This week promises to be busy, so I'm going to point you in the right directions and you'll have to take it from there. If you need to be spoon-fed, well, you know where to go. Let's start here:
Census Counts 100,000 Contractors in Iraq
Civilian Number, Duties Are Issues
By Renae Merle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 5, 2006; Page D01
There are about 100,000 government contractors operating in Iraq, not counting subcontractors, a total that is approaching the size of the U.S. military force there, according to the military's first census of the growing population of civilians operating in the battlefield.
And a bit more here:
Silent surge in contractor 'armies'
... Having civilians working in war zones is as old as war itself. But starting with US military action in the Balkans and Colombia in the mid-1990s and accelerating rapidly in Afghanistan and Iraq, the number and activity of contractors has greatly increased. Coming from dozens of countries, hired by hundreds of companies, contractors have seen their numbers rise faster than the Pentagon's ability to track them.
And the latest exciting development:
Iraqis Order Blackwater out of Iraq -- But Will It Leave?
Following a Baghdad shootout yesterday that left at least nine civilians dead, security-contractor giant Blackwater will no longer be permitted to operate in Iraq, according to the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
The Interior Ministry's decision is likely to be a source of friction between the U.S. Embassy and Iraq. Not only does Blackwater guard many important U.S. officials there, but the embassy is unlikely to want a precedent established that allows the Iraqi government to kick out U.S. contractors for excessive use of force.
But what I think is just the bestest part of it all:
"A week ago today, Gen. David H. Petraeus started his rounds on Capitol Hill, reporting that security in Iraq was improving to the point that a small number of troops could begin coming home by year's end.
But 10 days ago, his commanders in Baghdad began advertising for private contractors to work in combat-supply warehouses on U.S. bases throughout Iraq because half the soldiers who had been working in the warehouses were needed for patrols, combat and protection of U.S. forces.
"With the increased insurgent activity, unit supply personnel must continue to pull force protection along with convoy escort and patrol duties," according to a statement of work that accompanied the Sept. 7 request for bidders from Multi-National Force-Iraq."
For some reason, I have this image of an irresistible force and an immovable object ...
P.S. If the Iraqi government says it wants Blackwater out, and the U.S. government says no, that's going to strain that whole definition of Iraqi "sovereignty" just a wee bit, don't you think?