Contractors in the 21st Century “Combat Zone”
By: Richard L Dunn
Victory in the Cold War brought reduced military budgets and lower end-strengths. Contemporaneously, operations’ tempo rose dramatically. This, plus government policies favoring outsourcing, led to a growth in importance of contracted support for military operations; and, correspondingly an increasing prevalence of contractor personnel in proximity to combat.
This paper reviews the legal status of civilian contractors in proximity to combat; control, discipline and force protection of such personnel; and, the impact and cost effectiveness of contract support on combat operations.
Particular attention is paid to the contracting process and its impact on the effective delivery of combat support. The adequacy of traditional contracting policies and processes for combat support functions and the need for possible changes are examined.
The research found there had been a lag in updating policy and doctrine based on lessons learned and that on occasion a “business as usual” approach has decreased the efficiency of contracted contingency support. Serious deficiencies in organization and training for contingency contracting in support of joint operations persist. Contracting in a stressful environment has demonstrated the inadequacy of certain government contracting procedures.