The money from the US government for the Afghan war ensured billions of dollars for military contractors which provided the impetus to the US defeat in Afghanistan as the conflict became a business.
A monopoly of smaller companies also made billions of dollars with efforts including training Afghan police officers, building roads, setting up schools, and providing security to Western diplomats, according to Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The WSJ said the military outsourcing meant the US Department of Defense spent USD14 trillion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that began after September 11, 2001.
Meanwhile, the large amounts of money being spent on the war effort and on rebuilding Afghanistan after years of conflict strained the US government’s ability to vet contractors and ensure the money was spent as intended, according to WSJ.
When fighting a war with an all-volunteer military smaller than in past conflicts, and without a draft, “you have to outsource so much to contractors to do your operations,” said Christopher Miller, acting Defense Secretary of the Trump administration as quoted by the WSJ.
“Dedicated support offered by many thousands of contractors to US military missions in Afghanistan served many important roles to include freeing up uniformed forces for vital warfighting efforts,” Rob Lodewick, a Pentagon spokesman told the WSJ.
“A lot of money was injected into Afghanistan but was not used for development. The former government was very weak,” said Inamullah Samangani, deputy spokesman of the Taliban.
The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction in a survey found that only 15 percent of the USD 7.8 billion which was earmarked for development projects was spent.
Finally, “one-third to half of” USD 14 trillion of the cost of war in Afghanistan and Iran “went to contractors”.
American use of military contractors stretches back to the Revolutionary War when the Continental Army relied on private firms. During World War II, for every seven service members, one contractor served the war effort, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
In 2008, the US had 187,900 troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, the peak of its deployment, and 203,660 contractor personnel, according to WSJ.
(With ANI inputs)