Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Coalition of the Billing

There is talk in Washington that over 1000 contractors have been killed to date in Iraq. The number becomes understandable when you discover the extent of the use of contractors in that beleaguered nation.

The number of U.S.-paid private contractors in Iraq now exceeds that of American combat troops, newly released figures show, raising fresh questions about the privatization of the war effort and the government's capacity to carry out military and rebuilding campaigns.

More than 180,000 civilians — including Americans, foreigners and Iraqis — are working in Iraq under U.S. contracts, according to State and Defense department figures obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Including the recent troop buildup, 160,000 soldiers and a few thousand civilian government employees are stationed in Iraq.

The total number of private contractors, far higher than previously reported, shows how heavily the Bush administration has relied on corporations to carry out the occupation of Iraq — a mission criticized as being undermanned.

"These numbers are big," said Peter Singer, a Brookings Institution scholar who has written on military contracting. "They illustrate better than anything that we went in without enough troops. This is not the coalition of the willing. It's the coalition of the billing." ...

But there are also signs that even those mounting numbers may not capture the full picture. Private security contractors, who are hired to protect government officials and buildings, were not fully counted in the survey, according to industry and government officials.

Continuing uncertainty over the numbers of armed contractors drew special criticism from military experts.

"We don't have control of all the coalition guns in Iraq. That's dangerous for our country," said William Nash, a retired Army general and reconstruction expert. The Pentagon "is hiring guns. You can rationalize it all you want, but that's obscene." ...

Adding an element of potential confusion, no single agency keeps track of the number or location of contractors.

In response to demands from Congress, the U.S. Central Command began a census last year of the number of contractors working on U.S. and Iraqi bases to determine how much food, water and shelter was needed.

That census, provided to The Times under the Freedom of Information Act, shows about 130,000 contractors and subcontractors of different nationalities working at U.S. and Iraqi military bases.

However, U.S. military officials acknowledged that the census did not include other government agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department

2 Comments:

Blogger Meatball One said...

Wow

7/04/2007 2:58 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

Yeah. I had been wondering why the costs of the war were exorbitantly higher than reasonable even for a clusterfuck of the magnitude of the Iraq war.

I was betting graft. But the pay for these folks has got to be a big chunk of the tab.

Which leads me back to my original thought -- graft -- knowing the ease of ghosting and other payroll skullduggery.

7/04/2007 4:21 PM  

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