US reliance on defence contractors led to mission failures: Study | Conflict News

US reliance on defence contractors led to mission failures: Study | Conflict News

Up to half of the $14 trillion spent by the United States Department of Defense because the September 11, 2001 assaults went to for-profit defence contractors, a brand new report by Brown University’s Costs of War challenge and the Center for International Policy discovered.

And whereas a lot of that cash went to weapons suppliers, Monday’s report is the newest to level to the US’s dependence on contractors for warzone duties as contributing to mission failures in Afghanistan, particularly. The paper is entitled, Profits of War: Corporate Beneficiaries of the Post-9/11 Pentagon Spending Surge.

In the post-September 11 wars, US companies contracted by the Defense Department not solely dealt with warzone logistics like operating gasoline convoys and staffing chow strains however carried out mission-crucial work like coaching and equipping Afghan safety forces — safety forces that collapsed final month because the Taliban swept by the nation.

Within weeks, and earlier than the US army had even accomplished its withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban simply routed an Afghan authorities and army that Americans had spent 20 years and billions of {dollars} to get up.

Military contractors bought up to half of the $14 trillion spent by the US Department of Defense because the assaults of September 11, 2001, a research by Brown University’s Costs of War challenge and the Center for International Policy mentioned Monday [File: Rahmatullah Naikzad/AP Photo]

President Joe Biden positioned blame squarely on the Afghans themselves.

“We gave them every chance,” he mentioned final month. “What we could not provide them was the will to fight.”

But William Hartung, the paper’s creator, and others mentioned it’s important that Americans look at what position the reliance on personal contractors performed within the post-9/11 wars.

In Afghanistan, that included contractors allegedly paying safety cash to warlords and the Taliban themselves, and the Defense Department insisting on equipping the Afghan air pressure with complicated Blackhawk helicopters and different plane that few apart from US contractors knew how to keep.

“If it were only the money, that would be outrageous enough,” Hartung, the director of the arms and safety programme on the Center for International Policy, mentioned of cases the place the Pentagon’s reliance on contractors backfired. “But the fact it undermined the mission and put troops at risk is even more outrageous.”

At the beginning of this yr, earlier than Biden started the ultimate American withdrawal from Afghanistan, there have been way more contractors in Afghanistan, in addition to in Iraq, than US troops.

The US noticed about 7,000 army members die in all post-9/11 conflicts, and almost 8,000 contractors, one other Costs of War research estimated.

The Professional Services Council, an organisation representing companies contracting with the federal government, cited a decrease determine from the US Department of Labor, saying almost 4,000 federal contractors have been killed since 2001.

A spokeswoman pointed to an announcement final month from the organisation’s president, David J Berteau: “For almost two decades, government contractors have provided broad and essential support for US and allied forces, for the Afghan military and other elements of the Afghan government, and for humanitarian and economic development assistance.”

After the September 11, 2001 assaults, American officers embraced personal contractors as a necessary a part of the US’s army response.

It began with then-Vice President Dick Cheney, the previous CEO of Halliburton. Halliburton obtained greater than $30bn to assist arrange and run bases, feed troops and perform different work in Iraq and Afghanistan by 2008, the research says.

Cheney and defence contractors argued that relying on personal contractors for work that service members did in earlier wars would enable for a trimmer US army, and be extra environment friendly and cost-effective.

By 2010, Pentagon spending had surged by greater than one-third, because the US fought twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a post-9/11 American, politicians vied to present assist for the army in a rustic grown way more safety acutely aware.

“Any member of Congress who doesn’t vote for the funds we need to defend this country will be looking for a new job after next November,” the research famous Harry Stonecipher, then the vp of Boeing, telling The Wall Street Journal the month after the assaults.

And up to a 3rd of the Pentagon contracts went to simply 5 weapons suppliers. Last fiscal yr, for instance, the cash Lockheed Martin alone bought from Pentagon contracts was one and a half instances your entire budgets of the State Department and the US Agency for International Development, in accordance to the research.

The Pentagon pumped out extra contracts than it may oversee, lawmakers and authorities particular investigators mentioned.

For instance, a Florida Republican Party official made thousands and thousands on what lawmakers charged had been extra income when the US granted a one-of-a-kind contract for gasoline convoys from Jordan to Iraq, the research famous.

The electrocution of no less than 18 service members by unhealthy wiring in bases in Iraq, a few of it blamed on contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root, was one other of many cases the place authorities investigations pointed to shoddy logistics and reconstruction work.

The gorgeous Taliban victory final month in Afghanistan is drawing consideration now to even graver penalties: the extent to which the US reliance on contractors could have heightened the difficulties of the Afghan safety forces.

Jodi Vittori, a former Air Force lieutenant colonel and scholar of corruption and fragile states on the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who was not concerned within the research, factors to US insistence that the Afghan air pressure use US-made helicopters for example.

Afghans most well-liked Russian helicopters, which had been simpler to fly, may very well be maintained by Afghans and had been suited to rugged Afghanistan. So when US contractors pulled out with US troops this yr, taking their information of how to keep US-provided plane with them, prime Afghan leaders bitterly complained to the US that it had disadvantaged them of 1 important benefit over the Taliban.

Hartung, like others, additionally pointed to the corruption engendered by the billions of loosely monitored {dollars} that the US poured into Afghanistan as one central purpose that Afghanistan’s US-backed authorities misplaced standard assist, and Afghan fighters misplaced morale.

Hillary Clinton, whereas secretary of state beneath President Barack Obama, accused defence contractors in danger in warzones of resorting to payoffs to armed teams, making safety cash one of many largest sources of funding for the Taliban.

The US additionally relied, partially, on defence contractors to perform one of many duties most central to its hopes of success in Afghanistan — serving to to arrange and practice an Afghan army and different safety forces that would get up to armed teams, together with the Taliban.

Tellingly, Vittori mentioned, it was Afghan commandos who had constant coaching by US particular operations forces and others who did a lot of the preventing towards the Taliban final month.

Relying much less on personal contractors, and extra on the US army as in previous wars, might need given the US higher possibilities of victory in Afghanistan, Vittori famous.

She mentioned that might have meant US presidents accepting the political dangers of sending extra American troops to Afghanistan, and getting extra physique luggage of American troops again.

“Using contractors allowed America to fight a war that a lot of Americans forgot we were fighting,” Vittori mentioned.

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