All posts by Collin D. Swan

Collin D. Swan is a J.D. candidate at George Washington University Law School, and is an Associate for The George Washington Law Review.

Dead Contractors: The Un-Examined Effect of Surrogates on the Public’s Casualty Sensitivity

When a nation deploys ground forces, an inverse relationship exists between the number of military deaths and public support. This stark and monolithic metric, which economists call the “casualty sensitivity” effect, requires close examination today.  On the modern battlefield, contractor personnel die at rates similar to — or indeed often in excess of — soldiers, yet the U.S. public and Congress remain largely unaware of this “substitution.”  This article explains the phenomenon, identifies some of the challenges and complexities associated with quantifying and qualifying the real price of combat in a modern outsourced military, and encourages greater transparency.