U.S.-Backed Military Contractors Are Returning to Iraq in Droves

Many Americans may think of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a being in the past. It’s a time most American’s aren’t eager to return to — this was made clear in the recent debate on the merits of putting U.S. “boots on the ground” to fight the Islamic State. Though it may seem that this discussion ended with the general consensus being a “no” to this kind of intervention in Syria and Iraq, the reality is very different.

A new Pentagon report delivered to Congress details how the United States is quietly building up troops in Iraq by sending both uniformed soldiers and private military contractors to the troubled country. Between January 2015 and January 2016, the number of U.S. troops rose from 2,300 to 3,700.

That growth, however, doesn’t even compare to the explosive growth of private forces in Iraq, whose numbers rose eight times from 250 in 2015 to 2,028 today. Speaking to Defense One, political scientist Rick Brennan says, “If you look at the size and the composition of the forces that have been deployed…that’s changed markedly in the past year.”

Granted, many of the private contractors in Iraq are not necessarily performing security services, but the rapid expansion of their numbers over the past year is telling. Though it is a practice that became convention decades ago, the U.S. military’s reliance on contractors to perform certain logistical roles — from construction and upkeep to administration — is now crucial for virtually all U.S. operations.

In short, these private military contractors, regardless of their current function, are being positioned as a step to ease the return of a large-scale United States military presence in Iraq. And the Pentagon isn’t the only one with private contractors in Iraq; the State Department, among others, have 5,800 contractors working in Iraq seperately. So much for the end of the war in Iraq.

The spiking deployment of private military contractors in Iraq should be alarming for another reason. Perhaps the most readily example to point to is the tragic Nisour Square massacre in which Blackwater employees gunned down 14 civilians in 2007. Thanks in large part to U.S. law, private contractors are granted near immunity from prosecution under local Iraqi law and from the U.S. military. As such, the four men involved in Nisour Sqare nearly escaped justice. Their convictions were, in fact, the first of their kind.

If the Nisour Square massacre should teach us anything, it is that private military contractors should not be performing the types of duties traditionally reserved for uniformed U.S. soldiers.

Then why does the U.S. rely so heavily on private military contractors? It is essentially a matter of convenience. After the protracted and controversial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. public has become adamantly opposed to direct forms of military action — just look to the “boots on the ground” discussion this past fall. That is doubly true for any proposal of action in Iraq, where, according to official figures from the Department of Defense, 4,425 American soldiers lost their lives and another 32,000 were wounded. Who can blame Americans for wanting to leave that in the past?

Sadly, this attitude has only pushed real discussion out of the mainstream, leaving the Pentagon to its own devices. As the unstable situation in Iraq, arguably created by U.S. military intervention, persists, the Pentagon will lean on the messy services of private military contractors — some little more than mercenaries — to fight the U.S.’ battles in Iraq and elsewhere.

Photo Credit: jamesdale10 / Wikimedia Commons


william Miller
william Miller2 years ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Eric Lees
Eric Lees3 years ago

As Hillary would say "what difference does it make", as long as we continue to vote for the lesser evil we will continue down the path towards Tyranny, economic collapse, and WWIII.

"Freedom Rider: America’s Endless Wars "
"There is no “peace” wing in either the Democratic or Republican parties. “Not only has Obama declared unending war against the rest of the world, but so has the rest of the two party duopoly.” When the warmongers scream “Jump,” the only question leaders of either party ask is, “How high?” It’s a matter of tone, not substance. “The Republicans openly brag about aggressions while Democrats dissemble and use weasel words to pretend they won’t do the same thing.”

We need to unite under a common platform of Peace, Love & Liberty. The only questions are is their a leader that can unite us and are enough people fed up with the Oligarchy to kick them out.

Susan T.
Susan T3 years ago


There is a greater risk involved in using contractors who do not have to obey the law, which means greater risk to the civilian populations, to soldiers, and to the "mission". These risks also have price tags.



Susan T.
Susan T3 years ago

@ David F "Randy F, Private competitive companies always do a far better job for a lot less money."

Not sure why I bother responding to your posts, as I think you're either a troll or someone who can't do research, but one of the biggest scandals about using private contractors is that they are expensive.

Probably the biggest scandals have involved Blackwater and KBR (Halliburton), and involved overfilling, disappearance of cash, delivery of substandard products, and sending unqualified personnel, but there's plenty of bribery required to use local contractors too.


"According to the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the level of corruption by defense contractors may be as high as $60 billion. Disciplined soldiers that would traditionally do many of the tasks are commissioned by private and publicly listed companies.

Even without the graft, the costs of paying for these services are higher than paying governement employees or soldiers to do them because of the profit motive involved."


There have been some studies that conclude money would be saved, but here is a good article that argues the savings was grossly overestimated AND there was a certain amount of risk assessment that was NOT figured into the picture. There is a greater risk involved in using

Ullrich Mueller
Ullrich Mueller3 years ago

"Outsourcing" the invasion of other countries and the killing of their citizens to mercenaries immune to judicial investigations is the very epitome of US hypocrisy.

Randy F.
Past Member 3 years ago

"Then why does the U.S. rely so heavily on private military contractors?" Money.

Sharon F.
Sharon F3 years ago

Hey, folks. Do you want to pay for more failed warmongering, or elect people who have sense enough to fix the aging infrastructure (think sewer/water/bridges). Ask your politicians & expect an answer in plain English. The good people who wrote the Constitution of the USA never intended it to become 'The United States of Warmongering.' Contact info for Congresspeople is available at your public library.

Suzanne Michael
Suzanne Michael3 years ago

It's time our country grows up and minds it's own business. Don't ever think we go to war to promote democracy because we don't. The Only reason why we stick our nose in every country is for money! Every country that has elected a democratic leader we have gotten rid of. We can't keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results, it's pure insanity! Vote every war monger out of office and lets take care of our country for a change! We're turning into a third world country with crumbling infrastructure, the highest rate of poverty in a developed nation and more homeless people. We are no longer the greatest nation in the world, just the craziest!. It's time this country works for all the people not just a few. The American Dream no longer exists, no matter how hard you work, unless you come from a wealthy family there is no getting ahead. That's not the America I grew up in and if your tired of seeing your children working 60 and 80 hrs a week just to get by do something about it and get rid of the people who only serve the wealthy!

Margaret Goodman
Margaret Goodman3 years ago

Wondering if David F. and Ted Cruz disagree about anything.