Who Flies the Pentagon’s Drones?

Categories: DoD

Not Department of Defense employees, as it turns out.

Defying a law that requires the department to use the most appropriate and cost efficient mix of workforces, the Air Force has been using expensive contractors to carry out drone surveillance missions even though DoD has acknowledged in congressional testimony that civilians are more cost-effective than contractors. We’re wondering if the self-imposed cap on the civilian workforce is a factor in the department’s decision to outsource this crucial function to for-profit companies. DoD cited budget constraints as an excuse to impose an arbitrary cap on the civilian workforce yet it hired expensive contractors to do the work. Taxpayers are left footing the bill.

As the Air Force is expanding the use of surveillance drones due to the service’s chronic pilot shortage, AFGE is again demanding to know why the Air Force insists on wasting taxpayer dollars with expensive contractors when it can have the work done professionally and securely by federal employees.

“General Welsh’s declaration that the Air Force would increase its reliance on contractors is particularly troubling, given that the service has failed to respond to the attached letter I sent almost one year ago when the Air Force posted a source sought notice for pilots and sensor operators when I expressed concern about the initial use of contractors,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. in a letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. “Who in the Pentagon is thinking about how the Air Force might better leverage a very talented civilian workforce, rather than automatically default to more expensive military or contractor options?”

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