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Thread: PMC in COIN (general theme)

  1. #21
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    Default The "80%" contractors for COIN

    I am sorry that I am responding 7 months later to this great thread but want to share some ideas I have been harboring for awhile....

    My response is particularly directed to the seemingly elusive quest to find a solution to the perceived USG resource gap for the political element of COIN operations. As stated below, conventional wisdom notes that successful COIN solutions are 80% political and 20% military.

    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    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...

    Dave
    What is not widely known in military circles is that there exists an extensive cadre of private firms that have been implementing the EXACT requirements of the political/civilian element of COIN/Stability Operations for over 30 years. But, sadly, due to interagency turf wars and a myopic understanding of the civilian capacity, this private resource is either entirely invisible to most or tends to get readily dismissed and lumped into the category of "soft" NGOs (ie. humanitarian organizations that have a deep aversion to directly coordinating and closely working with the military).

    From my observations, the military policy discourse (and those of RAND and other think tanks) on the role of civilians in The Long War suffers greatly from this near sightedness. The civilian contribution seems to be framed from what "is known" or "has been in front of us" versus "what is out there" but not yet seen first hand (or misunderstood if it is seen). The usual definition of civilian contributions is it comes from either contractors from the private sector or NGOs. The definition of private sector contribution seems to be soley focused on what is known - firms that provide operational surge capacity (logistics, supply, camp ops, security) and operational support or implementation firms (engineering/construction). NGOs are all lumped as non profits that implment humanitarian programs and are a good USG resource to coordinate with at a national level through OFDA/USAID and directly within local AORs. What is missing is the inclusion of the multitude of private sector companies that provide the 80% COIN types of activities in pre-current- post conflict/war zones.

    This brings me to the Who, What, Where, When, How of these companies.

    WHO:

    Field and headquarter staff and consultants are veteran conflict zone implementers of a variety of political/economic/social programs. Most have advanced degrees but more importantly all are chosen due to their cultural and regional expertise. Some come from USG (military agencies, State, USAID) or former UN peacekeeping staff and many got their start in Peace Corps.

    Most if not all US based companies are predominately implementing partners of USAID. Yet, many have also implemented programs for the World Bank, Asia Development Bank, UN agencies, and have also been funded by the State Department to fully staff UN or OSCE civilian operations (civilian police or election administrators - not to be confused with circuit junkie election monitoring gigs).

    WHAT
    Services provided have been in rapid response economic development (national level and micro-finance/micro enterprise, workforce development, vocational training, private sector development), community basic services/infrastructure, governance, rule of law, democratic institution building (including civil military institutions), agriculture/natural resources, health, education, etc.

    WHERE
    Even prior to Iraq and Afghanistan, many private firms have been implementing critical COIN like activities in Bosnia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mozambique, Kosovo, East Timor, Congo, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Mindanao, etc etc.

    WHEN
    The prevelant assumption is that development firms implement activities after the dust has well settled. This is not the case. In Iraq for example, through the USAID Office of Transitional Initiatives funding, a private firm (DAI) implemented quick impact essential services projects that utilized rapid employment in places such as Sadr City, Talafar, Falujah, etc. This was all done in direct coordination with the military.

    How
    COIN like activities are all based on Do No Harm principles which essentially is "be cognizant of local culture, history, norms, social fabric to avoid causing more conflict" and are steeped in participatory community engagement methodology. What is crucial is that the "Western" face is kept to a minimum and that local partners are engaged to assure access, legitimacy, and effectiveness. Typical engagements relevant to COIN include:


    Conflict/Situational Analysis Assessments of Operating Environments (to focus on political, historical, cultural, socio-economic, social and informal governing networks);

    Community Level Engagement including Quick Impact (QIP) basic services/infrastructure Projects with heavy emphasis on rapid job creation; community economic development (microfinance/enterprise/agribusiness); private sector development (vocational training, workforce development, etc)..

    Public Information Campaigns through all media elements - FM, AM, Short wave radio, tv, street theatre, etc.

    Small Grants and Local Subcontracting Management - for example, a QIP Iraq program totaled over $300 million in local grants/subcontractors in 2 years;

    Remote implementation of programs through the use of vetted local

    Rapid Response - many can deploy 72 hours after contract signature and often can cut grants within a week;


    The "so what" question

    Many of these private sector development firms recognize that the USG Civilian Agencies are understaffed and under-resourced and will not be able to assume the leadership required to engage at the levels required. As some of these firms have already closely coordinated with the military, many recognize the inherent need to more directly engage with the military so that the totality of the USG response is more targeted and more efficient.

    Under the current situation, private companies contributions to stability operations are confined to the stove pipes of USAID and State. If and only if personalities in the field mesh, one will see seamless coordination of USAID funded programs with Regional COs and or Battalion COs or the occasional IDAs of Special Operations Forces.

    My argument for direct contracting by US military agencies is based on the following:

    1. The National Defense Strategy, QDR, and Directive 3000.05 point to the need of "out of box thinking for irregular warfare"

    •“need to reorient our military capabilities to contend with . . . irregular challenges more effectively”
    •National Defense Strategy 2005, at 3

    2. Private development firms provide the services required as outlined in Directives...

    •“Immediate goal . . .to provide . . . local populace with
    –Security
    Restore essential services, and meet humanitarian needs.”
    DoD Dir. 3000.05, sec.4.2

    •“Long-term goal to help develop indigenous capacity” for

    –Essential services

    –Viable market economy

    –Rule of law

    –Democratic institutions,

    –Robust civil society

    DoD Dir. 3000.05, sec.4.2

    3. The military is moving ahead to prepare itself to address tasks when "civilians cannot". Directive 3000.05 This statement refers to the civilian agency leads - USAID and Department of State. USAID has a severe lack of officers and a continous cutback in funds so there is a hiring freeze. What many do not realize is that USAID officers themselves do not implement but they set scopes of work based on negotiations/diplo efforts. They also are the contractors that manage the administrative details. Thus, there are not enough of them to subsequently hire private development firms to implement programs. As an aside, many observers tend to think State officials and USAID officials are interchangeable. They are not. State has never been in the business of designing, contracting and managing stability operations development programs. They have had experience with funding humanitarian programs but by and large, State officials do not have the training required to oversee such a program. This is why when Bing West asked the State Department official in Iraq if they had a "economic development model" to be distributed to commanders...the response was no....they would and do not...this is not their business. Private development firms/Implementing partners have them however...

    Instead of the Military re-creating the wheel, it seems to me that engaging contractors to assist in this arena makes infinite sense and makes for a more expeditious response/solution.

    What is exciting is that some have already started to see the connection of the dots. As previously cited, the Quick Impact Projects in Tal Afar Iraq that targeted rapid job creation (and was implemented in lock step with the 3rd Cav) was cited as a successful model for Clear, Build and Hold in the recently released COIN Field Manual. Over 50% of the 300 million in grants in Iraq were conducted in strict coordination with the military. The program was such a success, the Commanding General (Chirelli) inquired as to how he may directly obtain the services of the private firm (DAI) to continue the important work (as USAID funding had ended). Sadly, the idea was too new to overcome bureacratic hurdles.

    Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Thanks,
    Bronwen

  2. #22
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default

    What is not widely known in military circles is that there exists an extensive cadre of private firms that have been implementing the EXACT requirements of the political/civilian element of COIN/Stability Operations for over 30 years. But, sadly, due to interagency turf wars and a myopic understanding of the civilian capacity, this private resource is either entirely invisible to most or tends to get readily dismissed and lumped into the category of "soft" NGOs (ie. humanitarian organizations that have a deep aversion to directly coordinating and closely working with the military).
    And what exactly would that firm (or those firms) be? KBR? Raytheon?

    I served in the Stability Operations environment for 15 of those 30 years. I would be most curious to know about whom you are speaking.

    Tom

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    Default Private development firms

    Thanks Tom for your question. SHould have included these specific names earlier...big oversight. Thanks for pointing out...

    I am not sure if my previous post was successful so wanted to jot down the names of a few of the major firms again... sorry for inconvenience if repeated...

    DAI - www.dai.com - econ development, agriculture, governance, conflict mitigaton/community development

    Chemonics - www.chemonics.com - similiar set of services

    RTI (Research Triangle Institute) - North Carolina - IR division - governance and education

    IRG - International Resources Group - disaster response, governance, economic development

    PADCO / AECOM - reconstruction, governance,

    ARD - Associates in Rural Development - agriculture, governance, econ development

    ABT - Health

    Bearing Point - finance / econ growth

    MSI - Management Systems International - Institutional Support / Governance

    Nathans and Associates - Economic Development

    PA - infrastructure / energy / governance

    PAE - police and election administration deployments

    Louis Berger

    Creative Associates - education and governance

    RONCO - in addition to mine clearing, they have been USAID partner on community development programming

    There are also a few Non Profits that will enter into contracts such as CHF (community development), IFES (election administration and governance), AIR (education) and AED (education), IRD (international resources development group - community rehabilitation)

    Also, IOM (International Organization of Migration) enters into contracts with the US to implement community development programming.

    I was not familiar with this world when I worked in UN peacekeeping missions in the field and was surprised to find a very large parallel universe so to speak out there.

    Best,
    Bronwen

  4. #24
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    Default Hmmmm...

    Hi Bronwen,

    I see where you are coming from, and I agree that many of these organisations can offer an array of really useful capabilities. However, I would also offer the following observations from personal, practical experience of working with INGO and Corporate Service providers on stability and development activities:

    1. Many of these organisations work best (that is, are effective) in what could only be regarded as very benign security situations.

    2. If the security situation is not benign, providing security to enable them to achieve their programs can be a very taxing experience. This task is not helped by the fact that the majority of them have no collective corporate culture - you can almost guarantee that if you have three of them in your AO they will want to go three different, mutually counter -productive directions simeltaneously in order to meet their own perceptions of priority (and, frequently, their own perceptions of importance). It makes herding cats seem like a simple activity.

    3. Another factor if the security situation is not so flash is that, understandably perhaps, they do not want to associate with the security forces for fear of being 'linked' to them by belligerants, and subsequently attacked. This is one of those 'no-win' situations for everyone involved.

    4. Many (that is, 99%) of them cannot be trusted with intel related material. This can be a major problem when attempting coordination. Apart from the ones that inadvertently leak information and intel like a sieve, I am aware of other actors who have , for reasons often best known to themselves, deliberately compromised missions.

    5. INGOs, despite themselves, often act in a way that is counterintuitive to what they should be achieving. I have personally seen examples that range from minor issues like poor personal examples being set by overpaid and immoral expatriate staff through to corruption, overt criminal activity and payment of 'protection' to militias and criminal gangs. All of which is the antithesis of what should be happening in a COIN/ Stability environment.

    6. Some organisations have a disproportionate number of incompetent staff. They sail from conflict zone to conflict zone, leaving chaos in their wake. Many are 'found out' and have to move on because of this, but they invariably are attracted back to the next conflict because they become addicted to either the money (no one else would pay them that much) or the ego trip. They always get a job because 1) there is an effective 'old boys' ( or girls) net, or 2) Many people of ability are not willing to accept either the risks or compromises that these people are.

    7. Many organisations are ultimately only there to make money. This can lead to dodgy actions. One well known organisation that provided 'services' to a humanitarian project I was once associated with provides a ready example. During the work year, when donors turned up for inspections, everything was 'roses' - they were only too willing to parade their success with the indigenes we were training. Then, every year when contract renegotiation time came around - lo and behold, everything was 'disaster' and would require more time, money and services. We got jack of this and undertook an independent audit -only to find out that things were fine. This example is just one of many I am aware of where commercial firms routinely rort hard won humanitarian funds in order to satisfy their bottom line.

    Summing up, INGO and corporates can be very useful and do great good. However the rosy 'pollyanna' - like picture that you depict defies reality.

    Just like Government Agencies and Militaries, there is a fair bit of room for improvement of their performance in a range of activities. They are not a panacea, rather a useful part of the response mix that needs to continually improve its game in concert with state actors and agencies.

    Cheers,

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark O'Neill; 06-07-2007 at 09:31 AM. Reason: syntax

  5. #25
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default

    Just of note, the British national who was kidnapped along with 4 GardaWorld private security contractors from the Interior Ministry in Baghdad was a Bearing Point contractor.

  6. #26
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Default International Development Companies

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    And what exactly would that firm (or those firms) be? KBR? Raytheon?

    I served in the Stability Operations environment for 15 of those 30 years. I would be most curious to know about whom you are speaking.

    Tom
    Tom,

    Check out the companies posting jobs at this link to get an idea.

    http://www.developmentex.com

  7. #27
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default COIN is not the Same as Development or Support to Relief Ops

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark O'Neill View Post
    Hi Bronwen,

    I see where you are coming from, and I agree that many of these organisations can offer an array of really useful capabilities. However, I would also offer the following observations from personal, practical experience of working with INGO and Corporate Service providers on stability and development activities:

    1. Many of these organisations work best (that is, are effective) in what could only be regarded as very benign security situations.

    2. If the security situation is not benign, providing security to enable them to achieve their programs can be a very taxing experience. This task is not helped by the fact that the majority of them have no collective corporate culture - you can almost guarantee that if you have three of them in your AO they will want to go three different, mutually counter -productive directions simeltaneously in order to meet their own perceptions of priority (and, frequently, their own perceptions of importance). It makes herding cats seem like a simple activity.

    3. Another factor if the security situation is not so flash is that, understandably perhaps, they do not want to associate with the security forces for fear of being 'linked' to them by belligerants, and subsequently attacked. This is one of those 'no-win' situations for everyone involved.

    4. Many (that is, 99%) of them cannot be trusted with intel related material. This can be a major problem when attempting coordination. Apart from the ones that inadvertently leak information and intel like a sieve, I am aware of other actors who have , for reasons often best known to themselves, deliberately compromised missions.

    5. INGOs, despite themselves, often act in a way that is counterintuitive to what they should be achieving. I have personally seen examples that range from minor issues like poor personal examples being set by overpaid and immoral expatriate staff through to corruption, overt criminal activity and payment of 'protection' to militias and criminal gangs. All of which is the antithesis of what should be happening in a COIN/ Stability environment.

    6. Some organisations have a disproportionate number of incompetent staff. They sail from conflict zone to conflict zone, leaving chaos in their wake. Many are 'found out' and have to move on because of this, but they invariably are attracted back to the next conflict because they become addicted to either the money (no one else would pay them that much) or the ego trip. They always get a job because 1) there is an effective 'old boys' ( or girls) net, or 2) Many people of ability are not willing to accept either the risks or compromises that these people are.

    7. Many organisations are ultimately only there to make money. This can lead to dodgy actions. One well known organisation that provided 'services' to a humanitarian project I was once associated with provides a ready example. During the work year, when donors turned up for inspections, everything was 'roses' - they were only too willing to parade their success with the indigenes we were training. Then, every year when contract renegotiation time came around - lo and behold, everything was 'disaster' and would require more time, money and services. We got jack of this and undertook an independent audit -only to find out that things were fine. This example is just one of many I am aware of where commercial firms routinely rort hard won humanitarian funds in order to satisfy their bottom line.

    Summing up, INGO and corporates can be very useful and do great good. However the rosy 'pollyanna' - like picture that you depict defies reality.

    Just like Government Agencies and Militaries, there is a fair bit of room for improvement of their performance in a range of activities. They are not a panacea, rather a useful part of the response mix that needs to continually improve its game in concert with state actors and agencies.

    Cheers,

    Mark
    Bronwen,

    What Mark said, especially on security and reliabilty.

    FYI I had RONCO working for me in Rwanda and I have seen many of the firms you list in the field. As I suspected, you are confusing a stability/support operation with COIN. Most of these firms are ill-suited to doing the "armed civil affairs" that is necessary for COIN. In fact, the security threat against such firms in Goma was a major headache for all of us dealing with the issue.

    Others like NGOs are agenda driven -- that of proving they are needed in the case of NGOs or for commercial firms the almighty dollar. IN COIN--as Rob Thornton has said in discussing advisors--the ideal is to work oneself out of a job. I have yet to meet an NGO who truly has that as a goal. Don't get me wrong, NGOs do good work; it is however work that must have set goals and limits otherwise it is a self-licking ice cream cone.

    Best

    Tom

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    Default Ugly Americans In Native Drag

    "1. Many of these organisations work best (that is, are effective) in what could only be regarded as very benign security situations"

    There has been a tendency in some agencies to adopt a quasi anti-American mentality through which to better identify with elements of the host nation. I saw some of this with the Peace Corps and USAID in W. Africa though by no means was this official doctrine/policy. The polite term would be to say some of the people were not professionally objective. The reluctance of many Humanitarian missions to partner with the military should not be surprising because their principal success is based on relative security and that alone IMO, yet elements within said agencies regard the military as the sole problem. That's hard to overcome and I can't imagine the nightmare involved in trying to provide security for such divergent and numerous civilian groups and I wonder how tense it gets at times between the military and private security contractors? ...been any throw-downs with Halliburton??

    With 100K contractors in Iraq, no wonder war funding gets passed. I had no idea there were that many there yet the Public certainly isn't getting this message. It contradicts the picture of total chaos and bloodshed.

  9. #29
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    Default

    I think you are confusing the vast majority of private contractors in Iraq with NGOs. Most are personnel doing things that would have been done by soldiers in the past - i.e. driving supply trucks, clerking at the PX, serving food, etc. The contractor population, if they counted as a member of the coalition, have suffered far more casualties than any other member of our coalition of the willing.

    As for throwdowns, not many but one or two examples have surfaced.

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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.

  12. #32
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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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    Default

    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.

  19. #39
    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 Some partial precedents .... and problems

    MPRI trained the Croation Army under contract to the GOC (but with the approval of the USG) in the 1990s. Their trainees were successful. MPRI had a USG contract in Colombia that was less successful as was one in Iraq. In Iraq, the MPRI leader was COL (ret) Jim Steele who had run the USMILGP in El Salvador and the Military Support Group in Panama. So, it is possible to use contractors who, depending on the circumstances, may or may not be effective.

    Another partial precedent is found in the PRTs where contractors (from other agencies) arefully integrated into the teams and follow the orders of the PRT chief. Applicable law differs between USG agencies.

    I see few conceptual problems with the approach used in the PRTs although there may be legal ones for DOD. I do see a major conceptual problem in the MPRI approach where we turn over to a private corporation decisions that are properly those of the USG. No reflection on the patriotism etc of MPRI princiaps or employees but they are not responsible to the govt or the people of the US for actions that may be necessary but are not spelled out in the contract (see Pete's post).

    cheers

    JohnT

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