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Obama Has 250,000 'Contractors' in Iraq and Afghan Wars, Increases Number of Mercenaries

Newly released Pentagon statistics show that in both Iraq and Afghanistan the number of armed contractors is rising. The DoD says it sees “similar dependence on contractors in future.”

Jeremy Scahill

A couple of years ago, Blackwater executive Joseph Schmitz seemed to
see a silver lining for mercenary companies with the prospect of US
forces being withdrawn or reduced in Iraq. "There is a scenario where
we could as a government, the United States, could pull back the
military footprint," Schmitz said. "And there would then be more of a need for private contractors to go in."

When it comes to armed contractors, it seems that Schmitz was right.

According to new statistics released by the Pentagon, with Barack Obama as commander in chief, there has been a
23% increase in the number of "Private Security Contractors" working
for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and
a 29% increase in Afghanistan
, which "correlates to the build up of
forces" in the country. These numbers relate explicitly to DoD security
contractors. Companies like Blackwater and its successor Triple Canopy
work on State Department contracts and it is unclear if these
contractors are included in the over-all statistics. This means, the
number of individual "security" contractors could be quite higher, as
could the scope of their expansion.

Overall, contractors
(armed and unarmed) now make up approximately 50% of  the "total force
in Centcom AOR [Area of Responsibility]." This means there are a
whopping 242,657 contractors working on these two US wars.
These
statistics come from two reports just released by Gary J. Motsek, the
Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Program Support):
"Contractor Support of U.S. Operations in USCENTCOM AOR, IRAQ, and
Afghanistan and "Operational Contract Support, ‘State of the Union.'"

"We
expect similar dependence on contractors in future contingency
operations," according to the contractor "State of the Union." It notes
that the deployment size of both military personnel and DoD civilians
are "fixed by law," but points out that the number of contractors is
"size unfixed," meaning there is virtually no limit (other than funds)
to the number of contractors that can be deployed in the war zone.

At
present there are 132,610 in Iraq and 68,197 in Afghanistan. The report
notes that while the deployment of security contractors in Iraq is
increasing, there was an 11% decrease in overall contractors in Iraq
from the first quarter of 2009 due to the "ongoing efforts to reduce
the contractor footprint in Iraq."

Both Pentagon reports can be downloaded here.


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