Arlington, Va. (July 26, 2021)
PSC Works To Increase Information-Sharing on Contractor Issues in Afghanistan
In a July 21, 2021, letter
to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Administrator of USAID Samantha Power, the Professional Services Council (PSC) highlighted on-going, time-sensitive industry concerns with the Afghanistan drawdown. The letter also invited U.S. Government officials to work with PSC and other associations to establish an information-sharing forum to improve government-industry communication and coordination on contractor engagement in support of U.S. interests in Afghanistan. As a result of this letter and an earlier letter, PSC is working with the Department of Defense (DoD) and other federal officials to initiate such a collaborative forum—involving defense, diplomatic, and development experts from both government and industry—in the coming weeks.
In the letter, PSC strongly encouraged DoD to incorporate information about the numbers and locations of U.S. contractors and non-governmental organizations into “non-combatant evacuation operations” (NEO) planning. A more complete accounting of all U.S. citizens throughout Afghanistan, including those under contract to U.S. federal agencies, international organizations, and the Afghanistan government itself, is essential to prudent planning under rapidly changing security conditions.
On the issue of the U.S. Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, which allows qualified Afghan individuals and their families to travel to, and resettle in, the United States, PSC urged the Department of State to provide regular updates to U.S. contractors.
“Industry is grappling with many unknowns as our nation enters a new chapter in U.S.-Afghan relations. These issues include ensuring the safety of U.S. citizens who will remain on-the-ground in Afghanistan, supporting the success of continued missions, and pivoting some contractor capabilities to over-the-horizon, or remote, support,” said Stephanie Kostro, PSC’s Executive Vice President of Policy. “Industry is also supportive of legislation, such as the Allies Act that passed the U.S. House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support on July 22, 2021, to increase the number of Special Immigrant Visas available to our Afghan partners and to remove cumbersome application requirements that prevent expeditious visa processing.”
Kostro continued, “It’s critical that government and industry officials address these issues together, starting with a better understanding of what information is already available, what additional information and coordination are needed, and how contractors can better support U.S. Government objectives for a stable, democratic, economically viable Afghanistan.”
In a May 13, 2021, letter
co-signed by PSC, the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), and the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA) sent to Blinken, Austin, and Power, the associations posed several questions that government agencies should review to ensure a well-planned and effective military withdrawal, as well as post-drawdown efforts to foster stability there. The associations also recommended the formation of two collaboration forums, one in Kabul and one in Washington.
“PSC is pleased to work with U.S. Government officials to facilitate a timely forum where industry and government can draw from lessons learned from prior large-scale retrograde operations to discuss security conditions in Afghanistan through a collaborative process,” said Kostro. “Contractors have worked side by side with government civilian and military personnel in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years. Now that the military drawdown is largely complete, PSC supports efforts to ensure the viability of the work and the safety of the workers supporting our nation’s goals in Afghanistan and the broader region.”
A PDF of the release can be found here