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Wednesday, March 26, 2008       Free Headline Alerts

U.S. training for Palestinians marred by errors: Manuals in English, lighters to simulate pistols

WASHINGTON — A leading U.S. defense contractor has been training Palestinian Authority security forces, but State Department snafus have compromised the program's effectiveness.

DynCorp International, based in Falls Church, Va., was selected to provide trainer supervisors for instruction to thousands of PA security officers. The training, part of a $28 million training program in an $86 million appropriation for Palestinian security, was taking place in a U.S.-financed police facility outside of Amman, Jordan.

Under the contract, DynCorp would supervise Jordanian trainers who worked directly with the Palestinian officers. The American supervisors were to have worked with course manuals provided by the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Middle East Newsline reported.

Industry sources said the training has been hampered by numerous delays as well as shortages in equipment and weapons. One obstacle was that the military manuals provided by the State Department were in English. The Palestinians read only Arabic.

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So far, two PA battalions from the National Security Forces and the Presidential Guard have been training in the desert outside Amman. The DynCorp course has also been short of radios, vehicles, batons and mock weapons.

The Washington Post reported that Jordanian instructors bought cigarette lighters in an effort to simulate pistols. The newspaper quoted DynCorp instructors as saying that the Palestinians were provided two working radios.

"[The State Department's] INL was supposed to have all lesson plans completed and prepared for these battalion sized classes from the Palestinian Authority," a DynCorp administrator said in an e-mail sent to the Post on Feb. 28. "Unfortunately, INL was WAY behind when our guys hit the ground."

DynCorp has been conducting a 16-week course for 600 members of the National Security Forces, the largest security agency in the PA. Some 425 members of the Presidential Guard were undergoing an eight-week course, which included live-fire training.

DynCorp was contracted to help train battalion-sized forces in anti-riot techniques and counter-insurgency. The first PA battalion arrived in Amman in January 2008 as part of a U.S. Congress allocation of $28 million in 2007.

The delays in training PA forces have hampered plans to deploy troops throughout the West Bank.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has pledged to transfer security control of West Bank cities to the PA when its security forces were deemed ready for deployment in such cities as Jenin and Bethlehem. Barak said he would allow 600 PA troops trained in Jordan to deploy in Jenin in April 2008.

Another shortage was in vehicles required for training PA forces to man checkpoints. As a result, driver training was canceled from the Amman course.

The U.S. training mission has been expecting the arrival of body armor and light armored personnel carriers from Saudi Arabia. The sources said Israel opposed the equipment on grounds that this would grant military capability to the PA.


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