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The Reaper
05-17-2004, 18:13
A lot of poetic license, but some info, nonetheless.

TR

New Republic
May 24, 2004

Baghdad Dispatch
Cowboy Up
By Joshua Hammer

It was just before dusk at Baghdad's Al Hamra Hotel, and the patio by the swimming pool was humming with activity. "Bushmaster," an Australian security contractor wearing an olive-drab floppy hat, sat at his usual table drinking chilled vodka straight from the bottle. "Have a swig of Stoli, mates!" he slurred across the courtyard to a trio of hulking operatives from Blackwater Security Consulting, the secretive U.S. outfit whose guards had been ambushed and burned to death in Falluja a month earlier. Suddenly, there was a commotion in the lobby, and 30 South African mercenaries wearing khaki shorts and body armor marched single file into the courtyard. Bulging arms covered with multicolored tattoos, shaved heads gleaming, they carried an arsenal of weaponry--black M-4 assault rifles, 9mm pistols, stun grenades, serrated knives. Gathering in a semicircle, they answered a military roll call, barking out their names and ranks in guttural Afrikaans.

One of the South African mercs picked up the rifle of an Australian soldier seated poolside, handled it admiringly, then peered down the laser scope at a table full of journalists. "It's like the holding pen for the [South African] Truth and Reconciliation Commission," muttered a food-service provider from the military--a self-described "war profiteer"--seated at our table.

In the last few months, Baghdad's corporate warriors have all but taken over the city. They cruise the streets in late-model SUVs, the long, steel barrels of their automatic weapons protruding from open windows. They've essentially taken over a dozen hotels in the capital. I counted as many as 100 "security consultants," as most prefer to be called, lounging poolside at the Al Hamra on several evenings this week--four or five times the number I saw in my previous visit to the city. As many as 20,000 contractors are currently believed to be in Iraq, and the number keeps growing.

These private armies have assumed many duties normally carried out by troops during wartime. A Virginia-based firm, Custer Battles, guards Baghdad Airport. Erinys, a British company, protects oil fields. Blackwater provides bodyguards for officials of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and escorts military supply convoys along Iraq's dangerous highways. DynCorp of Virginia has been hired to help train Iraq's police and the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. And, of course, CACI International Inc. provided interrogators inside Abu Ghraib prison.

For American soldiers and Marines in Iraq, the rapid proliferation of contractors is, at best, a mixed blessing. Some troops I talked to say the contractors' presence frees up their own thinly stretched units to carry out operational activities--including running security patrols, searching for improvised explosive devices, and battling the growing insurgency. "We fight the war, and they do the shit work," one top officer in Baghdad said.

But many troops resent the fact that the private gunmen earn as much as $1,000 per day--ten times the average Marine's salary. And several told me that they find it alarming that so many private gunmen are on the loose in Iraq, unbeholden to military regulations. As the violence intensifies, some contractors have engaged in sustained firefights and even pitched battles with Iraqi insurgents; as many as 50 contractors have been killed in action.

"I went to Baghdad last month and couldn't believe how many armed foreign civilians were moving around the streets," I was told by a major in the First Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq. "It blew me away."

The U.S. military and the contractors work in close proximity.

When I flew around northern Iraq two weeks ago on an inspection tour of police academies with Lieutenant General David H. Petraeus--the former 101st Airborne Division commander who is now rebuilding Iraq's security forces--Petraeus's entourage was guarded, in part, by Blackwater's private security men. In Najaf in April, where hundreds of fighters from Moqtada Al Sadr's Mahdi Army surrounded CPA headquarters, eight Blackwater operators, one Marine, and three Salvadoran soldiers fought side by side from the CPA's rooftop. After ten hours spent fending off sniper fire and rocket-propelled grenades, the men were resupplied by a Blackwater helicopter flown by a veteran Army pilot, who dropped clips of ammunition onto the rooftop. A short time later, the helicopter returned and evacuated a Marine. Some American officials sense commitment and dedication from the contractors. "I looked in their eyes," Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, the chief U.S. military spokesman, told The Washington Post after meeting the American mercenaries. "They knew what they were here for. ... They were absolutely confident."

Sometimes, however, the mercenaries' activities do more harm than good. The uneasy relationship between the troops and the contractors reached its nadir on March 31, when the four Blackwater men were brutally murdered in Falluja, their body parts strung up on a bridge. The previous day, the four contractors, all heavily armed but driving unarmored vehicles, had reportedly escorted a food convoy to a nearby Marine base. They spent the night at the base, apparently ate alongside the troops, and then left the next morning for Baghdad, inexplicably taking a shortcut through the resistance stronghold. "We would have told them not do it," said one Marine officer. The officer angrily called the contractors "cowboys" and said they had failed to inform anyone on the base about their plans, a direct violation of military policy. The Marines learned of the ambush and murder by watching CNN.

Some troops I talked to had felt a powerful urge to avenge the contractors' deaths. "They were Americans, and they were brutally murdered. My instinct was, 'We've got to go in,'" said First Sergeant William Skiles, a leader of Echo Company, Second Battalion, First Marine Regiment. But many others were incensed that the mercenaries had forced the military's hand. "My first questions were, 'Who are these people, what were they doing there, and why didn't we know about it?'" said Lieutenant General James T. Conway, commander of the First Marine Expeditionary Force in Falluja. Conway told me he'd had a plan in place to establish military control over Falluja but that intense political pressure to invade the city following the Blackwater killings obliged him to move far more quickly than he had wanted.

Conway expressed his reservations to Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of allied forces in Iraq. But he was told that Washington demanded immediate action. Days later, Conway sent two battalions into Falluja, where they killed hundreds of Iraqi combatants and civilians, leveled much of the city, and caused a wave of international opprobrium that ultimately forced Conway to withdraw his troops.

The ambush killings in Falluja, and the beheading of a contractor this week, sent shock waves through the mercenary corps in Baghdad. Even so, the brutal attack seems unlikely to dampen the contracting boom. "These guys may be chastened, but nobody's talking about leaving Iraq," I was told by one "security consultant" as he sipped a Carlsberg poolside last week. "For one thing, the money's too damn good." He also pointed out that most of the contractors are the hardest of the hard core-- veterans of such elite outfits as the U.S. Special Forces; the Rhodesian Selous Scouts, the former special forces of the Rhodesian white regime; and Executive Outcomes, the now- disbanded South African mercenary army that fought in Sierra Leone and Angola.

These men thrive on the danger of working in war zones. As the security consultant spoke, a contingent of 25 Blackwater operatives seated across the pool passed around a bottle of Jack Daniel's and two bottles of vodka donated by Bushmaster. As if on cue, one Blackwater man pulled out anacoustic guitar, and his two dozen comrades burst into a rockabilly ditty: "Goin' Down to the River with My Dirty Ol' Shotgun." Bushmaster, an empty bottle of Stolichnaya at his feet, grinned and tipped his hat.

Joshua Hammer is Newsweek's Jerusalem bureau chief and the author of A Season In Bethlehem: Unholy War in a Sacred Place, published by Free Press/Simon and Schuster.

Roguish Lawyer
05-18-2004, 09:35
I would be interested to know what percentage of the war budget is being spent on private security contractors being paid this much, and whether there is a realistic alternative. I imagine these are just the going rates and we need the right guys, but we are going to create some pretty perverse incentives paying contractors this much money.

Tell the truth: why would you re-enlist in SF when you could get a job at CB or Blackwater paying you so much money?

Seems to me that the all-volunteer force is being tested hard right now . . .

FILO
05-18-2004, 13:52
You are right the money is relatively very good if you have the right credentials and you hook up with the right company. Moreover, lots of money is being thrown at experienced guys who are still on active duty, but not all are taking. In fact, I have a good buddy who has over 15 years of SF and current SMU experience and he is coming up on retirement this year. He has been approached by a number of recruiters for the P.M.C.’s but he has decided not to jump on board since he is not willing to put his future at risk for short term monetary gain. This situation of recruiting experienced military operators is not limited to P.M.C.s but to O.G.A.s. as well. Even the O.G.A.s have lost a few very experienced former Army SMU types; some of them reported on in Afghanistan.

Sacamuelas
05-18-2004, 14:18
What is the Army compensating its very experienced current SF and SF/SMU assigned personnel?

I am not talking about base pay either. I would like to see someone calculate the total compensation that a soldier of this caliber and experience gets- include jump pay, combat pay, any special pay for performing the SMU type operations (?), housing, reenlistment bonuses, any other bonuses that I don't know about, deployment pay (?)...
Obviously, I do not know the proper terminology for the types of pay for specific duties, training, and hardships- please forgive my ignorance.



Anyone care to give an account for a comparison to what these contractors are paying? Use someone like the example given by FILO. 20 yrs prior service, current SF soldier, SMU experience, who is coming up to retirement date or needs to be reenlisted by the US Army. I will "assume" that someone of this experience/training would be a MSG, so let's use that for the "base pay" part of the answer.

Anyone willing to give up the info? Without the true figures, it is hard to have a discussion on the disparity of pay between Gov. and private contracting companies like Blackwater.
:munchin

Roguish Lawyer
05-18-2004, 14:41
Looks like you can get a lot of that info here, although it does appear that you need to know what bonuses to look for.

http://usmilitary.about.com/library/milinfo/pay/bl2004enlbasepay.htm

Of course, the obvious solution to the retention issue is to increase pay for AD personnel. ;)

Smokin Joe
05-18-2004, 15:10
It appears that these Companies are throwing a good amount of money towards SF/SMU (Active/ Inactive) individuals. However, what about the down side.

Not the same compare and contrast but this is all I got so...
One of my Lt.'s recently retired and is in BagRag training there Police Officer Corp over there. He is getting 100 grand for 365 days of service doing anything from teaching at there academy to being a Field Training Officer.

He had to provide all of his own gear, and clothing. If he wants to take a vacation or leave for any reason he has to provide all of his own transportation back to the U.S. then back to Baghdad to go back to work.

He could not bring any of his own weapons. I don't know but 'assume' they will give him something to defend himself with but who knows what that will be.

He gets zero 'Official Intel' everything is word of mouth.

If he gets in deep shit he could be on his own. No 'guarenteeed' back up.

There are some other downers but that is all he has shared with me so far.

Just something to think about.

Solid
05-18-2004, 15:34
Is there a downside that wasn't listed in the article for deployed soldiers operating with, or in proximity to, PSCs?

Based on history, pre-rifle mercinaries were heavily used and seem to have had a largely positive effect in the armies they were working for. However, I wonder what the evolution of small unit warfare has done to change their place in modern operations.

Thank you,

Solid

The Reaper
05-18-2004, 18:20
I think that the Army is, and has been grossly undermanned for the mission requirements, and this is the logical consequence of such shortsighted actions. All of the Army's big ticket items (Paladin, Comanche, etc.) have been sacrificed already to maintain the limited force structure that we have while other services have remained latched on to large scale Cold War projects.

We HAVE to hire the contractors, because there aren't enough soldiers (AD and Reserve) left to get the job done.

Base pay for an E-8 over 20 years is $3815. Add BAH, BAS, Hazardous Duty pays, if any, Foreign Language Proficiency Pay, if any, and Special Duty Incentive Pay or Continuing Service Reenlistment Bonus; Hostile Fire Zone Pay and Family Separation Allowance when he is deployed. TSP is not matched for uniformed Service Members, Med and Dental for the SM is provided, family dental and Life insurance the soldier has to pay for. No more than $1500 or so in bonuses, if he has everything. Assume he has everything and call it $5315. For a fair comparison, you really should subtract the retired pay he would be getting if he were not on AD, roughly $1900 per month, leaving you with compensation of about $3415 per month for spending half of his remaining service in the box, at high risk.

The Army is getting a soldier for less than $42,000 per year whose fair market value could be as much as $350,000 per year.

Wanna drop your tools and sign up?

When you have an E-8 making $50K on AD, and he is eligible to make half that as a retiree, plus $150-300K per year for very high risk, short term employment, he has to look at his situation and make a decision for his benefit. He has served his country well and honorably, and has nothing to be ashamed of for being compensated at a fair market price for his services.

The Army is hiring contractors because they cannot accomplish the mission with the force structure they have, the contractors are filling a government offered contract, the soldiers are doing what is right for them/their families, and the U.S. taxpayer is footing the bill for having maintained a very small, all volunteer force while acting as the world's policeman.

The downside for contractors is the risk, lack of job security, lack of benefits (life insurance, health insurance, retirement, etc.), lack of support, variable conditions, and as I told a young E-4 in a retirement brief the other day who was excited about working as a contractor, if he got caught while wearing the uniform, the U.S. military would move heaven and earth to get him back. As a a contractor, he he is on his own and better have a plan, like the truck driver did. You see how much support the BW guys in Fallujah got.

We can make the Army larger (cheaper) by conscription, make it larger by paying more and have it underemployed part of the time, we can hire contractors to fill short term gaps, or we can adjust our military decision making to reflect the force structure that we have.

I think that the civilian CoC was sold a bill of goods by the "Air Power can do everything" advocates, whose shock and awe has predictably been unimpressive to the insurgents and failed to get the job done in Iraq. We went in on the cheap with deficient post conflict planning and lack of a defined (and achievable) end state. We are now paying the price.

Will 250 F-22s do us any good in this conflict? Not really helpful at seizing and holding terrain. How about the two to four more divisions that money would buy?

Bottom line:

Soldiers have to do what is right for them and their families, and if the U.S. is determined to be the global 911 force, the military in general and the Army and Marines in particular need to be resourced adequately to succeed.

Just my .02, YMMV.

TR

Roguish Lawyer
05-18-2004, 18:42
TR, that was brilliant, as usual.

Kyobanim
05-18-2004, 19:01
TR for Prez! The voice of common sense.

NousDefionsDoc
05-18-2004, 19:20
Well said Boss. While the money can be good, even great, its about credentials - and there's not very many places you can get those. If you get jammed up, there's no Spectre or Spooky to come help you. You may go several months between jobs. There is no support service behind and you and you have to buy a lot of your own gear. Sometimes no insurance or benefits, many times there are pay problems. I know people that have been fired because they had to leave for a family emergency. You don't get 30 days of paid vacation a year, and many of these jobs are little more than guard duty. Its not all roses.

But I like it better than selling car insurance or flipping burgers.:D

OBTW, this is nothing new, just a lot more of it and more press.

Sacamuelas
05-18-2004, 21:25
ALright.. thank you TR.

Let me see if this all adds up... I found the following specifics from .mil online sources. I will attempt to put the SF soldiers pay into the form that he would have recieved if a contractor by adding in the ARmy benefits to his paycheck.

E8, 20 years, with incentives reported by TR given:

$3815 Base pay
1008.00 BAH
254.46 BAS
150.00 HDP
100.00 FLPP-1
225.00 Special duty incen. pay
1589.88 3 yr Reenlist bonus [(up to 15x basic/3 years)/12mos]
225.00 hostile fire zone pay
100.00 family separation pay
__________________________
$7468.04/month = $89,616.48 per year

Now, factor in 30 days paid leave which equates to the above amount being paid for only 11 months of actual service. This works out to a "corrected" 12 mos paycheck(like the contracts were worded 360 days) to compensation on the scale of:

$89616.48 / 11 months(actual work) = $8146.95 X 12 months of the contract period = $97,763.40 per year
Now factor in the fact that Soldiers do not pay federal income tax on any of the pay while serving in combat zone. That means the following:

$97,763.40 X 25% federal tax bracket = $24,440.75 tax benefit

Now, that sums $97,763.40 + 24,440.75 = $122,204.15

also remember that as a Gov. employee, your half of the self employment tax is covered by the gov. So lets add in the extra 7.5% you would be paying to the IRS for that too.

$122,204.15 X .075 = $9165. 31 tax self employ taxsavings

so its now $122,204.15 + $9165.31 = $ 131,369.46

and finally to conclude the purely monetary COMPENSATION conversion over into contractor wages... based on what TR stated about being deployed on average six months of your time as a AD SF NCO...

TOtal SF compensation: $131,369.46 for on average 6 mos deployed per year

Total compensation for contractor for a equal 6 mos deployment: 300,000 / 2 = $150,000 with no benefits,etc

That is a much better comparison when you consider all the other benefits included below that are automatic with the US SF soldiers mission: here are a few things I haven't even factored in to the equation... some of which aren't availble at any cost unless you are a member of the Army.


The unlimited and unrestricted -no cost to the soldier- disability and future pay supplement coverage afforded to US soldiers if wounded and disabled in action, there is transportation to and from the hostile zone provided at no charge, there is free transportation to home when on vacation/leave, there are free weapons-ammo-uniforms- coms-gas-support- access to US SF medical care in the combat zone-etc. , health/life insurance, all the other active duty benefits that can be accessed.

And let's not forget what NDD and TR have already mentioned which should be the MOST important "benefit" in the SF compensation package in the type of mission the "contractors" have to perform... true/dedicated/relentless support from all your fellow US soldiers/airmen/sailors; Air support from spectres,other CAS during operations; armored support when called for, access to REAL intell networks, free/continunous training including range acess and ammo, access to the best technology available to perform your mission at no cost, etc.
:munchin


**edited to clarify final sum total above..thanks RL

Roguish Lawyer
05-18-2004, 21:34
Originally posted by Sacamuelas
and finally to conclude the purely monetary COMPENSATION conversion over into contractor wages... based on what TR stated about being deployed on average six months of your time as a AD SF NCO...

$131.369.46 x 2 ( contractors won't get paid 300k to be CONUS 6 mos a year) = totals $262,738.92

Wow, nice effort, Doctor. (I was wondering what was taking so long!)

I don't understand the part I've quoted above.

Sacamuelas
05-18-2004, 21:35
I know... I am sure someone is going to find all sorts of little math/tax law/etc details that are wrong. It was an attempt to make you guys feel better...


YOu just didn't REALIZE you were paid so much... ;) LOL

Roguish Lawyer
05-18-2004, 21:39
Originally posted by Sacamuelas
I know... I am sure someone is going to find all sorts of little math/tax law/etc details that are wrong. It was an attempt to make you guys feel better...


YOu just didn't REALIZE you were paid so much... ;) LOL

Well, if the dentist thing doesn't work out, you can always get an army recruiting/retention job!

Seriously, I don't understand. What is the thinking?

Sacamuelas
05-18-2004, 21:41
I will reword the final compensation calculation:



Contract pay was given as 300k for 360 days...

SF pay is based on an "average" of 6 mos deployed time per year of service.

So the 300k contractors make is really only $150,000.
The AD SF NCO would make an adjusted $131,369 for the same 6 mos OCONUS deployment along with ALL the other benefits, safety, support, training , and perks.

Better?

Roguish Lawyer
05-18-2004, 21:45
Originally posted by Sacamuelas
Contractors are only paid when overseas performing their duties.. SF soldiers are paid during the 6 mos average time they are CONUS. So if trying to equate their pay with that of the guys who only get paid when overseas in danger, the SF compensation they get (adjusted to 131k per year) would actually be for only six months OCONUS duty.. so if they were to serve a full 360 day contract term their pay would actually equate to 260k.

I know.. it is "funny" number crunching but it is the only semi-legit way to compare the pay I could think of. After all, those contractors aren't getting paid to be CONUS an average of 6 mos during their year contract period. Make sense now?

No, I think you're doing fuzzy math.

Generally speaking, I would think that contractors doing a 6-month contract would get 180 days of pay at whatever rate, not 360. But they also can work the other 180 days doing something else if they want, one would assume. If anything, you should reduce the contractor pay amount and then add a positive adjustment for the 6 months of free time, not double the SF amount. But I'm no mathematician.

Sacamuelas
05-18-2004, 21:47
sounds good.. done counselor.

Roguish Lawyer
05-18-2004, 21:55
Originally posted by Sacamuelas
sounds good.. done counselor.

Don't get me wrong, I think you are making a good comparison, trying to make appropriate adjustments.

That being said, I'm not sure what there is to add beyond TR's analysis. I must say that, while I knew about Crusader, for example, I never realized how severely taxed our forces are and how much we should be thinking about cutting other programs.

Personally, I can see a lot of important uses for the F-22, as the GWOT is not the only theatre out there. I'm still very concerned about a certain country to the north of BMT, for example. Seems to me that F-22s would be handy against that country, and they take time to build.

http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/f22/f22features.html

Sacamuelas
05-18-2004, 22:00
Originally posted by Roguish Lawyer
Don't get me wrong, I think you are making a good comparison, trying to make appropriate adjustments.


I agree with you and have changed the prior posts to rectify the confusion (thanks). Now, I am interested to see the replies from the former/current SF NCO's and even Officers who are making the case for drastic increases to compensation packages.
:munchin

Roguish Lawyer
05-18-2004, 22:01
Originally posted by Sacamuelas
Better?

Yep.

Roguish Lawyer
05-18-2004, 22:03
Originally posted by Sacamuelas
Now, I am interested to see the replies from the former/current SF NCO's and even Officers who are making the case for drastic increases to compensation packages.

I'm not sure I've seen that here. Every time I start talking about money, the QPs say they don't do it for the money.

Of course, if you get more money and still get to shoot guys in the face . . . ;)

Sacamuelas
05-18-2004, 22:10
Hey now RL... don't try to set me up. I never said they do what they do for money!!! :p Damn... you are trying to get me killed.

I meant I keep hearing on the news from the military "leadership" talking about needing new bonus packages to compete with the private contractors,etc.

TR "sort of" discussed that side of the issue by referencing the guys who are making a very reasonable decision to take the contractor jobs for $$$ reasons alone. While true that they can make more per year, actual time spent doing it along with the cost of doing business as a contractor need to be factored in.

I don't think the military seems to be doing a very good job of explaining the benefits and adavantages it has over the contractor positions.

The Reaper
05-18-2004, 22:15
Originally posted by Sacamuelas
ALright.. thank you TR.

Let me see if this all adds up... I found the following specifics from .mil online sources. I will attempt to put the SF soldiers pay into the form that he would have recieved if a contractor by adding in the ARmy benefits to his paycheck.

E8, 20 years, with incentives reported by TR given:

$3815 Base pay
1008.00 BAH
254.46 BAS
150.00 HDP
100.00 FLPP-1
225.00 Special duty incen. pay
1589.88 3 yr Reenlist bonus [(up to 15x basic/3 years)/12mos]
225.00 hostile fire zone pay
100.00 family separation pay
__________________________
$7468.04/month = $89,616.48 per year

Now, factor in 30 days paid leave which equates to the above amount being paid for only 11 months of actual service. This works out to a "corrected" 12 mos paycheck(like the contracts were worded 360 days) to compensation on the scale of:

$89616.48 / 11 months(actual work) = $8146.95 X 12 months of the contract period = $97,763.40 per year
Now factor in the fact that Soldiers do not pay federal income tax on any of the pay while serving in combat zone. That means the following:

$97,763.40 X 25% federal tax bracket = $24,440.75 tax benefit

Now, that sums $97,763.40 + 24,440.75 = $122,204.15

also remember that as a Gov. employee, your half of the self employment tax is covered by the gov. So lets add in the extra 7.5% you would be paying to the IRS for that too.

$122,204.15 X .075 = $9165. 31 tax self employ taxsavings

so its now $122,204.15 + $9165.31 = $ 131,369.46

and finally to conclude the purely monetary COMPENSATION conversion over into contractor wages... based on what TR stated about being deployed on average six months of your time as a AD SF NCO...

$131.369.46 x 2 ( contractors won't get paid 300k to be CONUS 6 mos a year) = totals $262,738.92

That is a much better comparison when you consider all the other benefits included below that are automatic with the US SF soldiers mission: here are a few things I haven't even factored in to the equation... some of which aren't availble at any cost unless you are a member of the Army.


The unlimited and unrestricted -no cost to the soldier- disability and future pay supplement coverage afforded to US soldiers if wounded and disabled in action, there is transportation to and from the hostile zone provided at no charge, there is free transportation to home when on vacation/leave, there are free weapons-ammo-uniforms- coms-gas-support- access to US SF medical care in the combat zone-etc. , health/life insurance, all the other active duty benefits that can be accessed.

And let's not forget what NDD and TR have already mentioned which should be the MOST important "benefit" in the SF compensation package in the type of mission the "contractors" have to perform... true/dedicated/relentless support from all your fellow US soldiers/airmen/sailors; Air support from spectres,other CAS during operations; armored support when called for, access to REAL intell networks, free/continunous training including range acess and ammo, access to the best technology available to perform your mission at no cost, etc.
:munchin

Doc:

First, STEP AWAY FROM THE CRACK PIPE!!

Your BAH number is off the chart, what, did you pick the figures for Hawaii?

E-8s (18Zs) do not get the re-up bonus you have quoted, unless I am missing something.

You only get leave, when you can take it. Military leave also includes holidays and weekends, so to get a full week off, you may have to take 7 days leave, rather than the normal five or even four on a holiday weekend you civvies get. Let's see, hmmm, 179 days deployed, working 12 hours per day, 7 days per week makes for about 110 days off missed, and 44 hours of uncollectable overtime.

You do not get to collect the Family Sep, Hostile Fire Pay, or tax breaks during the six months you are back home. Furthermore, a large portion of the contractor pay could be tax free as well.

Contractor is going to have to pay 7.5% Social Security (unless checks are being issued on a foreign bank, that is another story), you pay the other half, just like in the military.

What happened to the retired pay he should be receiving?

Contractor may provide disability and supplemental insurance coverage, or you may have to buy it, cost varies. Better check out what the military family collects if the husband dies, it isn't much either, Social Security picks up most of that tab as well, contractor, retiree, or AD. Medical coverage may or may not be included with a contractor. Transportation to and from the hostile zone is provided at no charge with a contractor or AD. Free transportation to home when on vacation/leave, maybe, you ever burned ten days of a 14 day leave trying to catch a hop out of nowhere, North Dakota? Weapons, ammo, commo, wheels for duty movements are provided to every contract worker I have seen. Many of the other active duty benefits can be accessed as a retiree.

Some contracts are monthly, some for a period of months, some for years. Many provide round-trip airline tickets for leaves, some may keep people on the payroll for short down periods just to keep from losing them.

Finally, when it gets bad as a contractor, you tell you boss to shove it, and get on the next thing smoking. Doesn't work that way when you are in the military.

Doc, I think you have been sampling your NOX. I have a much better comparison of this than you, despite what you may think, I know of no E-8 making the salary you have estimated above. I think you have underestimated the value of a contract as well.

If you are insinuating that an SF E-8 with 20 makes $131,369.46 a year, I have some prime real estate to sell you. That is a lot more than an AD SF O-5 over 22 makes. Frankly, our NCOs are so poorly compensated for their service that I am insulted at your attempt to insinuate that they are paid that much.

Stick to yanking teeth, Doc, salary computation does not appear to be your specialty.

TR

Roguish Lawyer
05-18-2004, 22:19
Originally posted by The Reaper
If you are insinuating that an SF E-8 with 20 makes $131,369.46 a year, I have some prime real estate to sell you. That is a lot more than an AD SF O-5 over 22 makes. Frankly, our NCOs are so poorly compensated for their service that I am insulted at your attempt to insinuate that they are paid that much.

Stick to yanking teeth, Doc, salary computation does not appear to be your specialty.

LMAOROTMFF!

:munchin

The Reaper
05-18-2004, 22:33
Originally posted by Sacamuelas
Hey now RL... don't try to set me up. I never said they do what they do for money!!! :p Damn... you are trying to get me killed.

I meant I keep hearing on the news from the military "leadership" talking about needing new bonus packages to compete with the private contractors,etc.

TR "sort of" discussed that side of the issue by referencing the guys who are making a very reasonable decision to take the contractor jobs for $$$ reasons alone. While true that they can make more per year, actual time spent doing it along with the cost of doing business as a contractor need to be factored in.

I don't think the military seems to be doing a very good job of explaining the benefits and adavantages it has over the contractor positions.

Doc:

If you don't see the need for the bonus packages, you obviously haven't watched the recent flood of SF guys (all of whom are of above average intelligence, BTW) leaving the Army. Money isn't everything, but it is a powerful motivator for a guy who has been busted up and lived in third world crapholes for 20 years, the last 12 as an E-7. He and his family (or families, since military retirement is a dividable marital asset) can't live off his retirement.

Quality SOF cannot be created overnight. How long does it take a kid fresh out of the SFQC to become area oriented, language trained in theater, experienced, integrated into the team, specialty skill trained, etc? In case you don't really know-YEARS. The guys retiring are not the Junior Weapons Sergeants. They are the Seniors, the Intel Sergeants, the Team Sergeants, the Warrants, the Sergeants Major.

They are literally voting with their feet. I have yet to see one trying to get back in the Army after leaving, BTW. We are experiencing a talent drain which is unbelievable.

Job satisfaction and serving with the best only goes so far once you have put in 20. Additionally, you have to have another job anyway. Few can live on retirement pay, even with the magnanimous military benefits you have described.

Part is compensation, part is the frustration at being unable to get promoted, part is frustration at the management of the ops, part is being worn out by the constant deployments (missing multiple holidays and family events every year), part is burying too many friends in the past three years, and the rest is probably the fact that there is no end in sight for the tempo. These guys will be gone 6-9 months per year for the forseeable future.

With a contractor, the guy only has to do two or three years, and he is set financially for life. Many are choosing to get out and do just that.

Frankly, I am disappointed that you seem to think that the average SF NCO is too stupid to realize just what a great life the Army is giving him, and will bail at the drop of a hat to chase a paycheck.

TR

Sacamuelas
05-18-2004, 22:57
RL.. QUIT FOOKIN LAUGHIN!!! How about a little water to put out these flames. :boohoo





TR- My post didn't address the majority of the issues in your last post. IT was never intended to either. THose are problems that the military leadership has to deal with presently and in the future, and I am not one to give comment on how to do it.

My post was to attempt a slightly more evenly weighted $$$ comparison only. It wasn't an attempt to tell anyone how much someone "really" makes but to compare it more evenly to a contractor wage. You don't see the comparison as valid... fine, I can respect that. I never intended it to be infallible. It was offered to stimulate debate.

Unfortunately, it appears it has offended you. The fact remains that most people (including gov employees like you and me) don't really count ALL the benefits and incentives that government employment allows for when compared to contract/private corporation pay scales. Believe it or not, its true from my experience working for the US gov.

I won't argue with you further on it, Sir. It is not that important to me. Moving out....

DanUCSB
05-18-2004, 23:13
This all begs the question, then: we're all agreed that SF soldiers should be compensated far more than they are now. But how to do it?

Do you raise the base pay of everyone? I'd posit that that, while a noble goal and something we should be doing, is impractical if you're looking to compete with the contractors... ie, the gov't can't afford to pay every 88M, PAC clerk, watercraft mechanic, and cook enough so that the 18-series folks can make enough to not be lured away. By definition of 'base pay', you can't raise it just for one MOS series. So you either have to add incentive pays, bonusses, or change ranks. Should SF guys get a special incentive pay? That'll raise hackles with all the slice elements that deploy with SF who won't be getting the pay. Bonusses? How would you distribute them? Upon re-upping, like pilots? Change rank? I heard an idea about making all SF NCOs into warrants. But there's problems with that, too.

I know this sounds cynical, but it's not. I'm trying to figure out the consensus on what is the most practical way the gov't could do what it obviously needs to be doing. Especially being a young man looking at the front end (lord willin' an' the creek don't rise) of an SF career himself.

Roguish Lawyer
05-18-2004, 23:24
Originally posted by DanUCSB
This all begs the question, then: we're all agreed that SF soldiers should be compensated far more than they are now. But how to do it?

I am somewhat surprised (although hardly shocked) that there is not additional pay for special operations forces. We pay more for weapons systems based on qualitative advantages they have, so why not do the same with troops? Force multipliers should get some sort of pay multiplier, even if it is less than 2, it seems to me.

Solid
05-19-2004, 01:53
Damn my sleeping time, I missed out on a lot of this.

TR, thank you for that post, as always.

It's strange that the government has recognized for years that the kind of wars that the US will be fighting, because of MAD, will be against relatively low-tech countries where our own Air Superiority is almost a given, as is our superiority in 'open air areas'. You can't use a plane to clear out a town (unless you flatten it; hardly a tactic to win Hearts and Minds) or jungles or cave-systems. You need Ground Troops, preferably SUPPORTED by planes, and apparently more than ever SOF.

So, why develop quadrillion dollar F-22s if for the forseeable future our wars will be fought at close quarters? Why not spend the money on increased range time for both frontline and support soldiers, or on SOF equipment and training?

This may sound like a rant, but those questions are not rhetorical devices- I would be very interested to know Who, Why, Where and When this policy decision was made.

Mercenaries have been in use since before the days of Alexander The Great. The Greek Mercenaries formed the core of, coincidentally, the Persian Army. They were incorporated as regulars into Alexander's Army as he won his battles.

Again, thank you,

Solid

Roguish Lawyer
05-19-2004, 02:28
Originally posted by Solid
So, why develop quadrillion dollar F-22s?

One reason:

Roguish Lawyer
05-19-2004, 02:36
Another (and remember the speed at which the PLA is acquiring new technology and production capacity):

DanUCSB
05-19-2004, 02:43
Originally posted by Solid
So, why develop quadrillion dollar F-22s if for the forseeable future our wars will be fought at close quarters? Why not spend the money on increased range time for both frontline and support soldiers '


Why? Because fighter planes are sexy. People watch Top Gun and go 'ooh!', whereas they watch Black Hawk Down and go 'oh, shit!'.

That's one factor. Another is that soldiers can't/don't lobby nearly so well as the defense contractors. You tell a legislator, 'hey, vote for my new F-69 invisostealth automagic fighterplane!' and they think, 'hey, maybe I can get part of it built in my district'. You ask a legislator, 'hey, can you up the training budget for bullets?' and they think, 'god, this again? they wanted bullets -last- year, too!'

Solid
05-19-2004, 05:29
While some reports indicate that China could establish military parity with the US in the next 50 years, both China and the US are nuclear powers- would they actually engage in conventional warfare?
If China and the US were to engage in war, would it not be proxy war as in the USSR/US engagements? In these wars, Special Forces proved themselves invaluable.

Again, genuine questions. I'm looking to be educated here, not to make points.

Thank you,

Solid

Surgicalcric
05-19-2004, 06:47
Originally posted by DanUCSB
...I know this sounds cynical, but it's not. I'm trying to figure out the consensus on what is the most practical way the gov't could do what it obviously needs to be doing. Especially being a young man looking at the front end (lord willin' an' the creek don't rise) of an SF career himself.

Pro pay for SOF soldiers?

Jack Moroney (RIP)
05-19-2004, 08:15
Originally posted by The Reaper

We HAVE to hire the contractors, because there aren't enough soldiers (AD and Reserve) left to get the job done

TR

For those of you that have not yet retired and are contemplating it in the near future::"GET READY!". Your phone is about to ring off the hook. You will not have to worry about finding companies they will find you. Many will find you because folks currently working for these organizations are folks that know you and because they know you they can sort of waive whatever vetting process they would otherwise require. This has a good side and a bad side based on who you are and who it is that thinks they know you or about you. Right after I retired I had no less than one phone call a month offering me "good deals" based on my "unique skill sets". Things have slowed down now because I have made it clear what my criteria was for taking any of these "good deals" but they still find me, even in the woods up here in Vermont. Being old and physically broken the things I took were little things stateside and the going wage was for those minor gigs was $72 bucks per hour plus expenses, travel, lodging,etc. What really amazed me was that the things that I was doing were things that should have been done by folks on AD and when I asked the folks why they were bringing some of us FOGs back to do this stuff the answer was that they just did not have the expetise in house or available because they were stretched so thin. I do not see this getting any better soon.

Jack Moroney

Kyobanim
05-19-2004, 09:13
RL - both of those are fine examples of fighters, but having a good airplane is slightly different from having a good plane with an excellent pilot, (witness the MIG15 vs F86).

You still can't call it a win until some 18 to 45 year old soldier can sit on the real estate and drink a Coke without getting shot at.

Just a note on tax exempt status. . .I'm attempting to get an OCONUS position and was informed that in order to get tax exempt status you had to spend 335 consecutive days OCONUS and the exemption was on 80% of the pay.

SOGvet
05-19-2004, 13:24
For $131K, I'll re-enlist..

Team Sergeant
05-19-2004, 14:10
Originally posted by SOGvet
For $131K, I'll re-enlist..

LOL, ditto.

At 20 years I was making roughly 40K a year. (before taxes)

The current pay for an E-8 is $3625 a month. How you equate that with 131K is beyond me.


TS

(131K a year.... you getting high on your own drugs?)

The Reaper
05-19-2004, 16:59
Originally posted by Surgicalcric
Pro pay for SOF soldiers?

Already get bonuses for some ranks and MOSes, and monthly incentive pays for SF Enlisted before and after 20 years.

This is causing problems recruiting warrants, and even officers are leaving earlier, so the pays or bonuses may be extended to them.

Still will not be enough to compete with the contractors.

I did have a lady stop me in a Wal-Mart parking lot and tell me thanks for my service. That means more than you might think.

TR

Kyobanim
05-19-2004, 19:52
Originally posted by The Reaper

I did have a lady stop me in a Wal-Mart parking lot and tell me thanks for my service. That means more than you might think.

TR

I suspect that if the press didn't make SF out to be the bad boys of the battlefield and portrayed them as they really are, you would get a lot more of that.

Just in the few SF men I've known and the QPs on this board, I've seen that they are just like everyone else, caring, kind, humorous, and dedicated to their profession. If I could I'd give everyone of you a raise.

And thanks for your service and dedication to the country. I know the pay ain't great but we all appreciate all of ya'lls service, past, present and future.

Roguish Lawyer
05-19-2004, 20:04
Originally posted by Kyobanim
I suspect that if the press didn't make SF out to be the bad boys of the battlefield and portrayed them as they really are, you would get a lot more of that.

Just in the few SF men I've known and the QPs on this board, I've seen that they are just like everyone else, caring, kind, humorous, and dedicated to their profession.

Um, my understanding is that they also are the bad boys of the battlefield. Bad in a kick-ass way, not the literal one. Of couse, this is just based on what I've read. LOL

lostinthisevil
03-17-2005, 01:41
I did have a lady stop me in a Wal-Mart parking lot and tell me thanks for my service. That means more than you might think.

TR



YES it does. i allmost broke down and cried when a door man at a bar said it to me. i now do private contracting and i liked the army better. and i still miss it, but this job lets me do what i love, and the pay isent so bad.

dennisw
03-17-2005, 18:12
This discussion hits at the heart of our current problem. Is it more pay versus new fighters? What about battleships and bombers? The price tag on those bad boys are pretty steep.

However, it seems like we could solve part of the problem by having a draft. Not like in the 70's, but something different. You either join one of three groups(depending on your political/religious persuasion):

military;
Peace corp;
Some WPA like organization for building bridges, etc.

The bottom line is that you contribute your services and life for the your country for two or three years minimun. You actually comitt a selfless act. I know most of the hip hop idiots I see running around could use the discipline. It would make them better citizens in the long run.

This would provide more folks so we wouldn't have to use pmc's.

What about a program like they had in the English Navy? You capture $7 million in cash and your group splits a portion in prise money. Your Company grabs a large cache of weapons, everyone splits a $20K. etc. For England and for the Prize!

Hey doc, as a former bean counter, nice try. I was waiting for the statement of changes in capital to be attached.

aricbcool
03-17-2005, 23:43
What about a program like they had in the English Navy? You capture $7 million in cash and your group splits a portion in prise money. Your Company grabs a large cache of weapons, everyone splits a $20K. etc. For England and for the Prize!


As far as I know, that kind of setup was exclusive to Privateers, England's 18th century version of contractors. :p

Incidentally, I think everyone in the military should be paid more than they earn now. Once you factor in concepts like over-time, and shift differentials their hourly wage is not competitive. Not to mention the personal sacrifices. IMHO

BTW Thanks to all who served. I hope to join you guys and one day celebrate Veterans Day as (dare I say) "our" holiday.

Respectfully,
Aric

dennisw
03-20-2005, 02:59
I don't believe the pay in the military will ever be comparable to the civilian world. Not unless we adopt Plato's Golden Republic.

Also, the prize money related to both the british navy and to privateers who were specifically authorized. The process of declaring and valuing prizes and sharing out among crews and officers in the British Navy was very complicated but well understood by all affected. Involved prize agents etc. However, my suggestion was a bit farcical. :rolleyes:

If you're interested, check out any of Patrick O'brian's novels which were based upon British Naval History and thoroughly reseached.

aricbcool
03-20-2005, 12:34
Also, the prize money related to both the british navy and to privateers who were specifically authorized. The process of declaring and valuing prizes and sharing out among crews and officers in the British Navy was very complicated but well understood by all affected.

Interesting. I didn't know that.

However, my suggestion was a bit farcical. :rolleyes:

I know. I wasn't trying to get serious either. Just thought it was ironic that even in the 1800's they were employing "contractors". :)

If you're interested, check out any of Patrick O'brian's novels which were based upon British Naval History and thoroughly reseached.

I'll do that. I've heard good things about him and his novels. My Dad's got the first in his Master and Commander series. Probably a good place to start.

Regards,
Aric

Martin
04-24-2006, 12:13
Steering back from purely money issues...

I concur with TR's first reply.

Further, I think that the use of PSC:s so far is part of a series of responses to a current general tendency for social and political order to mismatch against each other. This is accentuated in some ways by economical effects, in other ways the societies (the people where applicable) are the primary rudders and thus enable and prevent the developments, subject to material resources available. I think that the military has been partly seen by some as an abnomaly in this evolution, partly consciously ignored, partly a conscious move away from the established military force for the purpose of lessening its power and to move that power elsewhere.

While I think that PSC:s may have some public and non-public uses, I think that a continued high reliance on them is detrimenial in the long term to shared values, ideological (would say national, by I'm not sure where that's heading anyway) integrity, and a number of other things. There are some eerie problems in governance, as well as acceptable measures for economical development (although that is not something new, it is not necessarily desireable), etc, by going down this path.

Interesting article: http://www.fpri.org/enotes/200604.military.avant.privatemilitarycompanies.htm l
Without flexibility, the use of PSCs can actually increase costs. For instance, in its initial outsourcing of ROTC training, the Army required certain levels of fitness, training, and experience that produced trainers almost indistinguishable from active duty equivalents—but at an additional cost of about $10,000/trainer/year.
:eek:

Just my .02

Martin

kgoerz
04-24-2006, 18:48
NDD your right on you have to do the time in order to have the qauls to make good money. A friend of my wife commented to me that her husband was going SF and then going to get out so he could make the big bucks. I just smiled and said nothing. One person commented to me "I cant believe how much they pay you guys" After deciding not to punch her I explained if you took all my Schooling and individual training over twenty years I would have the equivalent of a Masters degree or above in my line of work. So they should pay us for what we are worth. I would never recommend to someone to get out early (Before retirement) to go private. I am lucky to live near Bragg. When I am done doing this overseas stuff there is plenty of work on Bragg. So location is important. I retired as soon as I was eligible, a lot of my friends to. Not for the contracting Money alone but also the fact of being passed over time and time again for promotion. All with spotless records and reputations. Why didn't they see the big exit of SF personnel in 2003 when there was the big build up in 1983? If my math is right that equals twenty years. Every time we pass thru our Company in DC to in process before deployment someone there always makes a comment on the money they pay us. Of course they go home every night. One good thing about Contracting is when you get off that plane at the completion of a Contract you answer to no one. Just some of my thoughts...