Contractors support systems on front lines

The Defense Department will rely heavily on its contractors to support systems it is deploying to the Persian Gulf.

'The role of contractors has increased dramatically as the role of IT has increased,' said Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America. 'Seventy percent to 80 percent of the weapons have some sort of smart-weapon capabilities, as opposed to just 30 percent of weapons in the first Gulf War.'

Computer Sciences Corp., for instance, has more than 2,100 employees supporting the government in the area. 'The bulk of these employees provide support in the areas of logistics, aviation maintenance and base operations and support,' company spokesman Jamie Sullivan said.

Aerospace companies have been deeply involved in war efforts, supplying planes and munitions. But the role of many IT companies in supporting deployments 'has changed significantly,' said John P. 'Jack' London, chairman and chief executive officer of CACI International Inc. of Arlington, Va.

During the 1991 Gulf War, CACI primarily provided logistics support, and modeling and simulation services, but as the military has increased its reliance on communications systems, CACI has changed, he said. The military is outsourcing more of the operations of these systems, he said.

The company has been involved in setting up communications centers and network operations centers as well as surveillance and sensor equipment for intelligence.

Urban outfitters

Meanwhile, Anteon Corp. has set up a military operations on urban terrain (MOUT) site in Kuwait, said Mark Heilman, executive vice president of business development for the Fairfax, Va., company. MOUTs are training facilities that prepare troops for fighting in the streets and buildings of a city such as Baghdad. The company received a $6.8 million contract in February to produce two mobile MOUTs, one for Kuwait and one for Afghanistan.

The military has decreased in size, and the reserves have shrunk similarly, said Pat Dawson, the company's senior vice president of administration and a reservist who saw duty during Operation Desert Storm.

As a result, 'there are more contractors in the area of the battlefield than 12 years ago,' he said. 'I don't think [Anteon] had anybody who was our employee over there as a contractor'that's a big change.'

Patience Wait is a staff writer for Washington Technology, a Post Newsweek Tech Media publication.

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