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Dina Rasor Headshot

Birth of the War Service Industry

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About two weeks ago, The Washington Post talked about how large the surge of troops in Iraq was going to be. Now Hearst Newspapers has done a study and believes that there is another "silent" surge going on that could bring the total amount of troops in Iraq to as high as 200,000 by the end of the year. And yesterday, NPR had a story on how the DOD may be planning to keep at least 30,000 to 40,000 troops in Iraq indefinitely on permanent bases.

In a recent blog on Huffington Post, I wrote about how we need to get the contractors' costs under control with this surge or the bills will go through the roof. It appears that the LOGCAP III contract that KBR has to supply the troops will be extended for this surge and perhaps beyond with their continued over inflated billings promising to voraciously eat up the supplemental money for this war. The bill for this war will just go on and on.

Beyond what you or our policy makers may think about what to do about Iraq and how many troops should be in Iraq, we need to acknowledge that extending our time in Iraq or another country is building what I call a War Service Industry. There are almost as many contractor personnel in Iraq as soldiers and they will surge as the troops surge. The Army has a very, very heavy reliance on these contractors to supply the basics for the troops and haul the vital equipment around Iraq. Pulling back to just the bases in Iraq will only make the Army more reliant on the contractors.

As I outline in my new book, Betraying Our Troops: The Destructive Results of Privatizing War, we have a new industry, the war service industry, which is now lodging itself permanently into our military planning. Unlike the Military Industrial Complex which makes weapons whether we are at war or not, this new industry relies on hot wars or occupations to survive. Where will they go if we withdraw from Iraq and don't insert ourselves into another country? Will they just fade away? History says not, once an industry that is totally reliant on the federal government for its main funding and existence emerges, it is very hard to kill off.

If the DOD and the country decide to stay in Iraq for a long period, the war service industry will continue to have something to service. The question is that if we don't stay, will their lobby and constituency, flush with huge amounts of supplemental money, push us towards a new hot war or occupation to keep them employed? Not enough questions are being asked about the long term effects this large amount of supplemental money is having on our military and our foreign policy.

Go to my Follow the Money Project website if you want to know more about this problem.