According to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), as of September 2009, there were 11,423 private security contractors in Afghanistan, of which 10,712 (94%) were armed. Of the armed security contractors, 90% were local nationals. Less than one percent was American, and the rest were third country nationals.
Of course, in recent years the trend has been rising. According to DOD, from September 2007 to December 2008, the number of armed security contractors increased from 2,401 to 3,184, an increase of 33%. But from December 2008 to September 2009, the number of armed security contractors increased from 3,184 to 10,712, an increase of 236% DOD attributed the increase in security contractors to increased operational tempo and efforts to stabilize and develop new and existing forward operating bases.
According to DOD, from September 2007 to June 2009, the number of armed security contractors increased at a slower rate than overall contractor and troop levels. However, from June to September 2009, armed security contractors increased at a faster rate (107%) than total contractors (43%) or troop levels (16%). As of September 2009, armed security contractors made up 10% of all contractors. However, armed contractors make up only about 6% of DOD’s workforce in Afghanistan.
But anyway you look at it contractors are everywhere in Afghanistan. This was the case even before the Obama Administration announced its surge strategy. In December 2008, contractors represented 69% of DOD’s workforce in Afghanistan, which apparently represented the highest recorded percentage of contractors used by DOD in any conflict in the history of the United States. According to DOD officials, contractors are expected to make up approximately 50%-55% of the total workforce in Afghanistan in the future, although such an estimate could change if conditions in Afghanistan change
An under‐appreciated aspect of PMC working in Afghanistan is that due to their manpower, representation at the headquarters of inter‐allied organizations, and their international connections, the PMCs are in a position to influence military decisions on operational matters. Employees of MPRI can be found throughout the hierarchy of International Security Assistance Force ((ISAF) and the Afghan security forces. They serve as mentors to armed forces general staff and to governments, help to draft doctrine for the Afghan National Army (ANA) as part of the Combined Training Advisory Group (CTAG), train officers at the Kabul Military Training Centre (KMTC) and provide instruction to specialists.
Marie‐Dominique Charlier was political adviser to the commander of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan from February to August 2008. Last month she wrote in Le Monde diplomatique: