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NATO troops operate under firm rules spelling out conditions under which they can use deadly force.

Private security contractors in Afghanistan are subject to Afghan law, unlike the situation that persisted through most of the war in Iraq, where those working for the U.S. military were immune from prosecution by Iraqi authorities.

Contractors in Iraq lost their immunity when a U.S.-Iraqi security pact took effect Jan. 1, 2009. The move to tighten oversight followed Iraqi outrage over a Sept. 16, 2007, shooting in which 17 Iraqi civilians were killed in a Baghdad square.

The contractor formerly known as Blackwater said its guards were protecting diplomats under attack before they opened fire, but Iraqi investigators concluded the shooting was unprovoked.

Contractors have been in the spotlight on several occasions in Afghanistan.

In 2009, a private security contractor hired to protect the U.S. Embassy in Kabul was exposed for holding lurid parties flowing with alcohol, with guards and supervisors photographed in various stages of nudity. A U.S. government investigation also found Amorgroup employees frequented Kabul brothels.

In February, U.S. Senate investigators said Blackwater hired violent drug users to help train the Afghan army and declared “sidearms for everyone” — even though employees weren’t authorized to carry weapons. The allegations came as part of an investigation into the 2009 shooting deaths of two Afghan civilians by employees of the company, now known as Xe.

Last month, a crowd of angry Afghans shouted “Death to America” after an SUV driven by U.S. contract employees from DynCorp International was involved in a traffic accident that killed four Afghans.

Task Force Spotlight, which Gen. Boor heads, is taking steps to improve oversight of security firms, including registering all contractors and ensuring they have the necessary qualifications and receive training on appropriate use of force.