WASHINGTON (Army News Service) -- One of the most dramatic lessons to come out of Operation Joint Endeavor is that civilian contractors are an integral part of the total force, particularly when it comes to providing logistics and engineering services.
Troops used to carry everything, build everything, do everything. If it wasn't in their packs, they didn't have it. They peeled potatoes, hauled trash, ran the laundry, dug latrines and rigged showers. Today, much of that falls to private sector.
Wherever American troops go in the Balkans, Houston-based Brown and Root Services Corporation is close by providing whatever life support services that U.S. Army Europe decides the troops need but can't provide for themselves.
"We are reengineering the way the Army supports the deployed force during military contingency operations," said Col. Anthony Nida, commander of Transatlantic Programs Center. Nida recently returned from the Balkans where the Corps of Engineers is managing the Army's Logistics Civil Augmentation Program contract.
LOGCAP uses a civilian contractor to perform selected logistics and engineering services to augment U.S. forces during military contingency operations. Brown and Root Services Corporation received the initial one-year contract in August 1992. The contract has four one-year option periods, and has also been used in Somalia, Zaire, Southwest Asia, Haiti and Italy.
"We are learning as we test new ideas and, like all change, it's both fascinating and frustrating," Nida said. "We have learned that our private sector relationship for contract services is now critical to total force interoperability. It's compelling us to think and communicate in whole new ways."
Under direction of TAC contracting specialists, the LOGCAP contractor has provided the majority of support to repair Hungarian military facilities for U.S. forces and has set up and is operating the intermediate staging base in Hungary.
The contractor is now working on the complete set-up of four base camps for the 2nd Brigade units operating in the remote mountainous areas of southeast Tuzla in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Corps is also using LOGCAP in unison with Air Force Red Horse and Navy Seabee construction troops. Red Horse and Seabee trade specialists erect the tents while the Corps uses the LOGCAP contract to set up latrines, showers, heaters, dining halls, laundries and other essential life support facilities.
Brown and Root Services Corporation will operate all camps once set-up is complete. Plans call for as many as 26 base camps for the U.S. forces.
"It's impressive what the contractor has accomplished in just a month," Nida said. "LOGCAP has allowed us to accomplish more during the early phases of a deployment. This new force multiplier comes from the contractor's ability to expand operations quickly to meet the expanding requirements by tapping local crafts and tradesmen and bringing in supplies from the most readily available source.
"In Lukovak (in Bosnia), I watched Brown and Root's local national craftsmen fix and clean a filthy abandoned three-story building with broken glass and inoperable latrines so that soldiers were able to move into it the next day," Nida said. "They rewired the lights, fixed the toilets, got heat, repaired the windows and cleaned the building. That's remarkable, considering that this was done before the advanced party occupied the site.
"I watched a work crew with a few saws and some plywood on a back lot produce 500 tent pads in a single shift, even though it was night and temperatures were freezing," Nida said. "The local workforce is very skilled, with artisans and craftsmen who are eager to work. These people know the host nation systems, the language and the equipment. And the LOGCAP contract lets us tap into and mobilize that talent base.
"LOGCAP has shown that the private sector is now a vital member of the military effort," Nida said. "Brown and Root successfully delivered substantial amounts of construction and logistical support to the ISB in Hungry and to forward locations in the vicinity of Tuzla. It's unbelievable there was nothing on the ground for U.S. forces just a month ago."
(From a Corps of Engineers news release.)