For the past several years, MediaMouse.org has repeatedly criticized any Iraq “withdrawal” plan that does not include a provision to remove U.S. contractors are entirely inadequate. Without addressing that issue, the U.S. could easily remove a substantial number of troops–as President Obama is intending to do–but maintain the occupation with contracts.
Journalist Jeremy Scahill is reporting that the number of contractors in Iraq is rising:
According to new statistics released by the Pentagon, with Barack Obama as commander in chief, there has been a 23% increase in the number of “Private Security Contractors” working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and a 29% increase in Afghanistan, which “correlates to the build up of forces” in the country. These numbers relate explicitly to DoD security contractors. Companies like Blackwater and its successor Triple Canopy work on State Department contracts and it is unclear if these contractors are included in the over-all statistics. This means, the number of individual “security” contractors could be quite higher, as could the scope of their expansion.
Overall, contractors (armed and unarmed) now make up approximately 50% of the “total force in Centcom AOR [Area of Responsibility].” This means there are a whopping 242,657 contractors working on these two U.S. wars. These statistics come from two reports just released by Gary J. Motsek, the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Program Support): “Contractor Support of U.S. Operations in USCENTCOM AOR, IRAQ, and Afghanistan and “Operational Contract Support, ‘State of the Union.'”
Perhaps that this is a good indication that the U.S. is intending to make up any troop withdrawals with private security contractors. After all, it has been pretty clear that the U.S. does not intend to leave Iraq–no matter what the hype was during the last election.