Contractors supporting military operations
Dunn, Richard L.
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The following article is taken as an excerpt from the proceedings of the annual Acquisition Research Program. This annual event showcases the research projects funded through the Acquisition Research Program at the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School. Featuring keynote speakers, plenary panels, multiple panel sessions, a student research poster show and social events, the Annual Acquisition Research Symposium offers a candid environment where high-ranking Department of Defense (DoD) officials, industry officials, accomplished faculty and military students are encouraged to collaborate on finding applicable solutions to the challenges facing acquisition policies and processes within the DoD today. By jointly and publicly questioning the norms of industry and academia, the resulting research benefits from myriad perspectives and collaborations which can identify better solutions and practices in acquisition, contract, financial, logistics and program management. For further information regarding the Acquisition Research Program, electronic copies of additional research, or to learn more about becoming a sponsor, please visit our program website at: www.acquisitionresearch.org. For further information on or to register for the next Acquisition Research Symposium during the third week of May, please visit our conference website at: www.researchsymposium.org.;The author's previous research surveyed issues and policies related to the trend toward increased reliance on contractors in combat and other contingency operations, documented relevant case studies, and, presented analyses and recommendations. The current research presents a background summary and updates relevant policy developments since the earlier research. It then takes a distinctly different approach than the earlier study. Instead of trying to extract additional lessons from case studies of current events, this research attempts to gain historical perspective through case studies of earlier conflicts, primarily World War II. Rather than attempting to survey a catalog of issues, this research concentrates on a narrow set of issues. The issues reviewed in this paper relate to the extent contractors can and should be made an integral part of the mission team in combat and contingency operations. If contractors have become integral to the success of combat and contingency operations, shouldn't they be responsive and responsible to the commander formally charged with mission success? Expressed another way, can and should the concept of unity of command be applied to contractors in a combat theater? Assuming that contractors should be integrated into joint task force operations in a way that creates the essence of unity of command, how can that be accomplished? The question of contractor control/unity of command can be relatively simply stated as suggested in the previous paragraph. This research found, however, that the path toward combatant commander control of contractors is complicated by divergent policies, conflicting belief systems, disconnections between policy theory and on the ground reality, and a variety of legal and regulatory hurdles. A key aspect of the commander's ability to control the forces in his theater, uniformed military or civilian contractor, is the ability to direct available forces to perform the most critical tasks when necessary. In a combat zone, the performance of critical tasks may involve activities that constitute or approach direct participation in combat. This is not an issue for uniformed military personnel; every soldier can be made a rifleman when necessary. However, civilians who directly participate in combat risk becoming illegal combatants under international law, compromise their potential status as prisoners of war, and potentially become subject to criminal sanctions. Civilian contractors may find themselves participating directly in combat because their contract work calls for such action (e.g.certain weapons system or security contractors) or due to exigent circumstances. As pointed out in the author's earlier work, there are a number of issues concerning contractors in combat scenarios that need to be resolved. Policy developments have addressed many of these issues in a variety of ways. Progress continues to be made in a number of areas. Recent developments have not, however, assured that the theater commander has effective control over contractor personnel in his area of responsibility. Current policy purports to prohibit direct participation in combat by contractors; but, there seems to be no rigorous method to ensure that contractors (either as part of contract work or due to exigent circumstances) do not actually participate in combat. Moreover, the concept of direct participation is not fixed in international law but is still evolving. This research aims to examine both these areas and, if possible recommend policies and approaches that will assure that the theater commander and his subordinates effectively control civilian contractors that support them; and, that only uniformed military personnel will actually participate in combat. Both participation and combat itself may be more amorphous in a war on terrorism than in some other conflicts. A corollary to the commander's control of the activities of contractor personnel is the concern that civilian contractors that are exposed to the risks of combat receive the same force protection, administrative support, and amenities afforded to soldiers under similar circumstances.
Third Annual Acquisition Research Symposium
NPS Report NumberNPS-CM-06-090
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