Support: Contracting Command Created to Combat Corruption


p> December 12, 2007: Following the example of the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army is establishing a "Contracting Command" and staffing it with contracting professionals, to handle the larger volumes of contract personnel and organizations hired for the war on terror. Iraq, in particular, has been a struggle. There are over 160,000 contractor personnel in Iraq (including Kuwait) and Afghanistan.

Iraq was what broke the army's existing contracting capability. Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the army had one base in Kuwait (through which most army troops pass, on their way to Iraq), and contracting officers there handled $150 million worth of business a year. Now there are eight bases in Kuwait, and a billion dollars a year in contracts to deal with. Since 2003, over 550,000 U.S. Army troops have passed through Kuwait, on their way to Iraq, where tens of billions in contracts have been issued, and often not administered well.

The army got help from the air force, which sent many of its contracting officers to help out. In the air force, contracting is a career path, and the air force people really knew their stuff. The army could see that after a few years, when they measured rate of problems with contracts handled by air force personnel, and found it was much lower than that for army contracting officers.

The new Contracting Command will have a strength of over 4,000 personnel, including 400 military and 1,100 civilian personnel specializing in contracting. The rest will be existing acquisition people, who will benefit from having their own command and career path. The command will be led by a Major (two stars) General, and will take 5-10 years to come near the level of effectiveness the air force already enjoys in this area.

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