'End of combat' yields surge of contractors
Added under Iraq
Even as President Obama claimed this week that the end of combat operations in Iraq "completes'' a transition in which Iraqis have taken responsibility for their own security, he knows that the US pullout is not as thorough as he let on. The American presence takes the form not just of uniformed personnel–tens of thousands of whom will remain–but also of largely unaccountable private security contractors, whose numbers are likely to grow.
The number of US troops in Iraq peaked at 169,000 in 2007, and by following through on a planned withdrawal Obama has at least significantly lowered America's official exposure. This is no small step in a war that President Bush began under false pretenses and that has cost the lives of more than 4,400 American soldiers, 10,000 members of Iraq's security forces, and at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians.
But while Obama talked about the 50,000 troops that will stay in "advising and assisting'' roles, he made no mention of our shadow private military. With our troops leaving, the State Department confirmed (after it was brought to light by the New York Times) that it will increase its private security contractors to protect diplomats from its current 2,700 to between 6,000 and 7,000 people. In keeping mum about private security contractors, Obama is following in Bush's murky tradition.
Sources: Boston Globe
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