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    Default PMC in COIN (general theme)

    What role will contractors play in future COIN ops? Will their role increase, stay the same or decrease relative to the role they play today? I don't see their role doing anything but increasing given the success they are meeting in current ops. Streamline the vetting and regulating processes and almost everybody is happy.

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cobot View Post
    What role will contractors play in future COIN ops? Will their role increase, stay the same or decrease relative to the role they play today? I don't see their role doing anything but increasing given the success they are meeting in current ops. Streamline the vetting and regulating processes and almost everybody is happy.
    I'm not sure what you mean re the bolded text above. Are you saying that PMC's are conducting successful COIN operations? I'd like to hear a few examples - more than say - a tactical success here and there...

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    Afghanistan, Iraq... Contractors are playing a big role-need I say more?

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    Default Yes you do...

    Quote Originally Posted by cobot View Post
    Afghanistan, Iraq... Contractors are playing a big role-need I say more?
    Your original post implied success rather than a matter of necessity or convince. Just because PMC’s are being utilized in these COIN operations does not – by a long stretch – indicate that they might be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

    Of course, if your definiton of success is "bottom-line" profit, you have a point...

    Moreover - please look around here before assuming the Council has not discussed the pros and cons of PMCs in a COIN environment. Our search capability is just that - a capabilty.

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    Default Contractor success

    SWJED I agree the contractors have largely failed (meaning they have created more harm than good) in Iraq and Afghanistan; however, some professional outfits such as Executive Outcomes and ICI have done fanastic work throughout Africa. EO made a huge dent in the violence in Sierra Leone when nations couldn't act, but they were asked to leave (long story). I think there are select cases where contractors can be effective (must be professional, vetted organizations that operate within a prescribed legal framework) and cost effective financially and politically.

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    Default I Agree...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    SWJED I agree the contractors have largely failed (meaning they have created more harm than good) in Iraq and Afghanistan; however, some professional outfits such as Executive Outcomes and ICI have done fanastic work throughout Africa. EO made a huge dent in the violence in Sierra Leone when nations couldn't act, but they were asked to leave (long story). I think there are select cases where contractors can be effective (must be professional, vetted organizations that operate within a prescribed legal framework) and cost effective financially and politically.
    Bill,

    Could not agree more. I just take exception to sweeping generalizations about the "value" of PMCs beyond specific tactical actions and tasks in a U.S. COIN enviornment that conventional wisdom says the solution is 80% political and 20% military. PMCs are not going to give us the 80% - at least not now or in the near future. Maybe later once we sort all this out...

    Unity of effort - sometimes called unity of command - is critical and we can't get that right amongst the military and much less amongst the military and our own interagency partners. Anyone who thinks we can maintain unity of effort with PMCs playing a major role is blowing smoke.

    Dave

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    Council Member sgmgrumpy's Avatar
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    Default BW/MPRI/NG awarded $200M GPOI Contract


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    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    Here's a sample task order for the contract:

    http://fs2.fbo.gov/EPSData/State/Syn...equestgpoi.doc

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    Cool

    You can find everything from Lesson Plans to Training Scenarios here

    President Bush approved the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), a five-year $660 million program, on April 1, 2004. GPOI was developed to address major gaps in international peace support operations (PSO):

    the number of capable peacekeepers and the ability of countries to sustain that capacity,
    deployment and logistics support, and
    the number of gendarme units able to participate in PSOs.
    GPOI’s goals were put forth as a G-8 Sea Island Summit initiative in June 2004, where G-8 Leaders agreed to an action plan on “Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations.” This plan includes commitments to:

    train and, where appropriate, equip 75,000 military PSO troops worldwide, with an emphasis on Africa, through 2010
    develop a transportation and logistics support arrangement to help troops deploy to PSOs and help sustain them in the field
    support the Italian initiative to establish an international training center to train gendarme units to participate in PSOs, and
    coordinate capacity building efforts.
    Multinational Training Branch - MPAT & GPOI
    http://www2.apan-info.net/mpat/index.aspx?ct=19

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    Default PMCs and COIN

    Brookings Institution, 27 Sep 07:

    Can’t Win With ‘Em, Can’t Go To War Without ‘Em: Private Military Contractors and Counterinsurgency
    The use of private military contractors appears to have harmed, rather than helped the counterinsurgency efforts of the U.S. mission in Iraq. Even worse, it has created a dependency syndrome on the private marketplace that not merely creates critical vulnerabilities, but shows all the signs of the last downward spirals of an addiction. If we judge by what has happened in Iraq, when it comes to private military contractors and counterinsurgency, the U.S. has locked itself into a vicious cycle. It can’t win with them, but can’t go to war without them.

    The study explores how the current use of private military contractors:

    • Allows policymakers to dodge key decisions that carry political costs, thus leading to operational choices that might not reflect public interest.

    • Enables a “bigger is better” approach to operations that runs contrary to the best lessons of U.S. military strategy.

    • Inflames popular opinion against, rather than for, the American mission through operational practices that ignore the fundamental lessons of counterinsurgency.

    • Participated in a series of abuses that have undermined efforts at winning “hearts and minds” of the Iraqi people.

    • Weakened American efforts in the “war of ideas” both inside Iraq and beyond.

    • Reveals a double standard towards Iraqi civilian institutions that undermines efforts to build up these very same institutions, another key lesson of counterinsurgency.

    • Forced policymakers to jettison strategies designed to win the counterinsurgency on multiple occasions, before they even had a chance to succeed.
    Complete 26 page paper at the link.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    If there's any interest in discussing this I'll see if I can convince Peter to weigh in himself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    If there's any interest in discussing this I'll see if I can convince Peter to weigh in himself.
    Sure! I agree with his points as listed by Jed.

    Tom

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    Default -Like the Paycheck, Hate the Boss

    I wonder what the estimate is for the percentage of Iraqis that buy into the private contractor system and actually like them, aside from earning money because of them that is? Probably even more difficult to ascertain would be the impact PCs have on the number of Coalition KIAs/WIAs , either plus or minus on the continum. Each side of fence on this icomplex issue could make their case without citing examples of abuse as mentioned in this report and things like Abu Ghraib, Haditha and errant bombs to bolster their case.

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    Thumbs up Great Paper!

    10 characters...
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Default PMCs: A Possible Solution to the Lack of Embedded Training Teams?

    Hello everyone,

    I am currently working on a journalism project discussing ways to strengthen the Afghan National Army (ANA). Throughout my research, it's become evident that the lack of Operational Mentor Liaison Teams (OMLTs)/Embedded Training Teams (ETTs) has hindered the development of the ANA. NATO and the US have recognized this and have put forth a considerable effort to supplying more troops to fulfill these positions, but still there are many positions available.

    One possible solution I have been contemplating is outsourcing some OMLT/ETT positions to private military contractors (PMCs). Within the past 1.5-2 years, I've learned a great deal about PMCs and am fairly familiar with them. My previous research has showed me that many PMCs provide a large array of resources, enough to conduct these kinds of operations. Even though PMCs have never conducted such an operation, I strongly believe that they have a capabilities.

    Of course, PMCs do have some negatives and there would be some obstacles to implement this policy successfully. If unregulated with no oversight, the US would be taking a gamble. Also, some are worried about the idea of arming and paying civilians (an anonymous official familiar with the industry said that in such an operation, the ROE would likely be restricted to self defense). Lastly, as PMCs have never done such an operation, they would really change how ETTs run and possibly how PMCs and the US Armed Forces act together.

    There just isn't enough OMLTs. Plus, if the ISAF is able to reach their high recruitment expectations, they need someone to train the recruits. PMCs do have the resources and are qualified; a firm that I interviewed said that over 50% of their operatives have military experience. After diving deeper into the specific responsibilities of OMLTs/ETTs (partly thanks to the expansive library at SWJ :-) ), I am convinced that PMCs have the capabilities to do the task. If their complete interactions with the Afghans are worked out and the oversight is present, I think that it could work.

    What are your thoughts? Will this have a positive/negative effect on COIN? A person that I discussed this issue with suggested that I bring the debate here.

    Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by huskerguy7 View Post
    If their complete interactions with the Afghans are worked out and the oversight is present, I think that it could work.
    This is one of the long poles in the tent. What exactly is oversight and where is it coming from? What are those complete interactions? Aren't they a lot like the purposeful application of armed violence, which by all our sensibilities is supposed to be the monopoly of the state and we're now going to sublet? It is a different situation with the ANA than, e.g., a deadly force situation in a law enforcement role (though some of those contractors are sworn LE officers).

    It is easy to handwave a hell no, particularly in the Blackwater / Xe aftermath. It is also easy to neuter the role of an ETT to some sort of garrison Title X organize, train, and equip +/- debrief for which there are clear contractor roles, and then fall in love with this outsourcing idea.

    With regard to the sticky part of the tip-of-the-spear combat advisor -- what are the precedents, issues, and sacred cows that you feel are most relevant? Is that role going to be at the root of the future ANA ETT?

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    Have you looked into how the military was professionalized in the 1960s/1970s? Military academy slots were valued and given to sons of prominent individuals. Universal conscription was acquiesced to, perhaps because service in the military was not a horribly low-paying job compared to the value that the young men could provide to their family through their labor on the family land. Officers were sent abroad to the Soviet Union for professional education. Obviously, recreating that system might be difficult, but there might be lessons that can be gleaned from the old system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SWCAdmin View Post
    This is one of the long poles in the tent. What exactly is oversight and where is it coming from? What are those complete interactions? Aren't they a lot like the purposeful application of armed violence, which by all our sensibilities is supposed to be the monopoly of the state and we're now going to sublet? It is a different situation with the ANA than, e.g., a deadly force situation in a law enforcement role (though some of those contractors are sworn LE officers).
    Interactions: I believe that if PMCs were contracted, operators deployed would have military and/or law enforcement experience, plus their additional training from their companies. These operators would help train and mentor their ANA counterpoints. Training activities would include things like teaching soldiers how to properly maintain their weapons, providing solutions to questions that ANA soldiers may have, and assisting their ANA counterparts with strategic decisions during firefights. They would also provide and mentor the ANA officers.

    In these contracts, PMCs would not act as an "offensive force." I would disagree with that; it makes it a completely different situation. Thus, they would only use their weapons in self defense roles, if they are even armed. As an anonymous official familiar with the industry told me said "in a mentoring role they would use their weapons in self defense, if they were indeed carrying any." An OMLT consists of 13-30 members for a batallion. These contractors would likely be spread throughout the batallion anyways; they wouldn't be a special unit attached with more capabilities.

    Oversight: This is the more challenging issue. History has shown that sometimes, when PMCs are left unattended with no authorization, they don't act how they are contracted to. When I think of oversight for this kind of operation, two ideas come to mind: evalulating the work performed and placing someone to watch over (or even command) the civilian OMLTs. The ISAF could investigate the civilian OMLT operations to determine if the contractors performed like they should. However, I think it would be better to have one person affiliated with the US government in place and in charge. This could be either someone from the DoD, or could be an officer from the Army or Marines. Depending on the contract, this officer would be in a position to command or just monitor the civilian OMLTs.


    It is easy to handwave a hell no, particularly in the Blackwater / Xe aftermath. It is also easy to neuter the role of an ETT to some sort of garrison Title X organize, train, and equip +/- debrief for which there are clear contractor roles, and then fall in love with this outsourcing idea.
    Yes, as we have seen, despite their successful operations (that are sometimes overlooked), some companies aren't responisible enough to conduct PMC operations. However, some companies have demonstrated success. For example, Northrop Grumman has been training the Saudi National Guard and many militaries of third world jobs-they've done a good job.

    This part is the "business" part, you need to weigh not only the price, but the moral's of your "partner." This is where knowledge of PMC's employees, history, experience, leaders, and culture is important. The US has encountered bad press with PMCs simply because it has failed with this part.

    With regard to the sticky part of the tip-of-the-spear combat advisor -- what are the precedents, issues, and sacred cows that you feel are most relevant? Is that role going to be at the root of the future ANA ETT?
    I apologize if I misunderstood your question here. I believe that there are two main issues with the idea of civilian OMLTs. First, the reactions of these groups when their ANA "Kandak" does come under fire. Will they take control and turn into an elite unit or will they help their counterparts with advice? Hopefully the latter, but if this did happen, the oversight in place would catch it and the PMC would be disciplined. Second, how these PMCs will interact with ISAF forces. Some of the tasks performed by OMLTs includes medevacs, acting as FACs, and calling in airstrikes. Only some PMCs minimally possess the capabilities to perform some of these tasks. Thus, it will be necessary to insure clear communication between the "pilots" and operators.

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Have you looked into how the military was professionalized in the 1960s/1970s? Military academy slots were valued and given to sons of prominent individuals. Universal conscription was acquiesced to, perhaps because service in the military was not a horribly low-paying job compared to the value that the young men could provide to their family through their labor on the family land. Officers were sent abroad to the Soviet Union for professional education. Obviously, recreating that system might be difficult, but there might be lessons that can be gleaned from the old system.
    I have not looked into this and am not familiar with it. It is definitley something I would be interested in learning more about.

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    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    PMCs could conduct training on weapons, tactics and the operation and maintenance of equipment at Afghan military installations, but I doubt that they could accompany Afghan units during field operations or function as a de facto chain of command in the field. When contractors are participants in military operations it introduces a new organizational interface, with the military and its civil servants on one side and the contractors on the other. Sometimes when a contractor does what needs to be done to accomplish the mission it can create awkward situations after the fact if each action they take has not been explicity requested in writing by a contracting officer or his representatives.

    In 1998 I attended a preproposal briefing conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Branch for the Balkans peacekeeping force support contact--Brown & Root was the incumbent and they also won the recompete. The contracting officer, a retired USAF O-5 from HQ, U.S. Army Europe in Heidelburg, told us we were not to fulfill any request for support unless it had been authorized by him or his subordinates in writing. He said division commanders and their staffs would periodically visit their brigades deployed overseas and tell contractors verbally to do various things--put linoleum on the floor of a dining facility or to pave a parking lot, things like that--thereby driving costs through the roof. Officers had no authority over contractors, he said; only contracting officers and their designated representatives did. You can imagine the resentment that policy caused at the grass-roots working level. "I'm in the Army, you're a contractor, and I just told you what to do. Don't give me any double-talk. Am I making myself clear?"

    I worked in DoD support contracting as a technical writer in the DC area for 16 years. As I see it, DoD only likes contractors at the colonel and above level because they provide a quick augmentation to their work forces. At the worker-bee level, most military personnel and DoD civilians despise contactors and regard them as being overpaid rip-off artists.
    Last edited by Pete; 05-21-2010 at 08:57 PM. Reason: Fix typos.

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    Default Bill O'Reilly, PMCs and ISIL

    Big Bill's getting a lot of flak for his suggestion that the Allies bankroll a standing force of contractors to deal with threats like ISIL. By a lot of flak, I mean most of it is coming from the left-wing snark machine. However, very little time (arguably none at all) has been spent actually discussing the proposal's feasibility.

    So, discuss amongst yourselves.
    PH Cannady
    Correlate Systems

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