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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’d like to take this thread in a slightly different direction for a moment please. I’ve been and still am in the military (US Air Force…flexibility is the key to airpower don’tcha know) for the past twenty years now and I see a significant trend that I believe is effecting all of the western world’s military. Over the last 5 – 10yrs many jobs and skills that aren’t specifically combat have been “out-sourced” to private companies and contractors. The result is less people wearing the uniform and this action allegedly saves the government money because they no longer have to deal with the secondary/tertiary costs associated with keeping a standing military (i.e. health benefits, retirement, etc.). Do you think this is good, bad, or are you indifferent on the subject. I have my own opinion but I’ll keep it to myself until I hear what you guys have to say.
 

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Wookie said:
I’d like to take this thread in a slightly different direction for a moment please. I’ve been and still am in the military (US Air Force…flexibility is the key to airpower don’tcha know) for the past twenty years now and I see a significant trend that I believe is effecting all of the western world’s military. Over the last 5 – 10yrs many jobs and skills that aren’t specifically combat have been “out-sourced� to private companies and contractors. The result is less people wearing the uniform and this action allegedly saves the government money because they no longer have to deal with the secondary/tertiary costs associated with keeping a standing military (i.e. health benefits, retirement, etc.). Do you think this is good, bad, or are you indifferent on the subject. I have my own opinion but I’ll keep it to myself until I hear what you guys have to say.
I think it 'waters down' military capability in the most negative way.

I might feel better about the whole situation if these 'civilians' signed a contract with the military forcing them to immediately be 'pressed into service' and deployed with the unit they serve.

Otherwise it's just dangerous to not have those jobs filled by soldiers that you know are under your direct command and can be ordered to perform wherever necessary.
 

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Wookie said:
I’d like to take this thread in a slightly different direction for a moment please. I’ve been and still am in the military (US Air Force…flexibility is the key to airpower don’tcha know) for the past twenty years now and I see a significant trend that I believe is effecting all of the western world’s military. Over the last 5 – 10yrs many jobs and skills that aren’t specifically combat have been “out-sourced� to private companies and contractors. The result is less people wearing the uniform and this action allegedly saves the government money because they no longer have to deal with the secondary/tertiary costs associated with keeping a standing military (i.e. health benefits, retirement, etc.). Do you think this is good, bad, or are you indifferent on the subject. I have my own opinion but I’ll keep it to myself until I hear what you guys have to say.
Are you referring to things such as R&D? In that case, I think it's a very, very good thing. You want to get the best engineers, scientists, mathematicians, etc that you can for these jobs. If you only allow those who are willing to join the military to do these jobs, you won't get the best. Let's face it, geeks != soldiers and we're talking about geeks here.

Permanent civilian and military employees of the Department of Defense are good and important as they provide a continuity for the projects. However, you tend to get a lot of dead weight in permanent federal positions. Contracting companies are a good way to get the expertise needed without taking on large commitments. They provide a very important role in a bureaucratic system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Bob Dole said:
Are you referring to things such as R&D? In that case, I think it's a very, very good thing. You want to get the best engineers, scientists, mathematicians, etc that you can for these jobs. If you only allow those who are willing to join the military to do these jobs, you won't get the best. Let's face it, geeks != soldiers and we're talking about geeks here.

Permanent civilian and military employees of the Department of Defense are good and important as they provide a continuity for the projects. However, you tend to get a lot of dead weight in permanent federal positions. Contracting companies are a good way to get the expertise needed without taking on large commitments. They provide a very important role in a bureaucratic system.
No, I’m referring to what we in the business call “Base Operating Support” or BOS for short. For example, for every pilot that flies a mission there are about 130 maintainers/mechanics to make sure the plane is ship-shape, about 12 air traffic controllers on any one shift, a multitude of other aircraft specific specialties (weather personnel, operational managers/schedulers, maintenance back-shop people, etc.) that make the operational mission happen. Now, besides the people who are “hands-on” in getting the aircraft off the ground you have other military people who make sure all the other actions, capabilities and administrivia happen on an operating installation (personnel, finance, medical, communications, civil engineers, security, food, mail, housing, logistics, etc.). These people don’t just do their jobs back at their “home base” but get deployed downrange to places like Iraq and Afganistan. These support personnel are the people I’m talking about. R&D has always been firmly established in the civilian sector and big corporations and are a relatively small portion of the civilian/contracted workforce.
 

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if the air force doesn't like wallowing in their own crapulance of their funding, the marine corps could use the money...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Certemplar said:
if the air force doesn't like wallowing in their own crapulance of their funding, the marine corps could use the money...
???...I'm sure the same sort of changes are in the works with the US Marines & Navy (not sure if the Marines get their own funding or they piggyback off of the Navy.) Also, contrary to popular belief any savings made in the military budget doesn't stay in the military. It goes to an agency (I'm not quite sure of their purpose) called the General Service Agency or GSA.
 

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While I am not read up on this situation I can't blame the Military for trying to save money. They are on a fixed budget and unlike companies they can't set their own financial plans, allowing them to quickly expand or contract based on their needs. There is an issue where you don't have a skilled pool where you can hire from and you have to many politicans make the choices for the military.

However, on the other hand out sourcing the military in some countries means Mercs and I damn happy we don't have to do that.
 

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Wookie said:
???...I'm sure the same sort of changes are in the works with the US Marines & Navy (not sure if the Marines get their own funding or they piggyback off of the Navy.) Also, contrary to popular belief any savings made in the military budget doesn't stay in the military. It goes to an agency (I'm not quite sure of their purpose) called the General Service Agency or GSA.
make no mistake, the marines are at the bottom of the navy's funding list. we have contractors but the majority of our maintenance and other supportive works are done by marines where possible for the most part.

but those contractors have sweet jobs. talking with them, it's very laidback, flexible hours, and they get paid way more than the mechs.
 

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Low military costs = smaller defence budget = lower taxes = happy citizens.

I think it's an inevitable trend, and as the worst sort of neoliberal, I'm actually quite encouraged. I don't like the idea of the state sucking money from the economy to maintain a standing army during peacetime. In my ideal world, there'd be no standing national armies, we'd just go back to the pre-Napoleonic system and hire mercenaries as and when they are needed. Mercs have a bad name in the modern world, due to the fact that most mercenary work is very unscrupulous, in the past a mercenary was basically a soldier whose employment contract was slightly more limited.
 

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I'm in acq, and work in an organization that is highly civilianized (often a 10:1 ; Civ:Mil). I realize the necessity of incorporating civilians and contractors into our workforce for the previously mentioned statements (expertise of industry, lower cost for trainin/benefits).

However, it kinda disrupts some military members, and the general vibe I get from some of my brethren in my organization (esspecially young butter-bars) is this: "You're doing the same job I'm doing, but I had to go to hell and back to get commissioned to do this, whereas, you just had to face an invterview panel."

What these young officers fail to realise is what I mentioned in my first paragraph. And while it may be hard for them to see that in their line of work, it's easier to see on a more 'blue collar' level (ie. The AirForce (or any DoD org) is not going to put some kid through boot and then tech training, make him an Airman, so he can mop floors and clean toilets.)

It's the same for more technical careers (ie. Depot level repair, flightline maintenance, parachute mending). You name it, it's usually better to contract from private industry than to fund training, benefits, BAH, medical, dental for an Airman who will do the same job, but without the experience and expertise.

And to Mantis,
I'm not going to get into any political discussion, so if you respond to this, don't expect a reply. But, all I'll say is,

A standing army is a requirement for deterence.
 

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MobiusPrime said:
A standing army is a requirement for deterence.
Fortunately, we're allowed to have political discussions on the Enhanced forum, but if you don't reply, that's cool.

I disagree.. That's all I can really say. I think you've simply moved to a different idea of deterence, where defensive ability is determined by raw, abstract currency and economic capability rather than physical bodies in uniform.

This might be a crazy prediction, but I think the wars of the future will be won and lost in the stock exchange, rather than the war room. Ultimately, you could argue that they always were, in one way or another, but I think it's going to become more obvious.

A guy who is your economic dependent is not suddenly going to up and declare war on you, especially when you have weapons, developed in the private sector, which can destroy his house from halfway across the world.
 

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The_Giant_Mantis said:
I disagree.. That's all I can really say. I think you've simply moved to a different idea of deterence, where defensive ability is determined by raw, abstract currency and economic capability rather than physical bodies in uniform.

This might be a crazy prediction, but I think the wars of the future will be won and lost in the stock exchange, rather than the war room. Ultimately, you could argue that they always were, in one way or another, but I think it's going to become more obvious.
I disagree. I don't see the terrorists in Iraq capitulating despite the recent gains on Wall St. I also don't image that Chechnya's "rebels" care one wit for the Russian economic might. I know you hedged your prediction by saying 'future' but what exactly do you envision changing from now until then?

I mean, physical confrontation between nations has been unavoidable for millenia, what do you think is going to stop us in the future?

The_Giant_Mantis said:
A guy who is your economic dependent is not suddenly going to up and declare war on you, especially when you have weapons, developed in the private sector, which can destroy his house from halfway across the world.
That may be true, but what about the guy that is your economic equal, or your economic superior, there are no deterents to them deciding they want more.

I may be mistaken, but when Saddam invaded hapless little unarmed Kuwait weren't they about equal economically? Even if Iraq was superior or Kuwait was superior it poses a problem towards proving your argument here.

Dismissing your standing army would be the equivalent of disbanding your police force. It would give less well intentioned individuals the wrong ideas.
 

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Joker said:
I disagree. I don't see the terrorists in Iraq capitulating despite the recent gains on Wall St.
That's not armed conflict between nations.. Chechen rebels may not give a damn about their relative economic strength with Russia, but you bet their government does.

If you want to protect you assets against terrorism, which is what those two cases are, why not pay someone to do it. Why wait for the government.. The government is just a group of people, after all.. Logically, if other people grouped together, they could pay someone to do the same job as and when it was needed. A corporation is a group of people working together for economic benefit.. Why not have corporations of people working together for security benefit too? That way, they'd have more control, rather than depending a body with limited responsibility towards them.

Joker said:
I may be mistaken, but when Saddam invaded hapless little unarmed Kuwait weren't they about equal economically? Even if Iraq was superior or Kuwait was superior it poses a problem towards proving your argument here.
Hence my point about mercenaries.. If this was a genuinely capitalist society, we wouldn't need an armed forces. We'd just hire people to do that job as and when it was needed.. If Kuwait was so wealthy, and if the people living there wanted to protect their economic interests, why not just hire enough mercenaries to compensate.

Heck, maybe they did (via a longer and more convoluted route).. The Western world jumped to the rescue in order to protect our economic interests in Kuwait, and voila, stuff gets done.

Note.. I'm not entirely sure if I'm serious here, it's all getting a bit cyberpunk megacorporation-ish for my liking. I'm just letting my brain go on a tangent and making a few strange predictions, so indulge it. Suffice to say though, i don't like paying taxes (not that I pay much yet anyway).. Not everyone who works for the military needs to be employed by the state. In fact, the fewer the better, if you ask me.
 

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The_Giant_Mantis said:
Hence my point about mercenaries.. If this was a genuinely capitalist society, we wouldn't need an armed forces. We'd just hire people to do that job as and when it was needed.. .
Certainly you see the inherent danger in a society where the only individuals armed and trained for war are mercenaries! :O

I mean even the most scrupulous of mercenaries is going to be tempted to plunder from those that were in no position to defend themselves!

Are you implying that the wolves should guard the sheep?


I suspect you are pulling my leg here. :yes:
 

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I have two points to make about this topic.

First, war should not be faught without all the might of a nation behind the war. To invest that much resource, there should be a very good reason to go to war.

For example, the war in Iraq. Supose for a minuet that we had a just reason to attack iraq. If we did, we should have held a draft, destroyed every threat avaiable, untill the country surreneder uncondisionally.

Then, for what ever reason we went to Iraq, would be delt with, (say nuclear weapons (yea i know he didnt have them) so we would find search all of iraq for WMD, destroy any. Then set up treaties with the country, saying they will not produces WMD, then place a goverment to see that the treaty is not broken, and leave.

The outline above is the only way our country should fight war.

Now, to unleash total war uppon another nation, we would need a darn good reason, such as genocide, against a people, AND a realistic and potenial threat against our country. Much like the japansee possed to us in WW2. The Japaneese killed over 11 million chinesse (that sounds like genocide to me) And launched a fairy strong attack against pearl habord, thus a realist threat to our country. We may also feel that we have this right to unleash such a war if the country in question was attacking our allies, such as canada.

If another country had done simliar things to japan, then we would have probable cause to attack them.

Second

No matter the size of there army or country, we should attack with no less then 150 million military people (hence airmen army men, marines, navy, Ext. Thats half of the popution of this country. While not all of those poeple would make up the front lines, those that where not of able body, such as those over 40, could drive trucks, operate tanks, ect. Those of combat age, 18 to 35, would make the magorety of the infantry.

Given this senario, there is no room for corperations. Corperations would essentually be comenderd to create supplies, weapons, ext.

The other half of the population would feed the war machine, and defend the soil of the country + make up all those unfit for war at all, the handy capped, wounded, or mentally unfit, or overage, 65+)

This in my opinion is the only way to fight a war. Swift crushing might, while the lagistics of such a war would be a nightmare, it would be possible.

The war in Iraq was basically over in the first few days, however, if 300,000 troops came into the theater every 3 mounths, (that is as supplies and training for them became avaible) there would be no insurgancy.

If we had 150 million people on the soil of iraq, there would be no terrorist there.

The only way to fight a war is with absoluatly crushing and unrentlous force.

Thus, there are very very few times to actually go to war.

In a war like this, there is no room for countractors, with 150 million americans in Iraq, the country would be rebuilt in a matter of weeks, probably to a standard never seen before. Local economy would sour (150 million solders must eat, the local farmers would be strentched to the limits to feed them, as would our supply lines. Soliders bring money, they often drink, this builds more econimic infanstructure, soon Iraq would be a nice country. However the culture would be destoryed, such is the cost of war.

The cost to america would be great, but with the unconditional surrender of a country, we could imposs trade with them. Once our troops leave they would need many things, and we could supply them with that. We could also take there reasources if we so felt inclinded.

I stress again war should only be fault in the direstest of situations.
Anyway, short answer the military should not be outsourced.
 

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Wow, this thread really took off in a weird direction fast.

Anyway, to answer Wookies question about outsourcing. I think it is a good thing in some areas. R&D, definately, a lot of the high foreheads at Skunkworks could never fit in the military. At the other end, things like mess hall, I much prefer civies there, (I have never had my eyebrows torched by a civillian mess cook). Stuff like maintenance, I don't know. I was infantry, so, my maint. guys were weptechs. They don't come in a civllian flavour, (at least not yet), and I wouldn't want them to. The troopy fixing my rifle, well, I want to KNOW that they care about my rifle working almost as much as I do, (kinda important for a doughboy to have a working rifle, dontcha know).

Overall, I would say that my feelings on this are mixed, depending on the postition they are filling.

Hersh
 

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ForgedInTheFurnaceOfWar said:
The cost to america would be great, but with the unconditional surrender of a country, we could imposs trade with them. Once our troops leave they would need many things, and we could supply them with that. We could also take there reasources if we so felt inclinded.
That sounds to me a lot like colonialism, a system very popular with governments in the 19th and early 20th century. Such as the American (and British) governments when they imposed trade on Japan under threat of war in the 1850s.

Ironically, it was those trading treaties, and the desire to remove them, which led to Japan's massive industrialisation and militarisation, and of course, the desire to own an empire of its own. Of coruse, there were all those Chinese people in the way, and the Americans suddenly decide to cut your oil supplies because you're 'disrupting the balance of power.' So what do you do?

Circular argument.. Wars create colonialism, and colonialism creates war. People know when they're being exploited, and if you exploit enough of them, then they may well come out with 150 million soldiers to oppose yours.

EDIT: Looking back, I feel this is a badly phrased, irrational 'gut instinct' argument. But hey, opposition never hurt anyone who really believed what they were saying. I'll leave it standing, but please don't take it personally.
 

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To derail this argument, again, back to the original topic. I just finnished reading Robert Heinleins Starship Troopers, (the book the movie was "based" on, well, the names are the same). I suggest anyone in the military who is pondering the use of outsourcing Military stuff should check this book out.

Hersh
 

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Companies deicated to a certain job can make getting a soldier on a field could be very helpful. However, these people could lack the training needed to do jobs efficiently under pressure. Also they are outside the chain of command this could cause problems.

Forged, you scare me. First off there are only 32 million people in the 17-25 range in the US that the military would accept in a draft. Out of those there are only 6.6 million that the military would take. The rest would have to find a way to help outside the lines. Second you total war option sounds a lot like WWI and WWII. And that kind of force just isn't nessicary on the small scale conflicts we have now. How do you feed 150 million people who aren't doing anything but fighting? What about transport? Total war just isn't the answer. War is turning to the psychlogical type. Thats what 9-11 is for. Our reactions to 9-11 have separated us from our allies, cost us 400 billion dollars in 5 years between homeland security and war, and we still haven't caught the main culprit. We've only lost 6,000 people, but the Iraq have lost an estimated 40,000 people and they didn't have to lift a finger since. See our reaction to there act has cost us the war. They have acheived their mission, they've disrupted our lifestyle and fudged our belief system. We now value security over freedom. Now imagine if half our country was within 300 miles of any conflict zone? We would cease to be a country.
 

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Son of LO
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Okay, with deep breaths and rethinking, here's my real problem with Forged's argument.

ForgedInTheFurnaceOfWar said:
First, war should not be faught without all the might of a nation behind the war. To invest that much resource, there should be a very good reason to go to war.
The whole point of having a democratic free market nation is that noone can bring the full force of it to bear at once. Our governments simply don't have the total control over their citizens required to conscript 150 million lazy, overweight americans into service. There would be dissent, there would be internal lack of cohesion. This is not Nazi germany where you can stand on a podium and tell everyone that they're one people with one intent and you've made the decision for them. It's a democratic free world.

ForgedInTheFurnaceOfWar said:
No matter the size of there army or country, we should attack with no less then 150 million military people (hence airmen army men, marines, navy, Ext. Thats half of the popution of this country. While not all of those poeple would make up the front lines, those that where not of able body, such as those over 40, could drive trucks, operate tanks, ect. Those of combat age, 18 to 35, would make the magorety of the infantry.

Given this senario, there is no room for corperations. Corperations would essentually be comenderd to create supplies, weapons, ext.
Now you've missed the real point of war. If you cripple your own economy to achieve it, victory can only be hollow, because you've weakened your position and influence both domestically and globally. In a democratic society, such a state is literally impossible to reach, because starving people aren't going to vote for you. And trust me, if you stripped 150 million people from the American workforce and supported them while they fight a war, you will destroy your economy in a matter of weeks. That won't go away overnight.. it will be many years before the required strength exists for people to live the comfortable lifestyles modern citizens desire and expect.

As a sidenote, corporations are no longer nationally based. They can operate in many, many countries worldwide simultaniously. How do you conscript an international organization to serve your national ends? Answer: You can't.

ForgedInTheFurnaceOfWar said:
The war in Iraq was basically over in the first few days, however, if 300,000 troops came into the theater every 3 mounths, (that is as supplies and training for them became avaible) there would be no insurgancy.

If we had 150 million people on the soil of iraq, there would be no terrorist there.
That may be true, although I actually doubt it. But it would not mean there would be no terrorists.

This is the problem a lot of people don't seem to grasp. Terrorists are not a formal military organization, they don't drive around in tanks with supply lines and zones of control. They don't try and take territory and they don't defend positions. Terrorists are generally more like a social movement, opperating in a cellular structure with no clear centre of operation. They are also, by their nature, international. If you stick 150 million military personnel in Iraq, the terrorists aren't going to stop fighting. They're just going to start fighting where those 150 million people aren't.

You're talking about modern war as it existed in the first half of the 20th century, but this is not a 'modern' society any more. There is no overarching agenda or ideal which the state can impose, the state merely exists to prune and regulate the economy. There is similarly no direct centre of power. Power is dispersed among the population, who will use it to advance their own disparate interests. We live in the age of the individual, who exists, not as some drone, but as an independant being with will and opportunity.

If this is not how things are, then this how I believe they are becoming. I don't think it's going to stop.

In this age, a large independent army is a backwards and archaic concept. A large army is capable of drawing more from society than it can legitimately support, therefore weakening the economy and the state rather than strengthening it. A small, professional and efficient army, integrated with and supplied by high tech modern industry, and able to advance an economic agenda overseas will do the same job as a large, conscripted and inefficient army, but people will still be able to live comfortably in an economically successful environment.

A postmodern society has no room for ideological war, because it has no central ideology. Economic war is the only functional form of war, because it is the only kind to actually better the citizens who are paying for it.

If society was different, your system would be natural and right. There's a virtue in a military society, of course. But I don't feel the world works like that anymore, and I don't think it's functional to try and make it do so.
 
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