Is Marine Corps Artillery failing to live up to its "semper flexibilis" motto, or are we relying too heavily on contractors to support our digital system capabilities? Field Service Representatives (FSRs) are often the primary (only?) source of troubleshooting assistance in the field and in theater. From my perspective, USMC operators struggle to keep up with the rapidly-changing and complex AFATDS and C2PC systems.
This concern can also be expanded to Fires as a whole--many FSCC system operators possess only basic capabilities with their digital systems. The Corps's training model for operators must be refined. Who knows what will happen when we enter an intense conventional fight, and contractors cannot accompany us.
Concur with your observations. My understanding is that now the HIMARS batteries each deploy with (2) civilian FSRs each...even to combat zones. Perhaps someone can verify this?
Here are some concerns with having civilian contractors deploy with us:
(1) It means the equipment is too complicated to use. More and more, first and second echelon maintenance is being diminished in favor of "floating" (or rotating pieces of equipment to/from 3rd echelon or "stashes". We can no longer fix our own gear.
(2) What are the legal ramifications of having unarmed civilian technicians in the battery position? I'm talking "Law of Armed Conflict" and other treaties/agreements we have entered into over the years.
I didn't know that about HIMARS--my background is with 155s and the FSCC, but that is fascinating.
The line between servicemember and contractor is certainly blurred these days (think Blackwater, etc). Perhaps, when poor data inputted into an AFATDS kills civilians, the contractor who worked on the computer will be held accountable as well as the poorly-trained uniformed operator.