A study released on Monday found that as much as half of the $14 trillion spent by the Pentagon since 9/11 went to for-profit defense contractors. This is the latest effort to argue that the United States relies on private companies to perform its war zone responsibilities, which used to be performed by the military and led to the failure of the mission in Afghanistan.
In the post-9/11 war, the US companies contracted by the Department of Defense not only handled logistics in the theater, such as running fuel convoys and manning food lines, but also performed critical tasks, such as training and equipping the Afghan security forces-the security forces finally collapsed In one month, the Taliban swept the country.
Within a few weeks, even before the U.S. military completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban easily defeated the Afghan government and military that had taken the Americans 20 years and billions of dollars to stand up. President Joe Biden put the blame entirely on the Afghans themselves. “We gave them every opportunity,” he said last month. “What we can’t provide them is the will to fight.”
But William Harton, author of a Monday research report by the Brown University War Cost Project and International Policy Center, and others said that Americans must study the role of dependence on private contractors in the post-9/11 war. In Afghanistan, this includes contractors who allegedly paid protection fees to warlords and the Taliban themselves, and the Ministry of Defense insisted on equipping the Afghan Air Force with sophisticated Black Hawk helicopters and other aircraft. Apart from the US contractors, few people know how to maintain them.
Speaking of the case where the Pentagon’s reliance on contractors was counterproductive, Harton, the director of the International Policy Center’s weapons and security program, said: “If it’s just money, it’s too outrageous.” “But it disrupts the mission and puts the troops in danger. The facts are even more outrageous.”
At the beginning of this year, before Biden began his final withdrawal from Afghanistan, the number of contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq far exceeded that of the U.S. military.
Another “cost of war” study estimated that approximately 7,000 military personnel and nearly 8,000 contractors died in the United States in all conflicts after 9/11.
The Professional Services Commission, an organization that represents companies that have signed contracts with the government, cited a lower figure from the U.S. Department of Labor, stating that nearly 4,000 federal contractors have been killed since 2001.
A spokeswoman referred to a statement issued by the organization’s chairman David J. Berto last month: “For nearly two decades, government contractors have provided the Extensive and important support, as well as humanitarian and economic development assistance.”
After September 11, 2001, U.S. officials regarded private contractors as an important part of the U.S. military response.
It started with Dick Cheney, then vice president and former CEO of Halliburton. The study said that by 2008, Halliburton had received more than $30 billion in funding to help establish and operate bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, provide food for troops, and perform other tasks. Cheney argued with defense contractors that relying on private contractors for the work done by service personnel in previous wars would allow the U.S. military to be streamlined, more efficient and cost-effective.
By 2010, the Pentagon’s expenditures had soared by more than one-third as a result of the United States’ dual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among Americans after 9/11, politicians scrambled to express their support for the military of this country, which has a much higher security awareness.
“Any congressman who does not vote for the funds we need to defend the country will look for a new job after November next year,” the study pointed out, the then Boeing Vice President Harriston Silver told the Wall Street Journal after the attack. A month.
As many as one-third of Pentagon contracts are signed with only five weapons suppliers. For example, according to the study, in the last fiscal year, Lockheed Martin’s funding from the Pentagon contract was one and a half times the overall budget of the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development.
Legislators and government special investigators said that the number of contracts signed by the Pentagon exceeded its scope of supervision.
Research pointed out that, for example, when the United States awarded a unique contract for a fuel fleet from Jordan to Iraq, Florida Republican officials made millions of dollars from excess profits collected by lawmakers. At least 18 service personnel were electrocuted due to poor wiring at the Iraqi base. Some of the blame was attributed to the main contractors Kellogg, Brown, and Root. This is another of many cases in which government investigations have shown that logistics and reconstruction work are unqualified.
The shocking victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan last month is now drawing attention to more serious consequences: the United States’ reliance on contractors may exacerbate the difficulties of the Afghan security forces.
Former Air Force lieutenant colonel and Carnegie Foundation for International Peace Scholar Jodi Vittori (Jodi Vittori) did not participate in this study. He pointed out that the United States insists on the use of US-made helicopters by the Afghan Air Force. Afghans prefer Russian helicopters, which are easier to fly, can be maintained by Afghans, and are suitable for rugged Afghanistan.
This spring and summer, when American contractors and American troops withdrew their knowledge of how to maintain American-supplied aircraft, senior Afghan leaders complained to the United States that this deprived them of an important advantage over the Taliban.
Hatong, like others, also pointed out that the corruption caused by the loose monitoring of the billions of dollars the United States injected into Afghanistan is a major cause of the loss of popular support for the US-backed Afghan government and the low morale of Afghan fighters.
When Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State under Barack Obama’s presidency, he accused defense contractors in danger in a war zone of turning to armed groups for help, making protection funds one of the Taliban’s largest sources of funding. one.
The United States also relies in part on defense contractors to perform one of the most important tasks it hopes to succeed in Afghanistan—helping to build and train an Afghan army and other security forces that can withstand extremist groups and threats. Insurgents including the Taliban.
Vittori said that what is striking is that most of the battles with the Taliban last month were Afghan commandos who were continuously trained by US special operations forces and others.
Vittori pointed out that reducing dependence on private contractors and relying more on the US military as in past wars may make the United States more likely to win in Afghanistan. She said this means that the US president will accept the political risk of sending more US troops to Afghanistan and recovering more US body bags.
“Using contractors allows the United States to fight a war where many Americans forget that we are fighting,” Vittori said.