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DOD Contracting

If contractors are contracted by the DOD, it’s still military

Congressional Research Service 13

(Moshe Schwartz Specialist in Defense Acquisition Jennifer Church U.S. Department of Army Fellow, “Department of Defense’s Use of Contractors to Support Military Operations: Background, Analysis, and Issues for Congress,” May 17, 2013,

Throughout its history, the Department of Defense (DOD) has relied on contractors to support a wide range of military operations. Operations over the last thirty years have highlighted the critical role that contractors play in supporting U.S. troops—both in terms of the number of contractors and the type of work being performed. Over the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, and before that, in the Balkans, contractors accounted for 50% or more of the total military force. Regardless of whether future operations are similar to−or significantly different from− those of the past decade most analysts and defense officials believe that contractors will continue to play a central role in overseas military operations. Consequently, these observers believe that DOD should be prepared to effectively award and manage contracts at a moment's notice, anywhere in the world, in unknown environments, and on a scale that may exceed the total contract obligations of any other federal agency. Contractors provide a wide range of services, from transportation, construction, and base support, to intelligence analysis and private security. The benefits of using contractors include freeing up uniformed personnel to conduct combat operations; providing expertise in specialized fields, such as linguistics or weapon systems maintenance; and providing a surge capability, quickly delivering critical support capabilities tailored to specific military needs. Because contractors can be hired when a particular need arises and released when their services are no longer needed, contractors can be less expensive in the long run than maintaining a permanent in-house capability.


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