Hired Guns

Hired Guns: Views About Armed Contractors in Operation Iraqi Freedom

Sarah K. Cotton
Ulrich Petersohn
Molly Dunigan
Q Burkhart
Megan Zander-Cotugno
Edward OʹConnell
Michael Webber
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 142
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mg987srf
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  • Book Info
    Hired Guns
    Book Description:

    This study reports the results of a systematic, empirically based survey of opinions of U.S. military and State Department personnel with Iraq war experience to shed light on the costs and benefits of using private security contractors (PSCs) in the Iraq war. For the most part, respondents did not believe that PSCs were "running wild" in Iraq, but they held mixed views on PSCs' contribution to the U.S. military operation and U.S. foreign policy objectives.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-5075-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xi-xxii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    With armed security personnel on the ground in Iraq in such unprecedented and visible numbers, they have captured attention both inside and out of the United States and generated heightened controversy. A host of media and government reports detailing contractor abuses in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) might lead one to believe that private security contractors (PSCs) have imposed disproportionate costs on the operation (see, for instance, GAO, 2005, 2006; Westervelt, 2005; Phinney, 2005; Singer, 2004; Associated Press, 2007; Sizemore and Kimberlin, 2006; Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 2007b; Glanz and Rubin, 2007). The British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee summed...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Private Military and Security Contractors Are Not a New Phenomenon: A Brief History of Military Privatization
    (pp. 9-18)

    As far back as the U.S. Revolutionary and Civil Wars, private contractors have provided support, logistics, and supplies to the U.S. military (Johnson, 2007; Zamparelli, 1999). But in World War II, the practice of using private contractors reached a turning point:

    For the first time in World War II, the manufacturer’s technical representative became a prominent feature in forward areas. The increased complexity . . . made the “tech rep” a welcome addition at forward airfields, depots, and repair facilities. In some cases, tech reps were even to be found in the front lines seeking solutions to technical and operational...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Do Private Security Contractors Have a Negative Impact on Military Retention and Morale?
    (pp. 19-24)

    The difference in pay between private security contractors and troops is a recurring theme in interviews, anecdotal accounts, and analyses of how contractors are affecting the military. Christopher Spearin, for instance, notes that the employment decisions of special operations forces (SOF) are affected mainly by remuneration and operational tempo, and that private sector employment offers both better remuneration and more moderate operational tempo than military employment (Spearin, 2006). In July 2005, former SOF personnel in Iraq were earning approximately $12,000–$13,000 per month. In contrast, some private security contractors were being paid as much as $33,000 per month (GAO, 2005)....

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Have Private Security Contractors Had an Adverse Effect on Local Iraqisʹ Perceptions of the Entire Occupying Force Because of the Legal Impunity with Which They Operated in Iraq Prior to 2009?
    (pp. 25-36)

    As noted in Chapter Two, the legal status of contractors in Iraq was altered significantly in 2009. Article 12 of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the Iraqi and U.S. governments, which replaced the expiring UN mandate on January 1, 2009, states, “Iraq shall have the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over United States contractors and United States contractor employees.” This removed the legal immunity that U.S. and third-country national (TCN) contractors had enjoyed in Iraq from 2003 through 2008 under CPA Order 17. While the language of the SOFA appears to make it applicable only to contractors working...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Is There a Relative Lack of Unit Cohesion and Systematic Coordination Between Private Security Contractors and the Military?
    (pp. 37-44)

    The ability (or lack thereof) of private security contractors to coordinate successfully with U.S. military and coalition forces has been another topic of debate. A 2005 GAO report noted several problems in this area, despite efforts to improve:

    The relationship between the military and private security providers is one of coordination, not control. Prior to October 2004 coordination was informal, based on personal contacts, and was inconsistent. In October 2004 a Reconstruction Operations Center was opened to share intelligence and coordinate military-contractor interactions. While military and security providers agreed that coordination has improved, two problems remain. First, private security providers...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Do Private Security Contractors Play a Valuable Supporting Role to the U.S. Military as a Force Multiplier?
    (pp. 45-50)

    As we have noted throughout this report, contractors have become an institutionalized addition to U.S. military forces over the past few decades due to their supposedly beneficial effects on the force. Indeed, Army Field Manual (FM) 3-100.21 considers contractors to provide a valuable means of augmenting capabilities and to generate a force multiplier effect (Department of the Army, 1999). Greater support from contractors permits the Army to deploy fewer combat service support personnel and allows the operational commander greater leeway in designing a force. Experiences from the Balkans provide a vivid example: Increasing levels of contractor support and smaller numbers...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Do Private Security Contractors Provide Skills and Services That the Armed Forces Lack?
    (pp. 51-56)

    From one standpoint, the employment of private security contractors can provide the United States with access to capabilities that would otherwise be unavailable or “would [either] take an inordinate amount of time to develop internally, or . . . be prohibitively expensive to develop” (Wynn, 2004, p. 4). Proponents of this “valuable skills” argument claim that although the vast majority of private security contractors provide services that the military itself is designed to perform, a small segment of this group of contractors might be able to offer additional skills.¹ Aside from basic guard services, private security contractors also provide highly...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT Do Private Security Contractors Provide Vital Surge Capacity and Critical Security Services?
    (pp. 57-62)

    For those who take a favorable view of private military contractors, one important contribution is their perceived ability to provide surge capacity to the U.S. armed forces (Avant, 2005; Fredland, 2004; Zamparelli, 1999). Although this argument usually refers to contractors who provide logistical support, it has recently also been extended to private security contractors. Marion Bowman, for instance, observes:

    Iraq provides an example of how that surge capability functions in the contemporary battlespace. As the conflict loomed in 2003, it was clear that combat in Iraq would entail private security industry capabilities (Bowman, 2007).

    Two examples illustrate the extent to...

  17. CHAPTER NINE Summary of Findings and Policy Recommendations
    (pp. 63-68)

    When it comes to issues of pay disparity, legal accountability, and PSC-military coordination, it is clear that military and State Department personnel perceive PSCs both to have imposed costs on U.S. military operations in Iraq and to have provided benefits to these operations. Both military and State Department personnel believe that the pay disparity between contractors and the military has a negative impact on military recruitment, retention, and morale, although actual military continuation rates do not reflect such a negative impact. If it does exist to any extent, military reenlistment bonuses may reduce it somewhat. Most State Department respondents thought...

  18. APPENDIX A Methodology
    (pp. 69-78)
  19. APPENDIX B Screen Shots of Final Survey as Fielded to Members of the Military
    (pp. 79-96)
  20. APPENDIX C Screen Shots of Final Survey as Fielded to State Department Personnel
    (pp. 97-108)
  21. References
    (pp. 109-115)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 116-116)