As Troops Exit Iraq, US Spends More on Contractors

$1.2B spent for private security firms; critics say Iraqis should be picking up slack instead
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Aug 28, 2008 1:21 PM CDT
Private security contractors, in black, inspect a bridge destroyed by an apparent suicide vehicle bomber last year.   (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
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(Newser) – American troops are trickling home, but at a hefty cost: The US has spent more than $1.2 billion this year on private security contractors—mostly to protect diplomats, but also to secure infrastructure and supplies, USA Today reports. The State Department says now that focus has shifted to rebuilding, officials are venturing out of secure areas to do field work and require more protection.

Lawmakers voiced concern over the large bill—$85 billion for all contractors during the operation—and suggested Iraqis use oil revenues to fund security and reconstruction work. Democratic Rep. John Murtha proposes axing $4.5 billion from contractors in next year’s defense budget, and compensating by adding money to other Pentagon accounts so agency employees can do more of the work.