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Old 06-18-2008   #21
Uboat509
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This is why I limited the critique to combat service support. Sure, use contractors to do the scut work on bases in the states -- maybe they could send a few over to my house to keep it clean while my husband is deployed, I wouldn't complain. But where the bullets are flying, the only people you are going to get to work amidst them are soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen. The contractors won't do it.
That's not that much of an issue as most of the contractors (unarmed I mean, not Blackwater et all) work on the FOB and actually many of them are specifically forbidden to leave the FOB. That said there are quite a few contract drivers out doing convoys and they are definitely out where the bullets are flying.


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It might be worth looking into whether the system they have for Marine officers might work with enlisted personnel. For the former, even if they are in a combat arms MOS, they alternate between A billets (fleet tours, usually, in their MOS) and B billets (office jobs doing some sort of support work -- at MARCORSYSCOM, MCCDC, recruiting, etc.). The B billets, while not jobs most enjoy, are usually good for down time from deployments, usually have a lighter workload, and are thus pretty good for family time. Sometimes they are a complete waste of time, but again, short days with little to do give a guy or gal a chance to catch up on all of the administrative scut work of their household that they've missed out on while on a strenuous deployment schedule.

Thus, you could increase the number of personnel who can join up in the combat arms MOS's, and get the rest of the work done by cycling them through A and B billets. You could make it nice and organized and efficient by assigning a primary MOS (their combat arms specialty) and a secondary MOS (the type of office work they will be assigned to), that way you'll know that the jobs will get done.
That will never work for a variety of reasons with the biggest one being that most CA and CSS soldiers joined CA or CSS specifically because they did not want to be the other. Tell the average support guy like a cook, a clerk, a mechanic or a tanker that he has to do a tour in combat arms and he is going tell you to get bent and he will get out and go find a job somewhere else. Tell the average infantryman that he has to do a tour as a support guy and his response will be somewhat more profane but the end result will be the same. This system works for officers because they will spend a great deal of their career in staff jobs anyway.



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This is why you make everyone be a combat arms person first.
The Army has been trying to do this since Schoomaker and it hasn't worked all that well. The problem is partially cultural, supporters don't really have much interest is being CA first and partially practical, supporters don't really have the time, knowledge or resources to build and maintain those skillsets.

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While I don't dispute that the system is far from perfect and that there's graft and corruption in it; I gotta ask Old Eagle's question; Bearing my subject line in mind, what's your solution?
I agree with this completely. Lots of people don't like that we use so many contractors, me neither but what is the solution? We don't have enough servicemembers to do everything that contractors do now and we aren't going to anytime soon.

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Old 06-18-2008   #22
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First, to Schmedlap, the problem of paperwork rigamarole never should have happened to your unit, as a current loggie, and former infantryman (even if I was a dirty nasty leg), I always hate hearing about the utter laziness of certain Soldiers in my branch, and guaranteed that we never turned down a job (within reason). The only reason loggies have jobs is to make sure the door-kickers have all the ammo, food, and working equipment they need, and any leader who doesn't understand that deserves a relief for cause
--END RANT--
Contractors are a touchy subject, and I think the Army misuses them, both in theater and otherwise. Obviously, the military manpower shortage plays a major role in this, but, as stated in other threads, I think part of this is due to a short-sighted view when writing contracts. I know quite a few peers in my branch who deployed only to find KBR, or a subcontractor, conducting their wartime mission, leaving the unit to perform some other function, sometimes completely wasting resources (MWR support, etc.)
As far as CSS serving in CA roles, it has already happened in multiple BCTs, and will continue to happen. While training time is limited in most CSS units due to workload while state-side, if a unit expects to do something in theater, they will find the time to train. As far as the argument about CSS Soldiers only joining the Army to do their specific MOS, there are quite a few Soldiers in my unit reclassing into MFE MOSs or going to SFAS because of experiences they had while deployed. The Soldiers are willing to do the job, and if they're not willing to be a rifleman (or riflewoman) first, they should leave the Army. I disagree with the Marine A/B Billet idea for the Army, to echo Uboat, if you want to piss off a young Infantryman, tell him to go work in the DFAC.
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Old 06-18-2008   #23
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Uboat wrote: That's not that much of an issue as most of the contractors (unarmed I mean, not Blackwater et all) work on the FOB and actually many of them are specifically forbidden to leave the FOB.
And since not everyone lives on a FOB, and since there are not many options on how to support those who don't, then it seems nearly criminal to have put most of the CSS assets in their control. Does it seem right to anyone to send troops into harm's way with no reasonable means to support (feed) them?

We will not always be able to fight based on a FOB concept, where contractors can live and work in nice, safe conditions to support the troops. What happens when troops have to operate in a truly expeditionary manner?

It may require that we have to fight against our natural way of war, per Weigley -- that is, we rely too much on being able to throw money at a problem. It may be that we have to go back to a people solution, specifically a people in uniform solution.

Regards,
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Old 06-18-2008   #24
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As regards the responses to the concept that one way to get around the contractor issue in CSS is to have personnel assigned primary and secondary MOS's, so that they can serve in A and B billets, such that more of the CSS can be handled by military personnel:

I have to say, I am not impressed with the picture of soldiers that has emerged from those responses. My son is 5, and he's already learned that he can't always expect to get everything he wants -- and he knows better than to complain when he doesn't. He also knows that the correct response in those cases is "Yes mom," full stop, in a tone of voice that doesn't betray any whining or complaint. I don't know whether to be more disappointed with the state of parenting in this country or the state of leadership in the Army. From what you all have said, it seems to me as though "soldier" has become synonymous with "prima donna" or "spoiled brat." What happened to the ethic of selfless service? Did someone put in a codicil that such service is only on the terms of what the individual wants? In any case, I sure hope my impression is incorrect, that you are all just trying to prove how enthusiastic soldiers are to serve in the most difficult circumstances possible.

Look, if you can get combat arms Marine Corps officers -- the most ooh-rah, get some, there's nothing better than being at the point of "pull string-go boom," group you could ever wish to find -- to accede to a system of rotation between fleet tours in the their MOS's and B-billets in a supporting function, then you ought to be able to do the same with soldiers. I would expect nothing less.

However, if you are truly correct, and you can't teach these old dogs new tricks, then the simple answer is that the system applies to those who will enter the service in the future.

If you don't believe there is a problem with contractor-provided CSS, then there is no reason to contemplate such a solution. However, if you think that CSS may have to be returned to those in uniform, then something is going to have to give.

Pardon me for being blunt.

Regards,
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Old 06-18-2008   #25
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I understand the concern that an argument was put forth stating, basically, that if the contract were cancelled then troops would be without food. However, that is an exaggeration of a statement that was false to begin with. There would be a delay in transferring back from contractor-provided logistics to Army-provided, but the troops would not go hungry. They would simply eat MREs in the interim.

Any FOB or other type of base in Iraq always has enough MREs to be a buffer against a stoppage in food flow. I know this because I have seen it occur. Certain FOBs have had their food supply cut short due to certain routes being shut down to logistics convoys. During those times, the FOBbits ate MREs. The issue is not that troops would go hungry. The issue is that they would be eating MREs. And if you do not cringe at the though of troops eating anything less than gourmet food prepared in a 4-star dining facility, 3 to 4 times per day, everyday, then you do not support the troops (that was sarcasm). That's right - there is a political angle.

It is important to remember that FOBs are Division/Brigade types of areas. The most significant change at issue here is not one of outsourcing logistics to contractors, so much as that our small units are co-habitating with the higher echelons. As a result of this change, we are observing the logistics activity at the DIV/BDE areas, seeing the co-habitation with the companies, and assuming that companies are now conducting contractor-driven logistics. That is simply not the case.

Our increasing outsourcing of logistics is borne more of choice than need and it is only occurring in any significant fashion at high echelons. And it is not borne so much of necessity as from a quality of life stance. The FOBs dole out lots of cash for $35 plates of KBR gourmet extravaganza because someone early on in this war made the determination that we were weak, soft, fragile little things that would bend under the pressure of doing what we signed up to do, if we did not eat three belly-busting meals of steak, bacon, pizza, red bull, and doughnuts every day. When necessity rears its ugly head, units are perfectly capable of doing logistics old-school style. And they do.

For example, my battalion was located away from a FOB and my company was located away from the battalion. The food at our company patrol base and the food consumed at the battalion mini-FOB (for lack of a better term) were prepared and cooked by our battalion's cooks. There were no contractors at our company PB or at our battalion's mini-FOB. The battalion mini-FOB's ration cycle was A-M-A. Our weekly ration cycle at the company level was M-M-M, M-M-M, M-M-A, M-M-M, M-M-M, M-M-M, M-M-A, repeat.

Before being picked up at a large FOB by our support platoon, the food was shipped from Kuwait to the large FOBs by contractors (with US Army Military Police escorts). But, so what? This makes sense. The fact that we are outsourcing does not mean that we are incapable of the logistics. It just means that outsourcing makes more sense, given the intent. We could switch back, but why? It would be less efficient. If Iran comes across the border, then maybe reverting back to military logistics will make sense. Until then, have another doughnut.
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Old 06-18-2008   #26
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Default Jill, as an OLD Army

guy who really respects the Marines (I never met a dumb Field Grade Marine officer - they could all do the dumb Marine act brilliantly however) it is well to remember that the USMC is NOT the Army writ small. Neither is the Army the USMC writ large. They are different organizations whose missions sometimes overlap but often do not. So they will and should do many things differently although they can certainly learn from each other.

Break

I'm with all of you who think that we have gone too far in contracting out services - even in the vast majority of the cases where the contractors are honest and competent. There is no easy or short term solution. But the beginning is to clearly identify what is a government function and stop contracting for that function as we build the capacity to perform it back into the government/military. We didn't get to this point overnight - as Ken says, it began in the 70s with the AVF - and we won't reach a new desired equilibrium in a year or two. Hopefully, it won't take us 35 years!

Cheers

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Old 06-18-2008   #27
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From what you all have said, it seems to me as though "soldier" has become synonymous with "prima donna" or "spoiled brat." What happened to the ethic of selfless service? Did someone put in a codicil that such service is only on the terms of what the individual wants? In any case, I sure hope my impression is incorrect, that you are all just trying to prove how enthusiastic soldiers are to serve in the most difficult circumstances possible.

... if you can get combat arms Marine Corps officers... to accede to a system of rotation between fleet tours in the their MOS's and B-billets in a supporting function, then you ought to be able to do the same with soldiers.
Jill,

That is a very good question and it could be a thread of its own. It is a question that I grappled with when I decided to leave the Army. Had my option been to be a platoon leader or company commander for the next 20 years, then I would have happily continued to sacrifice my social life and risk my mortal life to do it. But I left the Army because I recognized that, as a Captain, the remainder of my career would be about a 5 to 1 ratio, or worse, of staff time to command time. All of that risk and sacrifice, just to do PowerPoint slides, run a TOC, or otherwise do work that a mediocre Soldier with a permanent profile could do. It did not make any sense to me. But then I also thought, "what about selfless service?" My decision making process sounded highly selfish. And maybe it was. Or maybe I am too self-critical. I don't know. My decision boiled down to my recognition that if I hated my job, then I would not have the self-discipline to give it the full attention that it merited. That was how I rationalized it. It is something that I still think about.
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Old 06-18-2008   #28
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The US government is one massive conflict of interest -- look at the FAA or the Department of Agriculture; any of them. Life is a conflict of interest. The Company has no loyalty to the government or to the chain of command; their only loyalty is to their bottom line, period. Any contract written without that thoughy firmly in mind will leave loopholes that corporate lawyers will find and wiggle through. Sorry, but to me, that's human nature at work, to be expected (not desired, not nice but expected) and part of the way things work. Better contracts and fewer changes can stop that.
I don't have a problem in principle with the way businesses work in trying for government contracts, but I think it is a problem when contractors are integrated into the government workforce. You get personnel who serve two masters in one organization, and that's trouble.

You could mitigate some problems with more careful contract writing, but there are a lot of problems with that, I think. Contracted workforce is now pretty common throughout the department, so we're going need probably more lawyers than what we have currently, or rely less on them, or allow contracts with very broad statements of work. Where I work, we've got close to 1000 contractors, who have all been unified under one big contract. We (my boss and me and his other minions) spent the better part of a year combing through the task order to ensure that we closed all the little loopholes, but we still get conflicts over "that's not in the task order, so pay us more or go away." We have a big and technically diverse mission, you really just can't cover it all and I don't believe we could write a foolproof contract to cover the mission, if we have specify all the things the contractor must do (and we do). Squabbles with the contract over what is legitimate work are common here, and depressing.

This is not good in a COCOM HQ, would be much worse out in the field. Do we want contractors parsing their statement of work on the battlefield? I think the obvious solution is that we need more troops, then we wouldn't have a need to push contractors out to do jobs that have traditionally been done by soldiers, or reduce our commitments to the level that can be supported by the numbers we have in uniform. Failing that, fill the billets with GS (make that NSPS) personnel.

Past my few suggestions, I don't have any schemes to solve this current impasse. Though if I do find some clever solution to it all, I will start my own consultancy and go hunting contracts to sell my wisdom to Uncle Sam.
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Old 06-18-2008   #29
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First, to Schmedlap, the problem of paperwork rigamarole never should have happened to your unit, as a current loggie, and former infantryman (even if I was a dirty nasty leg), I always hate hearing about the utter laziness of certain Soldiers in my branch, and guaranteed that we never turned down a job (within reason). The only reason loggies have jobs is to make sure the door-kickers have all the ammo, food, and working equipment they need, and any leader who doesn't understand that deserves a relief for cause
--END RANT--
I feel your pain . I am a former QM, dealt with my share of this. A fair few soldiers in CSS join the Army for the wrong reasons, and are perennially surprised (and become surly) when they are required to be soldiers and do their mission. Some of that can be fixed by good leadership example (when I was in Support Squadron, 11th ACR, all the log troops were pretty highly motivated, not so much in the FSBs I was in later). It is grating though, because the bad ones smear everyone else's reputation.

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I know quite a few peers in my branch who deployed only to find KBR, or a subcontractor, conducting their wartime mission, leaving the unit to perform some other function, sometimes completely wasting resources (MWR support, etc.)
(repeating what Jill said)

This I can't understand. What happens if we have a higher intensity conflict, or are in an environment where we don't have the luxury of sprawling FOB complexes with all the comforts of home? Who will do the logistics then? If CSS soldiers aren't doing their jobs, they won't be ready to do them when there is no alternative to using soldiers.
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Old 06-18-2008   #30
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Look, if you can get combat arms Marine Corps officers -- the most ooh-rah, get some, there's nothing better than being at the point of "pull string-go boom," group you could ever wish to find -- to accede to a system of rotation between fleet tours in the their MOS's and B-billets in a supporting function, then you ought to be able to do the same with soldiers. I would expect nothing less.
I don't know that we so much accede to it. We're either relieved to escape from an infantry or artillery battalion environment for a few years, or we're drug off kicking and screaming. I would have been in the latter category, but my XO experience shifted me to the former.

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If you have an infantryman running a support service, he'll likely do it with gusto and integrity, because it's his buddies up at the front that he's supporting.
I think rotating combat arms officers into CSS jobs would be a mistake. I had the (mis)fortune of pulling a collateral duty as team embarkation officer while doing my company XO time on a MEU deployment. My complete lack of knowledge about embarkation, logistics, or even what an M1123 HMMWV is (come to find out, it's the one that I had always been taught to refer to as a "highback") was a major hindrance. A trained logistics officer would have done a much better job (but try telling my battalion XO that - I did, and he didn't care). Ultimately, I am a much smarter MAGTF officer for having suffered through that; but I think if we were to rotate guys between CA and CSS across the board, it would turn out to be a disaster. My saving grace in that job was being surrounded by guys who were trained in that field, and could help me figure it out.

Keep in mind, what you are describing is not a B billet, per se. It is a CSS billet in the operating forces. Yes, there are combat arms officers that do a turn in CSS billets in the opfor as a B billet, but they are few and far between. B billets are typically in the Supporting Establishment, like your husband's job at SYSCOM.

I like the point that Ken and some others are making. Defense contracting is here to stay for some time. A similar thing happened in Europe in the Middle Ages - it was easier to hire trained men to do their fighting than to train and maintain their own armies. The way to maintain some quality control is to word the contracts carefully, and enforce the contractual obligations.

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I never met a dumb Field Grade Marine officer - they could all do the dumb Marine act brilliantly however
That, sir, is premium signature line material.

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Old 06-18-2008   #31
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I like the point that Ken and some others are making. Defense contracting is here to stay for some time. A similar thing happened in Europe in the Middle Ages - it was easier to hire trained men to do their fighting than to train and maintain their own armies. The way to maintain some quality control is to word the contracts carefully, and enforce the contractual obligations.
Yes, but in those times you are talking about fielding mercenary fighting forces. Arguably we do that now, and it seems to me we are sliding toward that end, but our society is politically much different than Europe in the Middle Ages - we have a citizen army, still, even if not a conscription army any more. It is politically meaningful that the citizenry have a share in the fights that the government of, by and for the people pick. Fighting wars is one of the most serious and profound things a government can do; contracting it out to private industry would, I believe, alter the political character of the country over the long term. I'm not sure that's a road we want to go down.
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Old 06-18-2008   #32
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I am wondering why the majority of this discussion seems to be about the transport of class I as if that is all that these convoys carry. The attitude of some here seems to be that if we just start feeding the FOBBITs MREs then the need for contractors will dry up. That is simply not the case. First of all, all classes of supply are carried on those convoys. Even if you eliminate the hot meals on the FOBs, you will still need those convoys to carry everything else that is needed both on and off the FOB. Second, the military loggies aren't sitting on their hands and letting the contractors carry everything for them. There are plenty of military logistics convoys but there simply are not enough to haul everything that needs to be moved. Our military is not manned or equiped to support this type of long term mission.

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Old 06-18-2008   #33
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Default What you are all failing to consider ...

... is that the transition to contractors was driven by authorized end strength, the Congressional limit on the number of people in the active duty components.

The authorized end strength of the Army is 512,400 (authorized for 2009). The Army wants to get maximum combat power out of that number. The brass has decided (correctly, in my opinion) to identify areas where they can hire civilians to perform certain activities, and free up another troop slot for combat power.

That is the reason every company doesn't have its own mess section. Its the reason so much of the higher echelon maintenance/repair is performed by contractors. It's the reason a lot of the logistics (i.e. transport) is done by contractors. Having contractors do a lot of that work frees authorized slots for combat power.

A second consideration is pay. As an exampole, the Navy's electronics tech schools are (or at least used to be) the best to be found anywhere, military or civilian. They last(ed) about 18 months. Add 36 months for service in a unit, and the sailor is at the end of his enlistment. At which point, he can get a job at SCI Sanmina, Rockwell-Collins, Harris, etc. at two or three times the pay, company paid education to get a BS EE, etc. At this point, the Navy has exactly one avenue to pursue if it wants to retain the expertise: go to the contractor and pay them for the work.

Jill, a lot of your points and ideas are very well taken. But the problem isn't with what the services want. The problem is with the constraints imposed by Congress.
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Old 06-18-2008   #34
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Default Minor point, Sargent

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...I have to say, I am not impressed with the picture of soldiers that has emerged from those responses. My son is 5, and he's already learned that he can't always expect to get everything he wants -- and he knows better than to complain when he doesn't....
Do not take umbrage but allow me to point out that your son is not a relatively mature 18 or 19 year old who volunteered to do a particular for remuneration. That guy volunteered to do a job that he thought he would like or at least tolerate for some reason. Two generally distinct personality types go into the CSS and CA spectrums and it was my observation during my service in both the Corps and the Army that this was true and pretty non-negotiable in the eyes of most (not all, a few don't care that much). Officers and EM differ in attitudes on a lot of things and as John said, the Army and Marines differ. I'll also note that I have seen a number of both Army and Marine officers who were able to avoid some jobs they didn't like...

Even know some of both who got all the way to Colonel while avoiding service in DC...

Both services have at times reclassified EM from CSS to CA to fill shortfalls (none the other way to my knowledge, though a few guys get tired of combat and voluntarily switch to CSS); most accept it and adapt. However, if they have less than ten years, they tend to get out at the first opportunity; more than ten they mostly stick around -- and then tend to retire at 20 and not stick around for 30. Different people are attracted to different things and I'm not at all sure that's indicative of indiscipline or lack of motivation. You'd be surprised by the number of folks offered commissions in wartime and turn them down.
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What happened to the ethic of selfless service? Did someone put in a codicil that such service is only on the terms of what the individual wants?
Essentially, yes -- the Enlistment contract is pretty specific. Could it be modified? Sure -- but right now it offers the kid what he thinks he wants as a job and that job offer is fairly specific and pretty much by MOSC.
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In any case, I sure hope my impression is incorrect, that you are all just trying to prove how enthusiastic soldiers are to serve in the most difficult circumstances possible.
That is the case and I think you inadvertently maligned a lot of Marines and Soldiers. Joe can be hard for many to understand...
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Look, if you can get combat arms Marine Corps officers -- the most ooh-rah, get some, there's nothing better than being at the point of "pull string-go boom," group you could ever wish to find -- to accede to a system of rotation between fleet tours in the their MOS's and B-billets in a supporting function, then you ought to be able to do the same with soldiers. I would expect nothing less.
Having some experience of Marine Officers and other various service types, IMO, your statement is correct with respect to some but not all Marine Officers. I'm not sure but suspect your knowledge of other communities that are every bit as Gung Ho -- some even more inclusively so -- may be limited. They're out there.
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However, if you are truly correct, and you can't teach these old dogs new tricks, then the simple answer is that the system applies to those who will enter the service in the future.
Could be tried; my belief is that it wouldn't succeed. All the services today are filling combat arms slots with little problem but are having difficulty filling CSS slots. Short a return to the draft, I suspect that will continue because the average enlistee for a CSS job can make more money with less hassle on the outside -- the kid who wants to get in a fight has to go combat arms or be a cop, he cannot do that on the outside -- and the CA Army or Marine route offers more pizazz. As your 5 year old gets older, you'll see what I mean on a couple of levels...
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If you don't believe there is a problem with contractor-provided CSS, then there is no reason to contemplate such a solution. However, if you think that CSS may have to be returned to those in uniform, then something is going to have to give.

Pardon me for being blunt.
I thought we were supposed to be blunt? Not a problem. However, I don't think anyone disagrees with you that some CSS contracting is problematic or that in some circumstances, contracting isn't going to work. Seems to me we're in agreement on that and that comments offered to you and to Stevely have been in the vein "it's not as bad as you seem to think" and "that's a good idea but..." and we still end up at the same place -- What, really, is the solution? One that will actually work? How do you get people to volunteer for low paying scut work that comes in an environment filled with petty hassles and regimentation. A guy who wants to fight will put up with all that; one who doesn't want to fight will not.
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Old 06-18-2008   #35
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Default Well said, John, but

(there's always a "but") Congressional manpower constraints are not the sole source of the problem. Clearly, they are part of it and aleviation will require more people in uniform. Obviously, there is a legitimate role for contractors but there are roles they play that should be government business. Among those, I submit, are training foreign militaries for the USG and educating/training ROTC cadets and midshipmen. When you remove the contracts from functions that are inherently governmental, you still have the problem of making sure the contract is written well and then its terms are enforced. One should never have to go to the contractor for the expertise to write a good contract but it is sad how often that happens. The positive side is that many of those contracts are written properly and protect the public interest because the contractors are often prior service who supervised similar contracts while on active duty. In many cases, their patriotism trumps corporate profit. Unfortunately, sometimes greed does win out. Some functions that are now performed by contract can and should be performed by civil servants - to make this effective requires a reform in the ability to expand civil service positions and making hiring easier. This, too, requires legislation but some things can, in fact, be done administratively.

It is, indeed, a complex problem but not chaotic (entirely).

Cheers

JohnT
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Old 06-18-2008   #36
Tom Odom
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... is that the transition to contractors was driven by authorized end strength, the Congressional limit on the number of people in the active duty components.
As we stand today that is correct

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The authorized end strength of the Army is 512,400 (authorized for 2009). The Army wants to get maximum combat power out of that number. The brass has decided (correctly, in my opinion) to identify areas where they can hire civilians to perform certain activities, and free up another troop slot for combat power.
Yes again

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That is the reason every company doesn't have its own mess section. Its the reason so much of the higher echelon maintenance/repair is performed by contractors. It's the reason a lot of the logistics (i.e. transport) is done by contractors. Having contractors do a lot of that work frees authorized slots for combat power.
Not exactly. The removal of mess sections, and maintenance sections to create light infantry divisions was all part of AOE as described below:

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Army of Excellence
The centerpiece of the reorganization, the light infantry division was a 3-brigade organization with 9 battalions of straight foot-infantry, with a strength eventually set at 10,800 men. Deployable in approximately 550 C-141 airlift sorties, it was oriented specifically to contingency actions worldwide where response in the first days of a crisis was critical. Lacking armor and heavy howitzers, the division was structured on shock tactics rather than sustained firepower. Based on the historical lessons of World War II, force designers incorporated "corps plug" augmentation forces into the scheme to make up for the lack of firepower and logistical capability. By concept, an early-arriving light division could buy time for heavier forces to follow. The light division had a secondary mission of reinforcement of heavy forces in scenarios and terrain where it could be more effective than those forces - in cities, forests, and mountain areas. Many light infantry division capabilities were austere. The division - contingency focused - was conceived and approved as a hard-hitting, highly trained, elite light force, with high esprit and cooperation essential to its success. The design went through a successful certification process in the 7th Infantry Division (Light) at Fort Ord, supported by the TRADOC test organizations, during 1984-1986.
There are two trends here: one was to reduce tail by either removing the function and replacing it with a partially technological fix as in MREs with T-rations served via micro waves. Or maintenance with so-called plugs from above; we all wondered what would happen when the supply of said plugs was expended.

This was going on well before then SecDef Cheney put the use of contractors into hyper-drive; see Public War, Private Fight? The United States and Private Military Companies, Deborah C. Kidwell. Paper #12. for a pretty good discussion of that.

The other trend was reduction of the military and removal of those functions in favor of "teeth". As you say, fewer troops means keep the shooters.

A third but somewhat buried trend in all of this dealt with breaking with the Weinburger/Powell/Myers changes to the military that required full mobilization of reserves and NG. Giving those functions over to private companies reduced societal and political costs (in theory). This dovetailed nicely with transformational rhetoric about the intrinsic value of rapid deployment, none of which took into account the costs of an extended war effort.

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Old 06-18-2008   #37
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Default True...

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Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
...A third but somewhat buried trend in all of this dealt with breaking with the Weinburger/Powell/Myers changes to the military that required full mobilization of reserves and NG. Giving those functions over to private companies reduced societal and political costs (in theory). This dovetailed nicely with transformational rhetoric about the intrinsic value of rapid deployment, none of which took into account the costs of an extended war effort.
Creighton Abrams as CofSA was the real initiator of that AC to RC move of CS/CSS units in 1973, it was desinged so that future Presidents would have to mobilize the guard and Reserve to got to war. It worked -- and works today.

The moves were well in place by the time Meyer and Weinberger appeared on scene (in 79 and 81, respectively). Abrams plan was the basis of (and in support of) the Weinberger Doctrine of 1984 even though he long preceded Cap. The AOE plan was on the right track but a change of civilian leadership meant that it fell by the wayside before it got fully implemented. That happens a lot.

I'll add that all this proves yet again that the Weinberger and Powell 'doctrines' were idealistic to an extreme and thus flawed...

Probably also proving that concrete structural plans and efforts as opposed to 'doctrine' can work and last. Thus my suggestion that we'd be better off trying to change the organizations and equipment to minimize the need for contractor support rather than trying to change human nature by executive diktat.
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Old 06-18-2008   #38
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Default Tom, I don't quite understand

what you are driving at in your third trend:


"A third but somewhat buried trend in all of this dealt with breaking with the Weinburger/Powell/Myers changes to the military that required full mobilization of reserves and NG. Giving those functions over to private companies reduced societal and political costs (in theory). This dovetailed nicely with transformational rhetoric about the intrinsic value of rapid deployment, none of which took into account the costs of an extended war effort."

Tom[/QUOTE]

One of the consequences of both the Gulf War decision to call up RC personnel using derivative UICs and the subsequent Rumsfeld understaffed Army was to require the call up of all sorts of RC (USAR and NG) units - CA, CS, and CSS for multiple tours well beyond what they thought they were signing up for. Can you clarify?

Cheers

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Old 06-18-2008   #39
Tom Odom
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what you are driving at in your third trend:


"A third but somewhat buried trend in all of this dealt with breaking with the Weinburger/Powell/Myers changes to the military that required full mobilization of reserves and NG. Giving those functions over to private companies reduced societal and political costs (in theory). This dovetailed nicely with transformational rhetoric about the intrinsic value of rapid deployment, none of which took into account the costs of an extended war effort."

Tom
One of the consequences of both the Gulf War decision to call up RC personnel using derivative UICs and the subsequent Rumsfeld understaffed Army was to require the call up of all sorts of RC (USAR and NG) units - CA, CS, and CSS for multiple tours well beyond what they thought they were signing up for. Can you clarify?

Cheers

JohnT[/QUOTE]


JohnT
Agreed Gulf War I required the call up; per the Powell Doctrine that Ken loves so much

Gulf War 2 (OIF) required call ups but Rumsfeld view if a transformational military was built on the theory of short war. That means contractors. You supposedly did not have to disrupt the American life style and you could exercise greater executive control of foreign policy and military force. Remember all the hype about transformation in 2001 pre-9/11? It was all about projecting power quickly without any increase in actual force structure.

Where that "vision" (my use of quotes is plain sacarsm) failed was that there would be a need for repeated call ups of those forces on top of all those contractors. In other words, you paid both ways: you paid for high contract costs because you had stripped capacity to sustain the force from the actiual force and you still needed call ups for the long haul


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From Ken:Thus my suggestion that we'd be better off trying to change the organizations and equipment to minimize the need for contractor support rather than trying to change human nature by executive diktat.
Absolutely!

Tom

Last edited by Tom Odom; 06-18-2008 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 06-18-2008   #40
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Probably also proving that concrete structural plans and efforts as opposed to 'doctrine' can work and last. Thus my suggestion that we'd be better off trying to change the organizations and equipment to minimize the need for contractor support rather than trying to change human nature by executive diktat.
Could not agree more that keeping contractor logistics support (CLS) out of fielded systems is a desired end state. However, with the trend these days going to ever more COTS procurement as a way to do rapid fielding to bridge perceived capability shortfalls, we are more and more stuck on the CLS horns with the systems we are currently fielding.

The institutional training base is not geared up to provide the kind of rapid response needed to produce uniformed maintainers to sustain equipment fielded using rapid fielding initiative processes (but I think ken and I have had these discussions about the "issues" in the military, at least TRADOC, training design and development process before ).
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