There is no adult supervision at the Pentagon
I couldn’t have asked for better timing to start blogging about military contractors. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s subcommittee on contractor oversight held a new set of hearings that have provided the best statistics about currently deployed contractors yet. Jeremy Scahill has written an excellent summary of their findings:
At present, there are 104,000 Department of Defense contractors in Afghanistan. According to a report this week from the Congressional Research Service, as a result of the coming surge of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, there may be up to 56,000 additional contractors deployed. But here is another group of contractors that often goes unmentioned: 3,600 State Department contractors and 14,000 USAID contractors. That means that the current total US force in Afghanistan is approximately 189,000 personnel (68,000 US troops and 121,000 contractors). And remember, that’s right now. And that, according to McCaskill, is a conservative estimate. A year from now, we will likely see more than 220,000 US-funded personnel on the ground in Afghanistan.
It’s no longer so much a matter of contractors providing support to the military as it is the other way around. It naturally follows that when you want to ask about how contractors should be used, you should consult gigantic mercenary corporations which is precisely what happened the following day at hearings held by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, including Blackwater/Xe, which has conclusively proven that it can do absolutely anything it wants. Their VP’s testimony was absolutely surreal:
Of course, corruption or abuse by Afghans participating in the training and mentorship program is unacceptable. Even the simple appearance of impropriety at any level can irreparably undermine the integrity of the training and mentoring efforts as well as the trainees’ trust, which is critical for a successful program. Xe immediately dismisses from training any participant found to be engaging in improper conduct.
This is, of course, the program to train paramilitaries upon which the effort to win hearts and minds rests. That effort appears to have metastasized into Pakistan, where it is not going over particularly well:
ISLAMABAD: The lawyers’ fraternity held nationwide protests against the notorious presence and activities of Blackwater in the country on Saturday.
Wildly protesting lawyers managed to reach at the Gate No-4 of the Sihala Police College, and tried to force their way in. Raising slogans, they demanded immediate ouster of the notorious organization from the premises.
On the occasion, they announced that if the notorious organization is failed to vacate the premises by 05th Jan, they would stage a strong protest in front of the Parliament House. The lawyers’ said that the Blackwater was a notorious organization, which has been quite active in Iraq and lambasted the fact that they were enjoying ‘diplomatic immunity’ simply by using fake vehicle registration plates of the USA embassy.