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May 19, 2006

US(sorta)@War

5/18/2006 - -- Joseph Stutzman and Robert Attard, contractors from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., switch an AGM-114 Hellfire missile from one MQ-1 Predator to another on May 16, 2006, at Balad Air Base, Iraq. Mr. Stutzman and Mr. Attard are aircraft mechanics assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit. Contractors began replacing some military maintainers in February 2006, and recently took over as the primary mechanics for the Predator. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brian Ferguson)

5/18/2006 - -- Joseph Stutzman and Robert Attard, contractors from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., switch an AGM-114 Hellfire missile from one MQ-1 Predator to another on May 16, 2006, at Balad Air Base, Iraq. Mr. Stutzman and Mr. Attard are aircraft mechanics assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit. Contractors began replacing some military maintainers in February 2006, and recently took over as the primary mechanics for the Predator. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brian Ferguson)

Heh. At what point do we just let the troops go, and DoD becomes DoDCMA? Department of Defense Contract Management Agency?

Not an idle question, as this paper discusses.

Hey - *I'm* a contractor. I have a dog in this fight. But as I look around and see where contractors serve, and the rules under which they serve - I question both the aptness of using contractors for certain mission-critical functions - and the codicils in the contracts under which they function - to include ones where truly mission-critical infrastructure personnel are designated as NEO evacuees in the event of conflict, their jobs putatively taken over by their uniformed supervisors. Supervisors who, when I was watching them perform *their* duties, didn't seem to have much slack time to take on another, full-time, mission-critical task set.

Contractors aren't going away - and for many tasks they shouldn't - but where does the mission creep end? I see the appeal of contracting out a lot of essentially war-time only jobs to this Secretary of Defense - he doesn't want the increase in end-strength and force expansion/contraction issues (and long term expenses) that go with it - he can just hire what he wants off the market and run with it, and not take on the long term burden of permanent full-time (or even part-time) troops. He offloads the pension/medical/overhead issues to industry, only having to partially fund them while contracts are in force.

Whattaya think? This is a smart group.

Cross-posted at Milblogs.