- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 5, 2009

KABUL, Afghanistan | Eight security guards at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan have been fired following allegations of lewd behavior and sexual misconduct at their living quarters, the embassy said Friday.

The Kabul senior management team of ArmorGroup North America, the private contractor that provides the guards for the State Department, is also “being replaced immediately,” an embassy statement said.

The statement said the guards who were fired left the country Friday. Two other guards resigned and left. Their names and nationalities were not released.

The statement said all 10 appeared in photographs that depicted guards and supervisors in various stages of nudity at parties flowing with alcohol.

A team from the State Department inspector general’s office has arrived to lead an investigation, the embassy said.

The scandal surfaced this week when an independent watchdog said guards were subjected to abuse and hazing by supervisors.

The Project on Government Oversight contended the situation had led to a breakdown in morale and leadership that compromised security at the embassy in Kabul, where nearly 1,000 U.S. diplomats, staff and Afghan nationals work.

Nearly two-thirds of the 450 embassy guards are Gurkhas from Nepal and northern India who speak little English, a situation that creates communications breakdowns, the group said. Pantomime is often used to convey orders and instructions.

In at least one case, supervisors brought prostitutes into the quarters where the guards live, a serious breach of security and discipline, the watchdog said this week. In other instances, members of the guard force drew Afghans into activities forbidden by Muslims, such as drinking alcohol, it said.

On Thursday, the embassy said alcohol had been prohibited at Camp Sullivan - the offsite location where ArmorGroup guards live - and diplomatic security staff had been assigned to the camp.

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