Contractors on the “Battlefield”: Providing Adequate Protection, Anti-Terrorism Training, and Personnel Recovery for Civilian Contractors Accompanying the Military in Combat and Contingency Operations
Houston Journal of International Law
American civilian employees serving overseas in hostile environments are dying because their parent companies and the U.S. military are failing to provide adequate protection, antiterrorism (“AT”) training, or both. Contractors must be properly informed, trained, and equipped not only to understand their own rights and obligations, but also to understand those of the U.S. military and the parent contractor company because of the physical dangers inherent in such asymmetrical conflicts. Specified AT training is not a mandatory component of contractor deployment, leaving many contract personnel ill-prepared and under-equipped to operate in locations plagued by the threat of car bombs, suicide bombers, and ambushes. Terrorists, insurgents, and criminal gangs who prey upon contractors do not subscribe to the law of war or civilized behavior, thereby making the protections afforded by any rule of law hollow, with little practical or perceived value.
It is imperative that either these contractors’ employers or the U.S. military provide a higher level of meaningful and realistic AT training that prepares Department of Defense (“DOD”) contract personnel for high-risk deployments. Contractors who receive AT and security-related training prior to deployment are better positioned to avoid and manage the risks encountered on Military Operations Other Than War (“MOOTW”) or armed conflict. Unfortunately, contractor companies have their employees sign contracts that serve as a formidable shield to any legal responsibility on the part of the parent company.
Mitigating the risk of capture or injury to civilian contractors is a shared responsibility of the U.S. military and its parent contracting companies. Not only does the DOD need to fully develop an institutional approach to contractor force protection, it is imperative that parent contracting companies develop a better system of providing the necessary AT training to their employees.
Jeffrey F. Addicott, Contractors on the “Battlefield”: Providing Adequate Protection, Anti-Terrorism Training, and Personnel Recovery for Civilian Contractors Accompanying the Military in Combat and Contingency Operations, 28 Hous. J. of Int'l L. 323 (2006).