The Shadow Army Awaits Deployment
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 1, 2009
By: Rayne Monday November 30, 2009 6:55 pm
I was taken to task for allegedly ignoring the role of military-industrial complex corporations in my recent post about the decision-making process leading up to tomorrow’s anticipated announcement regarding U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Concern about corporate interests is well-placed, but it’s only a portion of the picture. Contractors have been a nagging problem since the U.S. began military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. With a current ratio of nearly two contractors to every soldier, the immediate problem is the number of the non-military personnel — a virtual shadow army — we are about to deploy in an escalation in Afghanistan, and the one still on the ground in Iraq.
Coincidentally, today represents the deadline which House Oversight and Government Reform Chair Eldolphus Towns set for Defense Secretary Robert Gates to report the number, size, and details of contracts awarded for work being performed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Towns’ letter is dated November 3, giving Gates nearly a month to get his hands around these numbers and report them.
Towns has even allowed Gates to report the numbers from the Department of Defense’s records without commenting in his letter about the rather disconcerting numbers Towns has already seen based on reports from the General Accounting Office and the Commission on Wartime Contracting.
The CWC, a bipartisan entity authorized by and reporting to Congress, reported a wide range of numbers depending on the tracking source. The DOD’s Synchronized Predeployment and Operational Tracker (SPOT) reported 160,000 contractors working for the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and several other smaller and less active arenas this summer. However the U.S. Army Central Command’s quarterly census reported a much different number — 242,000 contractors, with much of the data gathered by hand rather than through reports. As the CWC noted, that’s a difference of roughly 80,000 between the two tallies.
Although CENTCOM’s census doesn’t include contractors working for Department of State or the Agency for International Development (USAID) and SPOT does not account for foreign nationals, it’s generally believed that 80,000 is still too broad a spread in numbers and cannot account accurately for the difference in contractors between the two systems.
Why not watch and see tomorrow night, Wednesday and beyond who really does ignore the shadow army we’ll be deploying?