Military investigators raid contractors near Army’s training HQ

Military investigators raid contractors near Army’s training HQ

The criminal investigative arms of the Pentagon and the U.S. Army descended on Florida last week to execute search warrants, officials confirmed to Army Times.

The raid took place June 25 and involved multiple facilities of the Orlando-based Cole Engineering Services, that company confirmed. Cole Engineering is located in the same office park housing the Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, or PEO STRI. Officials would not confirm whether the office was involved in the raid, or if other companies and entities were also a part of it.

Cole Engineering CEO Bob Donahue addressed the raid in a companywide email sent last week and shared with Army Times on Monday.

“While it remains early in the process, I want to be clear that we have no reason to believe that the company or any of our employees have been engaged in any kind of wrongdoing,” Donahue wrote. “As I said in my earlier note to you, By Light has always and continues to maintain an intense focus on conducting our business in an ethical and proper fashion.” By Light is the parent company of Cole Engineering, a prominent defense contractor focused on tactical simulation tools.

Donahue added that the company had initiated its own investigation, engaging a “former well-known, long-time Department of Justice senior prosecutor” to conduct it.

“We have launched this review to ensure we have the facts, and our policies and procedures are best practices,” Donahue wrote. “This action also reaffirms By Light’s longstanding commitment to and reputation for outstanding mission performance while conducting ourselves in a manner that is above board and beyond question.”

The company, he said, would continue to cooperate fully with government authorities.

“To put to rest rumors that may have circulated, let me also confirm for you that no one in the company has been arrested or charged,” Donahue said.

Reached for comment, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, which falls under the Defense Department Inspector General’s office, provided nearly identical statements.

The entities “executed multiple search warrants in Florida on June 25, 2024,” Army CID spokesman Keith Smith said in a statement. “As the investigation is still in progress, no additional information can be provided at this time.”

Neither the Army nor PEO STRI responded to requests for comment or questions about the raid or whether the program office was involved. According to their website, PEO STRI’s mission is to “rapidly develop, deliver and sustain testing, training and information operations capabilities to enhance readiness across the operational spectrum.”

In 2021, Cole Engineering became the prime contractor for the Army’s new cyber training environment project, securing a contract worth as much as $957.7 million over eight years to complete the work. PEO STRI has already employed the system at events such as the Cyber Flag 2022 training exercise.

Last April, the company landed another $500 million, three-year contract for the Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainer system for aviation crew members.

Army CID and DCIS play a role in policing contracting fraud, which can include deceptive practices and overcharging, as well as violations of the Procurement Integrity Act, which prohibits the release of source selection, contracting or proposal information by government employees.

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