Secrecy News

Number of DoD Contractors in Afghanistan at a Record High

The number of private security contractors employed by the Department of Defense in Afghanistan has reached a new record high, according to DoD statistics in a recently updated report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service.

“In Afghanistan, as of December 2010, there were 18,919 private security contractor (PSC) personnel working for DOD, the highest number since DOD started tracking the data in September 2007. The number of PSC personnel in Afghanistan has more than tripled since June 2009,” the CRS report said.

“The United States relies on contractors to provide a wide variety of services in Afghanistan and Iraq, including armed security. While DOD has previously contracted for security in Bosnia and elsewhere, it appears that in Afghanistan and Iraq DOD is for the first time relying so heavily on armed contractors to provide security during combat or stability operations.”

“Much of the attention given to private security contractors (PSCs) by Congress and the media is a result of numerous high-profile incidents in which security contractors have been accused of shooting civilians, using excessive force, being insensitive to local customs or beliefs, or otherwise behaving inappropriately.

“Some analysts believe that the use of contractors, particularly private security contractors, may have undermined U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq,” the report said.

See “The Department of Defense’s Use of Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq: Background, Analysis, and Options for Congress,” February 21, 2011.

Official reporting on the conduct of the war in Afghanistan is grossly inadequate to inform policymaking or to provide public accountability, wrote Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in a recent assessment of available metrics.

“The war in Afghanistan is now in its tenth year. In spite of that fact, the US, allied countries, the ISAF, and the UN have failed to develop credible reporting in the progress of the war, provide meaningful transparency on the problems and challenge it faces, and a meaningful plan for the future. Moreover, since June 2010, the unclassified reporting the US does provide has steadily shrunk in content – effectively ‘spinning’ the road to victory by eliminating content that illustrates the full scale of the challenges ahead,” Cordesman wrote.

9 thoughts on “Number of DoD Contractors in Afghanistan at a Record High

  1. How about if we just started calling them mercenaries? After all, the problem does not lay with any other category of hired help (I can’t see how the people doing laundry could hamper the war effort).

  2. @ anonymouser: Historically the term mercenary has been used for people who fight for a state other than their own whose motivation is personal profit. Example: Hessian soldier fighting for the British in the American Revolution is a mercenary. Soldiers fighting for their own country, even if they are being payed and are not enrolled in a national standing army, would have been considered “irregulars”, but not mercenaries. Remember that the idea of a standing army has become popular fairly recently, with a few exceptions throughout history. So when people call American security contractors working for the US government “mercenaries”, they are using a definition that would make a very large portion of soldiers fighting throughout history mercenaries. Many have used the term to also describe security personnel payed to act as body guards and security guards. This usage is even more of stretch since they are not actually being payed to fight a war.

    I do think that our strategy of using so many highly payed contractors instead of military personnel is very flawed.

  3. Private Security Contractors are doing a fantastic job in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The DOD NEEDS PSC’s to contain the security threat in these countries. Sure there have been some cases where they’ve mistakenly killed civilians. This will happen in any country with high security risks. Imagine a situation where someone’s shooting at you with a crowd behind him. What do you do? Wait until the crowd passes, then take aim and fire? No, you’ll be fried before that. In such situations you HAVE to return fire immediately.

    In cases where PSC personnel shoot at civilians without just cause, (which I must point out that it happens in all countries especially USA ex: Columbine shooting), then legal action should be taken against him.

  4. What are we doing in Afganistan? The ostensible reason is to get AL Qaeda, which according to official sources eg Ambassador Shaheen former head of Terrorism unit at the State Dept and now at NYU, on 9/10 numbered a mere 800 Wahabis max. Yes 800 max. Last October CIA Director Panetta estimates their number now to be 50, while Gen. James Jones of NSA put it at 100. All in Pakistan part of Pushtoonistan.

    To get 100 or less terrororist w need 100,000 uniforms? And 100,000 hired guns hired via US companies owned by former US officers double, tripple dipping and otherwise ripping off the Treasury. Our US Treasury..

    Now we have been there for nine and half years, and not winning. So it seems that we are staying there so as not to admit that we are up the mountain, despite all our power, and contractors. Thank them for their service. Damn fine job they are doing. Ours is a military led by the most incompetent white men in uniform! Ever.

  5. Why don’t we just abolish the US Army? Apparently it serves no purpose that can’t be served by contractors at ten times the price.

    For those wondering why our national debt is blooming, you don’t have to look much farther than faux security purchased at ten times the going rate.

  6. PS Experts have already predicted a reduction in the Marines Corps since their primary mission, amphibious warfare, is a thing of the past. Great, more money for mercenaries!

  7. Private contractors are an asset to the US armed forces. Like the service men they put their lives in the line in order to protect our freedom and freedom in general. They are the sons and daughters who have left their home and security to provide stability and why shouldnt they get paid well. Besides it is not be a steady job. The DOD hires them per diem. Pretty soon Afghanistan’s governement will stop foreign contractors and utilized its own force to protect their infrastructure.

  8. A civilian contractor I know (an engineer) is making an obscene amount of money by working in Afghanistan. He recently bragged to those back home that he went to Greece for R&R – with a $1000 per diem. Do a little math here. If every civilian contractor in the Middle East (200,000 estimate) gets $1000 a day for a 7-day leave, that costs the taxpayer OVER A BILLION DOLLARS just for these people’s vacations!

  9. To those of you (morgan) bitching about the cost to tax payers, why shouldn’t they get paid well? Why shouldn’t they get R&R? Chances are this wasn’t a per diem but just a salary covering the leave week. They are doing things you and many other Americans would never dream of. They are in a war zone, working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for 3 months at a time. Every time they drive on a road to escort someone or provide private security, they are putting their lives at risk. Most of them are former military who are FINALLY getting paid what they deserve. You couldn’t do the job, so stop whining about your precious tax dollars. The money is deserved. Some Americans may as well be profiting from this, if the money doesn’t go to them I assure you it would go somewhere else… and not back to our country.

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