Contractors in the line of fire

Contractor deaths in Iraq nearing 800

Nearly 800 private military contractors have been killed in Iraq since the campaign began, and nearly 8,000 more have been injured:

Statistics kept by the Labor Department indicate fatalities among civilian contractors working for American firms escalated rapidly late last year, with at least 301 dying in Iraq in 2006 — including 124 in the final three months.

U.S. military deaths totaled 818 during the year, the Defense Department has reported.

Despite the danger, job seekers continue to flood contractors’ offices with résumés.

Some 165,000 prospective employees contacted Houston-based Halliburton Co.’s KBR last year about job opportunities in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, company officials said. KBR now has half a million résumés on file.

And the recent troop “surge” announced by President Bush has prompted KBR to increase its hiring, company Chief Executive Officer Bill Utt said Friday.

I think most Americans would be shocked at how many private contractors are operating in Iraq, many of them in the employ of the US military. The DoD says that the number is around 100,000, but given the nature of the business (and the nature of the DoD), I suspect that the number is actually much higher.


  1. I’m not shocked at how many of us there are! LOL! I’ve been working overseas since June of 2004. I’m in SE Afghanistan right now and there are truck loads of us here. We’re colocated with the military, or they’re colocated with us (depending on who’s in charge of any particular base). They catch rides with us and vice versa, all the time. They work with us on the same program (training Afghan Police Recruits in this case), we eat in their messhall and they eat in ours. Blackwater offered to field a Brigade sized unit of ‘Peacekeepers’ in the S. Sudan, but has gotten a cold shoulder from the UN and others so far. Too many idiots spewing off about ‘mercenaries’…………never mind the Africans have their hands full in keeping the two sides separated and none of the Western Powers are falling over themselves to send troops in to stop the killing. MORONS! BTW………….my company is recruiting on our web site for trainers to help the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army increase their skills and professionalize themselves (I’m thinking that shouldn’t be to tall an order!) right now. As long as I can have ‘Peoples Commissar’ in my title, I’m down for some of that! LOL! With the continued downsizing of militaries, and the increasing unwillingness of many Euro nations to risk their troops (you know…..war is kinda inherently risky. Something a number of our NATO allies appear to have lost sight of………thank God for the Brits,Canadians, Romanians, & Dutch though!) one has to wonder whether David Drake’s sci fi series about ‘Hammer’s Slammers’ wan’t prescient to some degree.

  2. Yeah, I hear ya’ man. I got a paper cut the other day and then got lemon juice in it from my glass of tea at lunch. Darn, that smarted. My back is killing me from this chair I sit in… Oh wait, different kind of military contractor. Sorry. If your printer is jammed, though, I’m there for you.

  3. Not that I don’t have my fair share of both, but actually that was an attempt at poking fun at myself. In my job as a military contractor the paper cut is about the limit serious injuries one can reasonably expect. For a stretch of several months while I was working on space station we had about one engineer a month dying, but it was generally from heart attack. I think the stress of caring deeply about the nation’s space program while being prevented from contributing to that effort at every turn had something to do with it, but it’s still not quite the same as being shot at. Sorry, I didn’t mean any offense.

  4. No worries, I’ll offend. Not a member of the armed foces, not subject to the UCMJ, not in the chain of command, not accountable to local jurisdiction or U.S. law.. How exactly is this not a mercenary? I keep forgetting. Do you have a wookie and a kick ass spaceship? Done the Kessel Run? I know a lot of people in uniform and out that have none too kind things to say about Blackwater and the rest of these straight-out-of-a-bond-movie yahoos. Snark. V

  5. I’ve worked around the edges of the military long enough to know a lot about what goes on, but at the same time only little about the cultural aspects. Do you really think the accountability issues you list help our forces? It seems to me like the rules burden we put on our soldiers are exactly what hold them back. While I don’t see reliance on mercinaries as being in the best interest of the country, I see these companies as being kind of like alt space. When the government procurement system gets so screwed up that the only way to get to orbit is build your own rocket, that’s what people do, form a company and build thier own rocket. I see Blackwater etc. as being along those same lines.