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Thread: PMC / Mercenaries in Iraq (catch all)

  1. #61
    Council Member sandbag's Avatar
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    On the uniform side, is it possible we just aren't matching skill sets properly? My view on MITT assignments is that they're filled by the "shotgun blast" method of old-fashioned quotas per branch/OCF. Perhaps we (Army) might want to look at who is needed as opposed to the what (re: OH SH*T FILL THOSE SLOTS, ASSIGNMENTS GUY) as a method. The unit-driven MITT concept, while an improvement in C4I and internal log, is still flawed so long as we're driven to frothy-mouthed desperation in staffing those units.

  2. #62
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    Default I have a visceral reaction

    to contracting for things that should be inherently governmental!

    In general, contracting training of other people's militaries (and police) is something that should be done by the USG (and its allied governments). That said, if Rob is correct, then some of the current contracting is, indeed, legitimate. On one issue, however, I would argue that there is little reason to use contractors and that is in the Ministry Support Teams. Here, the expertise lies in the USAR Civil Affairs Commands and is an outgrowth of their function beginning in WWII. The MSTs were pioneered in Panama, Kuwait, and Haiti and draw on the functional teams inherent in a CA Command and the civilian expertise that members bring.

    Is there a place for contractor's in the MSTs? Some of us older guys who have retired could be brought in under contract to fill holes in the MSTs but, I think it would be better, cheaper, and easier to simply recall some of us to active duty out of the retired reserve.

    Cheers

    JohnT

  3. #63
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    Default Back at sandbag and John T

    Edison once said that he never failed in his experiments, but in the process of developing something like the incandescent light bulb, he discovered 10,000 ways that didn't work.

    Well, we have discovered a host of ways that don't work in the security force assistance business.

    The is documented evidence from multiple previous advisory efforts demonstrates that advisors need certain psychological skills and that they need to be developed in order to be successful. Yet, as sandbag points out, HRC uses the shotgun method of assigning advisors. There are combat advisors in Iraq or on their way who have NO combat experience and stale tactical experience. Luckily, they had a wealth of "dwell time", so they would obviously make great advisors.

    You can also look at the experience HRC (I love Sean Byrne like a brother) sent to John Nagl to train advisors out at Riley -- Very few former advisors. Even now that the assignment process has improved, the ratio of advisors to the rest of the faculty ain't great.

    Ministry-level advisors. Gotta disagree w/John T. At the ministry level, contractors (the right ones, guys like John T. and others who have served on national-level staffs) make great advisors, as long as they have other skills. Or maybe the Service chiefs just need greater recall authority. MRD moves a lot of talent out of the Army (and other Services). Haul these guys back in and put them in uniform. I'd take the tax breaks, awards, financial accouterments and add'l 2-1/2 percent retirement increase any day of the week.

    Essentially government services. Although this belongs on the contractor thread, let me just say that the definition of what government essential services subsume has been debated long and hard, and to date no one has come up with a meaningful solution. The sound bites offered by talking heads conveniently dodge major war-stopping issues, but sound good. I can tell you that the mindset of government employee good, contractor bad is not useful.

    Have a great Memorial Day!

  4. #64
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    Default Hey Old Eagle

    took me a while to figure out what we disagree about. I think I've got it though. I would not reject pulling in as contractors for MSTs old geezers like us although, as we both said, recall from the Retired Reserve would be a better option.

    I do think that in the 350th, 351st, and 352nd CA Commands there are probably enough relatively senior folk - with the needed civilain skills (unless we've lost those guys in the last decade) - to man the required MSTs (perhaps with some augmentation by contractors or recalled retirees as above). Or, do we disagree on this?

    Have a super Memorial Day, all.

    Cheers

    JohnT

  5. #65
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    Default Senior CA folk

    Well, they certainly have a lot of sr folk. Don't think I've ever seen so many COLs in an MTOE.

    I think that we actually agree that contractors can have a place in MSTs. They should not be the sole source of personnel, and arguably not even the major one.

    I think that one of the challenges in the current contingencies is the fact that CA have been over-subscribed in the plans. It's not a question of capability, but rather one of capacity. Even when I was "over there" years ago, the CA guys we worked with had endured multiple deployments -- and that was in the early days of the wars. Can't imagine what it's like now. During the small wars of the 90s, many of the same folk were being sent off on all expense paid forays to Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, then Afghanistan and Iraq.

    In looking at the solution to overuse of contractors, whatever it is has to be very broad. Maybe now is time to fix the military force structure and the civilian one. Maybe every employment contract above GS-10 ought to have a deployment clause. There is also a need to grow overstructure in the O-3 to O-5 and E-6 and above paygrades. Maybe "dwell time" for non-TPU reservists needs to be cut, also. Or maybe we just need to continue to rely on exceptionally talented and good-looking contractors, but possibly with better management.

    In short, before fixating on the bitch about contractors, let's examine some of the easy solutions to replace them. Not willing to do that? Then there's no bitch!

  6. #66
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default One great idea...

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    ...Maybe now is time to fix the military force structure and the civilian one. Maybe every employment contract above GS-10 ought to have a deployment clause.
    Agree!!!
    There is also a need to grow overstructure in the O-3 to O-5 and E-6 and above paygrades.
    I submit we already have overstructure -- too many CPT to LTC folks are just not in the right places and in my observation most staffs are too large. I also suspect that in about four years we're gonna have a glut of Majors. Company Commanders, perhaps???

    Also need to figure out what we're going to do with the overstrength in SSGs that's looming.

    For Officer and enlisted ranks, is up or out really that good an idea...
    ...Maybe "dwell time" for non-TPU reservists needs to be cut, also...
    A lot of those folks used to get a lot of AD time built up working for the CA Brigades and Commands overseas back in the days of peace. While the war may make some less anxious for AD, I suspect there's still a pretty good flow. Might be worth looking at...

    In any event, HRC needs to get rid of their 'fill the hole' mentality and the force structure guys need to undo some of the 'balance' they've applied to the force to facilitate said hole filling. Whatever is done, you're totally correct in saying that:
    In short, before fixating on the bitch about contractors, let's examine some of the easy solutions to replace them. Not willing to do that? Then there's no bitch!
    Totally true and it seems to me the onus is on the pachyderms and HRC...

  7. #67
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    Default Personal Protective Services in Iraq

    U.S. Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors Office of Inspector General, Dec 08:

    Status of the Secretary of State’s Panel on Personal Protective Services in Iraq Report Recommendations
    In October 2007, the Secretary of State’s Panel on Personal Protective Services in Iraq (The Panel), composed of outside experts, was assembled to review the Department’s security practices in Iraq following the Nisoor Square incident and to provide recommendations to strengthen the coordination, oversight, and accountability of Embassy Baghdad’s security practices. This report examines the status of The Panel’s recommendations and whether changes in operations enhanced the protection of U.S. mission personnel and furthered U.S. foreign policy objectives.

    In making this assessment, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) visited Embassy Baghdad and sites throughout Iraq where private security contractors provide movement and personal protection for U.S. mission personnel, including Erbil, Kirkuk, Hillah, Tallil, and Basra. In addition, OIG examined Department reporting on the status of the recommendations and consulted with senior and operational-level officials in Management and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), Embassy Baghdad, Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), and the three security companies under contract with the Department to provide protective services in Iraq—Blackwater USA, DynCorp International, and Triple Canopy. The evaluation was conducted according to Quality Standards for Inspections issued by the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency.

  8. #68
    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
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    I guess the one thing that I do not understand is how it is cheaper to contract to companies then to contract individuals.
    Reed
    Quote Originally Posted by sapperfitz82 View Post
    This truly is the bike helmet generation.

  9. #69
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Administrative costs. If you contract

    individuals, you have to cover the Admin costs of payroll, insurance, etc. etc. -- plus, if equipment is involved, you have to provide it or specify with some precision what the individual is to provide. Cheaper to just get a Company to do all that minutia.

    Plus, Congress like it that way because the contracting companies can contribute to Congressional campaigns whereas the Armed Forces or OGA cannot...

  10. #70
    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    individuals, you have to cover the Admin costs of payroll, insurance, etc. etc. -- plus, if equipment is involved, you have to provide it or specify with some precision what the individual is to provide. Cheaper to just get a Company to do all that minutia.

    Plus, Congress like it that way because the contracting companies can contribute to Congressional campaigns whereas the Armed Forces or OGA cannot...
    Your still paying for all that "minutia" with companies too. It's not like they don't add those charges , along with the need for hefty profit into the contract proposals. Besides support positions already exist w/i the DOS and trainers can be dual purpose (train FT and "Contract" agents along w/ other nation security teams if need arises). Sorry, but I have heard that line a lot, I have never seen it pan out in practice. What I have seen is the disparity in income increase as we pay the "doers" less and shift the money to some CEO type. I'm sure that's not 100% the case, but it is in my limited experiance (private corrections, and State level service contracting).
    Reed
    Quote Originally Posted by sapperfitz82 View Post
    This truly is the bike helmet generation.

  11. #71
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Yes, you are -- but you don't have to provide the staff/people

    Quote Originally Posted by reed11b View Post
    Your still paying for all that "minutia" with companies too. It's not like they don't add those charges , along with the need for hefty profit into the contract proposals. Besides support positions already exist w/i the DOS and trainers can be dual purpose (train FT and "Contract" agents along w/ other nation security teams if need arises).
    to do it so your number of spaces can be decreased even as your overall costs increase. That lets you do other things with people and still stay within your Congressionally imposed personnel ceiling.
    Sorry, but I have heard that line a lot, I have never seen it pan out in practice. What I have seen is the disparity in income increase as we pay the "doers" less and shift the money to some CEO type. I'm sure that's not 100% the case, but it is in my limited experiance (private corrections, and State level service contracting).
    Why be sorry? Yeah, me too, you're right on that.

    Did you know the Army and the USAF, USN, USMC, NG and Reserves used to provide free Helicopter Ambulance service nation wide? Did you know that USN and US Army Stevedore companies cannot unload ships in the US? Did you know that military postal units cannot peform most postal services (for training) in the US?

    Know why?

    Might I suggest you go back and read the second paragraph of my response above; that really is the answer to everyones complaints of all types about government's contracting out, mismanagement and such as well as all the dumb things I asked about above. Oh, and add the civilian operators of Air Ambulance Services and Unions to those who can contribute to Congressional campaigns...

  12. #72
    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
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    Thanks. I guess I just get touchy on the topic becouse so many who should know better have swallowed the "privitization" kool aid. Now go a write a book.
    Reed
    Quote Originally Posted by sapperfitz82 View Post
    This truly is the bike helmet generation.

  13. #73
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    There is also the issue of pure numbers. As of a couple of years ago the total number of contractors employed for PSD just in the Baghdad area was around 4,000. That's just Baghdad. Now, is it better to pay a few organizations to recruit, train and equip all of those contractors or is it better to have 4,000 individual contracts and then create or contract a whole other organization to do all of that? You are going to have to pay someone to do it. The existing systems would be overwhelmed with those types of numbers. Why not just pay one organization to take care of its own?

    SFC W

  14. #74
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    The biggest issue, though, is the "government service as a great big welfare program" mentality that pervades full time gov't employees.

    The Contractors, you can fire. Unfortunately the great majority of gov't employees are there because you are overpaid, underworked and cannot be fired for incompetence.

    The real problem isn't contractors or contract companies, it is that the supervision of contracts is accomplished by the same lazy, incompetent gov't full-time employees you are trying to avoid in the first place.

    Until gov't service becomes "at will" and performance based, you will see more of the same. Except you can fire a contractor.

  15. #75
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I'm one of those Government employees

    well, a former, now retired one but I agree with you.

    I would suggest one consider the WG employees of DoD working in Afghanistan and Iraq on tech support and equipment rebuild...

    As for most other Government employees, I don't take umbrage at your remarks because because there's a lot of truth in them. After 18 years as a DAC, the first seven as a TRADOC School Instructional Branch Chief, the last 11 at increasingly senior levels, I agree that ""government service as a great big welfare program" mentality that pervades full time gov't employees."exists. In my observation, it affects about one third or slightly less of the employees nationwide with pools of large percentages here and smaller ones there. The cities generally have larger pools, the boonies have smaller ones. In any event, that 30% in my observation is, thanks to Congress, only slightly above the 20% or so level that I have noticed for incompetents and drones in every single category of human endeavor to which I've been exposed -- and that includes soldiers of all ranks, academic, doctors and hamburger flippers.

    Another 50% of Guvmint employees are not really that way but can give that impression to the really unobservant because they are severely constrained by an overwhelming bureaucracy and an environment that literally punishes those who take ANY risks. That is more true in DoD than in most of government due to the DoD 'zero defects' and dress right and cover down mentality.

    Most of those employees in all Federal agencies really want to do a good job but they are in a system that precludes them from doing so in far too many cases. Fortunately, most of them most of the time can do at least a fair and sometimes even a really good job. Incompetent Supervisors and over nervous, untrusting bosses, officers and commanders contribute to all that but thank your Congress for most of that problem.

    The remaining 20% or so of government employees do most of the work that gets done, routinely circumvent their bosses (and Commanders...), make hard decisions, try to eliminate the unproductive and do things that are literally illegal to get things done. It's amazing the system works as well as it does. That 20% again tracks with my observation over many years of all fields of human effort; 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people regardless of rank, status and work type. I think that old Commie, Bertrand Russell also noted that...

    Your comment about firing incompetents is correct. We had one employee that required over 18 months of effort and several hearings to fire after said employee had accrued a record of about 30% of work time as unexcused absences in the course of a year. There were others almost as bad, it generally takes three letters, at least one hearing and about a year to fire someone -- thus, the marginal employee gets to slide. If the employee is a female or a minority group member, that process is more difficult. Again, thank your Congress for, among other things, their respect for the AFGE and allied unions for that problem.

    I will take issue with these two statements:
    "The real problem isn't contractors or contract companies, it is that the supervision of contracts is accomplished by the same lazy, incompetent gov't full-time employees you are trying to avoid in the first place."
    Mixed bag -- there are some sorry companies out there and a fair number of the contract supervisors you disparage are Commissioned officers of the US armed services and their reserve components. The Companies are provided with possibly too many protective clause and safeguards...

    The fact that sorry companies are allowed to bid and are not required to adequately police their employees is due to -- guess who -- your Congress who insists that anyone be allowed to bid, the lowest bid be taken and who also ties the hands of contract supervisors because those companies can --and DO -- contribute to Congressional campaigns.
    Until gov't service becomes "at will" and performance based, you will see more of the same. Except you can fire a contractor.
    I agree on the government service being at will and performance based. Strongly. I will point out that the NSPS in 2005 was an attempt to get just that and it was gutted by Congress 'to protect the employees' (voters plus unions...).

    I disagree on the firing of a contractor -- it is not at all easy to fire a contractor (the Contractor can fire his employees; some are better than others but most don't want the hassle and are reluctant to fire -- overseas employment is different), there are a lot of steps required to do that; all favor the contractor -- and all are at the behest of Congress.

  16. #76
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default I'll take the human condition is not that simple for $500 Alex...

    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    The biggest issue, though, is the "government service as a great big welfare program" mentality that pervades full time gov't employees.
    Wouldn't it be great if the margins on both sides (contractor & govt) decided to work together for the win instead of just the majorities.

    From wikipedia Stuart Bowen

    Stuart W. Bowen, Jr., is an American lawyer who serves as the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), a position he has held since October 2004. He previously served as the Inspector General for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA-IG), a position to which he was appointed in January 2004. Bowen's mission includes ensuring effective oversight of the $50 billion appropriated for Iraq's relief and reconstruction.[1]
    And from Merriam-Webster:

    Diplomacy: 2 : skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility : tact

    A useful skill for when one works with others on a team (such as a mixed govt'/contractor situation)...
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 01-26-2009 at 08:50 PM.
    Sapere Aude

  17. #77
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    Default Our Silent Partners: Private Security Contractors in Iraq

    Our Silent Partners: Private Security Contractors in Iraq

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  18. #78
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    Default Our Silent Partners: Private Security Contractors in Iraq

    Our Silent Partners: Private Security Contractors in Iraq

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