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US industry groups urge government-contractor dialogue on Afghanistan

Three US industry groups are recommending that the Biden administration form ‘collaboration forums’ in Kabul and Washington to improve co-ordination with contractors during and after the ongoing US troop withdrawal in Afghanistan.

The flag of Afghanistan. (Getty Images)

The flag of Afghanistan. (Getty Images)

The forums could address a host of contractor questions about pressing topics such as the changing security environment in Afghanistan, how contractors can best support the drawdown, and whether contractors will continue supporting Afghan forces from other countries in the region, according to the 13 May letter, which describes the government-industry collaboration as lacking.

“Better communications and prudent planning that includes contractors can help protect our people while executing the drawdown and achieving defence, development, and diplomatic goals,” the letter says.

The letter is signed by the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA), the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), and the Professional Services Council (PSC). It is addressed to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and US Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power.

US contract expenditure in Afghanistan totalled USD3.6 billion in fiscal year 2020, of which USD2.8 billion was for the US Department of Defense, the letter says.

President Joe Biden announced in mid-April that the pullout of all remaining 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan would occur by 11 September. The head of US Central Command (CENTCOM) later said the US military would remove its contractors from Afghanistan as well, but was looking at how they could continue to provide aircraft maintenance assistance and other help to Afghan forces from afar.

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