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Acosta wins hearing on security provided to U.S. troops abroad

Posted: January 26, 2012 4:16 p.m.
Updated: January 26, 2012 4:16 p.m.

High-ranking military officials are expected to testify next week about the death of Army Spc. Rudy A. Acosta of Santa Clarita in Afghanistan and the rogue private security firm recruit who killed him.

The House Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C., will hear testimony Tuesday on the death of Acosta and the practice of hiring Afghan nationals to provide security to U.S. forces following the attack last year that killed two and injured four soldiers inside a U.S. base in Afghanistan.

The hearing was scheduled Tuesday in Washington, D.C. and comes less than a month after Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R.-Santa Clarita, expressed anger and disappointment because he did not receive the findings of a U.S. Army investigation into the incident until eight months after it was completed.

McKeon, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, received the investigative report Dec. 16.

"While fulfilling (father Dante) Acosta's request to investigate the circumstances surrounding his son's death, questions have been raised not only about the incident itself, but larger policies and procedures with our forces in Afghanistan," McKeon said Thursday.

"Next week's hearing will look into both matters. What can we learn from Specialist Acosta's tragic death, and how can we use those lessons to keep his comrades who are still in the fight safe?"

McKeon learned that the investigation done by an appointed U.S. Army investigator - detailing interviews, identifying problems and listing recommendations about the recruiting done by private contractors - had been completed April 14,

McKeon immediately demanded his committee be given all classified and unclassified investigations into the attack, including those from the criminal investigations department and counterintelligence documents.

He also ordered a complete list of "corrective actions" taken by various levels of command with regard to the investigator's recommendations.

Acosta's parents, Dante and Carolyn Acosta, are expected to fly to Washington to attend the hearing.

"As you know, we've been pretty aggressive," Dante Acosta said this week, referring to his efforts to expose what he calls lax recruitment practices of private security firms.

"I understand there's new information, and that's why we're having a hearing."

Also expected to attend the hearing, but not yet confirmed, is one of the four soldiers wounded in the attack that claimed Rudy Acosta's life.

Those scheduled to testify before the committee include: Brigadier General Steven Townsend, director, Pakistan/Afghanistan Coordination Cell for the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Brigadier General Kenneth R. Dahl Deputy Commanding General for Support, 10th Mountain Division; David S. Sedney. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia; and Gary J. Motsek, who oversees wartime contracting as a deputy assistant secretary of defense of Program Support Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

They are expected to discuss investigations and outcomes of the deadly attack that occurred last March.

They are also expected to provide information on the screening and vetting process of Afghan nationals hired to protect U.S. troops following the attack and to address the broader policy issue of using Afghan nationals for security.

On March 19, an Afghan national named Shia Ahmed - recruited by Tundra Security 10 days earlier - opened fire on American troops as they began cleaning their weapons inside the Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Afghanistan.

Acosta and Cpl. Donald R. Mickler Jr., 29, of Ohio, were killed and four others wounded before the gunman was shot dead.

A congressional hearing of the House Armed Services Committee was held Sept. 22 to provide politicians with an update on security forces in Afghanistan, but that hearing did not address the hiring practices of privately contracted security firms.

A week prior to that hearing, Motsek of the Defense Department told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that the U.S. could not eliminate contracting corruption in Afghanistan, only reduce it.




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