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Is Force Protection For Contractor Personnel on the Battlefield Adequate? Print

by Mr. Michael J. Dudley, DCMA - Mar 2005

This is the first installment of a three-part series that discusses policy and planning to ensure
effective contractor force protection on the battlefield. This installment will explore what the military services are doing to provide force protection for contractors. Mr. Dudley wrote this article while attending the U.S. Naval War College. Mr. Dudley, a former commander of DCMA Baltimore and currently a Defense Leadership and Management Program (DLAMP) participant is currently serving a one-year detail for the secretary of the Army.

The current Bush Administration's Presidential Management Agenda (PMA) has encouraged increased use of contractor employees for functions formerly performed by military and DoD civilian personnel. This policy, combined with the recent acquisition trends of using contractors more to support a weapon's entire life-cycle, has given rise to greater numbers and types of contractors on the battlefield (CoB) during combat, contingencies, peacekeeping and other deployed military operations.

Yet while "contractor employees providing overseas support to contingency operations and combat activities may face increased risk of personal harm,"1 because of their expanded roles, serious policy and planning gaps exist in contractor employee force protection. These gaps pose increased mission risks to the combatant commander (COCOM) and must be corrected. In turn, the corrections must be disseminated throughout DoD to ensure effective contractor employee force protection and mission success on the battlefield.

LOGCAP Evolved From 200 Years of Contractor Support CoB have been a part of the American Revolution, Civil War, both World Wars and the Korean War. During the Vietnam War, the heavy use of contractors led the Army to determine that a need existed for a preplanned method for utilizing CoB. In 1985, the Army formalized this concept as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP). However, during the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War, LOGCAP was not used. Instead, contractors were hired on hundreds of separate contracts to provide logistics support with uneven results. There are numerous examples of contracts awarded with poorly defined or missing Statements of Work and unclear contract requirements. These situations led to inadequate contractor performance and customer dissatisfaction at significant cost. The contractors' payment vouchers still had to be honored, however, because the poorly written contractual requirements contained no basis upon which to reject their claims for payment.2 As a result, LOGCAP was revised to preplan for contractor support during any contingency or war. It was first used officially in Somalia in December 1992. Since then, contractor personnel have been deployed to numerous military operations other than war, such as Rwanda, Haiti, the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Kosovo), Hungary, Albania and East Timor. It should be noted that the Air Force Contract Augmentation Program (AFCAP) has been in existence for five years and was similarly created to preplan for worldwide contingency operations to support civil engineer (base construction), logistics, and other services.3 Many studies have focused on the risks and implications of relying upon contractors to perform critical battlefield tasks, especially in times of increased/escalated conflict. Other CoB studies have focused on whether certain functions previously performed by military personnel should be contracted out due to those implications and risks. However, today's reality is that more, rather than less, military jobs and functions are being contracted out. Yet serious gaps still exist in CoB policy, doctrine and military war planning in contractor employee force protection. These gaps must be corrected, and the COCOM must have sufficient guidance and tools to ensure effective contractor force protection for the ever-increasing numbers of contractors in his area of operations.

What is the Impact?

There has been too little emphasis directed towards resolving the gaps associated with the CoB issue. This is especially true given the fact that the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are wars with no front lines. In these operations, attacks on U.S. forces have occurred along the lines of communication behind what would be considered the front lines. Contractor employees have been more likely to be exposed to hostile fire, even while serving in traditional rear area roles. With the increased risks of harm to contractors and the policy gaps, combined with the increased media scrutiny and access of the current operations, the potential exists for significant negative impacts to DoD should force protection failures occur. These failures could significantly increase costs, impede mission success and create a public and congressional backlash.

Col. Johnny Garrett, U.S. Army Materiel Command acting director for Contracting, confirmed the current relevance of this issue. "No, we were not adequately prepared to handle contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq, but we eventually got a contractor control cell in Iraq and many of the lessons learned can be applied to future doctrine,”4 he said.

Systems Contractors and Support Contractors

There are primarily two types of CoB—systems contractors and support contractors. Systems contractors maintain and repair high tech weapons systems such as aircraft, armored vehicles, munitions/missiles and modern C2 systems. A good example of this type of effort is prime vendor support for the Apache helicopter.

Support contractors are subdivided between theater support contractors and external support contractors.5 Theater support contractors perform deployed support via contracts awarded from the local area by contracting officers under the authority of the theater principal assistant for contracting (PARC). These contracts are usually with local vendors and are not really within the scope of this article.6 External support contractors perform logistical support of overseas contingency operations such as base support, and base construction and maintenance via contracts awarded by major military contracting/commodity commands, or other organizations, other than the theater PARC.7 These organizations, such as the LOGCAP and the AFCAP program offices, coordinate with the PARC to procure goods and services within the theater in accordance with the PARC's theater contracting plan. An example of these efforts is the LOGCAP contract awarded to Halliburton, Brown and Root and administered by the DCMA to support troops serving in the former Yugosalvia. Halliburton, Brown and Root built 33 camps and provided a variety of base services such as mess hall (serving 30,000 meals daily), laundry (2,000 bags of laundry cleaned/day), water purification (220,000 gallons/day), fuel (50,000 gallons/day), mail delivery (1,500 bags of ail/day) and trash removal (400 cubic yards/day).8

Another example is the AFCAP contract used in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Readiness Management Services was contracted to build two concrete aircraft ramps, each over eighteen-football fields in size, in one quarter of the time usually allotted such projects in the U.S.9 Guidance is Uneven About Force Protection for CoB Joint Publication (JP) 4-0 states, "Each Service component has the capability to initiate [contingency] contracts for needed support."10 Further, JP 4-0 goes on to say "in a joint operation, the COCOM or subordinate Joint Forces Command designates a lead service as executive agent to plan and head contracting.…” 11 On the surface, this might imply that each of the military services is equally capable of performing contingency contracting, and by extension, providing adequate force protection for CoB.

However, from a policy perspective, the services are uneven in their levels of guidance in the area of contingency contracting. There is relatively little Navy and Air Force guidance on either contingency contracting or force protection for CoB, while the Army has developed significant contingency contracting regulations, field manuals and contract clauses providing several sources of CoB force protection guidance.12 This might indicate the Army should be the executive agent for contracting in a given operation. Yet, despite the Army being the furthest ahead in developing guidance, as was stated by Col. Garrett, there is still much to be done to improve the consistency of Army guidance and dissemination of that guidance up and down the chain of command to provide effective force protection to CoB.

In the second installment, the author will detail the present Air Force, Navy and Army force protection guidance and OSD efforts to clarify the myriad contingency contracting issues. These and other topics will be explored in the Communicator Summer 2004 edition.

1 James J. McCullough, and Abram J. Pafford, "Contractors on the Battlefield: Emerging Issues for Contractor Support in Combat and Contingency Operations.” Briefing Papers, Second Series, Washington DC: The West Group, June 2002, 8.
2 "Air Force Logistics Management Agency (AFLMA) Contingency Contracting Helpfile," linked document, Contingency Contracting Toolkit at "Air Force Contingency Contracting Center" website, <https://lg.acc.af.mil/lgc/contingency/toolkit.htm> accessed 7 May 2003, Table of Contents, 3.
3 Vic D. Blanco, "Providing Continguency (sic) Contracting Administrative Services (CCAS) Support to U.S. Air Force RED HORSE", linked document, The Navy Supply Corps Newsletter, September/October 2002,<> accessed 8 May 2003, 2.
4 COL Johnny Garrett, < johnny.garrett@us.army.mil > "Contractors on the Battlefield (CoB)," [E-mail to Mike Dudley <Michael.Dudley@dcma.mil>], 7 May 2003.
5 Joe A. Fortner, "Managing, Deploying, Sustaining, and Protecting Contractors on the Battlefield." Army Logistician, September - October 2000, 3.
6 Ibid.
7 Ibid.
8 "Contingency Contract Administration Services (CCAS)," at Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) website, < http://home.dcma.mil/cassites/intl/ccas.htm/> accessed 7 May 2003.
9 Blanco, 3.
10 Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Doctrine for Logistics Support of Joint Operations, Joint Pub 4-0 (Washington DC: 6 April 2000), I-15.
11 JP 4-0, V-3.
12 "Army Materiel Command Contingency Contracting" website. <http://www.amc.army.mil/amc/rda/rda-ac/ck/ck-source.htm> accessed 25 March 2003.

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