Thursday, July 22, 2004

A significant trend of the last few years is to shrink the Army (and by "Army" I mean the United States Military, but mainly the Army) by having outside contractors do things that Army guys used to do. In theory, this lets the Army concentrate on fighting, and the contractors do the support work. Supposedly, We The People save money.

But it doesn't work. And Iraq has shown why.

There are some times that it's good to have Army guys (and girls) driving the trucks. They can be ordered around, they already carry guns, they can always call up some Army choppers to support them if they're getting shot at, etc.

It's a sad irony, but this outsourcing ends up costing Us The People bigtime. Soldiers are cheap. They don't have much grounds to complain if they're getting shot at while they're driving the trucks. Not so with the contractors. They're understandibly not interested in being shot, so it naturally takes more money to entice them to face the risk. They're *more* expensive than the Army.

Yet another problem is that the truck drivers need some sort of security force. We're billed for that, but we're doubly screwed. First, we're screwed because these contractors are making $100,000 a year, where the regular soldiers get by on way less. Second, these contractors are none other than retired Army guys anyway. So the Army loses its best people (because wouldn't you rather make six figures than Army pay?)

It also perpetuates dishonesty. For instance, we've been saying that we have 130,000 soldiers in Iraq (roughly). Well yes, but estimates of the contractors (who We The People are paying for) run to about 20,000 more. Of course no one really knows. Obviously, it would be cheaper to use 20,000 soldiers (at, say, $40,000/year) instead of 20,000 contractors ($100,000/year). By my reckoning, that's 1.2 b-b-b-billion a year down the tubes. That's real money! And that's just salary! Not including the cost of replacing those experiences people who run off to by contractors.

Why do we do it? Why pay much more for less? Well, it looks to me like the only people who come out ahead are contractors. Like Halliburton.

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