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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Keeping up with a former student

This morning, I discovered that one of my former graduate students, Stan Scott, has recently started writing for Phillip Carter's excellent blog Intel Dump. Reservist Carter is shipping off to Iraq soon (he's apparently in Kentucky right now for training and preparation). Stan and other writers have been recruited to help out in his time away from the blogosphere.

Disclosure: Stan and I coauthored a textbook chapter on the domestic and international politics of the Kyoto Protocol. I have a very high regard for Stan's intelligence and work ethic.

Stan retired after 20 years in the Army as a Sergeant First Class and is currently a PhD student at George Washington University in DC. He is investigating (and will be blogging about) the role of Private Military Companies. Specifically, Stan wonders whether the growth of PMCs makes it easier for the US to go to war. In his first substantive post on PMCs, Stan discusses his initial military encounter with Brown and Root, then a subsidiary of Dick Cheney's old firm, Halliburton. More importantly, he also notes a number of interesting research questions:
I started looking at the domestic political implications of using civilian contractors to support military forces, during training, peacekeeping operations, and on the battlefield. Does it make the decision to deploy more difficult, or less? What effects does it have on force structure and retention? Does dependence on PMCs strenghten military forces by increasing the ratio of combat to support troops, or weaken armies by encouraging too much specialization?
For answers, I'll be checking Intel Dump frequently.

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