Saturday, August 23, 2003

Since the "do more with less" approach has worked so well with the North American power grid, Don Rumsfeld thought he'd make it the Pentagon's motto, too.
A senior Defense Department official said Mr. Rumsfeld would order the Pentagon's senior leadership, both civilian and military, to rethink ways to reduce stress on the armed forces, fulfill recruitment and retention goals and operate the Pentagon more efficiently.

In essence, Mr. Rumsfeld will ask the service secretaries and chiefs and his under secretaries to address how the Pentagon can more efficiently use its troops at a time when the armed forces are spread thin by global deployments.
"More efficiently" is mostly a euphemism for "privatization" and "outsourcing", something Republicans have been doing for a long time. Rather than have uniformed soldiers doing lots of jobs, Rumsfeld figures the private sector and foreign militaries can do lots of the scut work instead. But the funny thing about private corporations and foreign militaries is that if they don't want to show up to support the latest imperial adventure, they won't.
U.S. troops in Iraq suffered through months of unnecessarily poor living conditions because some civilian contractors hired by the Army for logistics support failed to show up, Army officers said. . . .

One thing became clear in Iraq. "You cannot order civilians into a war zone," said Linda K. Theis, an official at the Army's Field Support Command, which oversees some civilian logistics contracts. "People can sign up to that -- but they can also back out." . . .

For almost a decade, the military has been shifting its supply and support personnel into combat jobs and hiring defense contractors to do the rest. This shift has accelerated under relentless pressure from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to make the force lighter and more agile.

"It's a profound change in the way the military operates," said Peter W. Singer, author of a new book, "Corporate Warriors," a detailed study of civilian contractors. He estimates that over the past decade, there has been a ten-fold increase in the number of contract civilians performing work the military used to do itself.

"When you turn these services over to the private market, you lose a measure of control over them," said Singer, a foreign policy researcher at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington.
Go figure. You can't count on patriotism to motivate capital or mercenaries (and in the end, what's the difference between the two?). Who woulda thunk it!

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