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.
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.
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.
play an important role in Operation Iraqi Freedom
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.
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
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
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.