Huffington Post, 9/2/2011
The number of Department of Defense (Defense), Department of State (State), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contractor employees in Iraq and Afghanistan has varied, but exceeded 260,000 in 2010. The contractor employee count has at times surpassed the number of U.S. military personnel in the two countries.
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Although contract activity has taken on increasing importance, the resources devoted to managing contracts and contractors have not kept pace. The number of contract specialists — an occupation critical to the execution of contingency contracting — rose by only 3 percent government-wide between 1992 and 2009, despite an enormous increase in contracting activity during that period.
That last point is a diplomatic way of saying that even after 10 years of extensive use of contractors to enable and facilitate military, diplomatic and reconstruction operations, government still doesn’t know how, or even worse, doesn’t care, to carry out due diligence on the activities it contracts out.
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Also, speaking of big firms, pause to consider the similarities between large PMCs and the financial services industry. The CWC did and found, “Because the U.S. government relies on only a handful of contractors to provide most of the support for the contingencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, this reliance potentially presents a situation analogous to the U.S. financial industry’s “too big to fail” calamity.”
Phi Beta Iota: So much for Bob Gates doing anything useful at DoD. He combined “civility” with maintenance of the status quo, ignoring both the fact that the US Government is incapable of contracting at scale, and the fact that 4% of the force takes 80% of the casualties and gets 1% of the budget. Shame everlasting. Defense is long past due for a Secretary of Defense able to combine intelligence with integrity….but that needs a restoration of integrity to the electoral process and the governance process.