35% danger pay and 35% post differential.