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Monday, April 11, 2011

Department of Defense Contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq: Background and Analysis

Moshe Schwartz
Specialist in Defense Acquisition

Joyprada Swain
Research Associate

The critical role contractors play in supporting military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq necessitates that the Department of Defense (DOD) effectively manage contractors during contingency operations. Lack of sufficient contract management can delay or even prevent troops from receiving needed support and can also result in wasteful spending. Some analysts believe that poor contract management has played a role in permitting abuses and crimes committed by certain contractors against local nationals, which may have undermined U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

DOD relies extensively upon contractors to support overseas contingency operations. As of December 2010, DOD had more contractor personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq (159,000) than uniformed personnel (144,000). Contractors made up 52% of DOD’s workforce in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since December 2009, the number of DOD contractors in Afghanistan has exceeded the number in Iraq.

According to DOD, in Afghanistan, as of December 2010, there were 87,483 DOD contractor personnel, compared to approximately 96,900 uniformed personnel. Contractors made up 47% of DOD’s workforce in Afghanistan at that time. This compares to December 2008, when contractors represented 69% of DOD’s workforce in Afghanistan. According to DOD data, the recent surge of uniformed personnel in Afghanistan and the increase in contract obligations did not result in a corresponding increase in contractor personnel.

DOD obligated approximately $11.8 billion on contracts performed primarily in the Afghanistan theater of operations (including surrounding countries) in FY2010, representing 15% of total DOD obligations in the area. From FY2005-FY2010, DOD obligated approximately $33.9 billion on contracts in the Afghanistan theater, representing 16% of total DOD obligations in the area.

According to DOD, in Iraq, as of December 2010, there were 71,142 DOD contractor personnel in Iraq compared to approximately 47,305 uniformed personnel in-country. Contractors made up 60% of DOD’s workforce in Iraq. Contractor and troop levels have decreased every quarter for the last eight quarters.

DOD obligated approximately $15.4 billion on contracts in the Iraq theater in FY2010, representing 20% of total DOD obligations in the area. From FY2005-FY2010, DOD obligated approximately $112.1 billion on contracts in the Iraq theater of operations, representing 19% of total DOD obligations in the area.

A number of analysts have questioned the reliability of DOD’s contractor data. DOD officials have acknowledged data shortcomings and have stated that they are working to improve the reliability and the type of data gathered. DOD is implementing a database to track
and monitor contractor personnel during a contingency operation. DOD has also taken a number of steps to try to improve how it manages contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq, including efforts to centralize contracting support and management; implement regulatory and policy changes, train uniformed personnel on how to manage contractors; and increase the size of the acquisition workforce in theater. A number of these initiatives have been reflected in or were the result of legislation.

This report provides a detailed analysis of contractor personnel trends and contracting dollars obligated in U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Date of Report: March 29, 2011
Number of Pages: 34
Order Number: R40764
Price: $29.95

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