Civilian Contractor Toll in Iraq and Afghanistan Ignored by Defense Dept.
T. Christian Miller

The Department of Defense is not alone in its lack of attention to the issue. Neither the State Department nor USAID could tell with certainty how many contractors they employed, the GAO found. USAID, for instance, failed to report how many civilians it had put to work under a $91 million contract to develop hydroelectric plants and small and medium businesses in Afghanistan. A State Department contracting officer insisted that there was no need to track local Iraqi hires, despite specific statutory language to the contrary, the report found. “Officials acknowledged that they are likely undercounting the actual number of contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the GAO concluded. State, USAID and DOD officials all told the GAO that they were working to fix the problem.

What it all means is that nine years after the launch of the most contractor-intensive war in U.S. history, nobody is sure how many contractors there are, what they are doing, or how many have been killed or wounded.

You win the long term war by connecting Iraq and Afghanistan to the outside world. Afghanistan will take much, much longer to integrate than Iraq (getting them to the 11th century will take years, if not decades), but it would be nice if our government took a serious approach to our contractors now.