By T. Christian Miller, (LA) Times Staff Writer
July 4, 2007
The number of U.S.-paid private contractors in Iraq now exceeds that of American combat troops, newly released figures show, raising fresh questions about the privatization of the war effort and the government's capacity to carry out military and rebuilding campaigns.
More than 180,000 civilians — including Americans, foreigners and Iraqis — are working in Iraq under U.S. contracts, according to State and Defense department figures obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Including the recent troop buildup, 160,000 soldiers and a few thousand civilian government employees are stationed in Iraq.
The total number of private contractors, far higher than previously reported, shows how heavily the Bush administration has relied on corporations to carry out the occupation of Iraq — a mission criticized as being undermanned.
"These numbers are big," said Peter Singer, a Brookings Institution scholar who has written on military contracting. "They illustrate better than anything that we went in without enough troops. This is not the coalition of the willing. It's the coalition of the billing."
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While over 3,500 American military deaths are reported in Iraq ... the deaths of American contractors are not as rigorously reported and they are certainly not included in the total we read in the newspapers every day. Without their inclusion in the count, we are being misled about the true cost of this war.