Saturday, May 12, 2007

Outsourcing the War in Iraq

Listening to the demands from the White House regarding the funding of the war in Iraq, the drumbeat message appears to be "must have money for the troops." Shouldn't citizens and representatives be asking how much money is given to private contractors versus how much actually goes into the US military?

Between 100 and 200,000 private contracts provide the military with laundry services, meals, latrine operations, transportation of materials, and an unknown number of private and heavily armed security forces. Without these contracts, could the military today conduct any operation? And does that mean that the White House is now lobbying for businesses to receive tax dollars?

On May 10th Jeremy Scahill testified before a Congressional Committee about what has become the "outsourcing" of the war in Iraq and the questions such operations bring --

Many Americans are under the impression that the US currently has about 145,000 active duty troops on the ground in Iraq. What is seldom mentioned is the fact that there are at least 126,000 private personnel deployed alongside the official armed forces. These private forces effectively double the size of the occupation force, largely without the knowledge of the US taxpayers that foot the bill.

"These forces work for US companies like Blackwater, Triple Canopy and DynCorp as well as companies from across the globe. Some contractors make in a month what many active-duty soldiers make in a year. Indeed, there are private contractors in Iraq making more money than the Secretary of Defense and more than the commanding generals. The testimony about private contractors that I hear most often from active duty soldiers falls into two categories: resentment and envy.

"They ask what message their country is sending them. While many soldiers lack basic protective equipment--facts well-known to this committee--they are in a war zone where they see the private soldiers whiz by in better vehicles, with better armor, better weapons, wearing the corporate logo instead of the American flag and pulling in much more money. They ask: Are our lives worth less?"

Scahill notes that 40 cents of every dollar for the war goes into private contracts, and asks about the wisdom of relying on the profit motive for private firms working in Iraq. Does it simply create a shadow army?

Also testifying was Robert Greenwald, who's film "Iraq For Sale" (previously mentioned) reports on the war profiteering taking place in Iraq. Congressman Jack Kensington (R-GA) does not seem much interested in investigating the use of tax dollars, but quizzes Greenwald on the money made by those who report on the war profiteers. It's an amazing video.

The recently vetoed legislation on funding, however, would have had minimal effect on private contractors:

The legislation vetoed by the president last week would not have reduced the use of private military operators in Iraq. As originally passed in the House, the Democrats' plan would have cut only about 15 percent, or $815 million, of the supplemental spending earmarked for day-to-day military operations "to reflect savings attributable to efficiencies and management improvements in the funding of contracts in the military departments." But even that mild provision was dropped in late April by the Democrats, who said they needed to hold more hearings on the contractor issue. Instead, they moved to withhold - not cut - 15 percent of total day-to-day operational funding, but only until Defense Secretary Robert Gates submits a report on the use of contractors and the scope of their deployment. Once the report is submitted, the 15 percent would be released.

While the discussions have centered on accountability, fiscal responsibility, and oversight, the big question that Congress has not confronted is: Should the U.S. government even be allowed to use mercenary forces, whose livelihoods depend on war and conflict, to help fight its battles in Iraq?"


  1. Why worry about the cost when you have a bottomless expense account called the taxpayer? Cheney and Bush are down with the o.p.m.(other peoples money)!

  2. I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

    Politicians make no difference.

    We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read how this happens please see:

    Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

    There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.

    The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

    So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

    This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

    The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

    For more details see:

  3. james3:05 AM

    Joe,I replied to your r-mail,maybe its your spam filter.

  4. maybe its the will of the Powers That Be, James :)