How Many Private Contractors Are There In Afghanistan?

Military Gives Us A Number

Published on the Atlantic Wire, by Justin Elliott, December 2, 2009.

Private contractors employed by the Defense Department in Afghanistan will continue to outnumber the size of the American troop presence, even after President Obama sends 30,000 more soldiers to fight in the war, according to the military’s most recent contractor count.

Private contractors employed by the Defense Department in Afghanistan will continue to outnumber the size of the American troop presence, even after President Obama sends 30,000 more soldiers to fight in the war, according to the military’s most recent contractor count …  

… Kloppel told TPM yesterday that there are roughly 9,000 private security contractors, though the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan says there are at least 14,000. That would not include private security for other countries or contractors. The Army Times published a story yesterday showing just how damaging bad contractors can be to the counterinsurgency strategy: along one route in Kandahar province, over 30 civilians have been killed or wounded by heavily armed security contractors, who are mostly Afghans.

Still not clear is whether the projected escalation cost of $30 billion includes the cost of more contractors. Good numbers are notoriously hard to pin down, but the Congressional Budget Office estimated a cost of $5 billion for DOD contracts in Afghanistan back in fiscal year 2007 and the first half of 2008. (full text).

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