One out of every five dollars spent on the war in Iraq has gone to contractors for the United States military and other government agencies, according to a Congressional Budget Office report quoted by The New York Times. The U.S. has spent $100 billion since 2003 on contractors, including bodyguards, drivers and cooks:
Contractors in Iraq now employ at least 180,000 people in the country, forming what amounts to a second, private, army, larger than the United States military force, and one whose roles and missions and even casualties among its work force have largely been hidden from public view. The widespread use of these employees […] has allowed the administration to hold down the number of military personnel sent to Iraq, helping to avoid a draft.
One of the less discussed aspects of this outsourcing is its effect on the soldiers and Marines serving in the war zones. What happens to unit cohesion when hard physical labour is removed from soldiering? Of course the tried and true model of hauling sandbags and shoveling shit is still very much alive in the outposts of Afghanistan and in the rougher COPs in Iraq, but what will happen when these chores, too, are contracted out? Will future grunts have their foxholes dug by Nepalese guestworkers?