WASHINGTON, April 24, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Military Contractors Belie the Myth of the U.S. Leaving Afghanistan and Iraq," argue Robert Weiner and Daniel Wallace in an article they wrote in the Cleveland Plain Dealer / Cleveland.com today. They assert that the U.S. army leaving Iraq and Afghanistan is a myth when there are still thousands of private military contractors there. The authors ask, "If the point is to leave, why are they still there?" and contend that "they are carrying out the same missions as the military by different names and with less oversight."
They cite President Obama, who said the U.S. "will maintain a limited military presence in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist." They commend the President for praising U.S. troops who served. However, Weiner and Wallace question how we can hold leaders accountable if the presence and number of contractors who remain is obscured by the "black budget," which Edward Snowden revealed as over $50 billion.
The writers explain that contractors "do the same activities as military personnel, but instead of the U.S. government, they answer to a firm contracted by a federal agency." These activities can include "combat, security, logistics, health services, transportation, food service," which the authors say is why the private contractor industry is sometimes referred to as a private army.
They cite a Library of Congress report which stated that "the military is unable to effectively execute many operations, particularly those that are large-scale and long-term in nature, without extensive operational contract support." They lay out the contractor numbers according to Department of Defense censuses, which put the totals at 3000 in Iraq as of last year and 39,609 still in Afghanistan. They quote Chip Hauss, government liaison at the Alliance for Peacebuilding and professor at George Mason University, who remarked that "those numbers are way too low." The writers agree with Hauss that the true numbers are hidden by the Black Budget. They also quote former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who told the authors that "the best way to fight al Qaeda and ISIS, given Americans' reticence about using our troops, is 'by mercenaries.'"
Weiner and Wallace quote former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in saying that "PMCs were used 'without any supervision.'" They say that although the defense department has taken steps to improve their management policies, the Library of Congress report said that "lack of data makes it difficult to determine to what extent the billions of dollars spent [on contractors] … have contributed."
The writers counter claims that the use of contractors is cheaper than a bigger standing army with salary data from the Pentagon's Tenth Quadrennial review of Military Compensation. They say, "PMCs made higher salaries ($165,000 per year excluding benefits) than sergeants in the military ($63,340 a year excluding benefits)."
From there the authors touch on the torturing conducted at Abu Ghraib prison by private contractors "with electric shock, sexual violence and broken bones, are still in court for compensation." They point out that the defendant in the lawsuit, CACI, continues to receive contracts from the Department of Defense.
They conclude that "PMCs are the 'military-industrial complex' Eisenhower warned about back in 1961." They say that "contractors… are paid with government funds, but the law hides them and their money." Finally, they give an ultimatum for the use of contractors, saying, "If we're leaving, whether for moral reasons or to free funds for domestic programs, that has to include contractors. If we are staying, we have a right to oversight against unjust murder and torture, to know what we are paying for, and to see where the money goes."
Robert Weiner, an Oberlin College graduate, is former spokesman for the White House and the House Government Operations Committee. Daniel Wallace is a Policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.
Contact: Bob Weiner or Daniel Wallace 301-283-0821 cells 202-306-1200 or 202-329-1700 [email protected]
SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change