The 2010 QDR, which runs almost 130 pages, contains little discussion on the role contractors play in military operations. The QDR has a seven page section on counterinsurgency, stability, and counterterrorism operations, including a list of ten priorities for improvement. However, the word “contractor” does not appear once in the discussion, despite the fact that contractors make up more that 50% of DOD’s workforce in Iraq and Afghanistan, including more than 13,000 armed contractors. Some analysts argue that DOD missed an opportunity to address the issue in the most recent QDR.
I like posting these, just because they are running records of where contractors stand in this war. But what I really like about this publication is that Mr. Schwartz has taken aim at the folks who wrote up the QDR.
The reason why I like that, is because I have been screaming on this blog as long as I can remember that contractors must be included into the discussion on strategy for these wars. Especially when we account for over half of the manpower in these conflicts (and probably for future conflicts).
It still amazes me that today’s strategists and war planners do not adequately cover this stuff. If you read the QDR, it’s like we don’t even exist. And yet we have thousands of expats, third country nationals, and local nationals, all interacting with today’s populations and militaries in today’s wars. We are also dying and paying our toll in blood for this war–yet nothing is really mentioned about us when it comes to strategy.
Mr. Schwartz also took the time to cut and paste some key components of today’s COIN strategy out of some manuals, and how contractors should and could intermix with that strategy. The bottom line is that if contractors are interacting with the populations of these war zones, then they ‘must’ be aligned within the strategies of COIN. We must be on the same sheet of music as the militaries are, or we will continue to inadvertently cause problems.
Now for a couple of critiques. In the beginning of this publication, Mr. Schwartz actually mentioned the use of contractors during the Revolutionary War, but he made no mention of the use of privateers or of Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 11 of the US Constitution.
It’s odd to me that he wouldn’t, because our use of privateers is actually a fantastic example of using contractors during times of war to achieve a strategic goal. Our privateer industry is what we had as a continental navy at that time. The damage they inflicted onto the enemy’s logistics, as well as the capture of enemy weapons and munitions were very significant components of that war. Not to mention the massive infusion of wealth into our young country from all of the commerce raiding done by this government licensed privateer force. And the Letter of Marque in the US Constitution is proof of that existence between private industry and government for ‘offensive’ operations against an enemy. How’s that for ‘inherently governmental’? lol
The only other critique that is missing is a combination of DoS’s and other’s numbers into a report like this. I know the DoD doesn’t want to mix with those ‘others’, but it gets kind of old for us to continue to see separate reports all the time. I say combine all of them to save a little money and time, and let’s see every last contractor be counted. I would also like to see the deaths and injuries of all, and get that stuff on one nice (and complete) report for everyone to analyze and reference. Something to think about for all of you analysts out there who keep throwing this stuff together. –Matt
Specialist in Defense Acquisition
July 2, 2010
The Department of Defense (DOD) increasingly relies upon contractors to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has resulted in a DOD workforce that has 19% more contractor personnel (207,600) than uniformed personnel (175,000). Contractors make up 54% of DOD’s workforce in Iraq and Afghanistan. The critical role contractors play in supporting such military operations and the billions of dollars spent by DOD on these services requires operational forces to effectively manage contractors during contingency operations. Lack of sufficient contract management can delay or even prevent troops from receiving needed support and can also result in wasteful spending. Some analysts believethat poor contract management has also played a role in abuses and crimes committed by certain contractors against local nationals, which may have undermined U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
DOD Strategy and Doctrine
Some analysts believe that DOD strategy and doctrine does not sufficiently address the issue of contractors. These analysts argue that the public backlash following Abu Ghraib and other such incidents, as well wasteful spending, should compel DOD to reexamine the role contractors play in contingency operations and the way DOD integrates contractor support into current strategy and doctrine.51 For example, then Senator Barack Obama stated that “we cannot win a fight for hearts and minds when we outsource critical missions to unaccountable contractors.”52 The Gansler Commission echoed a similar sentiment, finding that segments of the Army have not recognized the important role contractors now have in DOD operations and the ability of contractors to influence the success of a contingency operation.53 Further integrating contractors into doctrine and strategy could help DOD better manage contractors, which in turn may mitigate the negative effects that some contractors have on DOD operations. Many analysts and DOD officials argue that the military’s experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, coupled with congressional attention and legislation, has focused DOD’s attention on the importance of contractors to operational success. According to DOD officials, prior to the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan, contracting was done on an ad-hoc basis and was not adequately incorporated into the doctrine—or culture—of the military. 54 DOD officials stated that doctrine and strategy are being updated to incorporate the role of contractors in contingency operations. DOD strategy can be found in a number of documents, including the National Defense Strategy and Quadrennial Defense Review. Army doctrine is published in field manuals such as Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Operations, which constitutes the Army’s view on how it conducts operations and “sets the foundation for developing the other fundamentals and tactics … detailed in subordinate field manuals.”55 Field Manual 3-24,
Counterinsurgency, is a subordinate manual dedicated to counterinsurgency operations, such as those currently being conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The National Defense Strategy and Quadrennial Defense Review
The National Defense Strategy and Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) are high-level strategy documents that support the Administration’s National Security Strategy.56 Some analysts believe that, given the critical role contractors play in military operations, these documents should contain a sufficiently meaningful discussion of contractors. The 2010 QDR, which runs almost 130 pages, contains little discussion on the role contractors play in military operations. The QDR has a seven page section on counterinsurgency, stability, and counterterrorism operations, including a list of ten priorities for improvement. However, the word “contractor” does not appear once in the discussion, despite the fact that contractors make up more that 50% of DOD’s workforce in Iraq and Afghanistan, including more than 13,000 armed contractors. Some analysts argue that DOD missed an opportunity to address the issue in the most recent QDR. The National Defense Strategy runs 23 pages and mentions contractors on two occasions. In the first instance, it states “The Total Force distributes and balances skills across each of its constituent elements: the Active Component, the Reserve Component, the civilian workforce, and the private sector and contractor base.”57 In the second instance, the report states “We also must continue to improve our acquisition and contracting regulations, procedures, and oversight to ensure agile and timely procurement of critical equipment and materials for our forces.”58 Some analysts argue that the extent to which contractors are addressed in doctrine that is not specifically aimed at contracting issues, such as the Quadrennial Defense Review and field manual on operations, reflects the extent to which DOD incorporates contracting into the overall culture of the military. Other analysts argue that more appropriate publications to determine the extent to which contractors are incorporated into doctrine are the operational and tactical level guidance that related to contracting issues, such as FM 3-100.21, Contractors on the Battlefield, FM 3-100.21 Contractors on the Battlefield, FM 100-16 Army Operational Support, and FM 100- 10-2 Contracting Support on the Battlefield, and Army Regulation 715-9, Logistics–Contractors
Accompanying the Force.59
Download publication here.