Military Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan

The Department of Defense has more contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan than it has uniformed military personnel, another newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service reminds us.

“The Department of Defense increasingly relies upon contractors to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has resulted in a DOD workforce that has 19% more contractor personnel (207,600) than uniformed personnel (175,000),” said the CRS report — which forms a timely counterpoint to this week’s Washington Post “Top Secret America” series on the tremendous expansion of the intelligence bureaucracy, including the increased and often unchecked reliance on contractors.

The explosive growth in reliance on contractors naturally entails new difficulties in management and oversight.  “Some analysts believe that poor contract management has also played a role in abuses and crimes committed by certain contractors against local nationals, which may have undermined U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the CRS said.  See “Department of Defense Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan: Background and Analysis,” July 2, 2010.

And see, relatedly, “U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress,” July 16, 2010.