Contractors on the "Battlefield:" Providing Adequate Protection, Anti-Terrorism Training, and Personnel Recovery for Civilian Contractors Accompanying the Military in Combat and Contingency Operations

By Addicott, Jeffrey F. | Houston Journal of International Law, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

Contractors on the "Battlefield:" Providing Adequate Protection, Anti-Terrorism Training, and Personnel Recovery for Civilian Contractors Accompanying the Military in Combat and Contingency Operations


Addicott, Jeffrey F., Houston Journal of International Law


  I. INTRODUCTION
 II. HISTORY AND STATUS OF CONTRACTORS ON THE
       BATTLEFIELD
       A. Scope of Contractor Support
       B. Status of Contractors
III. FORCE PROTECTION
      A. Contractor's Use of Firearms
      B. Protecting Contractors
 IV. AT TRAINING
  V. PARENT CONTRACTOR COMPANY LIABILITY ISSUES
     REGARDING EMPLOYEES ON THE BATTLEFIELD
 VI. PERSONNEL RECOVERY
VII. CONCLUSION

I. INTRODUCTION

Personnel recovery is no longer limited to high-risk, specialized troops as was the case in the past.... Isolated personnel now include U.S. military, contractors and other government civilians, as well as coalition partners. (1)

LTG Norton Schwartz

Providing adequate protection, antiterrorism (AT) (2) training and, if necessary, personnel recovery (3) for civilian contractors deployed to support U.S. military operations presents significant legal and policy challenges that both the military and civilian contractor companies have yet to fully appreciate, let alone properly institutionalize. (4) Although many Americans still visualize the U.S. military as a monolithic force of uniformed personnel only, the reality is far different. Due to federally imposed personnel limitations for the armed forces and the need for specialized skills in the modern high-tech military, (5) hundreds of activities once performed by the military are now privatized and outsourced to thousands of civilian contractors. (6) These civilian contractors routinely provide a wide array of important and essential activities in support of the full range of military operations to include infrastructure improvements and rebuilding. (7) In other words, civilian contractors now work shoulder-to-shoulder with military personnel during both armed conflict and in Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW). (8) While armed conflict refers to traditional combat operations associated with internationally recognized warfare, MOOTWs are contingency (9) missions that include activities such as combating terrorism, counter-narcotic operations, peacekeeping operations, and other high-risk missions around the globe. (10)

One of the consequences of the global War on Terror (11) is that American and coalition contractors--particularly in Iraq (12) and Afghanistan (13)--are increasingly subjected to kidnappings, torture, (14) and murder by terrorists, criminal elements, and other insurgency forces. (15) Without question, civilian contractors will continue to be integral participants in the ongoing War on Terror. (16) Therefore, it is imperative that issues of force protection, (17) AT training, and personnel recovery (18) be fully delineated and the related legal contours be more clearly defined. (19) This is particularly important in light of the ever evolving nature of terrorism (20) and the attendant responses.

Both the Department of Defense (DOD) (21) and the companies that provide civilian contractors have core moral and legal responsibilities to provide contract personnel with adequate security, AT training, (22) and, in certain circumstances, rescue from capture. (23) In tandem with identifying the legal and policy considerations associated with these issues, this Article will also address the matter of civil liability to the parent contracting company should it fail to provide adequate protection, or appropriate AT training, or both, to their civilian employees serving overseas in hostile environments. (24)

II. HISTORY AND STATUS OF CONTRACTORS ON THE BATTLEFIELD

No one knows better than I the tremendous work that Brown and Root (25) has done in Somalia. The flexibility and competence demonstrated by your employees were key factors in allowing U.S. forces to transition logistical support to the U.N.... (26)

   General John M. Shalikashvili
   Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

The military's use of civilian defense contractors certainly did not begin with the military campaigns and counter-terror operations (27) in Afghanistan and Iraq. …

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