Rick Perry talked about moving troops back into Iraq, if elected. The question I would ask, is with what Army? Rick Perry’s plans would result in the U.S. Army being unable to support troops in Iraq.
Let me start by briefly explaining what the U.S. did in order to field troops in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
- First, troops require food. Food in Iraq and Afghanistan needs to be contracted for, monitored, and provided. This is done by government contractors. Contracts are written and monitored by civilians. Folks from contracting agencies, mainly overseas contingency contracting, DCMA, and others write and manage the contracts. These contracts also needed to be audited by several organizations consisting of more civilians. It takes several years for a government employee to be trained to manage contracts, several years to be trained to audit, several years to be trained to manage contracts.
- Second, the troops need body armor, helmets, personal gear. These are produced by the private sector, but require a large number of civilian government workers to oversea testing, set testing requirements and procedures, determine requirements, and to adjust the gear based on changing conditions. Body armor is a great example. A soldier needs armor resistant to armor piercing weapons, and that is tested against — not only current and projected future threats, but that is updated as these threats change. This requires constant testing, constant management. And has saved lives.
- Of course, there are a whole host of base services: Security, energy, waste management, port-a-johns, gravel, etc that need to be built. And again, these are built by private companies managed by and contracted to by government civilian contractors.
- At the same time government civilians in the CIA, DII, and even in DOD and other agencies play important roles in any war effort gathering intelligence, planing, organizing, etc. The Iraq Green zone was filled with a literally a city of U.S. Federal civilian government workers, along with military and contractors.
- I could actually go on for hours, but the point here is that to manage a war, you actually need civilian federal government workers.