How big is the US involvement in Iraq really? Or... private military contractors.
There was an article on the "privatisation" of the US military and the use of private military contractors in my local Swiss newspaper and so I thought I'd write a blog about it.
As of May there are currently around 150'000 US troops in Iraq. 3'300 soldiers have been killed, 600 of them not by enemy attacks. 25'000 have required "medical evacuation" (=wounded in the field).
But these are not the only Americans involved in the war. There are also the so called
private military contractors, all of them private companies.
There are around 300 companies, that are providing personnel for Iraq. From this currently more than 120'000 active personnel in Iraq around 40'000 provide "security services" (=mercenaries) while the rest are employed for logistics, such as transports, camp management or instruction for Iraqi troops or police.
These are all jobs that used to be done by the military itself. So a lot of this work has been "outsourced" to those contractor companies. The obvious advantage is that they are not supervised by anybody. They can do jobs without having too many questions asked. Several of those contractors have been accused of involvment in war crimes, including deaths during interrogations and shooting of civilians. They can not be tried for war crimes. Companies involved are for example KBR (Halliburton) for logistics, DynCorp and Triple Canopy provide personal security, Blackwater is responsible for security in the "Green zone" in Baghdad. "Hired guns" get as much money in one month alone, as a regular soldier would earn in a year, so no wonder many former soldiers go to work for those companies.
The military doesn't collect information about casualties among contractors. But from what the companies are telling the Department of Labor and the insurers there are currently more than 900 dead and more than 12'000 injured. (Source: my newspaper)
So all in all there are in fact almost 300'000 Americans engaged in military activity in Iraq, more than 4000 dead and more than 35'000 injured so far. In the last few months, despite the offensive of the Americans and the increase in troops, attacks on transports have massively grown. Meanwhile 50-60% of the convoys are attacked! Blackwater on CNN (the audio is not simultaneous with the video): Jeremy Scahill has researched for more than two years on the subject and has written a book. He has also recently testified before congress (see video below). He is a reporter from the "Nation", a left wing newspaper (oh my god!), Jeremy Scahill from "The Nation": Here is his article on Blackwater.
A 6 minute report by CBS on contractors. It is actually composed of two videos, just keep on watching:
This is JS testifying before Congress on 5/10/2007: