Victory for Hire: Private Security Companies' Impact on Military Effectiveness

By Molly Dunigan | Go to book overview

1 INTRODUCTION

AS OF DECEMBER 31, 2007, at least 1,123 private contractors working for the U.S. government or U.S. companies in Iraq had been killed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Private contractors constituted the largest occupying force in Iraq during this time period, outnumbering even U.S. forces, with roughly 155,000 contractors employed there as of February 2008.1 Contractors operating in Iraq have come from around the globe, ranging from citizens of English-speaking countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, to contractors from countries such as Chile or Fiji that were not directly involved in the conflict (third-country nationals, or TCNs), to local Iraqis (local nationals, or LNs). Of the DoD contractors, approximately 10,422 were security contractors as of March 2009, although estimates of the numbers of security contractors employed by all entities in Iraq had ranged as high as 30,000 at earlier points in the conflict.2 This study is primarily concerned with this subgroup of contractors, the armed security contractors, at least insofar as the Iraq case is concerned.

In Afghanistan, meanwhile, the number of DoD contractors was substantially higher than the number of U.S. troops as of March 2009, with 68,197 contractors compared to 52,300 uniformed military personnel. Again, this does not take into account the number of non-DoD contractors employed in Afghanistan during this period, so the ratio was likely quite a bit higher than these numbers reflect. Nonetheless, these figures reportedly represented the highest recorded percentage of contractors used by the Department of Defense in any conflict in the history of the United States, with contractors comprising 57 percent of the DoD workforce in Afghanistan during this period.3

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