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The Perils of LOGCAP Job Seeking

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I have often mentioned the logistics side of private military contracting. It would be difficult not to, as it constitutes the overwhelming share of the industry

And when you talk about logistics work, at least for the American military, you can't avoid talking about LOGCAP, the mother of all logistics contracts. Although it has been awarded to DynCorp in the past it is primarily associated with KBR, which has been implementing the contract in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Djibouti, and Georgia. Currently LOGCAP is split between KBR, DynCorp, and Fluor Corporation.

Over the years, there have been lots of problems with LOGCAP contracts, ranging from cost over runs to flagrant examples of fraud waste, and abuse, not to mention things like rapes of various LOGCAP workers. One has only to go to a site like Ms. Sparky to get the latest on various misdeeds by KBR and other contractors.

Is this the result of inept workers or indifferent mismanagement, or something else? I frankly don't know but it is worth taking a moment to ponder the process LOGCAP job seekers go through in their quest to get employed.

According to Bruce Diggs, who runs the LOGCAP 4 JOBS site this is not an industry for the naive.

There have been countless scores of ill-prepared people seeking to better their lives, who whether by naïveté or wide-eyed innocence, have come onto the LOGCAP project with the misguided notion that there would be an atmosphere of patriotism, camaraderie, or esprit-de-corps of cooperation and professional consideration.

An environment in which one would interact with colleagues and enjoy support, mutual collaboration -- even friendship. One team, one fight... that sort of thing.

LOGCAP is not this kind of environment

Anyone who arrives on the project with this Pollyanna attitude is an ingénue in denial and will quickly discover that, for the most part, the stark reality on LOGCAP is totally the opposite of a collaborative environment. Unquestionably, these people are destined to become fodder for the blood-thirsty opportunists who will step on the backs of whoever is necessary, in order to climb what they perceive as the corporate ladder. Are you feeling me?

Be Warned -- You Will Deal With Very Difficult People.

You will encounter people in positions of authority who could never be in comparable positions back in the so-called "real world", as they use bluff and bluster to cajole, threaten and intimidate those around them in an attempt to conceal their own ineptitude and inability to perform the job.

Compounding the problem is a system rife with favoritism, quid-pro-quo (this for that), back-stabbing, under-handedness and nepotism, in which those who possess genuine talent and leadership skills are dubiously viewed as a threat to be eliminated. This posse is popularly known as "the good 'ol boys."

Now, with the domestic economy being what it is, dismal, more people than ever are looking to get a LOGCAP job. Diggs writes:

In a bid born primarily of financial necessity, ten's of thousands of American citizens increasingly apply to scores of Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) companies contracted to provide logistical support to U.S. and Coalition troops deployed to the war-weary nations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Especially so for Americans, the risk of living and working in a war zone where dangerous and potentially life-threatening conditions exist and are dealt with on a daily basis, are offset by the promise of unrivaled compensation packages in their respective career field, clearly unattainable in the U.S.A.

For example, a truck driver struggling to bring home $40,000 a year in the states can more than triple their income by working on LOGCAP starting at $130,000 a year. With unemployment in the United States at the highest rate in more than two decades, competition for these high paying jobs has only intensified, as hundreds and even thousands of applications are received for each advertised position, particularly with regard to LOGCAP employers known as the Big 3, namely Fluor, KBR, and DynCorp.

....

Now, with the current economic downturn in the U.S., people are clamoring to get onto the LOGCAP project, sometimes in a desperate bid to simply hold on to everything they have worked for their entire life - their house, their land, their cars - all of their physical possessions. Consequently and because of the sheer overwhelming number of applicants, the recruiters tasked with matching candidates with job requisitions can afford to be extremely selective as applicants vie for the tantalizing financial carrot of economic prosperity dangling before them.

Interestingly enough, there seems to be no demarcation of applicants in terms of political affiliation. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, doves, and hawks alike are found in equal numbers working on LOGCAP, as the common bond shared among them all is their elusive quest for financial solvency, or at the very least, equilibrium.

"Back in the day", if you had a pulse and a passport and were brazen enough, you had a relatively good chance of being hired - but this is not your fathers LOGCAP anymore. Now, you nearly need a Hollywood agent to promote you, and that is where the crucial importance of having a laser-focused resume designed to make one standout from the crowd comes in.

Of course Diggs is promoting his own self-interest by mentioning the resume, as part of what he does for a living is helping people write the type of resumes which LOGCAP recruiters look for when screening potential candidates.

Still, his basic point is correct; it is all about the money and the LOGCAP environment allows for all sorts of manifestly unqualified people to have management jobs they would never have in civilian life. Thus, maybe it is not a surprise that there are many scandals associated with LOGCAP. This, by the way, is not a slam on the average LOGCAP worker. I believe the vast majority do the best job they can in difficult conditions. But they unquestionably deserve better leadership than many of them get.