Talk of the 30,000 troops Obama is sending to Afghanistan fails to note that they're likely to be joined by as many as 56,000 civilians, according to a tally by a congressional agency. The second surge would bring the number of independent contractors in Afghanistan to somewhere between 130,000 and 160,000, and even more if the strategy focuses heavily on construction and rebuilding.
The new civilian recruits could create unprecendented management challenges. To keep an eye on things, Congress has set aside $8 million for an electronic system tracing all contract-related information for Iraq and Afghanistan, reports the Washington Post. Tomorrow, a Senate committee led by Sen. Claire McCaskill will meet to assess "whether contracting oversight lessons learned from Iraq are being applied in Afghanistan." In the meantime, contracts continue to be awarded.