Date of Award

Spring 2008

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Studies

Committee Director

Regina C. Karp

Committee Member

David C. Earnest

Committee Member

Joshua G. Behr


Contractors compose part of the total force for U.S. warfare capability in Iraq.

Some augment U.S. warfare capability; others do not. Some of the contractors are controlled by the military; others are controlled by civilian (nonmilitary/political) government agencies. The problem: Who are the contractors and how has the nature of government oversight and control over contractors determined whether contractor contributions augment or diminish U.S. warfare capability in the Iraq War?

Argument: It is the degree of government control over contractors that determines whether the contractors' contributions have a positive or negative impact on warfare capability. Ultimately the findings support this argument.

My method is a single case study that compares two groups of individual cases. The first group is composed of firms that have military contract administrators; the second has nonmilitary/political administrators. The individual cases are framed by a research question set to trace contractor control and contributions to changes in warfare capability. The firms are identified by function type and contract administrator.

The military had procedures for controlling contractors when the war started, but failed to follow through on them. Contractor fraud and the Abu Ghraib scandal were the result. With congressional oversight and military control, contractors contributed to the size of the military force structure and augmented warfare capability. Contractors modernized military capability with technology support; in addition, they provide specialized skills such as language capability and oil well maintenance. All of these functions augment warfare capability. However, both military dependence on contractors and contractor lobbying are fundamental threats to military readiness and warfare capability.

Nonmilitary/political administrators had no force structure, plans, or procedures for contractor control at the start of the war; control policy was written as an afterthought. Contractors provided the force structure, building skills, and police training essential for the warfare capability goal of rebuilding and stabilizing Iraq. However, armed security firms that were used to protect rebuilders became a threat to political order because the nonmilitary/political control policies for contractors did not change with the political situation. Thus, the nonmilitary/political administrators' failure to control contractors is linked to the erosion of warfare capability.