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McChrystal: Military Overdependent on Contractors

[Via Danger Room](http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/04/contractors-in-the-crosshairs-in-washington-and-afghanistan/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+WiredDangerRoom+(Blog+-+Danger+Room)), Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, took a jaundiced view of the role of contractors in Afghanistan:

“I think we’ve gone too far,” McChrystal said at France’s IHEDN military institute. “I actually think we would be better to reduce the number of contractors involved.”

Alternatives could include increasing the number of troops “if necessary,” or “using a greater number of Afghan contractors, or Afghans to help with the mission,” he said.

McChrystal said the use of contractors was founded upon “good intentions,” such as to limit military commitments or to save money for governments.

“I think it doesn’t save money,” he said. “We have created in ourselves a dependency on contractors that I think is greater than it ought to be.”

It doesn’t appear as if McChrystal distinguished between security contractors — what people tend to mean when they talk about the nefarious influence of contract personnel in war zones — and contractors for, say, food and laundry and development advice and logistics (who also have been involved in a lot of waste, fraud and abuse). Nathan Hodge at Danger Room is skeptical that anything will actually change as a result, since the alternative is to increase the size and function of the military significantly, and that’s loaded with political peril.

That said, one point McChrystal *didn’t apparently *make is that security contractors in Afghanistan aren’t obligated by law to follow the commander’s guidance for waging the war, something crucial in a battle for a local population’s political allegiances, since that population will distinguish between Americans and non-Americans, not U.S. troops and U.S. contractors. With the military prepared to award a new contract for assistance in training Afghan police, that’s a subject where McChrystal’s words could go a long way.

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