8 Big Challenges All Small Defense Contractors Face

Defense contractors, by definition, are the individuals or the companies that aid governments in supplying products and technologies. These supplies are usually connected with the military or the intelligence departments, and the goods may include things like vehicles, technology, software, and even weapons or electronic systems. Right now, this is one of the biggest industries, and the United States government annually spends up to 200 billion dollars on these services. Being a government contractor has a lot of positive and negative sides, and not every person, or a business can easily get this type of job. It is said that if you become a defense contractor, you are going to have a great paycheck, an amazing reputation, and it is going to be easy for you to continue your work elsewhere once you stop working for the government.

However, things are not always as easy as it sounds, and sometimes there are a lot of disadvantages in working in this industry. In this article, we are going to talk about some of the big challenges that all small defense contractors face, and we will tell you more about Asa Palagi, the owner of a private security company who has a lot of experience in this field.

1. Background checks

Source: KDVR.com

The first challenge that you will have to face if you want to become a part of the industry is that you will need to go through many background checks. No government wants to leave things unchecked, and they will vet you and see what you have done, your education, criminal history, the real estate and vehicles you own, your credit history, and you may even have to take drug tests. Note that this is required for everyone who wants to join this field, and you should be ready for it.

2. Government funding

Source: Netlify

When you become a part of this industry, you should know that everything you get paid will be funded by the government. Know that even though the government doesn’t usually spare any expenses when they hire a defense contractor, priorities may change, your paycheck may vary, and you may have to wait up to two months to get paid for a project you’ve already finished.

3. Different requirements depending on the administration

Source: ADDitude

Every administration is going to have different requirements for you, and no one can guarantee that you will stay in the field after the administration changes. Sometimes the people who’ve worked with a government get replaced when the next one arrives, and that makes this job even more stressful.

Asa Palagian entrepreneur born and raised in Seattle, Washington, decided to go into defense contracting and private military contracting after working in the military and the fire department in the United States. In 2024, Asa ran for Governor of Washington State as an independent but decided to withdraw and support the Republican candidate.

He is an entrepreneur who co-founded Cascadia Global Security, a veteran-owned and operated security and patrol company. As you can see on Asapalagi.com, Palagi suggests that there are always different challenges that smaller contractors face when the administration changes, and sometimes these people and companies can easily lose their jobs.

4. COVID-19

Source: IRU

The pandemic that first appeared in late 2019 is now affecting everyone around the world. It impacted people from all industries, and it is no different when it comes to people who are closely working with the government. As Asa Palagi suggests, everything in the world froze because of this virus, and now it is even more difficult for projects to continue without any issues, and the damage control is yet to be accessed.

5. Criticism

Source: Proactive Investors

When you are working for the government, you need to be ready for strict criticism, and everything needs to be done perfectly. In this field, there is no room for mistakes, and unlike the government employees, you can lose your job from one day to the next.
Note that even though it mostly depends on the people you work with, you should expect that things will not be easy or simple and that you have to be ready for new challenges, and constructive criticism all the time.

6. A lot of competition

Source: EBSSA

This is a huge industry, but there is not enough room for everyone who wants to be a part of it. Palagi suggests that becoming a private contractor is not an easy thing, and he started his journey enlisted in the US Army Reserves as a Civil Affairs Specialist, and later on, worked as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army Military Police Corps. He also served as a Wildland Firefighter for the Oregon Department of Forestry. This is just a fraction of the things that he did and the experience he has, and even people with his skills and knowledge have a hard time staying in this field as government contractors.

7. No benefits

Source: Noticias Acapulco NEWS

It is said that one of the biggest challenges that come with this type of job is that you are not going to get any paid benefits, including health insurance. This makes things a lot harder for these professionals, and they are also not allowed to get paid time off. When you are a private contractor, you are not inclined to retirement packages as well, and even though the salary is great, you need to think about all the possible things that could happen, and you need to create your own retirement fund or join a private one.

8. You can be replaced

Source: Offstream News

There are more than 50 thousand defense contractors who are working with the DOD, and this means that you can easily be replaced. It is huge uncertainty and a big challenge these people face, and if you are interested in staying in the game, you need to be the best of the best. There is almost no stability in this industry, and even if you were hired by the government to work on one project, no one can guarantee the next. In addition, you won’t get any warning, and you may be replaced in a day.

These are some of the challenges that people who work with the DOD face. Sometimes it can be extremely difficult, but it is said to be all worth it. If you are interested in following in the steps of Asa Palagi, you should get your training, apply for the position, and be ready for all the requirements, challenges, ups, and downs that you are going to face if you get chosen. It is a rewarding position, and there are also a lot of benefits that come with it, you just need to be fully prepared for it.