Blackwater, private military contractors under Fort Leavenworth scrutiny

With all the recent discussion about Blackwater and other private military contractors in Iraq, a two-year-old paper on the topic from Fort Leavenworth’s Combat Studies Institute is receiving renewed attention in the blogosphere.The paper, “Public War, Private Fight? The United States and Private Military Companies” (PDF), was written by Deborah C. Kidwell.”Ms. Kidwell concludes that PMCs (private military contractors) will be an increasingly important facet of US military operations for the foreseeable future; however, the use of contractors on the battlefield is not a panacea for all logistics problems,” Col. Timothy Reese, director of CSI, writes in the forward.Kidwell herself writes:”Since 1991, contractor support on and off the battlefield has become increasingly more visible, varied, and commonplace. Given the current manpower and resource limitations of the national military, the US will likely continue its extensive use of PMCs in support of military operations,” she writes.But there are problems.”These problems increase the risk to US personnel and can induce budget overruns rather than savings, disrupt civil-military relations, and have detrimental consequences for the American economy and society,” Kidwwell writes.And she offers suggestions to govern the use of contractors in combat zones:”Political and military leaders must clearly define the role of contractors-the nature of the work they are allowed to perform and the legal and geographical limitations of civilians on the battlefield-and the core competencies of the military services. The legal status of contractor employees as noncombatants must be firm, and the US government must resolve the ambiguity of contractual and criminal jurisdiction when American taxpayers foot the bill.”Other headlines today:Kansas National GuardTopeka Capital-Journal) Topekan receives Purple Heart: Three days after Thanksgiving in 2004, Spc. Sean McCoy was driving a Humvee through the streets of Baghdad under an overpass when 20 feet ahead … BOOM! An improvised explosive device blew out of the ground, rocking the Humvee, ripping the steering wheel from McCoy’s hands. He regained control of the vehicle and drove to safety. Bryttanie McCoy, 10, hugs her father’s arm as he speaks to reporters after the ceremony. It wasn’t until the next morning he woke immobilized by pain in his back and arms. McCoy, a graduate of Shawnee Heights High School, was awarded the Purple Heart on Wednesday, an honor decorating those who are wounded in the line of duty.