Civilian contractors play a vital role in the Defense Department, but experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan with contractor-related waste and mismanagement led the military and Congress to rethink how they will be used in future operations.
The military is reevaluating how it works with contractors, specifically training officers to work with and better understand how contractors do their jobs, a May 17 Congressional Research Service report (.pdf) says.
The report found that contractors made up at least half of the deployed forces in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. In March 2013, there were some 108,000 DoD contractors in Afghanistan, making up 62 percent of the total force. Of this number, there were 18,000 private security contractors, compared to 65,700 U.S. troops. The report notes that many government officials and analysts admit that the military is so reliant on civilian contractors that it cannot carry out long term and many short-term operations without them.