One of the least discussed things about the two wars that the United States is waging in the Middle East is the fact that more than half of the military force in both Iraq and Afghanistan consists of private contractors which have allowed the United States to send much fewer soldiers than estimates say are necessary. Similar is the case with Obama’s surge in Afghanistan which will consist of as much as 56,000 contractors sent to Afghanistan on top of the troops that he is sending there.
When people mention that the Department of Defense sent less soldiers than experts deem necessary, they are referring to combat soldiers. The Department of Defense has not sent the necessary amount of soldiers because they have sent a historic amount of defense contractors to take their place.
For the past two years, 62% of the United States force in Iraq and Afghanistan has consisted of defense contractors that do the jobs that military personnel have historically done.
To put it in perspective, there are currently more than 104,000 contractors in Afghanistan compared with less than 65,000 soldiers. In Iraq, there are around 114,000 contractors.
These contractors range from telecommunications companies and construction companies that do work that military technicians would usually do to security personnel from companies like Xe (formerly Blackwater) and Titan Corp. that do security missions and often find themselves in combat.
These contractors, which are not held to the same standards as the military have often found themselves on the wrong end of a grand jury subpoena.
Blackwater had been responsible for very questionable shootings while Titan Corp. had been providing security at Abu Ghraib when the scandal at that prison broke.
Obama will likely send nearly twice as many contractors to Afghanistan as he will soldiers, thus meeting the troop level requirements that Obama’s advisors recommended.