The breakup of the Soviet Union theoretically ushered in a "new world order," according to President George Bush. In reality, what we have seen is a world in turmoilone without the monolithic threat of the Soviet Union, yet just as deadly. The insidious problem of transnational threats, posed by narcotics traffickers and terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction, presents one of the most significant challenges to our Nation. Today these increasingly powerful adversaries are equipped, and in some cases trained, by former Soviet military professionals now seeking employment with the highest bidder. Changes in today's world make it necessary for us to rethink the way we do things. The existing military logistics system does not always function efficiently in the environments encountered within this new order. In such cases, it may be necessary to have someone on site who can contract and purchase locally.
First Line of Defense
It has been military policy to use special operations forces as one of the first lines of defense in controlling and containing these new threats. Within the Army Special Operations Command, special forces groups are exceptionally adept at taking the battle to the enemy. These highly flexible organizations can be tasked to perform a variety of roles overseas. The core competencies of foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action, unconventional warfare, and counterterrorism allow special forces units to engage in operations required to defeat transnational threats abroad successfully. This ensures a credible first line of defense through peacetime engagement, cooperative training efforts, and, if necessary, the use of armed force. A special forces team is the ideal force of choice to use in the low-intensity operations that appear to be so prevalent today. Special forces teams are well equipped and highly trained, yet they suffer from limited sustainment capabilities during contingency operations.
The low-intensity operations frequently encountered in today's unique political environment are classified as contingency operations. Field Manual 100_7, Decisive Force: The Army in Theater Operations, defines contingency operations as those operations requiring "the employment of military force in response to a crisis caused by a natural disaster, terrorists, subversives, or other required military operation." This definition supports the strategy of using tailored special forces teams to determine the extent of a situation quickly, solve the problem, or stabilize the situation for follow-on forces.
Austere Operating Environment
The fact that most special forces operations are conducted in or near failed nation states in the Third World adds to the difficulty of these operations. These countries typically have a limited infrastructure and could be conducting operations to deny contact, assistance, and trade with neighboring states. This typical scenario makes for a very austere operating environment.
To conduct this type of operation successfully, the deployed special forces team must be completely self- sufficient to operate in a challenging environment. Conducting operations in this environment requires either a significant external logistics effort or the ability to acquire supplies and services locally. Since it is impractical in most situations to conduct large logistics operations in denied or politically sensitive areas, supplies and serv-ices usually must be procured locally. Therefore, to ensure success, it is essential to equip this type of organization with all of the organic assets needed for operating in a variety of challenging environments.
Contingency Contracting Officer
Currently, the special forces group does not possess the authorized personnel needed to conduct the contingency contracting operations required for self-sufficiency in austere environments. To solve this problem, a contingency contracting officer (CCO) could be added to the special forces group's modification table of organization and equipment (MTOE). This change would increase significantly the logistics flexibility and independence of deployed special forces teams. This increased flexibility in the group can be achieved by authorizing only one new position within the organization. The benefits of an increased contracting capability far outweigh any difficulty experienced in obtaining a new position.
The CCO assists the deploying team in the requirements determination process, which identifies the supplies and services required during operations. By identifying shortfalls of on-hand equipment, he can provide the framework for procuring items in the United States and in the area of operation. Finding and correcting deficiencies allows the team to deploy more expeditiously and effectively. The CCO develops a historical data base of previous operational requirements and compares the historical requirements list, along with lessons learned, against similar, future operational requirements. The use of historical data significantly shortens the acquisition process and increases the speed and efficiency of predeployment mission planning. This provides an efficient and organic planning capability to deploying teams.
For missions such as counterdrug and demining, legal considerations concerning the use of different types of funds requires significant knowledge of congressional language contained within annual funding legislation. These funds are scrutinized closely by Congress and must be spent precisely to guarantee that the funding legislation is followed. Mission or exercise audits can cause significant legal problems for the commander and team members. To avoid this problem, the CCO and the unit lawyer can conduct research to ensure that funds are used properly and legally during the operation.
The CCO can assist in the varied planning and budgeting considerations for ongoing and future programs. Within a special forces group, the lawyer, the CCO, and the finance officer can provide a comprehensive evaluation of the sufficiency of funding for future operational requirements. The CCO can compare supplies and serv-ices from a previous requirements list, apply inflation factors, and project those figures forward to obtain accurate budget estimates. Detailed budgeting maximizes the use of funds and minimizes the impact of shrinking resources. The successful application and synchronization of all resources provides the commander with a powerful combat multiplier.
CCO Deployment With the Group
The CCO can support a high visibility or complex mission effectively by deploying with the special forces element. Some operations, such as demining, will require full-time manning by a contracting officer. In situations where the group CCO is unavailable for deployment, the CCO can coordinate with other theater contracting assets for continuous coverage. This coordination effort will ensure adequate coverage for the teams at all times.
However, not all operations require full-time manning. In such operations, the CCO will deploy with the team and initiate contracting actions to create the necessary support structure. The CCO will return in the middle of the deployment mission to ensure that adequate support is being maintained. As the mission nears completion, the CCO will deploy to conduct contract closeout actions and assist in redeployment. He will repeat this process with all of the teams that require assistance. It is critical to schedule CCO deployments to maximize time and effort while minimizing travel costs.
Establishing the CCO Position
To correct the contracting personnel deficiency within special forces groups, the Army Special Forces Command should send a request to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology. This request will initiate action with the Acquisition Corps. If approved, the Acquisition Corps Military Acquisition Position List (MAPL) will be changed to include an approved CCO position in each special forces group. This authorization will remain valid through the annual justification process. Simultaneously, within the Special Forces Command, the increased personnel authorization will require an approval to generate the requirement and fill from the personnel system. The complete authorization process possibly could take a year or more, but the significant gains achieved through successful authorization will far outweigh the administrative hurdles.
The placement of a CCO within a special forces group provides the commander with a unique combat multiplier during all phases of an operation. In a drawdown environment, an increase in personnel authorizations could be met with resistance. However, the placement of a CCO needs to be viewed as a low-cost investment that increases the organization's capabilities by providing greater independence and increased efficiency through significant cost savings. The CCO's ability to assist in requirements determination, legal advice, deployment execution, and budgeting will provide the necessary capability for deployed special forces teams to conduct their operations autonomously to the fullest extent in support of national security goals. ALOG
Major Eric C. Wagner is assigned to Boeing Space and Communications Systems under the Training With Industry program. He previously served as a contingency contracting officer with the 1st Brigade, 6th Infantry Division (Light), at Fort Richardson, Alaska. He holds a B.S. degree in biology from Seattle University and an M.A. degree in industrial and technical studies from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.