MAXIM quotes Africa Center Nonresident Senior Fellow Sean McFate on the increased use of private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan:

In theory, contractors play a strictly defensive role, usually guarding government officials and embassies in war zones. But in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the enemy usually brought the fight, they were often forced to go on the offensive. That’s what makes contractors so attractive to the Pentagon. They draw fire that would otherwise be directed at American forces, while “not getting counted as boots on the ground or, if something goes wrong, as casualties,” explains Georgetown University professor of security strategies Sean McFate, author of The Modern Mercenary. “They’re invisible people.”


But outsourced fighting has only expanded since then, and contractors have counted for more than half of the American workforce in Iraq and Afghanistan. When in the field, contractors often take orders directly from the U.S. government. And yet, they’re not entitled to the same medical or death benefits as military veterans. “A lot of these guys are deeply patriotic, but they don’t get any respect,” says McFate, the Georgetown professor. The way he sees it, military contractors are this generation’s Vietnam War soldiers—people who put their lives at risk for the American cause and then came home to a scornful public. “We have an all-volunteer military, so what’s the difference between the soldier who volunteers for the Army versus someone who gets hired by one of these companies? Why is one automatically more noble than the other?”

Read the full article here.

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