In May 2014, President Obama announced a plan to keep at least 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan until 2016. He neglected to inform the country about the massive army of private contractors that will also remain deployed in Afghanistan. A PowerPoint document obtained by Salon from Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), one of the country’s biggest military and intelligence contractors, spells out the contractor’s ongoing role in Afghanistan, which dates back to 2009. The document also shows the company’s $400 million contract with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, which is on a five-year plan.
Tom Shorrock’s report includes an interview with Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired U.S. Army colonel, who observed, “This is an example of privatizing the ultimate public function, war.” A U.S. Army Research Laboratory spokesperson confirmed that the PowerPoint presentation is authentic. A spokesperson for SAIC, Science Applications International Corporation, refused to comment.
In addition to SAIC, there are 11 primes and more than 180 subcontractors in this contract, including well-known defense industry firms such as Raytheon, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, ManTech, and General Atomics. According to Thomas A. Moyer, ARL’s public affairs director, the areas where the private contractors are involved fall outside the legal definition of “inherently governmental” functions, which are reserved for men and women in uniform or government employees. The U.S. Special Forces Command, which will lead the counterterrorism operations directed against the Taliban and remnants of al-Qaida, are expected to remain in Afghanistan long after the regular troops have withdrawn.
Overall, this plan benefits the Obama administration by maintaining an active military presence in Afghanistan, while permiting the administration to assure the public that U.S. military forces have pulled out.
Source: Tim Shorrock, “New document details America’s war machine – and secret mass of contractors in Afghanistan” Salon, May 28, 2014, http://www.salon.com/2014/05/28/exclusive_new_document_details_americas_war_machine_and_secret_mass_of_contractors_in_afghanistan/
Student Researcher: Gabrielle Squarcia (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)