Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Support Troops are Civilians

Support functions in militaries are increasingly civilian contractors. How long before it is acceptable to have direct combat jobs placed in the hands of civilian contractors?

Use of civilians to support an army used to be pretty common until widespread use of the draft made it cheaper to put civilians into uniforms to do these jobs. Now it is making a return:

The UAE (United Arab Emirates) recently signed a $5.8 billion contract with commercial firms to handle maintenance and technical support for all the aircraft and helicopters in the UAE armed forces for five years. The contract was won by a consortium consisting of a UAE firm and two American ones (Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin). Deals like this are called PBL (Performance Based Logistics) and save lot of money while providing better service. ...

Over the last decade PBL has become increasingly popular in the West. The U.S. Department of Defense has saved a lot of money with PBL and went from a few billion dollars a year in PBS contracts a decade ago to over $100 billion a year by 2006 and continues to climb because most of these deals have proved to save the user lots of money while providing better service.

We had plenty of security contractors in Iraq (and if Afghanistan, for that matter), mostly for base security. Will that role get a higher profile? Could entire units be private organizations integrated into a national military to provide niche capabilities?

And then could entire independent, self-contained (combined arms plus combat support and combat service support assets) combat battalions or brigades enter the picture?

Will national and international laws be adapted to provide protections to mercenaries who follow the rules of war? Keep in mind that there are plenty of people who think insurgents who violate the rules of war should have those protections.

Privatized warfare is getting nearer.