The growing dependence on contractors in today's nonlinear battlefield, combined with its explicit inclusion stated in the current military strategy, provides the need to critically examine the subject of contractors on the battlefield.
There are many challenges with civilians on the battlefield; however, increased use of civilians has changed the face of combat for the military because Global War on Terror (GWOT) has advocated an increasing number of civilians on the nonlinear battlefield. The growing dependence on contractors in today's nonlinear battlefield, combined with its explicit inclusion stated in the current military strategy, provides the need to critically examine the subject of contractors on the battlefield. To bind this complex area of study, this paper will briefly discuss the background of contractor support to the military and review the current policies and doctrine involving logistical services provided by contractors in combat operations, specifically focused on the United States Army.
The use of contractors for operational support is an acceptable risk for the combatant commander as the contractors are generally achieving their mission. Current force structure requires the use of contractors for contingency operations and there are many considerations to ensure the combatant commander is properly supported
Civilians have participated in military operations from t...
During the Revolutionary War civilians were called "Camp Followers" as they followed the Army from camp to camp. They were most often wives and children of the soldiers and they functioned as cooks, nurses, and mended clothes. Some were even paid for their services. (Van Cortland House Museum)
Prior to Operation Desert Shield/Storm policies and procedures that governed civilian personnel during combat operations were ambivalent or nonexistent. Civilian contractors were used extensively during the Vietnam War. "The heavy use of contractors during that War led the Army to determine that a need existed for a preplanned method for utilizing Contractors on the Battlefield" (GlobalSecurity.org, 1).
Policies and procedures codified in directives and regulations following Desert Shield/Storm were a vast improvement over previous documents. During this war there were many contracts awarded for logistics support. This resulted in uneven results. The need for a regulated system to award contracts was evident.
Current policies and procedures provide clarity and direction. Issues exist with compensation, Emergency-Essential (E-E) position designation, and accountability.
Given that the Army is operating in an asymmetric environment, policies and
Procedures that govern E-E civilians must change to meet the new environment.
II. Civilian contractors are an asset and combat multipliers.
Civilian contractors are assets to combat commanders especially when it comes to logistics. LTG Walker (Commander, 8th US Army, Korean War) said it nicely: ""There is no one but yourself to keep your back door open. You can live without food, but you cannot last long without ammunition." Logistics are vital to war fighting. Civilian contracted logistics