McCaskill On Afghan War Contractors: ‘We’re Competing Against Ourselves’


Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said today that the military may be paying Afghan contractors so much that they are dissuaded from joining the country’s army or police force, dealing a blow to the American strategy of building up local forces.

We reported earlier this week that as many as 56,000 new contractors will be hired as Obama escalates the war. Most of the 104,100 DOD contractors currently working in Afghanistan are local nationals providing logistical, transportation, security, and other support.“Our mission here is to get Afghanistan in a place that they can take over their own security, which means this is all about getting people to join the afghan police department and the military. It is my understanding — and I want to look at it in this hearing — that we are paying contractors more than they could make on the police force or in the military,” McCaskill told reporters on a call today. “In other words, we’re competing against ourselves.”

She added: “If we are hiring them to peel potatoes, and they are declining to go take up arms for their country because of that — because they can make more peeling potatoes — that’s a huge problem and we’ve got to get to the bottom of it as soon as possible”

McCaskill’s Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight is holding a hearing on contracting issues tomorrow, and the contractor surge is bound to come up.

A live feed of the hearing, set to start at 2 p.m. ET, will be here.

Here’s the full press release and witness list:


Subcommittee will hold hearing on Thursday, December 17th

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In light of the president’s recent announcement of significant strategy changes in Afghanistan, the Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, led by Chairman Claire McCaskill, will hold a public hearing on Thursday, December 17th to examine oversight of contracting in Afghanistan.

With upcoming increases in U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, government contracts related to the conflict are expected to increase in both number and value. At the hearing, the Subcommittee will review whether sufficient steps are being taken to ensure adequate management and oversight of contracts, as well as whether contracting oversight lessons learned from Iraq are being applied in Afghanistan.

Who: Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight

What: Public Hearing on Afghanistan Reconstruction and Development Contracts: An Overview

When: Thursday, December 17, 2009, at 2:00 PM

Where: Dirksen Senate Office Building Room SD-342


Mr. William H. Campbell III
Director of Operations
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)
U.S. Department of Defense

Mr. Edward M. Harrington
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Procurement)
Department of the Army
U.S. Department of Defense

Mr. Charles North
Senior Deputy Director
Afghanistan-Pakistan Task Force
U.S. Agency for International Development

Mr. Daniel F. Feldman
Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
U.S. Department of State

Mr. Jeffrey Parsons
Executive Director
Army Contracting Command
Department of the Army
U.S. Department of Defense