Another False Ending: Contracting Out the Iraq Occupation

Another false ending to the Iraq war is being declared. Nearly seven years after George Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln, President Obama has just given a major address to mark the withdrawal of all but 50,000 combat troops from Iraq. But while thousands of US troops are marching out,
thousands of additional private military contractors (PMCs) are marching in. The number of armed security contractors in Iraq will more than double in the coming months. While the mainstream media is debating whether Iraq can be declared a victory or not, there is virtually no discussion regarding this surge in contractors. Meanwhile, serious questions about the accountability of private military contractors remain. In the past decade, the United States has dramatically shifted the way in which it wages war – fewer soldiers and more contractors. Last month, the Congressional Research Service reported that the Department of Defense (DoD) workforce has 19 percent more contractors (207,600) than uniformed personnel (175,000) in Iraq and Afghanistan, making the wars in these two countries the most outsourced and privatized in US history. According to a recent State Department briefing to Congress’ Commission on Wartime Contracting, from now on, instead of soldiers, private military contractors will be disposing of improvised explosive devices, recovering killed and wounded personnel, downed aircraft and damaged
vehicles, policing Baghdad’s International Zone, providing convoy security and clearing travel routes, among other security-related duties.

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