A commander must know what to expect from the
his organization to make the best use of what they have to
A good commander can command anything. But how well does he
use his contractors? Commanders in Operations Iraqi Freedom
and Enduring Freedom are finding the answer to this question
because an ever-increasing amount of logistics capabilities
and the preponderance of base operations functions lie with
During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, almost the
only contractors found within the corps area of operations
ran a few rear dining facilities, some buses, and the ever-reliable “gypsy” trucks.
Even when Operation Iraqi Freedom I began in March 2003, the
Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) support contract
was only requested to support approximately 50,000 troops for
180 days. Today, with LOGCAP supporting and sustaining a force
of more than 200,000 personnel, almost every base in Iraq benefits
from the LOGCAP contract. From housing Soldiers, maintaining
unit vehicles, and transporting fuel, to manifesting Soldiers
for R&R (rest and relaxation), almost every logistics function
is performed or augmented by a contractor. Given the extensive
presence of contractors on the battlefield, it is imperative
that logisticians learn how best to manage the awesome capabilities
that contractors bring to the fight.
Brown, and Root contractor employee welcomes Soldiers
to the housing area at Logistics Support Area Anaconda.
Identifying the Major Players
To obtain the maximum benefit from LOGCAP or any support contractor, logisticians
need to understand the roles, responsibilities, and duties of the parties involved:
the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), the Army Materiel Command (AMC),
the military unit (the user), and the contractor.
DCMA provides contract administration and oversight. This oversight normally
is accomplished on site by an administrative contracting officer (ACO). To assist
the ACO in providing oversight, DCMA also will assign a quality assurance representative
(QAR) to evaluate the contractor’s performance and interact with both the
contractor and the end user. The ACO is the only individual authorized to direct
the contractor to perform specific work.
AMC is the primary client for the LOGCAP contractor. AMC’s main responsibility
is to be the honest broker and ensure that the taxpayers’ money is spent
wisely. All LOGCAP support requirements are vetted and adjudicated by the onsite
AMC personnel who are known as the LOGCAP support officers (LSOs). The LSO is
the face of LOGCAP and the person whom the commander will deal with most often.
The end user, or customer, is a military unit that is augmented by contractor
capability. It is the end user’s responsibility to provide day-to-day management
of the contractor in a specific area or function.
The last major player on the LOGCAP team is the contractor. Each contractor’s
job is to perform the funded functions outlined in the performance work statement
(PWS) to the standards specified.
Understanding the PWS
Over several Operation Iraqi Freedom rotations, a pattern of friction and frustration
has evolved between the contractor and service members, keeping units from experiencing
the maximum benefits of the contract. Some of the frustration is due to the service
member’s failure to understand the PWS and how funding affects it. The
PWS outlines the tasks that a contractor is to perform; it is comparable to a
unit’s modification table of organization and equipment (MTOE) capability.
However, just as units often cannot perform some missions because of MTOE shortages,
the contractor may not be able to perform a function because the Government never “turned
on,” or paid for, that part of the contract. So, just as a commander has
to understand the real-world capabilities of his units, he also must understand
the contractor’s PWS and what is funded so that he knows exactly what services
to expect the contractor to provide.
A commander’s natural tendency to lead people also can cause frustration
and friction. Realizing that you, the end user, cannot “direct” contractors
as you would another service member reduces tension. Contracts are often “performance
based.” This means that the Army cannot tell a contractor how to perform
the task but merely what the end state of the task needs to be and, more importantly,
to what standard. That is how the contractor will be evaluated and held accountable.
If you identify a new task that you would like the contractor to do, unlike a
Soldier, you cannot just tell them to do it. If the task is not a part of the
PWS, you have to identify exactly what you want the contractor to perform and
the standards by which the contractor will be measured. These changes then are
sent up the chain of command and LSO channels for additional vetting and funding
allocation. Once the PWS is finalized and agreed on by both the Government and
the contractor and the funding is approved, the contractor can begin the new
work. This is not a quick process, and funding is often very hard to justify.
You also cannot direct the contractor to do something that is not a funded part
of the PWS. Funding has to be allocated, and a notice to proceed must be issued
by the ACO in order to “turn on” portions of the contract. You can
best influence funding by justifying to your chain of command why the Government
is getting the best bang for the buck by funding that part of the contract. In
the case of either new work or unfunded work, remember that, once approved, the
contractor will need time to ramp up capability just as units need time to generate
A lack of knowledge on how and when to provide feedback also produces friction
between contractors and users. Soldiers understand how the Army’s evaluation
system is supposed to work with Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Reports (NCOERs)
and Officer Evaluation Reports (OERs). The NCOER and OER processes include counseling
statements to identify and improve behavior that is not to standard or to recognize
and reinforce good performance. The same capability exists within the contracting
world, and, just as with Soldiers, timeliness of feedback is critical.
The key contributor to the feedback process is the contracting officer’s
representative (COR) or contracting officer’s technical representative
(COTR). CORs and COTRs are the Soldiers who work daily with the contractors;
they are the eyes and ears of the Government who ensure that the work is being
performed to the standards outlined in the PWS. The CORs and COTRs provide the
ACO with monthly feedback, which is used at the monthly performance evaluation
board (PEB) meeting. Accuracy and level of detail are important for good feedback.
This will identify strengths that should be maintained or give insight into weaknesses
that should be improved.
Just as you should not wait until OER or NCOER time to tell Soldiers that they
are not performing to speed, you should not wait until the PEB to identify substandard
performance. Contractors have a structure similar to the chain of command; use
it. Bring the concern to the attention of the contractor’s management and
LSO before the issue becomes any larger. Do your homework ahead of time. Make
sure that what you expected was a funded part of the PWS. Then be able to articulate
how the contractor failed to meet the established standard in the contract. Much
of the contractor’s profit results from recognition of good performance,
so the contractor has a vital interest in performing to standard.
It is also important to identify good performance. Just as Soldiers like to receive
recognition for actions “above and beyond the call of duty,” it is
important to recognize contractors for their performance. Only by identifying
real strengths and weaknesses can you fairly assess the service and provide the
contractor with the means to improve that service. The key point is to participate
in the review process with quality, timely, and factual feedback that will result
not only in improved dialog among all participants but, more importantly, in
higher quality of service for
and military drivers are briefed before departing
on a convoy.
Train As You Fight
“Train as you fight.” How many times have you heard
that? Then why don’t we do it? The Army conducts joint
and coalition exercises to hone skills needed for working with
different partners, but we do not have the same training for
interfacing with contractors. The simulation trainups before
deployment have coalition and sister service representation,
but where are the contractors and why don’t the trainups
include a contractor response cell?
Contractors need to be part of simulation training. Having
contractor icons in the simulation would more accurately prepare
logistics commanders for the environment they will face. The
scenario or master scenario events list injects should include
contractor-related issues to exercise Soldiers’ knowledge
and expand their experience of interfacing with contractors.
In the 3d Corps Support Command (COSCOM), we have found that
including representation of the contractor’s capability
in our task organization has helped us to visualize the capabilities
that the contractor brings to the fight by location and subordinate
command. Since the LOGCAP contract is performance based, we
care about the capability, not the exact number of contractors.
For example, at Logistics Support Area Anaconda, the contractor
augments the ammunition supply point with the equivalent of
a platoon. This is shown on the task organization chart as
a medium lift platoon, but it is colored differently to show
that it is a contractor capability. But, you cannot just integrate
the contractors on paper; you have to incorporate them into
your operations and planning. The 3d COSCOM established a position
within the COSCOM headquarters for a LOGCAP contract senior
logistics planner. Another contractor representative provides
the Prime Vendor program and has a seat next to the class I
section of the corps distribution center.
At the subordinate levels, dedicated liaison officers help
bridge the interface between contractors and using units. This
helps to integrate the contractors from the planning through
the execution levels and has led to an increase in the 3d COSCOM’s
ability to leverage the contractors’ capabilities.
Using contractors on the battlefield is not new. It is just
that the extent to which they are integrated is unprecedented.
So, if you are heading down range or just want to increase
your abilities as a logistician, learning how to take full
advantage of contractor capabilities will help you bring more
to the fight.
Lieutenant Colonel Rebecca Freeze is the Chief of Plans
for the 3d Corps Support Command (COSCOM), currently in Balad,
Iraq. Having been the COSCOM’s Support Operations Planner
in Operation Iraqi Freedom 1 and now as the Chief of Plans,
she has gained a keen appreciation for what contractors bring
to the fight.
Sari Berman is the LOGCAP contractor senior logistics planner
embedded with the 3d COSCOM staff. She retired from the Army
in 2003 after over 25 years of service. Having been in Iraq
since her retirement, she has seen the development and growth
of the LOGCAP contract and its interface with the COSCOMs over