New burdens from a private sector military

The Dave Matthews Band is urging fans to push Congress to do more to ensure that U.S. troops coming home traumatized by combat get the help they need. A petition on the band’s site has 23,000 signatures so far.

“It just struck me as a profound injustice that someone who had given so much of themselves and clearly showed such a quality of personality that the gratitude we’re showing them was basically a dishonorable discharge.”

I’m worried that no one seems to pay attention to the 130,000 injuries to private contractors in Iraq.

For example, Halliburton and its subsidiaries seem to be enjoying new types of contracts never before used in military operations. Spread across deals that are seldom reported and tranched to a handful of companies in the range of five billion dollars per year, military support personnel have become profit centers. The US has reserved USD50 Billion to fund military support contracts over the next several years.

IHT reports of a Houston teacher injured in a car accident dodging a likely roadside bomb near Iraq’s Green Zone while employed under a private contract. Now paralyzed and unable to walk, she is ultimately shuffled into a care home sharing a room with a dying old woman and offered about $200 per week for the next decades of her life. Recent courtroom intervention only slightly improves her treatment.

CSMonitor has published a four page examination of private contractors.
Having civilians working in war zones is as old as war itself. But starting with US military action in the Balkans and Colombia in the mid-1990s and accelerating rapidly in Afghanistan and Iraq, the number and activity of contractors has greatly increased. Coming from dozens of countries, hired by hundreds of companies, contractors have seen their numbers rise faster than the Pentagon’s ability to track them.

Now, the challenges of this privatization strategy are becoming clear.

Everything from who controls their activities to who cares for them when wounded remains unresolved, say experts in and out of the military. This has led to protests from families in the United States as well as concerns in military ranks about how contractors fit into the chain of command.

“This is a very murky legal space, and simply put we haven’t dealt with the fundamental issues.”