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Contingency Contracting and LOGCAP Support in MND–B, Iraq

Contingency contracting plays a critical role in our operations in Iraq. Contracts are an integral part of the overall logistics plan. Contracting helps rebuild Iraq both physically and emotionally, and it helps tremendously in our relationship with Iraqis.

The U.S. Army uses contracts for a wide variety of products and services. The 15th Sustainment Brigade’s support operations section handles all contracts internal and external to the brigade. Our contracts usually range from $2,000 to tens of millions of dollars, depending on the service or product requested. We have open contracts that are just for small construction projects, like repairing or constructing a sidewalk. We also have major construction projects, such as building renovations for work or living areas or the construction of buildings for maintenance operations. All of this work is being performed by Iraqi citizens who want to live peaceful lives and provide for their families. When the time comes for us to end operations in Iraq, everything that we have built will be transferred to the people of Iraq.

Local Contractors

As we improve a building or a worksite, we are improving Iraq’s economy by using local contractors. When we use local contractors to perform any kind of improvement around Iraq or inside our operating bases, we are showing Iraqis that we care and that we trust them to work with us, sharing their goal of improving and rebuilding their country.

The process for hiring local contractors is not simple. We must follow many rules to ensure the safety of our troops and the Iraqi citizens. Local contractors must compete for contracts just the same as contractors in the United States. Once a contract is awarded to a particular company, a background check is run on the workers who will be accessing the facilities where we work. Contract workers also have to go through many daily safety and security checks before entering an operating base. The inconvenience of these requirements is offset by the wages they earn that enable them to care for their families and improve the quality of their lives.

The contractors, however, also face a level of risk. Obviously, Iraq has good citizens who want to do well, but it also has criminals. Some contractors and workers have found themselves without pay after finishing an arduous day at work because they were robbed as soon as they left our facilities. Moreover, some workers have been killed by their own people just because they were working for us. Every person that we hire is one less person for insurgents to recruit.

LOGCAP Contractor

Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR), the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) contactor, plays a large role in supporting our operations in Iraq. They perform a wide variety of services for the military, which helps free up Soldiers to focus on the mission at hand. KBR has civilian workers embedded with military logistics operations at every operating base 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even though KBR is a profit-based corporation, they display a genuine sense of caring and desire to support the military because many of their employees and managers have prior military experience.

The wide variety of services that KBR provides for the military includes base life support (laundry, living quarters, showers, dining facilities, morale and welfare), logistics support for all classes of supply, and transportation support. However, I will limit my comments to the logistics support—specifically fuel and maintenance operations.

During its deployment to Iraq, the 15th Sustainment Brigade provided logistics support to units operating in the entire Baghdad area. It had subordinate units located on different bases. KBR operated side by side with brigade personnel on each of those bases and traveled on the road with them between those bases.

One of the best examples that I can use to describe the level of integration of civilians into brigade operations is the way that bulk fuel operations were conducted. Fuel is a critical commodity in Iraq, with significantly high levels of demand. KBR ran one of the main fuel farm operations in Baghdad. Military personnel only provided oversight for the accountability of fuel and the quality of operations to military specifications. A military representative evaluated operations every month and established the best relationship possible between workers and customers to ensure exemplary support. Using KBR to execute bulk fuel operations gave commanders the flexibility to use their Soldiers in other areas where their skills were required and to conduct internal refuel operations. This operation has been so successful that plans were made for KBR to take over operation of a second fuel farm in Baghdad following the same model as the previous one.

Another example of civilian integration on the battlefield is maintenance operations. As U.S. forces conduct daily operations, equipment is damaged and wears out. Because of this, maintenance operations are an essential daily commitment. Forces performing dangerous convoy and resupply operations throughout Baghdad require equipment that is dependable and responsive when it needs to be. Maintenance is one of the most important operations, will never cease, and will always be critical to operational success.

KBR has civilian mechanics who augment military units to help with their maintenance workloads. They provide a wide variety of expertise at all levels of maintenance and can assist with any piece of equipment that needs repair. For the most part, KBR contractors can perform the same maintenance tasks that Soldiers perform. KBR maintenance operations are collocated with military units at all major operating bases to provide efficient support to customers when needed. They also have small maintenance teams that can rapidly deploy to another location where expertise is needed but not permanently available.

Similar to fuel operations, KBR eventually will run some of the maintenance operations in the Baghdad area. They will completely take over operations, with military oversight to ensure compliance with military specifications. This is beneficial for maintaining continuity in the areas of personnel and operations since many different units rotate every year in and out of the area of operations. If we keep the same contractors working onsite for over a year, they get to know the area and specific requirement, which enables them to better support new customers.

Military-Contractor Relationship

The only drawback that I saw with the integration of civilians on the battlefield was that sometimes they felt that they were part of the decision process. They got so involved in operations to support the warfighter that sometimes it appeared that they were trying to have too much control over operations and decisions.

The overall relationship between the military and KBR is very professional and productive; they have the same goal of performing the mission at hand for the benefit of our Soldiers. The military integrates civilians into daily operations by the wise and efficient use of liaison officers. KBR has a brigade-level or higher liaison officer for every major area in the logistics arena. We tried to use the KBR capabilities as much as possible—sometimes before we used certain military capabilities—for the simple reasons that we were paying for their services and that their use allowed commanders to use Soldiers for other tasks.

Security and force protection in Iraq are extremely important. This operation belongs to the military personnel. We hire and integrate civilian contractors to decrease the demands on our Soldiers, allowing the Soldiers to focus on the mission and so we can avoid pulling them to different areas.

When visiting different operating bases in the Baghdad area, I saw civilians and military personnel working together in many different areas. Whether in an office environment, in a maintenance shop, at a fuel site, or at a subsistence warehouse, professionalism and complete integration were always common. The civilians on the battlefield were definitely a critical force enabler. The integration of local contractors and KBR-type personnel into our operations will remain the same or possibly increase in future logistics planning.

Having dedicated civilian experts perform certain logistics operations while Soldiers perform military duties and responsibilities has proven worthwhile. As we continue operations in Iraq, we will continue improving our relationship with and integration of civilians. We will continue improving the process of hiring local Iraqi contractors for their benefit and that of their country. We have a great base established and will continue to build it everyday as personnel transition in and out of the theater of operations.

Major Walter Llamas is the Supply and Services Officer for the 15th Sustainment Brigade. He holds a master’s degree in logistics management from the Florida Institute of Technology and is a graduate of the Logistics Executive Development Course and the Army Command and General Staff College.