Defense Contractors Vastly Outnumber Troops in Afghanistan

May 30, 2013

For every U.S. service member serving in Afghanistan, there are 1.6 Defense contractors on the ground (and on the payroll) in supporting roles. Contractors make up 62 percent of the force there -- 108,000 versus 65,700 troops, watchdog agency reports reveal.

The Congressional Research Service, in a May 17 report obtained by Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, said that the Pentagon spent $159.6 billion on contractor support in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2007 through 2012. A Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday said the Pentagon spent a total of $195 billion on contract services in 2010, double what it spent in 2001. Spending on contract services declined to $174 billion in 2012, GAO said.

Both reports faulted the Pentagon for its inability to provide accurate data on the total number of contractors employed by the Defense Department and the missions those contractors perform.

"Current databases are not sufficiently customized to track important contract data. Even when information is tracked, questions remain as to the reliability of the information," CRS reported. 

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