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.
The latest figure on DOD contractors in the country is a whopping 104,100, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command tells TPM. That number, which is expected to grow, is already greater than the 98,000 U.S. troops that will be in the country after the new deployments.
We told you yesterday about the little-noticed but giant shadow army of contractors that allows the United States to prosecute the war by providing food, transport, construction, security, and other services. Many believe the size of the contracting force presents security and transparency concerns.
Whatever the magnitude, it is clear that contractors often are poor substitutes for our fighting men and women in uniform. There is less supervision, discipline and accountability, and perhaps lesser skills for the job. And often the cost of getting the job done is more than it would cost the military.
Once this contracting ethos was put in place by the Bush administration, it has been far too hard to root it out. The practice assumed a life of its own and did not raise nearly enough questions from citizens and lawmakers.