As The Army Faces Troop Cuts, Ranks Of Civilian Contractors Swell

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Photo by Staff Sgt. Ezekiel R. Kitandwe

In a historic shift, active-duty military military personnel are now outnumbered by the civilians supporting them. In July, the Army announced that 40,000 soldiers would be cut from active duty, on top of the 80,000 soldiers let go since the Iraq and Afghanistan buildup.


As the military shrinks in size, now numbering roughly 1.36 million active-duty troops, the number of government employees and federal contractors is disproportionately large. Since the peak of the defense budget in 2010, the number of civilian employees at the Pentagon has grown by 6% to 744,000 and the number of contractors has increased by 20% to roughly 730,000.

Mackenzie Eaglen of the Wall Street Journal writes about how the Pentagon’s incredible purchasing power — and the lack of oversight that comes with it — has led to the rampant growth of its civilian ranks, while the military is giving troops the boot.

“Because the Pentagon cannot adequately manage this unaccountable army of contractors, it ends up shortchanging the military, which is starting to lose critical staff, notably mid-grade field officers and senior noncommissioned officers. … Congressional and Pentagon leaders must impose oversight on the Pentagon’s shadow workforce.”

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Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

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File photo: Navy SEALs in Mosul (Photo: CNN/screenshot)

NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — A Navy SEAL officer accused of failing to properly report alleged war crimes carried out by one of his men was arraigned on Tuesday in San Diego.

After being informed of his rights, Lt. Jacob Portier did not enter a plea or choose whether he'd ask for a jury or bench trial, since his civilian attorney has raised questions over a protective order in the case.

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An AH-64D Longbow Apache helicopter lands during a combined arms demonstration as part of South Carolina National Guard Air & Ground Expo 2009 at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Oct. 10, 2009. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Roberto Di Giovine)

Welcome to Confessions Of, an occaisional series where Task & Purpose's James Clark solicits hilarious, embarrassing, and revealing stories from troops and vets about their job, billet, or a tour overseas. Are you in an interesting assignment and think you might have something to share? Email james@taskandpurpose.com with your story.

"Nothing is more powerful than a young boy's wish. Except an Apache helicopter. An Apache helicopter has machine guns and missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive complement of weaponry, an absolute death machine."

While this Patrick Stewart quote may be from an R-rated movie about a talking teddy bear, it's remarkably accurate. After all, the old warhorse has been kicking ass since it was first adopted by the U.S. Army in the 1980s. Designed to get into trouble fast and put it down even faster, the AH-64 Apache usually comes bristling with ordnance, from an M230 chain gun firing 30mm rounds to Hellfire missiles and rockets.

In the words of Tyler Merritt "it's basically a fucking flying tank."

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Staff Sgt. Joshua Z. Beale (U.S. Army photo)

The Pentagon has identified a Green Beret who was killed on Tuesday by enemy small arms fire in southern Afghanistan as Staff Sgt. Joshua Z. Beale.

Beale was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command. He was killed during combat operations in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.

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(The 621st Contingency Response Wing/Flickr)

The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard called the ongoing partial government shutdown "unacceptable" following reports that some Coast Guardsmen are relying on donations from food pantries while their regular paychecks remain on hold.

"We're five-plus weeks into the anxiety and stress of this government lapse and your non-pay," Adm. Karl Schultz said in a video message to service members. "You, as members of the armed forces, should not be expected to shoulder this burden."

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