By Vanessa Villarreal and Kevin Walston, USFOR-A Public Affairs OfficeAugust 27, 2015
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Aug. 25, 2015 -- Existing provisions of the Bilateral Security Agreement, or BSA, take full effect Sept. 1, impacting Department of Defense and NATO coalition contractors working in Afghanistan, local officials here said.
The pertinent provisions, which include visa requirements and business licenses, are designed to ensure everyone is in compliance with the agreement negotiated between the United States and Afghanistan, said Capt. Alexis Carter, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, or USFOR-A, civil affairs legal advisor.
"The BSA is similar to status of forces agreements and covers military members serving overseas and applies to personnel working in the country as part of the U.S. military forces. This includes military, contractors or U.S. government employees supporting U.S. forces in Afghanistan," he said. "It includes not only entry and exit requirements, but also procedures for obtaining business licenses, permits for personnel authorized to be armed in performance of official duties, boarding and use of aircraft for travel."
The agreement became effective in January 2015, but Carter said there was a grace period applied to some provisions that gave personnel and companies time to ensure they were in compliance. The initial grace period ended, June 1, and contractors were required to have visas and business licenses. On June 16, a second grace period was granted by President Ghani of Afghanistan allowing contractors more time to obtain visas and business licenses.
"The grace period and extension to get into compliance will expire on Aug. 31," Carter said. "There will be no more exemptions or exceptions to policy for contractors. Personnel entering the country and those already here working in a contractor capacity should be in compliance, or they'll be subject to fines imposed by the MOI [Ministry of Interior]."
There are approximately 35,000 contractors currently working in Afghanistan, and ensuring they're in compliance is the responsibility of their companies. Fines imposed for non-compliance are solely up to the MOI and could be applied against both the individual and the company they work for, he said.
"I talk to contractors daily regarding their questions and concerns related to the BSA," said Dr. Ellen Klein, USFOR-A senior command advisor. "While the deadline is drawing near, I believe all parties involved are working diligently to ensure compliance."
If you have additional questions or concerns about the new deadline, contact your contracting officer representative or Headquarters, Resolute Support BSA office at firstname.lastname@example.org.