Quick Thoughts on “Outsourcing War”


On August 13, 2016 I shared a few quick thoughts on the “outsourcing of war” via Twitter.  I felt the need to archive these tweets here in case I need them in the future.  I hope you find them useful.

  There have been a few books & articles recently published regarding the U.S. use of Contractors in places like Iraq & Afghanistan.

  These articles are often critical of this practice.

  I recently had a senior military officer tell me that he thought “If it’s important enough to do, it should be done by the U.S. military.”

  I look at this from a standpoint of Capability vs Symbolism.

  Capabilities-wise, above all else, I want the U.S. military to be able to deter near-peer Competitors & defeat them if necessary.

  To me, if I take a U.S. Military Member & send them overseas to do things that a Contractor could do it hurts U.S. military capability.

  1st, the U.S. Military Member, instead of training to defeat a near-peer Competitor, is doing something else, & his skills are atrophying.

  2nd, U.S. Military units aren’t as available to conduct the kind of training necessary to be prepared to defeat a near-peer Competitor.

  And their unit skills are atrophying.

  Thus the U.S. Military should use Contractors whenever possible as a way to ensure their near-peer competitor defeat skills don’t atrophy.

  To make a bad analogy, why take a Surgeon away from his surgery duties at a major nationwide hospital chain when a part-time EMT will do?

  Now let’s talk about Symbolism.

  In U.S. politics Contractors aren’t “Boots on the Ground” so conflicts can enlarge while maintaining soundbites that make voters smile.

  Externally, the rest of the world may view the U.S. using Contractors vice U.S. Military Members as an indication of lack of commitment.

  Another bad analogy, other countries may look at the U.S. Military like a Hallmark commercial “When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best.”

  Contractors are critical & the U.S. can’t go to contingency without them.  However, there is no perfect answer & everything is a tradeoff.

  Tweet series complete.

Categories: Defense, Quick Thoughts
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