U.S. Military Logistics Outsourcing and the Everywhere of War
55 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2015 Last revised: 1 Mar 2016
Date Written: December 8, 2015
Over the past two decades a network-centric “revolution in military affairs” has profoundly reshaped the geographies of war. No less revolutionary has been the U.S. military’s increasing reliance on private companies that employ a global army of civilian laborers to provide logistical support for operations around the world. This article provides an overview of the scale, scope, and emergence of this phenomenon, supplemented by an analysis of contracting activities at the peak of the war in Iraq in 2008. Following this, I detail three notable geopolitical and geo-economic entanglements that logistics contracting has engendered: 1) subcontracting and the exploitation of a largely South and Southeast Asian subcontracting workforce that is fueled by inadequate military oversight and the down-sourcing of risk, 2) the geopolitics of contractor deaths, travel bans and troop withdrawals instituted by labor exporting countries, and 3) the duality of prosperity and precarity experienced by Bosnians who have worked for U.S. military logistics contractors over the past two decades. Impacting politics, economic livelihoods, and social relations in countries around the world, these entanglements require a rethinking of the spatial dimensions of war.
Keywords: logistics, contracting, war, military
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