CENTCOM Releases Latest Contractor Census Numbers

CENTCOM Releases Latest Contractor Census Numbers

Details regarding private military contractor deployment is a closely-guarded secret. However, the U.S. Central Command issues quarterly figures that convey some general items about contractor deployment.

According to CENTCOM, over 52,000 contractors were in the field in countries under the command’s jurisdiction. Over half these contractors were in Afghanistan. Almost 6.300 contractors were in “Iraq and Syria.” CENTCOM provided no deployment breakdown. The remaining 18,000 contractors were in “other areas,” mostly GCC nations.

The 52,000 figure only includes DoD contractors. It does not include contractors who work for the State Department or another U.S. government agency.


When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, most Americans expected a quick and decisive victory. The victory was quick, but it was far from decisive. American forces toppled Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein in a matter of weeks. But for many years, al-Qaeda in Iraq and other militants fiercely resisted the invaders. Even today, President Barham Salih’s government struggles to maintain credibility and control over the country.

This conflict has always been controversial, as well. The evidence linking Hussein to 9/11 was rather shaky, at least according to some. Contractors have been involved in some of these controversies. Questions about Haliburton, a contractor with links to then-Vice President Dick Cheney, and the controversial Nisour Square “massacre” spring immediately to mind.

Nevertheless, ever since the initial invasion, contractors have played a vital role in Iraq, mostly in supporting roles. Haliburton was largely a rebuilding contractor, and the security contractors in the Nisour Square incident were escorting a supply convoy through Baghdad.

Now, with combat operations finally ending, security is more important than ever. The next Saddam Hussein is waiting in the wings, and a stable, dempcratic government is the best way to keep him there.


The World Trade Center wreckage was still smoldering, or at least it seemed that way, when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. Ever since his split with the Saudi royal family in the early 1990s, the Taliban had provided 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden with a place to train his terrorist forces. The American’s objective was simple — eradicate the Taliban so there would be no more al-Qaedas.

The ensuing conflict quickly bogged down into a war of ambushes and quick strikes which promised to end in a bloody stalemate.

20 years later, this objective remains elusive. A framework for peace is in place. This framework would at least contain the Taliban. But this group now controls more of Afghanistan than at any time since the U.S. invasion. So, the Amercians are not negotiating from a position of strength.

Nevertheless, the conflict seems to be winding down. Both sides admit they are exhausted. The Americans have been unable to vanquish the Taliban, and the Taliban has fought long and hard just to hold onto what it had.

Throughout this long campaign, private military contractors have provided needed flexibility in Afghanistan. Contractors can be boots-on-the-ground after one phone call. When the specific mission ends, the government’s financial obligations end as well. That combination makes contractors an attractive option, not only in Afghanistan, but in many other areas as well.


As the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq wind down, the Syrian Civil War heats up. What started as a local dispute sparked by the Arab Spring has developed into a regional conflict. At times, the United States and Russia have been close to exchanging blows themselves.

Much like the nearby Afghanistan War, the Syrian Civil War is basically an extension of a much older conflict. This area has been unstable ever since the 1917 Sykes-Picot Agreement. After secret negotiations, Great Britain and France agreed to divide the Ottoman Empire’s non-Turkinsh possessions between themselves. The line they drew almost bisected what later became Syria.

In terms of contractor contributions, Syria is a combination of Iraq and Afghanistan. Contractors often fight on the front lines alongside regular servicemembers. Because of their experience, private military contractors often provide a needed boost.

The fighting will end eventually. When it does, Syria will need rebuilding almost literally from the ground up. Contractors will continue to provide their expertise, this time in the rebuilding phase. If Syria does not rise from the ashes, another bloody civil war will most likely be just around the corner, and no one wants that.

Gulf Coast Countries

During the Second World War’s Pacific campaign, U.S. Marines occupied small islands to be used as unsinkable aircraft carriers. These islands were staging grounds for the final assault on Japan, an assault that turned out to be unnecessary.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other GCC nations are also unsinkable aircraft carriers. They serve as staging areas for the aforementioned three conflicts. Armed forces in these areas also deter Iran’s aggression.

Someone must build these aircraft carriers. Typically, that “someone” is a private contractor. Overseas contractors are used to working in difficult conditions. While some contractors wield hammers, others carry machine guns. Construction sites need tight security in overseas locations where terrorism is a threat.

Compensation Available

Regardless of their service capacity, when contractors are injured overseas, they can count on the Defense Base Act. Since 1941, the DBA has provided compensation for economic losses, such as:

  • Medical Bills: The DBA typically pays for all reasonable medical expenses. That includes not only emergency care, but also follow up care and physical therapy. The sooner injured victims heal and return to work, the safer our country is.
  • Lost Wages: This benefit gives families income streams while the victims recover. Typically, the DBA pays two-thirds of the victim’s average weekly wage for the duration of a temporary disability.

Generally, DBA claims settle out of court, but that settlement usually does not happen immediately. If the case settles too quickly, the settlement amount might not reflect all future medical expenses. As a result, the victim could be financially responsible for these costs, and no one wants that.

For more information about the DBA’s lost wages benefit, reach out to Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, PA.