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Misuse of Military Contractors | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

Misuse of Military Contractors

I have nothing against the military use of contractors. It would be a surprise if I did – when I left the Army, I immediately got a train to Ramstein, climbed on a plane and flew to Kabul for a two-year stint as a contractor to HQ ISAF. Even before that, I’d seen the valuable work contractors did on operations, and I really appreciated it.

There are plenty of advantages in using contractors to carry out military tasks. In some jobs, like intelligence, PSYOPS or civil-military cooperation, they can give an element of continuity that military tour lengths don’t exactly help with. The US military operates on 12-month tours; most of its allies are shorter, with the UK standard at six months and the Germans at just four. There are pluses and minuses to all of these. My experience has been that US personnel tend to burn out at a higher rate, because a year on operations with at most one R&R break is a long time. On the other hand, they spend less of their tour learning their job, then preparing to hand it over to their replacement.

Contractors can spend much longer in theater than regular military. Their compensation packages usually include much more frequent leave, which prevents burnout, and the financial element is a tempting reason to stay deployed too. I only did two years, before coming home to start writing, but some of my colleagues had been in Afghanistan for five years or more. That’s long enough to build up a formidable level of experience. So, used properly, contractors are a huge asset to any operation.

On the other hand there are bad reasons for using them, too, and I’ve just come across maybe the most absurd example I’ve ever seen. Recently, a Senate committee was looking at the accounts of the current US deployment in Afghanistan and trying to work out why the Army was spending so much money on contractors. During this process, it emerged that late last year, the 1st Infantry Division’s combat aviation brigade deployed all its aircrew, admin staff and helicopters to Afghanistan, but left all its mechanics back in Kansas.

Now, the staff of the Big Red One isn’t made up of idiots. They know you can’t operate helicopters for more than a few hours without ground crews to keep their complex innards in working order. The problem is, there’s a politically imposed ceiling on US troop levels in Afghanistan and it takes no account of operational reality. The government will allow 8,400 personnel to deploy, and that’s it. It doesn’t matter if an extra few hundred are needed so the deployed forces can actually do their jobs.

So basically, once 1st Infantry were allocated their slice of the overall manpower limit, they had a choice: They could send the aircrew with the helicopters, or they could send the ground crew – but not both. They made the only sensible decision, sent the flyers and hired contract mechanics, who don’t count towards the limit.

The solution worked, but it was a ridiculous situation. The brigade had to hire two civilians to replace each soldier, because civilians have contracted hours and aren’t available 24/7 like soldiers are. They also get paid more than soldiers. That’s bad news for the US taxpayer, who ends up paying two extra people to do a job that could have been done by a third – who they’re also paying.

If politicians are going to deploy the military they need to start listening to what the military is telling them. The whole reason Iraq’s such a mess today is that the Bush administration tried to fight a war on the cheap, ignoring military concerns that troop levels were far too low. Achieving a mission needs as many troops as it needs; reality can’t be bent to fit arbitrary caps made up by politicians.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Fergus Mason

Fergus Mason grew up in the west of Scotland. After attending university he spent 14 years in the British Army and served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq. Afterwards, he went to Afghanistan as a contractor, where he worked in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Camp Leatherneck. He now writes on a variety of topics including current affairs and military matters.
Fergus Mason

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4 thoughts on “Misuse of Military Contractors

  1. If this is such a big waste of money, why doesn’t your orange fuhrer fix it like the master businessman he claims to be? Oh, thats right, he doesn’t do it himself, he “gets the best people” to do it. Ok, then why isn’t it fixed yet? How dare you constantly criticize and bash your president when he isn’t part of the political party you (obviously) endorse, but when he has a big R next to his name, he gets a free pass by you and all the “people” like you, no matter how atrocious he acts. You’ll pay a huge price for your hypocrisy, and God will make sure you get sent to where you belong, with all the other ignorant, greedy shills of mankind. If you pull your head out of your collective asses you’ll see that money is the only thing ALL politicians care about, and if they can make a profit on the side (by using contractors, whose PMCs kickback money ((political contributions, donations)) they will always sellout the american people, ESPECIALLY the troops, whom they care nothing for.

  2. I disagree with you are paying two contractors to do the job of one military person. A military is a human being and he/she is only able to work for some many hours before they are ineffective. You don’t and can’t expect a military person to continually work 24 hours a day consistently and function.

  3. The actual reason Iraq is “such a mess today”, is that America invaded due to WMD’s and a – since proven innocent – terrorist attack on 9-11.
    After overwhelming evidence that there were never any WMD’s in the Middle East, and ridiculous amounts of evidence that 9-11 was staged, America decided it need to “save” the Middle East… By force. At gunpoint.
    When people living in the Middle East got tired of watching their children get bombed to death by America, they decided to fight back! Only, if you fight America, you’re a terrorist. If America bombs a village full of women and children, its ok, if ISIS bombs a military convoy full of armed combatants… Its terrorism…

    See the problem here? No? Lets reverse the situation then!
    If the Middle East occupied North America (due to WMD’s and the improper use of such weapons), it would be considered our patriotic duty to repel the invaders, regardless of collateral damage.

    At the end of the day, soldiers need to realize that politicians wage war for their own benefit, and as such, it is the duty of every human being to say no to killing each other.
    There were two things in the Middle East that remained free of western influence before the west invaded: Oil, and the banking system. Both are now firmly under the control of the World Bank (which owns the Federal Reserve, and every major news agency on the planet).
    Every time someone talks about the Federal Reserve like its a part of the US government, they don’t know what they’re talking about… The United States’ financial institutions are owned by PRIVATE companies, the news organizations that the western world relies on for the “truth about the war”, are owned by the same PRIVATE organizations.

    When you follow the money in todays world, you will find that every modern war has been started, and financed, by a select few very rich, very powerful conglomerates.
    As much as I respect soldiers and their sacrifice, I have to respectfully inform you that your narrow view on the war and why it began, is just plain ignorant.
    There have been over 100,000 casualties of men women and children in the Middle East since 9-11 (thats more than the “holocaust”), but somehow, the world lets America keep slaughtering an entire race of people over a WMD threat that has long since dissipated into a fairy tale!

    If you want to end the deaths of our troops, bring them home. Period.
    Stop letting our armed forces be used as tools for the rich and powerful, stop letting our corrupt governments convince you that killing off an entire race of people, is somehow just…
    Start asking the hard questions of yourself, follow the money in America, see where your tax dollars actually go, find out who is actually responsible for the news you’re presented with on TV.
    Refuse to vote for a slave cast system which prevents the poor and middle class from ever reaching a higher level of office.
    Demand all politicians place themselves on minimum wage, as they deem it fit for the poor to live on.

    Make a real difference.

  4. If things are so bad here and you are so disillusioned Why don’t you just leave and go find the utopia you think is out there? Get a Grip on reality yourself. You could use it.

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