Four years ago, President Barack Obama declared the end of the Iraq war. So much of that fight and our current involvement in the Middle East is carried out by a privatized military.
Back in 2003 Iraq invasion, there was the predictable commentary about why we went to war and what the consequences were. And there was some attention given to the fact that this had been the most privatized military engagement in U.S. history, with private contractors actually outnumbering traditional troops — the “First Contractors’ War,” as Middlebury College scholar Allison Stanger called it in 2009. No one, however, talked about the possibility of a second contractors’ war, a topic that may surface sooner than we anticipated and one that yields a multitude of questions. This time, for example, will we be told about the extent of the role of military and security contractors? Will we know which companies are making millions, even billions, from providing armed and unarmed services in the name of American defense? Will we know how many layers of subcontractors there are, from what countries they were hired, and who trained them? When the U.S. government announces casualty totals, will the stats include the contractors who were wounded and killed? And what about the soldiers missing in action? In Iraq by the spring of 2011 there were eight MIAs, seven of which were private contractors.
The First Contractors’ War was “a remarkably unprecedented experiment” in the privatization of America’s defense forces, as California’s U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D) told Congress in 2007– one that clearly succeeded. And out of such success arose a bold new industry of private military and security companies, some of which had already existed and grew substantially during the bonanza of contracts that defined the Iraq war, and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of new ones worldwide. Their broad range of services may include police training, intelligence analysis, logistics support, air transport, border patrol, weapons procurement, and drone operations. They assist U.S. forces in contingency operations and remain long after the military withdraws from combat zones; they guard our diplomats; and they play key roles in U.S. counterterrorism strategies. They work for the United Nations, for AFRICOM ( the U.S. unified command in Africa) and for multinational corporations working in hostile environments; they provide armed security to the shipping industry. Their markets exist wherever instability threatens development; wherever military commitments exceed the capabilities of nations; wherever governments are viewed as incapable of supplying defense and security fast enough.Amy Schumer: Class Clown of 2015