Afghanistan Contractors Outnumber Troops
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Wall Street Journal
Posted: August 29th, 2009
Even as U.S. troops surge to new highs in Afghanistan they are outnumbered by military contractors working alongside them, according to a Defense Department census due to be distributed to Congress -- illustrating how hard it is for the U.S. to wean itself from the large numbers of war-zone contractors that proved controversial in Iraq. The number of military contractors in Afghanistan rose to almost 74,000 by June 30, far outnumbering the roughly 58,000 U.S. soldiers on the ground at that point. As the military force in Afghanistan grows further, to a planned 68,000 by the end of the year, the Defense Department expects the ranks of contractors to increase more. Military contractors' personnel for a time outnumbered U.S. troops in Iraq. The large contractor force was accompanied by issues ranging from questionable costs billed to the government to shooting of civilians by armed security guards. A September 2007 shooting incident involving Blackwater Worldwide guards working for the U.S. State Department, in which 17 Iraqis were killed, forced the U.S. to aggressively rework oversight of security firms. Yet in Afghanistan as in Iraq, the Pentagon has found that the military has shrunk so much since the Cold War ended that it isn't big enough to sustain operations without using companies to directly support military operations.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the use of private contractors by the US military in its wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan, click here.