Saturday, May 12, 2012

Privatization and Drones

Attorney Keric D. Clanahan has a new article on SSRN connecting government contracting/privatization to another hot topic: military drones.  The article is Drone-Sourcing? United States Air Force Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Inherently Governmental Functions, and the Role of Contractors, published in the Federal Circuit Bar Journal, Vol. 22 (2012). Here is the abstract:      
In the last ten years of war, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), often called “drones,” have played a major role in the disruption of Al Qaeda, Taliban, and other insurgent enemy forces. Due to the lethality of these weapon systems, many critics have challenged the legality and morality of drone strikes. However, little scholarship has focused on the human capital requirements of the UAS mission, namely the personnel performing logistics and maintenance, video and imagery analysis, vehicle and sensor operation, and kinetic force delivery. This paper investigates the numerous roles necessary to sustain and perform the Air Force UAS mission, and attempts to identify which roles are being performed by military, federal civilian, and/or civilian contractor personnel. Based on the nature of certain roles, this paper argues that Government personnel should perform certain activities because they are inherently governmental functions, or for other policy reasons, and provides recommendations to ensure that the military does not outsource certain UAS roles to a contractor workforce.

The paper opens with a nice introduction about the special legal problems/issues with military contractors, and how the use of contractor soldiers has mushroomed in recent years.  As far as I know, this is the first article addressing the unique issues presented when private parties are maintaining or operating the drones at the behest of the federal government - a very important contribution to the literature on military privatization.  Highly recommended.

 - Dru Stevenson

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