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#1
Old 01-21-2013, 02:13 PM
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Does the Army still use it's own cooks and use soldiers for KP?

I've read somewhere (Sorry, no cite) the the Army is sub-contracting it's cooking duties to civilians. I remember KP (Kitchen Police) when I was in, and it was no walk in the park. It seems like the troops could use their time for better things. Like training or even time off.
#2
Old 01-21-2013, 02:20 PM
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Outsourcing has become common in the military.

There's a lot of articles. Couldn't find one specifically on Food Service. But this one mentions a lot of areas. A lot of them surprised me.
http://nationaldefensemagazine.o...yServices.aspx

Quote:
The type of military services provided by private companies is broad and includes basic research and technology development, strategic research and consulting, threat analysis, war gaming and simulations, software development, information technology systems support, operation of military equipment and systems, intelligence gathering, surveillance, interrogation, counterterrorism, destruction of weapons and unexploded ordnance clearance, clearing of firing ranges, weapon collection and destruction, demining, protection of diplomats, company sites and civilian convoys in conflict zones.

Last edited by aceplace57; 01-21-2013 at 02:22 PM.
#3
Old 01-21-2013, 02:24 PM
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KP has been outsourced in many places, and some of the recent transitions haven't exactly gone smoothly (which has put them in the news). The Army hasn't completely eliminated all of its own food prep though and there are still some soldiers doing KP duty.

Snopes article referencing some of the rumors going around about food outsourcing:
http://snopes.com/politics/military/breakfast.asp
#4
Old 01-21-2013, 02:35 PM
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The Army still has its own cooks. Back in 1989 when I went through Basic the cooks there were contractors. So its not new. It depends where you go if you will see Army cooks or contractors. On the big FOBs in Afghanistan the cooks are all contractors.
#5
Old 01-21-2013, 02:39 PM
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I always thought is was Kitchen Patrol. They both sound sarcastic. But then the Army is not known for its (intentional) sarcasm.
#6
Old 01-21-2013, 02:44 PM
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Same for the AF-most security on Airforce bases are now handled by men in black uniforms (either Wackenhut or Pinkertons). Its cheaper.
#7
Old 01-21-2013, 03:15 PM
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Doggone double posts!

Last edited by Fir na tine; 01-21-2013 at 03:19 PM.
#8
Old 01-21-2013, 03:18 PM
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Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power

Excellent book by Rachel Maddow on the subject. Points out how we - the USA - have almost completely outsourced war.
#9
Old 01-21-2013, 03:25 PM
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I've wondered how much the need for technical support has forced outsourcing?

As a Computer Analyst I wouldn't mind working on a military contract. I'd even fly overseas if the pay was right. But going through boot camp and following strict military discipline isn't for me. I'd only work as a civilian contractor. Unless they bring back the draft.

Last edited by aceplace57; 01-21-2013 at 03:26 PM.
#10
Old 01-21-2013, 03:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fir na tine View Post
Excellent book by Rachel Maddow on the subject. Points out how we - the USA - have almost completely outsourced war.
I have not read the book so I can not comment on if she is correct in it or not. I can say that your one line synopsis is overblown to the point of absurdity.
#11
Old 01-21-2013, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
I've wondered how much the need for technical support has forced outsourcing?

As a Computer Analyst I wouldn't mind working on a military contract. I'd even fly overseas if the pay was right. But going through boot camp and following strict military discipline isn't for me. I'd only work as a civilian contractor. Unless they bring back the draft.
In this case, it's win win -- sending someone through boot camp and making sure they're fit and deployable at all times is expensive. Unless there's some pressing need for computer analysts in the AOR, they're not going to deploy you anyway; you can do your analyzing on a computer stateside, after all. Consequently, it's been common practice to contract out any technical job that's non-deployable. Combat comm will always be guys in uniform, but my old career field (computer programming) is getting smaller and smaller.

Likewise, you'll always need a contingent of cooks and kitchen staff who will feed infantry downrange (assuming they're not so far downrange that they're eating MREs), and you're not going to deploy contractors at $150k a year to do that job, especially if there's some risk that said contractors might wake up in the middle of the night with rockets raining down on them. However, that's a relatively small number of service personnel; the rest of the positions stateside can be contracted out. Typically, it's about 80% contractors with a few military positions for training and management (guys gotta learn how to cook, after all).

Last edited by steronz; 01-21-2013 at 03:55 PM.
#12
Old 01-21-2013, 04:10 PM
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The food at Fort Jackson is definitely outsourced. The gate security, on the other hand, was outsourced for years but is now going to be military again. This is probably not that great, as it isn't a permanent detail - my understanding is that soldiers will do it for a few weeks and then rotate out. So the experience base will be as you would imagine.
#13
Old 01-21-2013, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
The food at Fort Jackson is definitely outsourced. The gate security, on the other hand, was outsourced for years but is now going to be military again. This is probably not that great, as it isn't a permanent detail - my understanding is that soldiers will do it for a few weeks and then rotate out. So the experience base will be as you would imagine.
Base security is very different from base to base. One post I visited a couple years ago for training had Wackenhut as gate security but all on base policing was done by Army MPs. Another large joint base I go to has mostly military personnel manning the gates but all policing on base is done by DOD Police.
#14
Old 01-22-2013, 01:06 AM
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A lot of out-sourcing has occurred within CONUS to move troops OCONUS. And, additionally, to the proverbial tip-of-the-spear. This was one way to address the sudden and rising need for US troops during the initial build-up. Also, a lot of bases were converted to entirely contractor base if they served no real military purpose. Like, in Iceland.

Also, it makes sense and it sucks to do KP/gate duty. It costs a lot of money and time to train someone to proficiency and then you use it on something that may or may not apply to their specialty.
#15
Old 01-22-2013, 03:39 AM
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I really hope that Kings Bay does not have contractors as guards.

Last edited by AK84; 01-22-2013 at 03:39 AM.
#16
Old 01-22-2013, 03:51 AM
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Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
Same for the AF-most security on Airforce bases are now handled by men in black uniforms (either Wackenhut or Pinkertons). Its cheaper.
The idea of outsourcing military security strikes me as odd - surely there's no shortage of armed people with uniforms at a military base who are serving there and could be tasked with standing at the front gate and keeping ne'er do wells and the generally unauthorised out? How is it cheaper to pay another company to do this?
#17
Old 01-22-2013, 09:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
I always thought is was Kitchen Patrol. They both sound sarcastic. But then the Army is not known for its (intentional) sarcasm.
It's not sarcasm. "Police" is frequently used in the Army as a synonym for "clean, organize, maintain, etc".

From here:
Quote:
1. To regulate, control, or keep in order with or as if with a law enforcement agency.
2. To make (a military area, for example) neat in appearance: policed the barracks.
#18
Old 01-22-2013, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Martini Enfield View Post
The idea of outsourcing military security strikes me as odd - surely there's no shortage of armed people with uniforms at a military base who are serving there and could be tasked with standing at the front gate and keeping ne'er do wells and the generally unauthorised out? How is it cheaper to pay another company to do this?
Well lets take a post like Fort Eustis. I have not been there since 2008 so I can not say exactly how they do it now. But then they had Wackenhut security working the gate. Eustis is for the most part a training post. Permenant party personnel are there to support and run the various schools that are there. The transient population are there for school. Pulling people out of their jobs or out of school would be possible but impractical. Bringing in soldiers just to work gate duty does not make sense. At the time there were two wars going on. Manning is set by Congress. Its more practical to have the troops where they are needed. And paying guards so much per hour is a lot cheaper than paying salary, housing, food, medical, schooling for family of a soldier.
#19
Old 01-22-2013, 11:01 AM
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It has been my experience that KP duty hinges entirely on the location and personnel available. On larger bases and camps, they are more likely to have contracted kitchen staff. On smaller bases and training missions, they still use Soldiers for KP.

This is also not an either/or issue. I was on Bagram last year, and it was a 50/50 split. Some mess halls were mostly contracted, while some mess halls were entirely staffed by military cooks and Soldiers on temporary KP duty.

As for the issue of contracting, I would prefer a world in which Soldiers did all the work, but I understand the financial benefits of hiring civilians. Its also worth pointing out that we're seeing a LOT of these kinds of civilian jobs vanishing as budgets dry up. Now that the OPTEMPO is slowing down, a lot of the returning Soldiers now have the time to staff some of these administrative positions. Since I returned from my last deployment, I've been surprised at how many Soldiers I find behind desks that were manned by civilians a year ago.

Last edited by solosam; 01-22-2013 at 11:04 AM.
#20
Old 01-22-2013, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fir na tine View Post
Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power

Excellent book by Rachel Maddow on the subject. Points out how we - the USA - have almost completely outsourced war.
Yes, but it's not always cheaper. There are companies like Blackwater making tons of money for providing security services, at much higher prices than it would cost for a standard-issue GI grunt.

Way back when "Don't Ask Don't Tell" was in vogue, the military discharged a bunch of translators because they were gay. Even though there was an urgent need for arabic translators at that time. So many of them were hired by a consulting company, which then sold their services to the military. Some of them ended up back at the same base, sitting at the same desk, doing translations just like before. Except now not in uniform, not having to salute, etc. -- and paid much more than they were getting as GI's!
#21
Old 01-22-2013, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Yes, but it's not always cheaper. There are companies like Blackwater making tons of money for providing security services, at much higher prices than it would cost for a standard-issue GI grunt.

Way back when "Don't Ask Don't Tell" was in vogue, the military discharged a bunch of translators because they were gay. Even though there was an urgent need for arabic translators at that time. So many of them were hired by a consulting company, which then sold their services to the military. Some of them ended up back at the same base, sitting at the same desk, doing translations just like before. Except now not in uniform, not having to salute, etc. -- and paid much more than they were getting as GI's!
The security that Blackwater provided was for the State Department. DoS was really just not equipped to handle that large a job. Security for DoS is provided by civilian regional security officers not the military.
#22
Old 01-22-2013, 12:15 PM
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Thanks, all, for the responses.
Jake
#23
Old 01-22-2013, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Yes, but it's not always cheaper. There are companies like Blackwater making tons of money for providing security services, at much higher prices than it would cost for a standard-issue GI grunt.
Not necessarily. Sure, the salary is higher, but you have to remember all the money that goes into a soldier's clothing, housing, medical care, etc. Just because the Army pays Blackwater $200k per person to replace a PFC, it doesn't mean the Army is losing $180k on the deal.
#24
Old 01-22-2013, 08:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chessic Sense View Post
Not necessarily. Sure, the salary is higher, but you have to remember all the money that goes into a soldier's clothing, housing, medical care, etc. Just because the Army pays Blackwater $200k per person to replace a PFC, it doesn't mean the Army is losing $180k on the deal.
Absolutely. It's a matter of short term loss vs. long term gain. You are comparing the cost of one year in Iraq against the cost of training and maintaining a soldier for the length of his entire career. If the soldier makes it to retirement, you might still be paying his pension 40 years from now.

It may very well be cheaper to pay a premium price for a short-term mercenary than the long-term investment that is required to field a careerist soldier... even more so when you are talking about low-paying jobs like laundry and santitation.
#25
Old 01-22-2013, 10:07 PM
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The main reason the military outsources non-deployable jobs is the exact same reason private companies do it- to concentrate on their core competencies- which in the military's case is to get troops where they need to be, fight when they get there, and support them in the field.

Why go to the trouble of having a volunteer Soldier/Marine/Airman/Sailor spend his career cooking shit on a shingle or standing around in the cold at the post gate when he really ought to be doing those jobs that are more pertinent to the mission of their particular service? It makes good sense to outsource those jobs, and probably may even save some money in the long haul to do so.

A lot of the tradition of the military doing all those jobs is more of a historical relic of the WWI/WWII/Korea/Vietnam draftee armies- if you have more or less unlimited really low paid draftee manpower, it makes sense to put them to work doing shit jobs. But, if you don't have unlimited manpower, and you have people who specifically volunteered to serve, it's a dumb decision to put them to work doing shit jobs, and won't help your retention rates one whit.
#26
Old 01-23-2013, 02:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
Bringing in soldiers just to work gate duty does not make sense ... And paying guards so much per hour is a lot cheaper than paying salary, housing, food, medical, schooling for family of a soldier.
Why, though? I mean, if you're paying a soldier $X per year, does it matter (from an economic standpoint) if they're stationed at Fort Awesome or Fort No Puppies Allowed? There's got to be thousands of soldiers with no dependents or partners who could be deployed to bases like the one you mention for the purpose of guarding the gates and other such things.

Sure, it's not very exciting work, but paying a private company $Y per hour to do it instead of the people who are already there with guns doesn't make it any more exciting, IMHO.
#27
Old 01-23-2013, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Martini Enfield View Post
Why, though? I mean, if you're paying a soldier $X per year, does it matter (from an economic standpoint) if they're stationed at Fort Awesome or Fort No Puppies Allowed? There's got to be thousands of soldiers with no dependents or partners who could be deployed to bases like the one you mention for the purpose of guarding the gates and other such things.

Sure, it's not very exciting work, but paying a private company $Y per hour to do it instead of the people who are already there with guns doesn't make it any more exciting, IMHO.
Keep in mind that today's soldiers are volunteers. They didn't join up to peel potatoes, do guard duty at the post gate, or any number of other crappy menial jobs.

They joined to be professional soldiers (or airmen, marines or sailors). It all ultimately pays the same, you're right, but does it make much sense to take someone willing and able to be an actual fighting man and stick them behind a stove?

Doesn't seem like a very good allocation of resources to me, especially not when that E2 almost certainly costs more to employ as a cook than you'd pay some other firm to provide a cook, and that E2 has specific soldier/sailor/marine/airman skills that can be better put to use elsewhere.
#28
Old 01-23-2013, 11:28 AM
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Does the Army still use KP as a mild, non-UCMJ form of punishment for minor offenses?

'Cuz...I had to do some dishes a couple times back in the day.


Last edited by FoieGrasIsEvil; 01-23-2013 at 11:28 AM.
#29
Old 01-24-2013, 02:47 AM
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Originally Posted by bump View Post
Keep in mind that today's soldiers are volunteers. They didn't join up to peel potatoes, do guard duty at the post gate, or any number of other crappy menial jobs.

They joined to be professional soldiers (or airmen, marines or sailors). It all ultimately pays the same, you're right, but does it make much sense to take someone willing and able to be an actual fighting man and stick them behind a stove?

Doesn't seem like a very good allocation of resources to me, especially not when that E2 almost certainly costs more to employ as a cook than you'd pay some other firm to provide a cook, and that E2 has specific soldier/sailor/marine/airman skills that can be better put to use elsewhere.
The thing is, that's true of most jobs. I think many (most?) people do a number of things at work which they really don't feel is what they signed up for or are a waste of their skills.

I can understand outsourcing cooks since it probably is cheaper and more efficient to pay someone to cook than get soldiers to do it. But guarding a military base is, IMHO, pretty much exactly what I'd consider to be within the job description of a new recruit-type soldier.
#30
Old 05-21-2013, 07:26 PM
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K.P. Duty

When I went through boot camp in 1968 at Fort Jackson, we had a full week of KP, and rotation of guard duty. Because it was the draft, at that time, we had no shortage of personnel to perform these duties. We still had some tough old mess sergeants that had been in since the Korean War. In Vietnam, we had no one but ourselves to do our cooking of those horrible K and C rations we used to get. I remember eating canned hamburgers that were canned in the mid 50s. Even Tabasco sauce did not help them...lol. Thanks for the memories....
#31
Old 05-21-2013, 07:54 PM
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Including the contractors, what is the tooth to tail ratio in the military? What is the tooth to tail ratio of only enlisted people? I heard in Iraq we had more contractors than soldiers for a while but many of those contractors were infantry too.

I thought cooking (as well as various other duties) was outsourced to Kellogg Brown and Root a while ago.

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 05-21-2013 at 07:54 PM.
#32
Old 05-21-2013, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
Including the contractors, what is the tooth to tail ratio in the military? What is the tooth to tail ratio of only enlisted people? I heard in Iraq we had more contractors than soldiers for a while but many of those contractors were infantry too.

I thought cooking (as well as various other duties) was outsourced to Kellogg Brown and Root a while ago.
I never saw any contractors being used like infantry or anything even close. I saw contractor used as security such as for the Department of State. DoS protection is handled by there RSOs but that department isn't nearly big enough to handle security in a combat zone. The contractors we worked mostly with were used to man security checkpoints.

KBR was used in Iraq for cooking. Our cooks were used to supervise KBR. In the states the cooks are sometimes military, sometimes contractors.
#33
Old 05-21-2013, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
I never saw any contractors being used like infantry or anything even close. I saw contractor used as security such as for the Department of State. DoS protection is handled by there RSOs but that department isn't nearly big enough to handle security in a combat zone. The contractors we worked mostly with were used to man security checkpoints.

KBR was used in Iraq for cooking. Our cooks were used to supervise KBR. In the states the cooks are sometimes military, sometimes contractors.
I was/am interested in food service on such a large scale, and consulted Google, which coughed up first KBRcaterers.com--whose motto is "service with a smile." Unfortunately it only serves business clients in Kerala, so don't go there for information regarding anything to do with this thread. (Just a heads up.)

But I did find this from KBR, which touches on other contracting jobs, for the Brits:
Houston, Texas August 29, 2011 KBR (NYSE: KBR) today announced that it has been selected by the UKs Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to provide life support, vehicle maintenance and healthcare services across Baghdad, Basra and Erbil in Iraq, and Kabul and Lashkar Gah in Afghanistan.
[snip]
KBR will deliver a comprehensive suite of services such as medical support (including nursing and medical supplies), fleet management of armoured and soft skin vehicles, interpreters, sustenance, laundry, environmental services and fuel.
[snip]
In another page KBR says they supply "a full range of hard and soft services to the British military in Afghanistan." What does that mean? I have a guess it has to do with spear and tip, but maybe others know the business/industry use of the terms.

FWIW, they say they're the largest single contractor in Afghanistan.
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