Sometime this year, U.S. spending on contractors in Iraq will reach $100 billion, a telling marker of the Bush administration's use of private corporations to support the war effort, according to a story today in the New York Times.
The story, by writer Jim Risen, is based on a new report by the Congressional Budget Office.
"The Pentagon's reliance on outside contractors in Iraq is proportionately far larger than in any previous conflict, and it has fueled charges that this outsourcing has led to overbilling, fraud and shoddy and unsafe work that has endangered and even killed American troops," Risen writes. "The role of armed security contractors has also raised new legal and political questions about whether the United States has become too dependent on private armed forces on the 21st-century battlefield."
From the report:
"From 2003 through 2007, U.S. agencies awarded $85 billion in contracts for work to be principally performed in the Iraq theater, accounting for almost 20 percent of funding for operations in Iraq. (Dollar amounts in this paper are in 2008 dollars.) More than
70 percent of those awards were for contracts performed in Iraq itself."
"The Department of Defense (DoD) awarded contracts totaling $76 billion, of which the Army (including the Joint Contracting Command--Iraq/Afghanistan) obligated 75 percent. The U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of State obligated roughly $5 billion and $4 billion, respectively, over the same period."
"Contractors provide a wide range of products and services in-theater. Most contract obligations over the 2003-2007 period were for logistics support, construction,
petroleum products, or food. The contract for the Army's Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) is the largest one in the Iraq theater, with obligations totaling $22 billion."
"Although personnel counts are rough approximations, CBO estimates that as of early 2008 at least 190,000 contractor personnel, including subcontractors, were
working on U.S.-funded contracts in the Iraq theater. Just under 40 percent of them are citizens of the country where the work is being performed (primarily Iraq); about 20 percent are U.S. citizens."
"The United States has used contractors during previous military operations, although not to the current extent. According to rough historical data, the ratio of about one contractor employee for every member of the U.S. armed forces in the Iraq theater is at least 2.5 times higher than that ratio during any other major U.S. conflict, although it is roughly comparable with the ratio during operations in the Balkans in the 1990s."
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