“We believe these numbers include most subcontractors and service contractors hired by prime contractors under DoD contracts,” reads the fine print of the latest Pentagon report (.doc) on the number of armed private contractors currently working in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the rest of the Central Command’s area of responsibility. This should give us at least some pause about the sort of exact numbers presented in the report.
According to the Pentagon’s fuzzy math, as of December 31, 2008, it had 8,701 armed security contractors in Iraq, of which 727 were Americans, 6,909 were Third Country Nationals, and 1,065 were Iraqis. This represented a 12 percent decrease as compared with the same time last year. Afghanistan, on the other hand, saw a 1 percent increase in armed contractors over the same period to… about 3,184. It will be interesting to see how this number skyrockets over the coming year as the Pentagon steps up its presence there.
One thing to note: the numbers reflect only those armed security contractors working on Pentagon contracts. Blackwater’s gun-toating coterie is therefore absent from the figures. Very shortly, of course, they’ll be absent altogether thanks to the State Department’s decision not to renew Blackwater’s contract.