We don’t have enough troops to maintain order in Iraq, but by paying contractors two, three, maybe five times as much as soldiers make, we encourage the best troops to leave the military and return to Iraq as civilian contractors carrying guns. There are almost as many US government contractors in Iraq as there are soldiers, although many of them are Iraqis working for us. But many are also former soldiers who left the military to make more money as mercenaries. Recent press reports have pointed out the downside for contractors if they get hurt, but if they don’t get hurt, they get rich. It’s a gamble that many make.
We should have enough troops to do what we need done in Iraq. I think this even includes Halliburton’s jobs of running mess halls and driving trucks. Of course, we could never do this with the small Army and Marine Corps that we have, but that means that we need a bigger military until this war is won, not that we go hire a bunch of South African thugs to act as body guards for senior Americans.
While military salaries and bonuses are growing to keep some semblance of parity with the contractors, the country will be bankrupted if we take it too far. Of course, Bush is oblivious to the financial cost of the war. He’s aiming for a trillion dollar war.