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Thread: PMC in COIN (general theme)

  1. #41
    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
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    In my neck of the woods, Blackwater provided what was basically a PMT to finalize training of Afghan Border Police, including actual work in the field. One brigade commander welcomed their participation and in an AO suffering from severe manpower and asset shortages, they filled a vital role in actioning our intel (that is, they were the only entity in our battalion AO that could/would move on time sensitive targets). The mentors seemed to make sure the training was adequate beforehand that they could mostly hang back and let the ABP officers do the op with limited interference, offering advice or guidance where necessary.

    After a new brigade RIPd in with a more... risk averse commander, the Blackwater mentors were essentially confined to their remote COP and only allowed to hold that ground. From what I hear, 4th ID had to do a lot of clean up after they replaced that brigade due to the inaction of a year...

    I don't know all the details of what exactly their contract dictated, but they seemed to fill the mentor role without serious incident. As far as command and control, the AO commanders were still in charge with USFOR-A elements often providing communications support in case air or other assets became necessary.
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
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  2. #42
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    IMO PMC's should only be used, if at all, for training the basics in garrison. They should not accompany ANA out on any operations because then they de facto become an offensive force.

    Regardless, the solution to manpower shortages is to get more manpower. Mentoring the ANA is supposed to be one of our primary tasks - if we don't have the military manpower for it then we don't have our priorities straight.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

  3. #43
    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Regardless, the solution to manpower shortages is to get more manpower. Mentoring the ANA is supposed to be one of our primary tasks - if we don't have the military manpower for it then we don't have our priorities straight.
    Absolutely agreed.
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
    -- Ken White


    "With a plan this complex, nothing can go wrong." -- Schmedlap

    "We are unlikely to usefully replicate the insights those unencumbered by a military staff college education might actually have." -- William F. Owen

  4. #44
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    Wow, these are some great responses. Lots of good, insightful material on here; it's definitley SWJ Material

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    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.
    Since OMLTs are smaller teams (around 13 soldiers) and they would be spread throughout the battalions (they likely wouldn't be grouped together to act as a special fire squad), I don't think that the organization would be horrific. It would require some problem solving, but I don't think it would be as bad as you think.

    You also make an interesting point about how contractors can put military personal in awkward situations. This can sometimes be good, but can easily be bad. Thus, when writing the contract, it would be important to provide a detailed and clear list of guidelines for the PMCs. If it's in the contract, which is there paycheck, they will follow it.

    I understand the occasional rift between contractors and military personal. It can be very frustrating. However, it's important to remember that a large portion of PMC operators were "cut out" of the Armed Forces in the 1990s when the USSR fell; the US didn't think it needed such a large force.

    You made some good comments.

    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    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
    MPRI is an interesting firm. They specialize in consulting and training and are very good at it; your examples nailed some of their successes. However, I don't think MPRI would fit the OMLT role. As odd as it sounds, it appears that MPRI specializes in "higher quality" training; they don't put guys in combat zones. They're training programs tend to be more long term focused, expensive, and complex. Don't get me wrong, they do a great job, but I don't think they would correctly fit the role. For example, IMHO MPRI would be better off training a collapsed army that is stabilized than training a collapsed force that is constantly engaging the enemy.

    You also hit another point: how much decision making should be left into the hands of PMCs. "Good quality" PMCs (see my post above) that care about the US can be trusted. However, some PMCs I don't trust; it depends on who you contract. Good post, way to bring up MPRI.

    Quote Originally Posted by IntelTrooper View Post
    In my neck of the woods, Blackwater provided what was basically a PMT to finalize training of Afghan Border Police, including actual work in the field. One brigade commander welcomed their participation and in an AO suffering from severe manpower and asset shortages, they filled a vital role in actioning our intel (that is, they were the only entity in our battalion AO that could/would move on time sensitive targets). The mentors seemed to make sure the training was adequate beforehand that they could mostly hang back and let the ABP officers do the op with limited interference, offering advice or guidance where necessary.

    After a new brigade RIPd in with a more... risk averse commander, the Blackwater mentors were essentially confined to their remote COP and only allowed to hold that ground. From what I hear, 4th ID had to do a lot of clean up after they replaced that brigade due to the inaction of a year...

    I don't know all the details of what exactly their contract dictated, but they seemed to fill the mentor role without serious incident. As far as command and control, the AO commanders were still in charge with USFOR-A elements often providing communications support in case air or other assets became necessary.
    Interesting story, it shows that PMCs can be utilized; if you try working with them, some good things can come up. Good post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    IMO PMC's should only be used, if at all, for training the basics in garrison. They should not accompany ANA out on any operations because then they de facto become an offensive force.

    Regardless, the solution to manpower shortages is to get more manpower. Mentoring the ANA is supposed to be one of our primary tasks - if we don't have the military manpower for it then we don't have our priorities straight.
    You bring up a good point, and I agree; PMCs aren't the best offensive force. Bringing out 50 operators is an offensive force. However, OMLTs are much smaller and spread thin (13 operators). One ANA "Kandak" (battalion) is around 600 soldiers. 13 operators spread throughout 600 soldiers is going to keep the PMCs in a mentoring role. On top of that, if they are given a restrictive ROE, or if they are even allowed to be fully armed, they won't be an offensive force. This problem can be solved.

    ISAF doesn't lack garrison trainers, they lack OMLTs. According to a RAND report, OMLTs provide ANA units with much experience and advice that they need to succeed. Thus, OMLTs are important, but they lack in numbers.

    Quote Originally Posted by IntelTrooper View Post
    Absolutely agreed.
    I do to, however, as we have seen the manpower is limited. Currently, the US is focused on offensive operations and eliminating Taliban influence. Thus, the responsibility for OMLTs rests upon the other members of ISAF However, they aren't to thrilled about the conflict and their support is limited (but appreciated).

  5. #45
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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

  6. #46
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    Presley,

    This KoW piece parallels your post 'The Acme Co. Army?', which opens with:
    In this one we confront the seemingly never-ending debate: Do we need a private army to do our dirty work? As domestic politics further complicate the use of own troops in defense of interests but not threat and conflicts seem to demand rapid response, the appeal of the privatization of force grows again. Although of less importance in this latest age of state war, armies for hire are not new to the battlefield. Whether this is wisdom or wishful thinking is another matter. Enjoy the post and join the discussion on Twitter at #CCLKOW
    The author poses four questions for the exchange the readers have on Twitter:
    In an age of wars of choice, do ‘private armies’ offer states a better option for armed intervention than traditional armed forces?
    Can PMSCs be of use in the fight against ISIL, and in which capacities?
    What are the most significant challenges to their use from a military practitioner’s perspective?
    How can PMSC-military cooperation be improved?
    Link:http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2014/09/the-acme-co-army/?
    davidbfpo

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