Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Iraq Contractor Deaths Rival Official Casualties

A recent report by Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg News, which was carried only on the Denver Post, contained some hints as to the largely unreported casualty toll among contractors in Iraq:
Overall, there have been at least 273 contractor deaths, including 23 in 2003, 209 last year and 41 so far this year, according to Labor Department figures.
These figures mean that contractor deaths are running about 25 percent of both 2004 and 2005's official military casualties, according to Deborah Avant, associate professor of political science at George Washington University. Reports Bloomberg:
The Pentagon says that about 20,000 physical security personnel were employed in Iraq. But that doesn't include contractors working reconstruction projects. The Joint Chiefs of Staff in May estimated there may be as many as 30,367 contractors in the Middle East and Afghanistan, in addition to the 20,000 providing private security.
These additional approx. 30,000 mercenaries are likely exposed to higher risk than the 20,000 on physical security. So their casualty rate would be higher again. It doesn't appear that data for these would be available from the Department of Labor -if from any official source.

So, to the official 273 contractor deaths to date in Iraq, we could add another 400-500. Compare that to the 173 deaths of U.K. and allied troops, and mercenaries are clearly bearing a brunt of the conflict second only to official US casualties.

And if these mercenaries are being discreetly front-lined all the while by the US command in Iraq, the the figure could well be far, far higher. But hey, who's counting.


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