Today's Article
Army commanders
have a right to give
their side of this
controversial issue.
The American Spark
U.S. Army Commanders: Why Our Military Employs Contractors

By Cliff Montgomery - Oct. 23rd, 2007

A January 2003 Army report entitled,
Contractors on The Battlefield, gives perhaps the best explanation
from military commanders themselves on why contractors are used in battlefield operations.

We at
The American Spark don't agree with scope of the Bush Administration's massive reliance on
contractors for military operations--private contractors are not democratic institutions, and naturally are more
interested in making a profit than in maintaining freedom and justice for all. But we also feel that Army
commanders have a right to give their side of this controversial issue; besides, they do make a few points in
this paper worth consideration.

We quote from some of the report's most revealing sections below:    

"Contractors have always supported our armed forces. Numerous examples exist throughout our nation’s
history, from sutlers supporting George Washington’s Army to today’s high-tech firms supporting complex
weapon and equipment systems.

"While contractors consistently support deployed armed forces, commanders need to fully understand their
role in planning for and managing contractors on the battlefield and to ensure that their staff is trained to
recognize, plan for, and implement contractor requirements.

"Key to understanding basic contracting and contractor management is being familiar with the basic doctrine
laid out in this field manual (FM) and FM 4-100.2.


"Whether it bridges gaps prior to the arrival of military support resources--when host-nation support is not
available--or augments existing support capabilities, contractor support is an additional option for supporting

"When considering contractor support, it should be understood that it is more than just logistics; it spans the
spectrum of combat support (CS) and combat service support (CSS) functions.

"Contracted support often includes traditional goods and services support, but may include interpreter,
communications, infrastructure, and other non-logistic-related support.

"It also has applicability to the full range of Army operations, to include offense, defense, stability, and support
within all types of military actions from small-scale contingencies to major theater of wars.

"In the initial stages of an operation, supplies and services provided by local contractors improve response time
and free strategic airlift and sealift for other priorities. Contractor support drawn from in-theater resources can
augment existing support capabilities to provide a new source for critically needed supplies and services,
thereby reducing dependence on the continental United States (CONUS) based support system.

"When military force caps are imposed on an operation, contractor support can give the commander the
flexibility of increasing his combat power by substituting combat units for military support units. This force-
multiplier effect permits the combatant commander to have sufficient support in the theater, while
strengthening the joint force’s fighting capability.

"At the conclusion of operations, contractors can also facilitate early redeployment of military personnel.


"For contractor support to be fully integrated into the operational environment, responsible commanders and
their staffs must understand key factors with regard to contractor support.


"Military units receive their guidance and instructions to conduct an operation from published plans and orders,
usually operations plans (OPLAN) and operation orders (OPORD). These plans and orders describe the
mission and the manner in which the operation will be accomplished.

"Contractors receive OPORD-like guidance via their contracts. A contract is a legally enforceable agreement
between two or more parties for the exchange of goods or services; it is the vehicle through which the military
details the tasks that it wants a contractor to accomplish and what will be provided to the contractor in return
for the goods or services.


"Contractors are persons or businesses, to include authorized subcontractors, that provide products or
services for monetary compensation. A contractor furnishes supplies, services, or performs work at a certain
price or rate based on the terms of a contract.

"In a military operation, a contractor may be used to provide life support, construction/engineering support,
weapon systems support, and other technical services.

NOTE: For this manual, the term contractor refers to the business entity, not the individual employee of the


"Duties of contractors are established solely by the terms of their contract--they are not subject to Army
regulations or the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) (except during a declared war).

"Authority over contractors is exercised [solely] through the contracting officer."

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