America’s War Contractors

In Afghanistan, the number of American contractors nearly equals U.S. troops



A new article in The Atlantic, “The War Machine Is Run on Contracts” by Kathy Gilsinan, describes the largely unacknowledged thousands of people who make possible U.S. military activity in the Middle East. As U.S. interventions have become more complex (“nation building”) and drawn-out over decades, our military has relied on contractors more and more. A link to the article is provided below, but first some highlights:

  • The Defense Department reports 50,000 paid contractors in the Middle East as of last October, with the majority in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.
  • Americans make up less than half the above total. To compare: U.S. troop numbers fluctuate between 60,000 and 80,000 in the region.
  • U.S. reliance on private contractors didn’t start with 9/11 but exploded in the wars that followed, due to political pressure to keep troop numbers limited and other factors.
  • In Afghanistan, “the ratio of American contractors to U.S. troops is almost 1 to 1; including local and third-country contractors, it’s about 2 to 1.”

Read the whole article here:


Barbara E. Rose is Web Editor of the NOR.

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