Plans by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to contract out military jobs are ill-advised and frightening ["Shedding Reserve on Defense," news story, June 22]. Efficiencies and financial advantages inherent in the private sector are not the issues here. Further reductions in reserve forces by contracting out potential combat power will affect adversely the ability of the military to accomplish its mission. Combat service support personnel (drivers, cooks, supply clerks) frequently must fight to stay alive and assist in accomplishing their unit's mission.

Martin Russ's book "Breakout" is instructive. It chronicles the 1st Marine Division's fighting withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea in 1950 after having been encircled by major portions of a 120,000-man Chinese army corps. He notes, "The many provisional platoons formed from artillery, headquarters and service personnel provided close-in protection for the vehicles strung out along the road. A number of drivers had already been struck by sniper fire, and it was obvious the enemy had singled them out as a priority target."

As a reserve lieutenant in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive, I was transferred to serve in a force reconstituting a severely under-strength infantry company. When I departed, I brought my cooks, supply clerks and drivers with me to serve as infantry.

Any plan to contract out even one inherently combat job is contrary to the interests of our Armed Forces and our country. OMB must not be allowed to sacrifice the military's ability to accomplish its combat mission for short-term, peacetime efficiencies and financial advantage.


Executive Director

Marine Corps Reserve Officers Association