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Chapter 6

Force Protection




JP 3-0 and FM 3-0 define force protection as "actions taken to prevent or mitigate hostile actions against DOD personnel, resources, facilities and critical information. These actions conserve the force's fighting potential so it can be applied at the decisive time and place, and incorporates the coordinated and synchronized offensive and defensive measures to enable the effective employment of the joint force while degrading opportunities for the enemy. Force protection does not include actions to defeat the enemy or protect against accidents, weather, or disease." Reducing the probability and minimizing the effects of enemy action on personnel, equipment, and critical facilities can accomplish force protection.


Force protection is a deliberate and dynamic process that begins long before the actual conflict. Its character may change in different situations, but the process remains the same: an understanding of threat and the development of a system of indications and warnings that will facilitate a proactive, predictive response to enemy and terrorist action. Force protection may include fortification construction, electronic countermeasures, integrated air defense coverage, NBC defensive measures, and rear operations to include specific antiterrorist actions. Force protection and antiterrorism measures are meant to confuse and deceive the enemy so that military forces and accompanying civilian personnel are less vulnerable from attack. Force protection responds quickly to enemy attacks with protective measures that enhance our military force survivability and ensure the rapid recovery and restoration of combat power.


Force protection and antiterrorism actions include not only military and DAC personnel but contractor employees as well. Contractor employees, because of their status as civilians authorized to accompany the force in the field, bring with them an inherent need for force protection. Contractor employees cannot be required to perform force protection functions described above and cannot take an active role in hostilities but retain the inherent right to self-defense. Because of their civilian background, they may possess neither the training nor experience to actively participate in force protection measures, and the rules governing warfare preclude them from doing so except in self-defense. Therefore, the Army's policy has become that when contractors are deployed in support of Army operations/weapon systems, they will be provided force protection commensurate with that provided to DAC personnel. Commanders must understand that contractors are subject to the same threat as soldiers and must plan accordingly. Contractors, when placed in a position of risk, must be protected, or the support they provide may be degraded. Contractor-related force protection measures must be addressed in the planning process. Appendix B provides a notional example of contractor force protection planning requirements.



Protecting contractors and their employees on the battlefield is the commander's responsibility. When contractors perform in potentially hostile or hazardous areas, the supported military forces must assure the protection of their operations and employees. The responsibility for assuring that contractors receive adequate force protection starts with the combatant commander, extends downward, and includes the contractor.


The government is responsible for providing a safe workplace that enables the contractor to perform unhindered by circumstances beyond his control. Commanders and staff planners must assess the need for providing force protection to a contractor and designate forces to provide appropriate security. The mission, threat, and location of contractor operations determine the degree of force protection needed.


Protection for contractors involves active use of armed military forces to provide escort or perimeter security, and passive measures that include protective military equipment, training, and equipping of contractor employees in self-protection (NBC and weapons).



The combatant commander makes the decision to provide force protection to participating contractors. These commanders and staffs, through the risk assessment process, evaluate the force protection implications of contractor involvement according to the nature and extent of the operation. This risk assessment, based on METT-TC, considers such factors as contractor location on the battlefield, availability of security forces, enemy capabilities, and the criticality of the contractor's functions. (For a detailed discussion of risk management, refer to FM 100-14; see FM 5-0 for information on risk assessment in the planning process.) Also, the OPLAN/OPORD and supporting contracts must identify the specific force-protection requirements and designate the forces to handle them. This allows units and contractors to properly integrate support requirements into their operational procedures.



One of the ASCC's most important responsibilities is to conserve the fighting potential of his force so that it can be applied at the decisive time and place. Force protection includes protecting the force, including contractors, from enemy air, ground, and sea attack. The combatant commander may delegate to the ASCC (or ARFOR when the ASCC is not deployed) as the joint rear area coordinator (JRAC) responsibility for the rear area where the majority of contractors would be located. In this capacity, the ASCC, normally through its ASCC rear headquarters, coordinates between all Services to facilitate a secure environment to allow for uninterrupted sustainment, host-nation support, infrastructure development, and force movements. See JP 3-10 and JP 3-10.1 for further information on JRAC functions.



Responsibility for ensuring that the combatant commander's force protection decisions are included in the appropriate contracts and communicated to the contractor lies with supporting contracting activities. These contracting activities ensure, either through their own resources or through contract administration organizations (e.g., DCMA), that support is provided and the contractor is complying with established force-protection policies and procedures.



Commanders at all levels must designate specific supporting organizations responsible for providing force-protection support to contractors. To do this, they must have the requisite visibility over the contractor and contractor employees supporting the force. Normally, commanders designate the supported organization or other unit to provide this protection.



Contractors ensure that all of their employees follow all force-protection requirements and supporting organization policies stated in the contract. Contractors (when required and authorized) should, as a minimum, ensure that their employees receive the directed NBC protection and weapons familiarization training. Additionally, contractors should inform them of local and national threats, facility and travel security requirements, and off-limits restrictions directed by the commander. Contractors are expected to take passive force-protection measures for the safety and security of their employees. Also, contractors should mandate measures for self-defense such as conducting driving classes, issuing cell phones, and establishing procedures for reporting suspicious incidents.



The degree of contractor force protection depends on the situation; key factors are the nature of the operation, location on the battlefield, and the level of threat. The following force-protection guidelines, based on the DOD terrorist threat levels found in DOD O-2000.12-H (draft), recommend the minimum protection and security required for contractors and are categorized by the level of threat.



A negligible threat is one where a capability to conduct an attack may or may not be present.


This threat level is normally associated with such peacetime operations as disaster relief and most humanitarian-support operations. At this threat level, risks are the same as those associated with normal, everyday operations. With no enemy action expected, there would be no change to the normal operational routine of the contractor. Generally, only normal safety practices would be required. Contactor employees would face no restrictions in operational location, movement, etc.



A low threat is one where a capability is present but demonstrated activity may or may not be present.


This threat level is associated with some humanitarian support and peacekeeping operations. A low threat level is greater than the threat in normal peacetime operations and involves external dangers. Minimum measures would require a military escort for contractor employees working away from the main operating base or group.



A medium threat is one where a capability of demonstrated activity is present, but intent to conduct threat activities may or may not be present.


This threat level expects casualties and limited indiscriminate combat action not specifically aimed at the military force. Local violence and terrorist action may exist in a generally unstable area. In addition to those implemented for a low threat, force-protection measures include armed military-escort convoy protection for groups working away from a protected area. At this juncture, leaders should start evaluating the need to evacuate non-essential civilians and relocate to a more secure area. Contractor operations should be reduced to the minimum required to maintain existing levels of service without incurring degradation. Planned and routine maintenance should be assumed by military personnel or delayed, if possible. Where delay of repairs or maintenance may impair fighting or defense capability, contractors should remain. Military personnel should replenish or assist in replenishing expended materiel relating directly to the mission. Routine resupply should be delayed or consolidated.



A high threat is one where a capability of demonstrated activity history and intentions is present.


This threat level is associated with peace enforcement and major theater war operations where open combat may occur. Casualties are likely at a high-threat level, but it is short of open warfare. Action is directed at participating military forces, with associated casualties being a result of both direct and indirect action. The operational situation is unstable and may deteriorate. Minimum measures, above those implemented for a medium threat, require issuing personal protective equipment and transporting personnel in protective vehicles. If possible, civilians are kept in secure and protected areas; only essential contractors would remain in place. Contractors are permitted to undertake repairs to mission-critical systems and equipment, the loss of which would degrade the fighting/defensive capability of the unit. Additionally, logistical support staff needed to maintain the flow of sustainment materiel without which the mission would fail may remain in place. If practical, military personnel assist in some of their tasks. Where feasible, military personnel undertake maintenance responsibilities if contractor employees are removed from the theater.



A critical threat is one where a capability of demonstrated activity is present, and current credible activity information indicates preparation for a specific anti-US operation, but historical or recent demonstrated anti-US activity may or may not be present.


Critical threat describes open warfare with casualties inflicted by opposing forces and dangers introduced externally. Minimum measures would require the same as those implemented for a high threat, with movement restricted and within armed formations. Secure protective shelter should be used for all support operations. At this level, contractors remain in the AO only if it is an absoulute necessity, when contractor-provided support cannot be replaced with military capabilities. Note also that contractors cannot be forced to remain in theater against their will, as they are not subject to the UCMJ (except in formally declared war). Refusal to perform, however, may result in civil lawsuit for breach of contract.



Active force-protection measures involve the overt use of military forces to assure contractor operations are protected from enemy attack. These measures involve the dedicated use of military forces to provide perimeter security for contractor work areas and armed escort for contractor movements around the battlefield. Active force-protection measures are employed when contractors are operating in locations where a medium to critical threat exists, and are provided at the specific direction of the combatant commander because of the critical nature of the support the contractor is providing.


The scope and nature of active force-protection measures are addressed during the risk assessment portion of the planning process. When the need for contractor support exceeds the risks associated with their use, active force-protection measures are implemented. These measures include locating contractor-support operations in secure areas or facilities, where disruption to their activities is minimized. When contractors are collocated with the military forces they support, they are included in the units overall force-protection plan. Otherwise, contractors may require dedicated protection in the form of military police or infantry forces.


Contractor movements must also be protected when the nature of the support being provided is critical to the success of the operation. Contractors should either be provided with armed escorts, incorporated into military convoys traveling to the same destination, or rely on military forces to move their equipment, personnel, and supplies. When considering the best option for contractor movement, the government must be sensitive to the possibility of relieving the contractor of responsibility for providing support when it employs force-protection measures that may restrict the contractor's ability to perform.



In addition to active force-protection measures that may be implemented, a number of passive measures are available to contractor employees and supported units.



Contractor employees supporting military operations should be visibly distinct from the forces they are supporting so that they do not jeopardize their status as civilians authorized to accompany the force in the field. Unless specifically authorized by the combatant commander, contractor employees will not wear military uniforms or clothing except for specific items required for safety or security, such as chemical defense equipment (CDE), cold weather equipment, or mission-specific safety equipment. Either the government or the contractor may decide that a uniform appearance is necessary for contractor employees. In this case, the contractor provides appropriate attire which is distinctly not military and which sets them apart from the forces they are supporting.



The combatant commander determines the contractor's requirement for CDE for NBC defense, immunizations (such as anthrax vaccine), and training, which is theater-specific and dependent upon the threat and nature of the duties. The environment and potential use of a nuclear, chemical, and/or biological warfare weapon is the basis for determining the need to equip and train contractor employees with NBC equipment and survival skills. The combatant commander's IPB provides the analysis for potential use of NBC weapons. Once completed, the combatant commander issues guidance for NBC protective postures. When approved for contractor employees, training and equipment are dependent upon the threat and nature of the duties. Either the deploying force-projection platform, CRC/IDS, or an in-theater processing center provides individual protection equipment and training when planners determine it to be in the best interest of the government and incorporate it into the terms of the contract.



The decision to allow contractor employees to carry and use weapons for personal protection rests with the combatant commander. The general policy of the Army is that contractor employees will not be armed. However, under certain conditions dictated by METT-TC, they may be allowed to arm for self-defense purposes. Once the combatant commander has approved their issue and use, the contractor's company policy must permit its employees to use weapons, and the employee must agree to carry a weapon. When all of these conditions have been met, contractor employees may only be issued military-specification sidearms, loaded with military-specification ammunition. Additionally, contractor employees must be specifically trained and familiarized with the weapon and trained in the use of deadly force in order to protect themselves. Contractor employees will not possess privately owned weapons. When determining to issue weapons to a contractor the combatant commander must consider the impact this may have on their status as civilians authorized to accompany the force.



Contractor employees deploying either from CONUS or OCONUS may require specific force-protection training to prepare for the environment in the AO. Training requirements must be identified during operational planning and be included in the contract. The type of contractor (theater support, external support, or system) influences the nature and degree of the training to be provided. Training may include-


  • Geneva convention.
  • Code of conduct.
  • Health and sanitation.
  • Applicable status of forces agreements.
  • Security.
  • Weapons familiarization and use of deadly force.
  • NBC training, including protection from toxic industrial materials.
  • Survival, escape, resistance and evasion (SERE)
  • Rules of engagement.
  • Host-nation laws.


The contractor or the Army, whichever is specified in the contract, can conduct the required training. In areas such as weapons familiarization or chemical defense, the Army may be the more appropriate source. As such, the deploying force-projection platform, CRC/IDS, or the in-theater reception point would conduct the training in conjunction with other processing activities.



Due to recent terrorist activity against US forces, all units must ensure force-protection/antiterrorism plans and actions are integrated into movement and support operations in all areas. Use of local or TCN contractor employees must be carefully considered from the antiterrorism perspective.


On 12 October 2000, the USS Cole (DDG 67) suffered a serious terrorist bomb attack in Aden, Yemen, that severely damaged the ship, killing 17 sailors and injuring 39. This attack came in the form of a small boat laden with explosives that, according to some reports, was thought by the crew to have been a part of the scheduled contractor provided refueling support. This attack occurred despite what naval investigators determined were prudent command-directed force-protection measures.


Commanders at all levels must include the following areas in force-protection/antiterrorism pre-deployment planning:


  • Threat and vulnerability assessments. Units assess the threat and their own vulnerability prior to deployment. Assessment must include risk of using local national and TCN contractor employees vice using military or US national civilian capabilities.
  • Security planning. Units must take the results of threat and vulnerability assessments and develop security plans when using local and TCN contractors. Tailored intelligence and counterintelligence support, host-nation assistance, and detailed contractor-employee screening plans must be in place. Special empahsis must be placed on local national and TCN contractor-employee access to vulnerable facilities and areas.
  • Combat and Combat Service Support Operations. Predictable unit movements and support operations can lead to increased vulnerability of both personnel (to include contracted support) and facilities. Unit commanders must understand that predictability places a higher demand on the unit's ability to know the local threat, assess unit vulnerabilities, and develop self-protection measures to include force-protection/antiterrorism actions as they relate to the use of local national and TCN contractor support.

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