The Business of War and Peaceby Katherine McIntire Peters
bout half of the civilians now deployed to support U.S. troops serving in Bosnia, Hungary and Croatia work for the Houston-based firm Brown & Root, Inc. The 76-year-old engineering, construction and diversified services company has sent about 1,000 employees to the region under contract with the Army.
Brown & Root personnel, along with the 5,500 locals they've hired, have built 33 camps and are now providing cooking, laundry, sanitation and sometimes mail services, says Barbara Johnson, a Brown & Root spokeswoman. Since the company won a contract to provide logistics services for the Army in 1992, Brown & Root employees have become a familiar sight for military troops in the field.
To help prepare Brown & Root and other contractor employees for future deployments, officials at the Army Materiel Command (AMC) are developing a deployment guide for contractors, which they hope to publish this summer.
"What this guide really is doing is recognizing the fact that this is happening without making a judgment as to whether that's good or bad, right or wrong," says Louis Rothberg, an attorney in AMC's office of command council, who helped prepared a draft of the contractor guide. "We understand we have to speak to the people who are going overseas under these contracts and tell them what their rights are, their benefits are, and what their obligations are. This guide is a consolidation of existing law, policy and practice."
The most important things contractor employees need to know are the terms of the contract they're working under and the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the United States and the country in which they're serving, he says. Depending on the SOFA, contractor employees may be subject to the local civil and criminal laws of the country in which they are deployed.
The guide AMC is preparing aims to explain the things contractors should know before they deploy, such as their medical and legal benefits, the training they may receive, the equipment they may be issued, the command and control arrangements in the field and what their status is if they are captured or become a prisoner of war.
In addition, the guide contains checklists to ensure contractor employees' families are prepared for medical and financial emergencies.