Obama Vs. McCain on Military Contractors
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|Barack Obama||John McCain|
|What role should contractors play in the military?||
When it comes to private contractors, there is room for private contractors to work in the mess hall providing basic supplies and doing some logistical work that might have been done in-house in the past. I am troubled by the use of private contractors when it comes to potential armed engagements.
We do whatever we can to reduce costs to the taxpayers. And if there are functions that can be outsourced, we ought to do them. If there are others that lend [themselves] only to military functions and duties that can only be performed by military personnel, then those should not be.
I remember the big flap when we took security from the base and did it through contracts. It was going to be the end of Western civilization as we know it. Somehow itâs turned out OK.
|The consequences of contracting with private security companies||
I think it puts our troops in harm's way. I think it creates some difficult morale issues when you've got private contractors getting paid 10 times what an Army private's getting paid for work that carries similar risks.
When it comes to our special forces, what we've seen is that it's a potential drain of some of our best-trained special forces, and you can't blame them if they can make so much more working for Blackwater than they can working as a master sergeant. That, I think is a problem.
[I]fâ¦ you start making decisions on armed engagement based on the availability of private contractors to fill holes and gaps that over time you are, I believe, eroding the core of our military's relationship to the nation and how accountability is structured. I think you are privatizing something that is what essentially sets a nation-state apart, which is a monopoly on violence. And to set those kinds of precedents, I think, will lead us over the long term into some troubled waters.
I share the concern [raised by Iraqi government officials] and I think it needs to be reviewed as to what their rules of engagement are, what their behavior is, who controls them, et cetera.
Iâm telling you, when you start out with false principles and false practices, you pay a heavy price for a long timeâ¦
[B]ecause we didnât have enough troops on the ground, we had to hire the contract guys, and when we had to hire the contract guys, then it became an attractive option for men and women who are incredibly talented, Special Forces, SEALS, etc. Problems lead to problems.
|On reducing the government's dependence on private security companies||
[W]e're not going to be able to immediately bring out all those private contractors because they have essentially served as a stopgap for the inadequate numbers of troops that were originally sentâ¦ And part of it also then means that we will have troops instead -- and U.S. military personnel as opposed to private contractors in these positions.
We're not going to have more troops. I'd love to see -- I wish we had the size of Army and Marine Corps and Guard that we could send more troopsâ¦ But I think that we have to now tighten up on the rules, regulations, accountability, et cetera.
You know, many of these "Blackwater" -- there are many contractors -- are guarding Iraqi government officials. If you want to remove them, who's going to provide for their security? But it's sad and it's tragic that these things are happening.