Study: More Contractors In Afghanistan Than Military Personnel — Highest Ratio Ever

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Private Defense Department contractors outnumber the ranks of uniformed U.S. military in Afghanistan, according to a Congressional Research Service study obtained by the invaluable Secrecy News.

As of March, there were over 68,000 contractors in Afghanistan and over 52,000 military personnel (Read the report in .pdf format here.)

At 57% of total Defense Department workforce, the number of contractors represents “the highest recorded percentage of contractors used by DOD in any conflict in the history of the United States,” the study concludes.

At a time when President Obama is increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan to at least 68,000 and the debate over the war is heating up, the reliance on contractors has been given little attention.

In today’s much-discussed column calling for a drawdown of troops, George Will doesn’t even mention contractors.

The contractors in Afghanistan perform many duties that would have once been done by the military: “logistics, construction, linguist services, and transportation,” the study reports. In the second quarter of FY’09, 16% of contractors in Afghanistan provide security, versus 10% in Iraq.

And 76% of the contractors in Afghanistan are “local nationals,” which the study examines in terms of the military’s counterinsurgency strategy.