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US To Spend Nearly $1 Billion on Private Security Guards in Iraq

Walter Pincus, Washington Post, September 8, 2009

"As the United States withdraws its combat forces from Iraq, the government is hiring more private guards to protect U.S. installations at a cost that could near $1 billion, according to the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction....

"The inspector general for reconstruction predicted that costs for private security at U.S. facilities in Iraq 'will grow in size to a potential $935 million.' The inspector general's report, issued this year, said the MNF-I planned to switch to private guards for Victory Base Camp, one of its largest installations. That facility alone would require 'approximately 2,600 security personnel,' the report said....

"The inspector general's report shows that government estimates of the total cost of replacing soldiers with contractors are hidden in public accounting. The report notes that government services provided to the private guard force -- food, housing and other benefits -- are not considered, only payments going directly to the contractors. The report estimated that such services provided to private security personnel in the 12 months ending in March cost 'more than $250 million,' at a time when listed outlays to the contractor firms in that period totaled $155 million.

"In the new contracts, private contractors will continue to be allowed to use government dining facilities, living quarters, barber services, some transportation within Iraq and emergency medical care."


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