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Defense Secretary Gates Questions Use of Private Contractors

Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants answers as to why the military uses private contractors for training. His questions follow concerns from a Virginia lawmaker regarding Blackwater Worldwide's new N

Defense Secretary Gates Questions Use of Private Contractors

Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants answers as to why the military uses private contractors for training. His questions follow concerns from a Virginia lawmaker regarding Blackwater Worldwide's new Naval Training Center in Otay Mesa. KPBS Reporter Amita Sharma has more.

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In a memo to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gates says a fundamental question remains unanswered -- Why has the military come to rely on private contractors to provide combat training. Gates also asks whether military leaders are comfortable with the practice and whether they understand the quality and cost implications.  

Gates' memo comes after Virginia Senator Jim Webb questioned Blackwater's Navy training center in Otay Mesa. In a letter to Gates, Webb writes that initial value of the firm's Navy contract was $36 million. It was reviewed and approved by only one level above the person responsible for negotiating it, and has since grown to $53 million. Given the size of the contracts, that practice Webb writes should 34e "give us all pause."

Amita Sharma, KPBS News.