Should we care if a contractor dies in the war zones?
“I’ll say it, because it’s true. If a few contractors get killed nobody seems to care,” he said. “We’ve over-relied on contractors because they’re, like, free.” Christopher Shays April 25, 2011
By Matthew Weigelt
How vital are contractors to U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan?
A former senior Defense Department official said April 25 contractor employees, who encompass half of the workers overseas, are at least worth a notice from the government when they are killed during their work in contingency operations.
DOD sends out multiple notices each day about military casualties, particularly in war zones in southwest Asia. The announcements note the soldier’s age, hometown, rank and battalion. They also say in very general terms how the solider died.
Meanwhile, contractors are seen as expendable or of little consequence, although they are vital to fulfilling operations, said Jacques Gansler, formerly undersecretary of defense for acquisition, logistics and technology. He made the comment to the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. DOD operations wouldn’t succeed without contractors, he said..
“Last week by coincidence I talked with the Department of Defense person who publishes the weekly listing of people killed, and I insisted that they also list the contractors,” he said, adding that more contractors have died often times than people in uniform.
Contractors are critical to the government’s success in contingency operations yet they’re undervalued despite being half of the total workforce and the crutch on which the government rests.
Gansler, who led the Commission on Army Acquisition and Program Management in Expeditionary Operations and is now with the University of Maryland’s Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise, said language matters in how contractors are described in publications and reports — or the lack of any mention — from the government.
If contractors are depicted only as the default option, they will continue to be cast in the same light, he said.
Christopher Shays, co-chairman of the commission and former House member, agreed with that view of contractors.
“I’ll say it, because it’s true. If a few contractors get killed nobody seems to care,” he said. “We’ve over-relied on contractors because they’re, like, free.”
Does the government — particularly DOD — need to give more attention to the deaths of contractors in combat zones? What do you think? Please go to the original post and leave your comments
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