The number of US-paid private contractors in Iraq now exceeds American combat troops in the country.
Newly released figures from by the US State and Defence departments raise fresh questions about the privatisation of the war effort and the Government’s capacity to carry out military and reconstruction campaigns. More than 180,000 civilians — Americans, Iraqis and others — are working in Iraq under US contracts. Including the recent troop surge, 160,000 soldiers and a few thousand civilian government employees are stationed in the country.
The 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 criticised as being undermanned.
I recently spoke to a former Iraqi defence contractor in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She entered the country in early 2004 as a “patriot”, a true believer in the mission, but soon recognised the utterly dysfunctional nature of the Bush administration’s plans for the occupied nation.
Despite her misgivings, she still believes in the importance of defence contractors, even with the complete lack of transparency in the hiring and firing process. The US military simply wasn’t spending the required amount on the military, she claimed.