April 13, 2013 12:00 am
As noted by the 700 special operators’ open letter this week, the last hearing on the Benghazi debacle is long over and many questions still remain unanswered.
On April 22, 2010 the Department of State Office of Acquisitions posted the Request for Proposal for the Worldwide Protective Services program commonly known in the security industry as the WPS.
This comprehensive program describes in extremely fine detail over several hundred pages the standards required of security companies and their personnel for implementing security plans for State Department sites worldwide, hence the name.
Personnel working in contracted State Department security positions must pass medical screening, a stringent physical fitness test, pass Jason Bourne-like marksmanship requirements and undergo a minimum of a nine-week residential training program. It is not unusual for these personnel to fire 400 rounds a day of practice firing while overseas on the job.
On Sept. 30, 2010 the contract for WPS was awarded to eight companies known as the prime vendors, Aegis Defense Services, DynCorp International, EOD Technology, Inc., Global Strategies Group, International Development Solutions, SOC, Torres International Services, and Triple Canopy. These companies worked under the supervision of the State Department’s Overseas Protection Office and the High Threat Protection division.
None of these companies guarded the Benghazi site.
No evidence has been presented that the WPS standards for how to staff and protect an embassy were utilized to protect the Benghazi site.
No evidence has been presented that the training and personnel standards required of the prime vendors were followed in staffing the Benghazi site.
Why did the State Department decide not to use its prime vendors to guard this site? Why did these personnel deserve less protection in what was obviously a high-threat environment? Were the resources used for this site’s protection at least trained to the same standards?
The only tragedy greater than the loss of life at Benghazi was that no one asked these questions in the media or Senate hearing.
Editor’s note: Mansell is a physician and retired Army Colonel who served multiple overseas deployments.
JOHN MANSELL, Gillette