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Enabler or Vulnerability: Operational Contract Support in Large-Scale Combat Operations

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Technical Report,25 Jun 2018,23 May 2019

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US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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The US Armys practice of supplementing capabilities with contracted ones has greatly expanded since the end of the Vietnam War and creation of the All-Volunteer Force. Operational Contract Support OCS, the process of planning for and obtaining supplies, services, and construction from commercial sources in support of combatant commander directed operations, is often the first option a commander turns to in contingency operations. OCS can be the most politically and operationally expedient option for providing the commander with critical, time-sensitive capabilities. However, because of its expedient nature, OCS has taken on an outsized role in US Army operations, reaching a point of over-saturation today. As the US Army transitions its focus to large-scale combat operations LSCO, it is necessary to examine whether its over-reliance on OCS over the last several decades has left behind any institutional bad habits which might make the force vulnerable in a more lethal type of conflict. This monograph examines OCS in the light of FM 3-0, and against the backdrop of the Gulf War. It concludes that a certain level of OCS will enable future LSCO, but the US Armys current application of OCS will lead to decreased operational readiness in the Active and Reserve components.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations

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