There are currently more private contractors working for the US military and other government agencies in Afghanistan than uniformed American military troops, reports indicate.
As of July, nearly 114,000 contractors were working for the US Defense Department in Afghanistan, compared to the 90,000 American troops in the country at the time, AFPreported Thursday, quoting “official statistics.”
The figures about the presence of a high number of US contractors working in Afghanistan emerged again after reports of a newly-released video showing American security contractors drunk and high on narcotics while on duty.
The US-based broadcaster ABC News, which released the footage and first reported on the incident, also cited a February 2011 report by a bipartisan commission set up to scrutinize the extraordinary use of contractors by the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan which concluded that the United States had wasted tens of billions of the nearly $177 billion that was spent on those contracts and grants since 2002.
The report, titled “At What Risk? Correcting Over-reliance on Contractors in Contingency Operations,” also stated that “about 200,000 contractor employees are working in Iraq and Afghanistan,” roughly equal to the American military forces deployed there in years prior to the report.
Numerous other reports verify such figures and also emphasize the relatively high number of casualties among the US contract workers that are often not reported and not accounted for.
According to official statistics released by Pentagon in May 2010, the total number of US military contractors working in Afghanistan, Iraq and its Central Command (covering the Middle East region) were 250,335, of which over 112,000 worked in Afghanistan, nearly 96,000 worked in Iraq and about 43,000 worked for the US Central Command (USCENTCOM).
The data also indicated that over 53,000 of the contractors were US citizens, 95,000 were third country nationals, and nearly 102,000 were locally employed.
Pointing to the relatively high number of casualty figures among US contractors working in Afghanistan, The New York Times reported earlier this year that in 2011 “at least 430 employees of American contractors were reported killed in Afghanistan,” compared to 418 American soldiers killed in the country in the same year, adding that the same trend was also true during the US occupation of Iraq.
The report, however, emphasized that the US military does not keep track of the casualties suffered by its contractors, noting that the country’s Department of Labor would hold the data only for American casualties that have been reported by US contractors hiring them. It added that there is hardly any counting of casualties suffered by US contract workers that are citizens of other nations.
The Times report also stressed that for every contractor killed in countries invaded by the US, “many more are seriously wounded.” It cites Labor Department’s statistics as reporting that in addition to the 430 contractors reported killed in Afghanistan in 2011, another 1,777 American contractors in the country got wounded.