Regarding the Jan. 31 letter “How to keep boots on ground”: Yes, airmen get the once-a-year clothing allowance for the normal wear and tear of everyday use, not for the increased tempo of being deployed. But the Air Force doesn’t get the Army Direct Ordering (ADO) free replacements that I see soldiers using every month to stockpile on free uniforms and boots. Does the civilian letter writer know what this airman’s job is, or even if the boots are available in his size for purchase at his location? I doubt it.

To see this letter back to back with the Jan. 31 column “Civilian contractor contributions vital to war effort” makes me laugh, and reaffirms my longstanding experience that most civilians are overpaid, underqualfied, unmotivated and impossible to fire … but they always want “more.” Recognition? Compared to military, firefighters and police? How many police or soldiers pull in six figures for two hours a week of work and can get away with the ever-so-popular civilian motto “not in my contract”?

Tech. Sgt. Patrick “Mac” McKimmie

Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan

Can’t ignore salary disparity

Regarding the Jan. 31 column “Civilian contractor contributions vital to war effort”: The overwhelming majority of these contractors are retired military personnel. They not only earn about three times what the vast majority of soldiers do but that’s on top of their retirement checks. I am pretty sure that their primary motivation in “serving” is not altruistic but financial in nature.

I appreciate what they do, but their monetary rewards should not be overlooked. Some of them die [in country] but, in comparison to the number of soldiers it’s an incredibly small number and, after all, that’s part of the risk/reward formula that they chose.

Next I suppose we’ll hear about all the local nationals who contribute to the fight and how unappreciated they are.

Sgt. 1st Class Chris Russell

Camp Blackhorse, Afghanistan

Don’t mix the 3 designations

Regarding the Jan. 31 column “Civilian contractor contributions vital to war effort”: Although I completely agree with the author on the merits of his article, I must take exception with the terminology used, specifically “military civilian personnel.”

There is a clear distinction between military servicemembers, Department of Defense civilian employees and contractor personnel for a reason. It is true each of these groups contributes to mission success (and, in many cases, suffers the same losses and sacrifices), but the members of these groups must also abide by the rules of their respective employers.

For example, a recent news article referred to a private business owner as a “U.S. government contractor.” To the uninformed, this would appear as though the person was employed by the U.S. government, which is not the case. There are legal and ethical considerations that dictate the separation of private business and government agency representatives.

In addition, DOD (and State Department, for that matter) employees must perform their duties under a different set of regulations (U.S. Code) than their military counterparts. Contractors are not bound by military personnel regulations, nor should they be.

The reference of two of the three elements of the contingency mission as “military civilian personnel” is misleading at best and blurs the necessary legal and ethical divisions between the three.

Chief Master Sgt. David Robards (retired)


Share GIs’ goal: safe mission

I appreciate the Jan. 31 column “Civilian contractor contributions vital to war effort,” with the author’s kind comments for contractors. I am a contractor, I have been working in Iraq and Afghanistan for seven years. I have done a lot of projects: civilian air traffic control, drug eradication, data collection, satellite dish installation, electronic training, video camera installation and a couple of projects that I can’t talk about.

I am continually impressed by the kindness and professionalism extended to me by the uniformed personnel. The officers, noncommissioned officers and enlisted personnel have always treated me with respect and kindness. I can honestly say that the best part of working in Southwest Asia has been working with the uniformed personnel. I am not fit to wipe their shoes.

I am proud to be part of this effort. Although, I do not have the physique of a Marine Corps lance corporal, I miss my family just as bad.

I do not expect any medals or parades when I get home. A hot bath in a tub, a night’s sleep without aircraft noise, and some homemade meals are all the accolades I want.

I was on active duty during the Indochina conflict and, although I never served in Vietnam, I was spit on several times. I am glad that the troops who are serving here will not have to deal with that kind of disrespect when they return home.

I expect no gratitude from the American people for my work here. When I get a “thank you for your service,” I always tell the person: Save your thanks for the troops; they deserve your gratitude, not me.

There is one thing I do want. I want for there to be peace in this part of the world, so that our troops (and civilians) can go home to their families. I would rather be unemployed than have to see the flags here at half-staff one more time.

Charles E. Martin

Kandahar, Afghanistan

Works best when we’re united

I have just finished reading the Jan. 31 column “Civilian contractor contributions vital to war effort,” concerning contractors serving the Defense and State departments in Iraq and Afghanistan. What a breath of fresh air to see something written about contractors that didn’t include some negative connotation.

As a contractor who has served in Kosovo and the Middle East, I will be the first to tell you that the majority of military personnel with whom I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to work appreciate what we do. However, there are the few who do resent contractors due to the fact that contractors are well-compensated for their services. I would like to comment to those few who feel negatively toward those who serve without the uniform:

Our company has — as other companies have — seen employees shot, blown up, mutilated and maimed as a result of their employment. Contractors have paid the ultimate price many times over — not just for the money, but also in service to a great and wonderful country, the United States of America.

So the next time you get a package from home, thank the post office contract worker or the contractors who provided the security so the convoy could get the mail to your forward operating base.

I of course wouldn’t want to forget the dining facility workers and the tower guards or the latrine cleaners and firemen. So thank you to all of those who serve our great nation, in uniform and in civvies.

KJ (Manny) Mancuso

Forward Operating Base Diamondback, Iraq

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