The Procurement Issues That Slowed Down the Syrian Rebel Training Program

Posted September 21, 2015 at 5:00am

BuzzFeed looks at the “tiny, little-known private company called Purple Shovel LLC” that is at “the heart of the high-stakes U.S. program to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight ISIS.”  

“Purple Shovel’s big break came in December 2014, when it won two contracts totaling more than $50 million for the Syria program from the Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, which coordinates the activities of America’s most elite military units. When Purple Shovel was awarded those crucial contracts, according to a federal procurement database, the company had just six employees and annual revenue of less than $2 million.”  

“Purple Shovel’s subcontractors managed to find rocket-propelled grenades made by a Bulgarian company, but they’d been manufactured in 1984 and sitting in warehouses longer than many soldiers had been alive… The problem is that components can degrade, making the weapons either unstable, so they can blow up in a soldier’s hand­, or inert, so that soldiers can’t fire the weapons, leaving them vulnerable in battle. Three of those sources said that SOCOM turned down batches of the grenades that were supposed to be given to the rebels, because they were too old and unreliable. They say that slowed down the operation for the Syrian rebel effort.”