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Thread: A Look down the Slippery Slope

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    Default A Look down the Slippery Slope

    A Look down the Slippery Slope
    Domestic Operations, Outsourcing, and the Erosion of Military Culture


    Editorial Abstract: Two simultaneous trends inside America’s military culture—its increasingly domestic role and its growing reliance upon defense contractors—illustrate considerable fundamental differences between uniformed military personnel and their commercially oriented counterparts. Employing a future scenario, the author contends that the growing civilian influence over formerly military endeavors will likely lead to serious trouble over time. If that is true, America’s long-term ability to project combat power may ultimately falter as well.
    An interesting and thought-provoking article.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Hmmm. He does make some valid points but

    also seems to be in the excessively Malthusian mode. I'm reminded of then LTC Dunlap's 1992 expressed concern for the coup of 2012...

    A potential replacement???

    On an equally serious note, military use in civilian law enforcement operations has been excessive and bears considerable watching. I agree that we've overdone the contracting bit in some respects -- but have to say that the use of contractors is necessary and even, for many things, desirable. I am not a fan of having troops cut grass or paint buildings for example -- nor is putting an 18 year old MP on a gate particularly smart...

    That said, we need to get better at Contract writing and supervision.

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    Council Member Anthony Hoh's Avatar
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    Default Can anyone explain the cost savings?

    I cant understand how a contractor can make twice as much as a Soldier in the same capacty while the goverment saves money. I realize thier are costs other than salary, health care, uniforms, training, etc... but I cant wrap my head around how contracts are so much cheaper when the Army trains and deploys on such a huge scale. If anyone can expand my knowledge on this I would appreciate it.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Eisenhower's wise words

    Within the article are these famous words:

    In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

    “Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961,” Avalon Project at Yale Law School,

    http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/pr...hes/eisenhower 001.htm

    No better warning.

    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Anthony Hoh's Avatar
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    Default No Worries

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    That said, we need to get better at Contract writing and supervision.
    Ken,
    The Army will contract someone out to make sure that happens

    No Slack!

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Air bubble!!!

    .............. :d

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    Default I'm no expert but...

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Hoh View Post
    I cant understand how a contractor can make twice as much as a Soldier in the same capacty while the goverment saves money. I realize thier are costs other than salary, health care, uniforms, training, etc... but I cant wrap my head around how contracts are so much cheaper when the Army trains and deploys on such a huge scale. If anyone can expand my knowledge on this I would appreciate it.
    my understanding is that a lot of it has to do with legacy costs. With contractors one doesn't have to worry about paying lifetime retirement and healthcare. Additionally, there is flexibility - it's easier to ramp up contracting support and then get rid of it.

    Ken,

    I know you're a huge fan of Intel, so I thought I'd pass this along on contract writing!

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Too true

    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    my understanding is that a lot of it has to do with legacy costs. With contractors one doesn't have to worry about paying lifetime retirement and healthcare. Additionally, there is flexibility - it's easier to ramp up contracting support and then get rid of it.
    When it gets to the point that 65% of DoD healthcare costs go to Retirees -- and that's about where we are -- something is way, way, wrong. We have not done that well and much as I harp on congress, it's not ALL their fault...
    I know you're a huge fan of Intel, so I thought I'd pass this along on contract writing!
    Priceless -- and a great example of how the linear, worry about today mentality that pervades the US guvmint is directly responsible for our lack of continuity in many things.

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Hoh View Post
    I cant understand how a contractor can make twice as much as a Soldier in the same capacty while the goverment saves money. I realize thier are costs other than salary, health care, uniforms, training, etc... but I cant wrap my head around how contracts are so much cheaper when the Army trains and deploys on such a huge scale. If anyone can expand my knowledge on this I would appreciate it.
    I'd like you to show me this alleged "contractor who makes twice as much as a Soldier in the same capacity"...

    Our company hires contractors who are retired and reserve Field Grades, and pays them at the E-5/E-6 level for O-4/O-5 work, with no institutional support outside of access to PX/Commissary and housing allowance.

    There might BE some of these well-paid contractors, but I don't know any of them. Most of us do this because a) we are reservists whose employability has been destroyed by multiple deployments. b) we're retired, and are doing this to "stay in the game" in some fashion or c) it's a hobby job that keeps us living in interesting places.

    Of course, "contractors" are the bogey man and are often scapegoated when Active Duty types screw the pooch. Now THAT benefit is worth any cost to certain Senior Officers I know....

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    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default Re: 120 mm

    Thanks for writing the message I thought I would have to until I reached the end of the thread. Really twice as much.... I essentially do the job I last held in the military at 2/3 the pay, and oh by the way I have to do all my leading through moral suassion. Not that I'm complaining because my government customer is a SWC member. Just don't want to hear about the 2 x pay comment anymore.

    Live well and row brother
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    Say hello to my 2 x 4

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
    Thanks for writing the message I thought I would have to until I reached the end of the thread. Really twice as much.... I essentially do the job I last held in the military at 2/3 the pay, and oh by the way I have to do all my leading through moral suassion. Not that I'm complaining because my government customer is a SWC member. Just don't want to hear about the 2 x pay comment anymore.

    Live well and row brother
    I understand your view on contractors. I also take your points on pay scales and abuse of those pay scales by the larger contractors.

    But I would also say that 120 and you are both somewhat taking Tony Hoh's rhetorical question on the issue somewhat out of context. That is to say, Tony was referring to contractors in the theater of of operations--that would include Iraq and Afghanistan and not Germany or Kansas.

    In that regard, 2x or 3x the salary is not at all a stretch.

    Tom

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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
    Thanks for writing the message I thought I would have to until I reached the end of the thread. Really twice as much.... I essentially do the job I last held in the military at 2/3 the pay, and oh by the way I have to do all my leading through moral suassion. Not that I'm complaining because my government customer is a SWC member. Just don't want to hear about the 2 x pay comment anymore.

    Live well and row brother
    And here I thought I was overpaying you .....

    Row harder!

    Seriously, the advantage of contractors (wherever) is that you don't pay for long term benefits and you can rapidly hire/fire capacity, which you can't do with DA CIVs. To do this, you usually pay more short term but incur significant long term savings.

    Which is why they have to pay so much for contractors in Iraq - it's hard to get people to willingly go there! So the market commands salaries comensurate with the risk. But once Iraq is over all of them are out of jobs. The soldier still has his.

    It's also a good deal for the retired folk stateside - the pay may be less than your salary pre-retirement, but added to the 50% it's not bad living .... Main thing is the loss of BAH, BAS, etc. Also, we continue to draw on their skills - I know Hacksaw's 20 years of service has kept my ass out of a sling many times - so much so I wrote "Keep Cav's ass out of sling" into the contract!
    Last edited by Cavguy; 05-27-2008 at 06:02 PM.
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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    From what I am seeing, the big pay is pretty much going out the window, even for the Blackwaters of the world.

    But the point bears examining.

    Basically, the US Army has taken a "cookie-cutter/bureaucracy" approach to paying it's employees, and refuses to recognize that there is the possibility that a pure trigger-puller may be worth as much as a field grade staff officer.

    I disagree. I think that there is room, in the Army, to reward excellence at every level, and recognize incompetence through pay. There are plenty of officers; even senior officers that are not worth a really good machinegunner. I would be interested in seeing a system that "re-incentivizes" soldiering.

    One also hears words like "mercenary" thrown about quite a bit, but last time I checked, soldiers received a paycheck just like contractors do. Plus, since contractors are under UCMJ, anyway, what's the difference?

    In addition to eliminating rank-entitled pay, I'd also be interested in forcing members of the military to compete for their jobs. Up to and including General Officers.

    Radical ideas, but they've been bouncing around in my brain-pan for a while now....

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    Council Member Vic Bout's Avatar
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    Default Just cut me a Czech for half

    A Czech Army LTC attending ILE with the wife told me that officers in the Czech army are paid IIRC 50% of their pay with the remaining 50% balance decided by their boss. SO, depending on your performance (and how much you manage to ingratiate yourself)...

    Imagine a system like that here... piss off your senior rater and can't buy little Jimmy that new bike for Christmas...
    "THIS is my boomstick!"

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    Council Member Tacitus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    Plus, since contractors are under UCMJ, anyway, what's the difference?
    Is that really true? I heard some news this morning on the radio about a federal grand jury about to indict Blackwater people for their shootings in Iraq last semptember that left 17 dead. Maybe just some contractors, I don't know.

    Nothing in this Washington Post story from today that discusses UCMJ being applied here at all.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...=moreheadlines

    Apparently not all of the military likes this "rent a gun" approach, at least when the Dept. of State adopts it:
    "The Sept. 16 shootings caused a rift between the U.S. and Iraqi governments and exposed Pentagon dissatisfaction with civilian security guards under contract with the State Department. U.S. military officials said that the contractors were "cowboys" whose actions put others at risk and interfered with ongoing military operations. State Department officials responded that the contractors were necessary because the military did not have the resources to protect U.S. civilian officials in Iraq."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tacitus View Post
    Is that really true? I heard some news this morning on the radio about a federal grand jury about to indict Blackwater people for their shootings in Iraq last semptember that left 17 dead. Maybe just some contractors, I don't know.

    Nothing in this Washington Post story from today that discusses UCMJ being applied here at all.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...=moreheadlines

    Apparently not all of the military likes this "rent a gun" approach, at least when the Dept. of State adopts it:
    "The Sept. 16 shootings caused a rift between the U.S. and Iraqi governments and exposed Pentagon dissatisfaction with civilian security guards under contract with the State Department. U.S. military officials said that the contractors were "cowboys" whose actions put others at risk and interfered with ongoing military operations. State Department officials responded that the contractors were necessary because the military did not have the resources to protect U.S. civilian officials in Iraq."
    The Blackwater contractors in question were protecting CIVILIAN officials, and such, were not under UCMJ.

    Those guys had nothing to do with the military.

    State Department is also building a private army on their own, according to some friends I have spoke with, and I'm supposing they're planning on becoming more robust themselves...

    And on the "cowboys" comment; I am firmly of the opinion that a certain plurality of the reason for hiring contractors in the first place, is someone to blame when the green-suiter screws up. The "cowboys" comment can be traced to a certain O-6 mouth-breather from nearly a year ago....

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    Council Member Anthony Hoh's Avatar
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    Default And Roger

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    That is to say, Tony was referring to contractors in the theater of of operations--that would include Iraq and Afghanistan and not Germany or Kansas.
    Tom
    Sorry I took me a while to get back to this thread. Tom had my point. I want to be clear, I am not hating on contractors, they do help us make mission. However I still do not understand the pay gap for deployed contract personnel. I am not outing Blackwater or MPRI or whomever. But the fact is contractors checking ID's at the US embassy here in OEF make a proverbial "s" load more money than the SPC4 up the road checking ID's at CP Phoenix. You still can get blown up, the job description is the same. Someone is in the 120k-150k range someone else wont clear 60k.
    Last edited by Anthony Hoh; 06-05-2008 at 07:56 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Hoh View Post
    Sorry I took me a while to get back to this thread. Tom had my point. I want to be clear, I am not hating on contractors, they do help us make mission. However I still do not understand the pay gap for deployed contract personnel. I am not outing Blackwater or MPRI or whomever. But the fact is contractors checking ID's at the US embassy here in OEF make a proverbial "s" load more money than the SPC4 up the road checking ID's at CP Phoenix. You still can get blown up, the job description is the same. Someone is in the 120k-150k range someone else wont clear 60k.
    The simple reason is economics.

    You can make an E4 do anything, he enlisted and signed a contract. The military decided it had better things to do with that E4 than checking ID's at the entrance gate - and didn't forsee the job lasting 20 years. Therefore, the decision was made to hire a "temp" to do the work. When the job is over, the temp is released, with no strings attached.

    The E4 has job security and benefits, and the military looks to develop him into a SGM someday.

    Try offering a civilian $30k a year to check ID's at a gate in Baghdad with no benefits. You won't fill the job. The market pays what is required to fill the position.

    The Army has determined that the recruitment, training, and benefit costs of recruiting more E4's to pull gate guard is HIGHER than the costs for employing a contractor at $150k a year for 5-10 years. The contractor absorbs the recruitment cost, medical cost, etc. for him.

    To get a new E4, you gave him a $40k enlistment bonus, spent $80k recruiting him (ads, recruiters, etc), $100k training him, $30k/year in salary, plus an additional $15k/year in benefits (housing, medical, etc), and accept that he might do 20 years where you have to pay half his final salary for the rest of his life. Not to mention the PCS costs, etc. And if he gets wounded, the govt has to pay for him for life. Not so for the contractor.

    Overall, much cheaper to hire a contractor for the duration than to asorb the long term costs of the E4 for non-long term requirements. That can apply to gate guard, fueling, cooking, etc.

    There is a break even point though, for each job. And I know it doesn't make it emotionally easier for that E4 to know that the civilian beside him doing the same job gets paid 4x-5x more. However, when I talked to my soldiers about it and explained it, most opted to stay in the army for the job security rather than short term gain with little long term prospects, and no "network" backing you up.
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    Council Member Anthony Hoh's Avatar
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    Default Thanks

    Cav Guy,
    That actually makes some sense. I appreciate the detail. I never considered things like recruit costs etc. I only focused on what I saw in front of me healthcare, uniform, salary. I dont despair over the pay differences although I agree the simple reason is economics. I cant imagine the minutia used by DoD to calculate the "breaking point" (nothing simple about that I would imagine). Perhaps I have on my rose colored glasses, but the SPC 4 not doing a whole lot is out there and could be used to replace contractors in some instances like the one above. To get back on topic with the thread, I don’t feel we are careful enough in selecting where we place contractors, and we are not getting any better at it.
    Maybe it should not only be about economics. Although I picked the embassy analogy out of the blue, it fits this point. How do we project ourselves to others when we place contractors in high visibility positions like embassy security? I am sure the marines are out there somewhere but without busting the ROE I go (really, really) close by there about once a week and never see any. Perhaps I am too emotional about the pride I have in service and it skews my perceptions. But I feel the nation is unintentionally sending the wrong message with contractors in these types of roles. More thought should be given as to where the contractors are placed. You know my concern over economics but more thought on this would stave off our trip down the slippery slope and put more Soldiers faces where they should be, out front ensuring our nations interests.

    In Service,
    arh
    Last edited by Anthony Hoh; 06-06-2008 at 05:35 AM. Reason: I am connected with bits not Bites it killing me!

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Hoh View Post
    Cav Guy,

    Although I picked the embassy analogy out of the blue, it fits this point. How do we project ourselves to others when we place contractors in high visibility positions like embassy security? I am sure the marines are out there somewhere but without busting the ROE I go (really, really) close by there about once a week and never see any. Perhaps I am too emotional about the pride I have in service and it skews my perceptions. But I feel the nation is unintentionally sending the wrong message with contractors in these types of roles. More thought should be given as to where the contractors are placed. You know my concern over economics but more thought on this would stave off our trip down the slippery slope and put more Soldiers faces where they should be, out front ensuring our nations interests.

    In Service,
    arh

    Tony,

    Contract external security at embassies plus Host Nation (in the case of Zaire we had Zairian MPs that we trained and paid) has long been standard practice. despite Hollywood's typical depeiction of a Marine at the front gate, MSGs operate inside for 99.99% of what they do. And most embassies do not have an MSG.

    Tom

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