The US government is seeking to contract with a private agent to handle a program to facilitate the transition of tens of thousands of irregular Iraqi fighters and former detainees into civilian life, according to a contract description obtained by IraqSlogger.
Looking to demobilize tens of thousands of so-called Concerned Local Citizens (CLCs), the largely Sunni Arab fighters who have allied with the US military against al-Qa'ida in Iraq and related extremist organizations, the US is seeking bids to support the establishment of an agency to handle technical and vocational training for CLCs.
CLCs are better known to Iraqis by the Arabic word Sahwa ("Awakening"). While the Iraqi government had committed to absorbing some of them into the regular police and military forces, the Shi'a controlled Baghdad regime has so far been reluctant to embrace the tens of thousands of Sahwa fighters, some of whom formerly bore arms against the post-2003 Iraqi state, and some of whom have even sporadically clashed with Iraqi regular forces or Shi'a militias.
On the assumption that a "lack of education makes CLCs and former detainees both susceptible and vulnerable" to taking up arms after the end of their detention or CLC operations, the US "seeks to give CLCs and released detainees a basic education and those with a basic education an opportunity to obtain a higher education," in addition to "vocational/technical training to develop marketable employment skills."
According to the document, the US expects the contractor to provide technical development resources to the Iraqi ministries in order to prepare them to assume control over the transition training program, as well as refurbish the physical sites in Iraq where the training is due to take place, and to provide technical support to the local-level training programs, including working with "local education officials, and sheiks to implement the technical training and provide priority enrollment to the CLCs."
With a maximum contract value of $11 million, the contractor will take charge of the establishment of the "Joint Technical Education Reintegration Program" (JTERP), with the idea that the program will be transitioned to Iraqi control as the contractor helps the Iraqi government to develop the technical capacity to administer the program.
Although the US government cites willingness of the Iraqi government to transition CLCs and former detainees into civilian life, the political gap between the US and Iraqi government (GoI) is apparent in the document, which states that "the GoI does not feel the same sense of urgency that the United States Government (USG) does with regard to rapidly transitioning the CLCs." Elsewhere, the document says that the Iraqi government ministries concerned "desire to participate in this critical project but lack the capacity to implement."
The tasks put out for bid center on three areas of activity: Refurbishment of educational facilities, development of local educational curricula, and technical capacity building support to the Iraqi government.
The contractor is to refurbish of the up to 36 Iraqi higher educational sites held by the Ministry of Higher Education, many of which were looted or damaged since the 2003 invasion. In these facilities, along with 20 owned by the Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the contractor will design and implement technical and vocational training for former CLCs and released detainees, although the CLCs will be prioritized.
To develop the Iraqi government capacity to eventually take over the JTERP program, the project requires the contracted technical assistance teams to "work daily with the ministry and provide assistance in program management, procurement, and oversight," in order to "assist the ministries in developing courses that are specifically tailored for the CLCs’ backgrounds and ensure these courses are relevant to local labor market demands."
While the lead contractor may be either Iraqi or non-Iraqi, the US government writes that there "is currently very little U.S. access to these ministries due to their locations in the red zone." As such, "It is expected that the contractor will be hiring Iraqi technical advisors who have access to the ministries without special security assistance."
Finally, the project requires the contractor to develop training curricula for CLCs and former detainees, ranging from "basic literacy to trade instruction (such as basic carpentry, medical equipment and basic generator repair, and medical technician services) to vocational training (such as plumber, electrician, and nurse.) delivered by the existing Iraqi collegiate, university, and technical school faculty." The contractor will also survey local labor markets and develop training curricula appropriate to local employment needs.
As a part of the training program, the contractor will also be expected to provide "life support," such as food, housing, and expenses, to the trainees, "in order to allow each CLC to complete training without concern for supporting their families."
Here are the 64 pages of USG contract paperwork, with the Statement of Work beginning on page 29: JTERP_W91GDW_08_Q_4016_AB_R1_1.doc