Our Privatized Wars

I always knew the US used a lot of private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. I just never suspected that the number of mercenaries the US government employed would be so large it would exceed the number of official, government issued troops over there: 


Civilian contractors working for the Pentagon in Afghanistan not only outnumber the uniformed troops, according to a report by a Congressional research group, but also form the highest ratio of contractors to military personnel recorded in any war in the history of the United States.

Okay, you say. But is that a problem? Well, read this and then decide for yourself:

More fundamentally, the contractors who are a majority of the force in what has become the most important American enterprise abroad are subject to lines of authority that are less clear-cut than they are for their military colleagues.
What is clear, the report says, is that when contractors for the Pentagon or other agencies are not properly managed — as when civilian interrogators committed abuses at Abu Ghraib in Iraq or members of the security firm Blackwater shot and killed 17 Iraqi citizens in Baghdad — the American effort can be severely undermined.

As of March this year, contractors made up 57 percent of the Pentagon’s force in Afghanistan, and if the figure is averaged over the past two years, it is 65 percent, according to the report by the Congressional Research Service.

You know what's really interesting? A lot of the people the companies we hire hire are Afghans. In other words we are hiring companies that in order to make a profit off this war hire the cheapest labor source available. And I suspect we have no idea how well they vet these "temporary contract employees." How many are criminals, for example. How many are actually working for the Taliban? How would the Pentagon know? We've witnessed how well the US government has managed its contracts with the company formerly known as Blackwater, the one that was headed up by Erik Prince, a man who was convinced he was a 21st Century Crusader on a mission from Jesus Christ to kill Muslims. A company, by the way, whose government contract the US just extended. That's right the company of shoot 'em up cowboys who bragged about how many hadjis they killed is still working for your United States government:

The mercenary group formerly known as Blackwater International, which was banned from Iraq by its government after a Baghdad massacre which killed 17 civilians, will see its contract extended in the country by the U.S. State Department, according to a published report.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.