All five major types of combat-related military contractors play prominent roles in the DoD’s worldwide strategy. All five kinds are in demand. In 2022, the DoD paid private military contractors over $400 billion, which is more than a third of its budget.
Private military contractors play diverse roles and serve in diverse places. During the Iraq War, contractors often fought alongside regular servicemembers. Many contractors, mostly security and rebuilding contractors, remain in this war-torn country. Other contractors serve in potential hot spots like South Korea, Japan, and Guam. Still others serve in remote areas where armed conflict is unlikely but their services are sorely needed. These places include Guantanamo Bay and Diego Garcia.
All five kinds of military contractors risk serious injury. Whether the victims sustain a deployment-related trauma injury or occupational disease, the Defense Base Act provides benefits that compensate these victims and enable them to move forward with their lives.
These benefits usually include lost wage replacement and medical bill payment. As mentioned, these benefits are available if the victim was injured during contractor deployment, even if the victim was partially at fault, or entirely at fault, for the injury. Despite the no-fault provision, most Claims Examiners initially deny most claims. An attorney usually successfully resolves these claims later in the process.
These armed contractors might be the most visible private military contractors. They might also make up the smallest proportion of the overall private military contractor fighting force.
Today, satellites and drones handle most reconnaissance duties. But these advanced devices cannot substitute for a real person who surveys the situation in real-time. Additionally, many jihadists and other insurgents know how to hide from overhead reconnaissance. Surface reconnaissance is much harder to avoid.
On the drawing board, reconnaissance troops stay out of sight and summon combat troops. But things don’t always work out that way. Recon troops could easily find themselves in a firefight. Mobile reconnaissance troops are often no match for entrenched and heavily armed bad guys. If a contractor gets hit, the nearest medical facility is most likely little more than a first-aid station. Medical workers must usually airlift seriously injured contractors to faraway hospitals. These high transportation costs significantly drive up their medical bills.
Reconnaissance contractors work ahead of the front lines. Intelligence contractors usually work behind the front lines. Usually, they focus on building relationships instead of extracting intelligence. So, when they ask questions later, people often willingly provide information. Such information is the most reliable kind of intelligence.
To many regular servicemembers, intelligence-gathering is a chore. However, many private military contractors are former law enforcement officers. They are accustomed to such duties, and they embrace them.
We mentioned the front lines above. In many anti-insurgency campaigns, there is no front line and rear area. Heavily armed bad guys could strike anywhere and at any time. So, intelligence-gathering contractors are by no means safe. They run the same injury risks as everyone else. So, they are entitled to the same injury benefits as everyone else, even if a pre-existing condition contributed to the risk and/or severity of injury.
These contractors are a combination of reconnaissance and intelligence contractors. Security contractors do things like verify IDs at checkpoints. To many servicemembers, “guard duty” is a form of punishment. Frequently, that is the case. But to experienced private military security contractors, it is just another day at the office.
We should pause and acknowledge the fact that private military contractors earn much more money than regular servicemembers, even if the contractor just stands around and looks tough.
However, the long-term cost is much lower. When the contractor’s deployment ends, the government’s financial commitment ends. When a servicemember’s deployment ends, this economic commitment is just beginning. The DoD must redeploy the servicemember at full pay, fund the generous military retirement account, and the list goes on.
Furthermore, security duty is not risk-free duty. We have all seen footage of suicide bombers and other such individuals who recklessly attack secured areas. Furthermore, when these contractors return to base, the injury risk continues. More on that below.
Technically, training is not a combat-related duty. But when contractors train government security forces, they reduce their own deployment times. Going home victorious is the ultimate goal of every foreign war.
Many contractors have more field experience, especially recent field experience, than many military trainers. Furthermore, contractors have insider anti-insurgency knowledge. They are also able to pass this knowledge on to their students.
After contractors finish the day’s training exercises, occupational diseases, mostly toxic exposure and hearing loss, abound at military facilities.
Many weapons and other defense systems have toxic components, like the benzene in diesel fuel. Burn pits are technically illegal at American outposts but are still in use in some areas. Some foreign military bases still use burn pits as well.
In terms of hearing loss, many aircraft, and large vehicles come and go at all hours of the day and night. Long-term exposure to noises above 35 decibels, which is basically the noise a blender produces, could permanently damage hearing.890
These contractors are probably the closest people to front-line combat contractors. They often escort VIPs on inspection tours, protect supply convoys as they navigate through busy areas, and guide combat vehicles to combat areas. Do not overlook the value of this guidance. It is a little-known fact that a wrong turn caused World War I.
DBA insurance companies do not care about the risks that contractors take and the valuable services they provide. Protecting corporate profits is their one and only goal. A determined Defense Base Act lawyer shows the insurance company that the victim means business. Therefore, an attorney is usually able to resolve these claims out of court and on victim-friendly terms.
For more information about the DBA process, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.