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.
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.