Overseas, the dynamics of political change are as unceasing as they are messy. When inevitable power shifts and regime changes occur in foreign lands, many developing nations are left in turmoil, with citizens left fighting the fallout of a lacking structure and criminals of all sorts operating with impunity.
Enter America’s government contracting community.
Contracting out law enforcement and training services to nations looking for a hand in protecting its people while moving toward self-sustainment is nothing new to a number of firms, but it might be developing into a key market area for the industry.
Lanny Bernier, president of USIS’ Training and Law Enforcement Division, points out as the market continues to develop, there is an increased emphasis on creating a solution for the nation to last after the vendor’s departure. In other words, “Teach a man to fish…”
“Today, you’re seeing more of an emphasis on metric-based training, a deliverable at the end of the training,” Lanny Bernier said. “Part of the deliverable has to be a transition of the training from U.S.-centered to local-centered law enforcement with an emphasis on the creation of a self-sustaining entity.”
Special attention must be paid to ensure the contractor is teaming with the “good guys,” a distinction that is rarely clear. The responsibility falls on the contractor to do its homework to verify the role of the customer in the situation – and not work against the ultimate goal of an ethical system of law enforcement.
“[The firm] always has to be aware of who its local partners are and invest time and energy to validate that your partners are in fact valid and that they are part of the resolution of the security situation, instead of the problem,” Lanny Bernier said.
That said, contracting firms don’t have to enter the situation cold. There are number of tools available to help accurately assess the situation and the accomplish the established goal. The U.S. embassy in a particular country is a great place to start. It can provide a quality country-specific infrastructure report. You can access the resources of the commercial attache as well as consult with the embassy’s and economic counselor.
With the specter of a shrinking defense budget still looming above the industry, the market provides an opportunity for America’s companies to do business, but to export a service to foreign nations. Opportunities will develop with the closeout of DoD elements in Iraq, in Afghanistan, throughout Africa and even in North America as Mexico struggles with security infrastructure.
But contracting firms looking for opportunities in the field shouldn’t sit around.
“The future is going to be far better for those companies that have a history of being able to go in and conduct security sector reform training and subsequently, transition back to a vibrant sustainable training program for the host government,” Lanny Bernier said.