Contractors are Here to Stay

Contractors are Here to Stay

One of the most comprehensive looks at the industry yet concludes that there will never be another war that does not feature private military contractors in a prominent role.

In a broader sense, the rise of military contractors took place in a unique geopolitical environment. Because of the Cold War’s end, there are more international conflicts than ever before and large nations like the United States are less willing to intervene in these fights, especially if it means putting their armed forces at risk. So, private military contractors fill in the gaps. In Afghanistan and Iraq alone, the DoD spent over $205 billion on private military contractors in just ten years, and this figure does not include contractors working for the State Department and other government agencies. Yes despite some high-profile missteps, such as DynCorp’s alleged involvement in human trafficking in Bosnia in the 1990s, German scholars Matthias Fahna and Tahmina Hadjer predict that governments, including the United States, will continue to use contractors for three important reasons:

  • Lower Financial Cost: Even though most private military contractors receive much higher pay than regular servicemembers, there are no ancillary expenses, such as training costs, pension plans, and medical care, making the total cost much lower.
  • Enhanced Effectiveness: Private military contractors often have skills and expertise that regular armies lack, and this is especially true of contractors who work for smaller nations.
  • Lower Political Cost: American officials typically did not include contractor casualties in the official casualty figures from Iraq and Afghanistan, as as regular servicemembers left for largely political reasons, private military contractors largely took their place.

Performance is largely irrelevant because these three conditions still exist whether the contractors do a “good” job or a “bad” job.

Where Contractors are

U.S. armed forces in Southwest Asia used so many private military contractors because all three factors mentioned above were in full force and effect. Even though the government spent money liberally in Iraq and Afghanistan, there were some resource constraints, and the $200+ billion spent on contractors would have probably been two or three times that figure had the government used nothing but regular servicemembers in the roles that contractors filled. Second, the actions in Southwest Asia required a substantial non-combat expertise in areas like linguistics, witness interrogation, and communications, and regular servicemembers simply are not trained to fill these roles, at least for the most part. Finally, excluding contractors from casualty and deployment figures allowed the government to paint a somewhat misleading picture about the actual U.S. military investment in these countries.

In addition to Iraq and Afghanistan, large numbers of private military contractors are on U.S. bases in:

  • Diego Garcia: The people on this remote airbase must have a specific technical skill set and a willingness to live in the middle of nowhere, and private contractors often fit this bill.
  • Japan: Servicemembers are not always adept at multitasking, and military personnel on this island nation must be ready to react to North Korean or Chinese aggression while maintaining a low profile.
  • Haiti: The 2010 earthquake killed about one in five Haitians, and decades of economic problems have hampered recovery efforts, so the mission there is far from over.
  • Qatar: Because it is close to Middle Eastern hotspots yet far enough away to be secure, the U.S. has several large installations in this Arabian country.

Other contractors work for sympathetic foreign governments in Africa, Asia, Europe, and elsewhere.

Benefits Available

The Defense Base Act provides compensation to all these injured contractors. To obtain this compensation, victims do not have to prove that the accident was the employer’s fault, but in DBA cases, the injury must only have a nexus to the deployment.

Of course, qualifying for benefits is only the first step, and insurance companies often fight tooth and nail to prevent victims from obtaining fair compensation. If necessary, an experienced DBA attorney will bring a case before a Federal Administrative Law Judge for a Formal Hearing( trial) in order to force the insurance company to provide benefits.

Contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen & Frankel for more information about DBA benefits.