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Why Contractor Trainers is a Bad Idea July 24, 2008

Posted by Frank Antinucci in contractors.
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The Defense Tech blog asks the question today: Why is it bad to use contractors for combat related military training. Really?

DT is commenting on an article in the Virginia Pilot about how Defense Secretary Gates is concerned to learn that contractors such as Blackwater are taking over the training of soldiers for combat related missions.

What could be wrong with that, right? Well for starters:

1) You are turning yet another segment of the military into a FOR PROFIT enterprise. These private contractors cost more money. And don’t show me those statistics about the “real” cost of a soldier. A soldier is working for his country, not a corporation, and that’s priceless.

2) It worsens OVERSIGHT and ACCOUNTABILITY. It’s public knowledge that the military doesn’t have the human resources to properly oversee its contractor workforce AS IS. You really think it’s a good idea to exacerbate that problem? Maybe the abuses aren’t that bad now, but every time you take a critical function one more step away from public scrutiny, that is an invitation for abuse.

3) It HURTS RETENTION. How is the military supposed to entice people to make a career of it, when they do the exact same work for so much more money by bailing out and going corporate.

And this on the very day that the Senate Appropriations Committee holds a hearing to ask what happened to the billions upon billions that have been squandered due to poor management of military contractors, questions to which Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England could only answer, basically, “We know it’s a problem, we’re working on it.”

“It’s just business” goes the argument. “The private sector is more efficient” and other such nonsense.

For example, how about this pontification from the post:

I just don’t see what the problem is with retired grunts finding a new career training the same Joes they once served alongside. It’s the same thing that happens in the civilian world with retired whomevers “consulting” in their prior business.

Thanks for making my point.

These corporations aren’t likely to cede the ground easily once we’ve given it over to them and hollowed out the military to boot.

Whenever this war wraps up, the community will have to take a long, hard look at the result of ballooning the contractor workforce and whether or not it’s justified after the excuse of “oops, we forgot to get on a war footing” will hold out over the long term.

Gates sees that the issue isn’t whether those in the positions now are needed, he’s concerned that this takes us further down the slippery slope, and he’s right to be.