In all past wars the United States has been involved in, including the two World Wars, Vietnam and the first Gulf War, the military was self reliant and took care of its basic support functions like cooking, cleaning and other services.
That changed when the Cheney administration took control of the government in 2000. War has now been privatized, and the shining examples of this privatization are Afghanistan and Iraq. As you read this there are approximately 100,000-125,000 American civilian contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their jobs range from providing security to desk work to interrogating prisoners to driving convoy trucks to clearing unexploded ordnance. A year back, in November 2005, the US Department of Labor listed 428 civilian contractors dead and 3,963 wounded in Iraq – none of which are ever counted in the official casualty counts.
Employing civilian contractors supposedly saves money in the long run and, more importantly, frees trained soldiers for battle. The notion of low expenditure stemmed from the assumption that civilian contractors were hired for temporary/emergency engagements. This assumption no longer holds worth in the face of the current long-term (permanent) guerrilla war (read-Iraq and Afghanistan) without clear front-lines.